Rumors & Rumblings

Armando Benitez is signed, so the closer position is addressed. What's next? More old players? How about an outfielder? And just what does this mean for Dustin Hermanson?

San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean likes to play his cards close to his vest. The poker-faced GM did not reveal his “ace in the hole” until Armando Benitez actually dotted his “I” and crossed his “T” because Sabean probably knows better than to leak information to the local sports media.

One of those media outlets, the San Francisco Chronicle, reported Thursday that New York Yankees slugger Jason Giambi admitted to a federal grand jury in December 2003 that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

The Chronicle obtained this information after reviewing a transcript from the infamous BALCO case, which was “leaked.”

A trickle-down effect will surely stir more doubt against the veracity of Barry Bonds’ homerun records, but that’s for another article. Let’s stick to rumors and transactions, shall we?

On that note, Sabean did provide Giants fans with a free agent acquisition on Monday, firing up the Hot Stove, just days after proclaiming that he could not say whether he would be “involved in something like that.” “That,” of course, was in response to a Benitez quandary.

You have to hand it to Sabean and his sneaky antics. He surely has a knack for diverting attention away from his real intentions when speaking to reporters about particular players.

Both of the deals so far this offseason have come “under the radar,” but because the signings occurred early, both signings do allow San Francisco to pursue other needs on the roster.

“The Giants have made the most dynamic offseason moves thus far among the NL West teams, signing Omar Vizquel to play shortstop and now adding Benitez,” ESPN’s Buster Olney said Tuesday. “They still need a productive right fielder, but that's not something they necessarily have to settle in the winter; corner outfielders are usually plentiful before the trade deadline.”

Olney has the right idea, but San Francisco may very well be looking to upgrade just about any outfield position and will probably do so as soon as the Winter Meetings come and pass on Dec. 10-13 in Anaheim, Calif.

Sabean and Giants Asst. GM Ned Colletti confirmed during a press conference earlier this week that they will be looking to address the outfield situation and lineup, but do not need to jettison a player from the roster to do so.

Will the geriatric splurge continue?

Some of the possible targets include the usual suspects, Steve Finley and Jermaine Dye, both of whom have been linked to the Giants for several weeks. It’s become nauseating, really.

If Sabean continues his pattern of misdirection, however, neither Finley nor Dye will be wearing orange and black this coming season. There’s just too much press tying them to the Giants that it probably will not happen due to the GM’s sly tactics.

Besides, it’s questionable whether the soon-to-be 40-year-old Finley is truly interested in coming toSan Franciscoor if he is simply using the Giants as leverage. He is currently being courted by as many as eight teams.

“A source close to Finley said he turned down a chance to join the Giants at the July 31 trade deadline because he didn't believe the team would remain in contention,” wrote Andrew Baggarly of the Oakland Tribune. “Finley was surprised when the Giants made a strong run and finished just a game behind Houston for the wild card.”

Hopefully he’ll also be surprised when San Francisco does not extend an offer at all. According to Tony DeMarco of NBC Sports, Finley is believed to be looking for a two-year deal in the neighborhood of $14 million.

Investing $7 million annually on a declining streak hitter? Here’s hoping Sabean has another “ace up his sleeve.” The free agent market is still very much intact so there are certainly better options available.

Is Drew on the radar?

Take free agent right fielder J.D. Drew, for instance. According to David O’Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the 29-year-old Drew “seeks a five-year deal for more than $50 million.”

Given the high price tag for Finley and the possibility to perhaps backload a deal, why not pursue the 5-tool talent of J.D. Drew instead? He will come cheaper than Carlos Beltran, but is comparable in overall value.

Colletti, if nothing else, has proven his ability to creatively construct a back-loaded deal, consummating both Benitez’s and Vizquel’s contracts in such a fashion.

“They weren't worried about getting every dollar they could, right here, right now,” the Giants Asst. GM said."Without that we would have had a real tough time folding him in. They're willingness to work with us was the key to getting it done.”

With agent extraordinaire Scott Boras representing Drew, it may prove to be difficult in finding the “willingness” to work a back-loaded deal. Then again, Colletti and Boras have set a precedent in working out such a creative contract when they hammered out the Bonds’ deal in January 2002.

It could be a homecoming of sorts for Drew, who was originally selected out of high school by the Giants in the 20th round of the 1994 draft (Brett Tomko and Dustan Mohr were taken just a few picks prior). However, the Georgia native elected to go to college instead, informing the Giants that he wanted to get bigger and stronger.

Over a decade later, Drew has indeed gotten bigger and stronger, and in about a few weeks, he’ll be richer as well.

Where will Hermie end up?

Part of the reason why the Giants put on the full-court press to acquire Benitez was a breakdown in negotiations with Dustin Hermanson and his agent, Casey Close.

“The Hermanson (contract talks) kind of stalled,” Sabean said. “They came to us after we made a multi-year offer with a unique way of approaching on how they wanted to view him.”

“Hermie very much wanted to be viewed either as a closer period or a starter period,” the Giants GM said. “The type of contract structure they asked us to get involved in was very difficult for us to buy into.”

The Giants simply do not view Hermanson as a sure-fire closer. Although he did an admirable job of filling in the ninth inning duties, he only auditioned for two months, which was not enough of a sample size to garner a guaranteed multi-year contract seeking closer-type money.

Brian Sabean also doubts Hermanson would re-sign as a starter, especially sinceSan Franciscois operating with a crowded starting rotation at the moment.

Due to his reluctance in assuming a reduced set-up role, Hermanson will almost certainly latch on with another club as a closer. The Florida Marlins are the latest to show interest in the 31-year-old right-hander.

Looking ahead to next weekend

Meanwhile, the Giants brain trust will head to the Winter Meetings with an eye on the outfield, strengthening the bullpen, and hoping to accomplish these goals with a possible trade, if nothing else can be done in the free agent market.

“We want to get back to what we were -- a team knocking on the door of the World Series,” Sabean said. “You want (players with) experience, somebody who busts their hump, looks around the clubhouse and says, 'Why not us?'”

Perhaps Sabean digs the World Champion Boston Red Sox and their slogan, but the Giants should be asking, “Why not go for it?”

Around the Majors


• According to Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News, closer Robb Nen “would consider a comeback with Colorado because of his close ties to Marcel Lachemann, special assistant toRockiesgeneral manager Dan O’Dowd.” The right-hander said Thursday in the San Francisco Chronicle that there is no soreness when he plays catch nowadays and it is the best he’s felt in two years.
David Dellucci has reportedly received offers from basically every team in the NL West, except the Giants and the San Diego Padres.
• Former Giants Felix Rodriguez and Kenny Lofton are believed to be involved in a trade between the Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies.
• and the Miami Herald Web site reported Thursday that the Marlins are close to reaching an agreement with Leiter on a one-year contract at about $6 million.
• Former San Francisco catcher Steve Decker has been named manager of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes for the 2005 season by the Giants.

Phil Delacruz was a transplanted Giants fan, buried in the Southland. After four strenuous years in College, studying (read: partying), he's back in the beautiful "City by the Bay" – San Francisco. Do you think he should move back to LALA land? Or do you like him where he is now and appreciate the good reads? Either way, send him an e-mail at to air out your frustrations or, more likely, songs of praise.

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