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The Major League Baseball offseason doesn't officially start until the end of the World Series, when free-agents can file and trades can be made. However, for the Giants and GM Brian Sabean, the offseason planning should start now.
Even after a year in which they overachieved, the Giants have a bunch of question marks heading into the winter. In our last post, I put a bow on the Giants season and talked about some positive things they have to look forward to in 2010 (Pablo Sandoval, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Brian Wilson etc..) but they still have a bunch of things they need to figure out in house, and they only will have a couple of weeks to do so before all the baseball world enters the off-season mode.
The major questions for the Giants will be what to do with their impending free-agents, and they certainly have a couple of key ones. The two guys who have been tenured here the longest, Bengie Molina and Randy Winn, will both be free agents in a couple  of weeks, and I'd say chances are that neither will return. It's pretty clear that Winn will be finding a new home, as he struggled through 2009 with minimal power and without his usual steady average and base stealing abilities, but Molina will poses a tough situation. I think the Giants want him around for another season, to help Buster Posey with his transition to the big leagues and to keep him with these young starters who he's worked so well with over the years. However, Molina will be one of the most sought-after catchers in a very thin free-agent market and will most assuredly get bigger dollars and more years from other interested teams. Based on what Buster Posey showed in his brief stint in September here, he still has a little ways to go before he can be counted on as an everyday guy, so if Molina does depart, Sabean will need to find another veteran presence who can share and possibly shoulder the load should Posey deem un-ready.
It's not just the catching position that is unclear for the Giants in 2010 though, as they sit right now, they have openings in right field, left field, the corner infield spot that Pablo Sandoval  doesn't end up at, and quite possibly second base. Unfortunately the Giants will be paying Edgar Renteria to play everyday at short next year otherwise they could use an upgrade there as well. Judging by Sabean's words in his postseason press conference, it appears as if the Giants are planning to have Freddy Sanchez back in 2010, even though he's going to cost upwards of 10 million dollars and sorely (no pun intended) disappointed in his brief stint here this summer. The real tough questions with this team though lie in the outfield, where Sabean will need to fill 2 spots. The Giants don't have any outfielders in the system who are remotely close to contributing at the big league level, so unless they plan on rolling with Schierholtz and Velez as their corner outfielders, there will be some movement there.
It's going to be another month or more before moves start to be made, sure, but that doesn't mean that the Giants should be sitting on their hands waiting for things to happen. They need to figure out how they're going to address all the questions above, and hopefully by the time November roles around, they'll have their plan in place.
Trevor Cole The Giants Baseball Blog