With the exception of the Dodgers, our divisional rivals all have talented bloggers covering them here at SportsBlogs Nation so I don't have to go too far to start my research into their offseason plans. For instance, Grant at the McCovey Chronicles has taken a note of the Giants' rumored interest in Jason Jennings, and responded by calling JJ's ROY award, "nothing more than a shiny bauble to distract the Giants while the Rockies rifle through our stuff." Harsh. I mean, it's not like Brian Sabean ever needed more distraction than the evil glint in Terry Ryan's eye (as Grant himself so amusingly points out) or the reflection off of Jim Hendry's gold tooth to allow opponents to cart away San Fran's buried treasures in the past, so why expect the change now, I say?
Anyway, I've already said my peace on JJ - that he's likely not going anywhere this winter, but during the season all bets are off - so we'll move on to other happenings by the Bay.
San Francisco Giants
2005 Wins above the Rockies: 8
Hot Stove News: The Giants have only three free agents, but two of the three, Brett Tomko and especially Scott Eyre, would represent very significant losses to the pitching staff, and the third would.., well losing JT Snow would represent a hole in the infield that the Giants have neglected filling for some time now. Brian Sabean -like pretty much everyone else this winter- has made acquiring starting pitching a priority. For the most part, the Giants seem to be looking at pitchers a tier or two above the Rockies intended targets, but with this year's weak class overall, that's like choosing the $5.99 jar of pickles with the syringe floating in it over the $.99 one with three distinct species of mold floating on top that smells like your neighbor's cat. In other words, their more expensive elite targets might not result in too much of a difference in the standings than our bargain basement picks, hence the trade talk.
As far as position players, it doesn't look like the Giants will make much of a free agent splash here, either, with most of the early gossip also centering on who they might be willing to trade for: like Mike Cameron, for instance. The Giants are also trying to secure Randy Winn's future with the team, having already bought the engagement ring, but apparently waiting until the moon is shining over the Bay just right to pop the question.
Today's big news is that the Dodgers are talking to their upstate rivals' assistant GM, Ned Colletti, to feel him out for their own vacant GM post. Losing assistants this late isn't the worst that could happen, but it certainly won't help the needed rebuilding of the team at SBC, so keep an eye on how that progresses.
Rockies chances of passing in 2006: The Giants seem to be in a sort of organizational denial about the state of their team and the direction it's been heading in the standings the last couple of years. They kind of remind me of a cartoon character trying desperately to save a few bricks while the house collapses behind them. Barry Bonds played a whole month of last season, and when and if he returns in 2006, don't expect anything near what his glory days held because as great as he was then, the one thing he proved this past year is that he's still mortal. All told, as far as position players, this is still an old, tired team that is fading. Secondly, Scott Eyre was possibly the Giants best pitcher, period, last year, and the loss of his production out of the pen will take a lot more luck than I think the Giants have to replace, given what's available.
Right now, without significant changes to the franchise, I see no reason to expect San Fran to match last year's win total and given that Sabean's stated intentions don't seem to indicate such a significant change is in the works, I think the slide into the Bay continues. Once Jason Schmidt is traded and the Giants finally start a real reconstruction, the fall will accelerate for a bit. Therefore, with the Rockies likely gaining a few more wins and the Giants losing a few more, I would put our chances of passing San Francisco at around 65-35 and am feeling more confident of this happening than with any other team in the division.