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Camp Notes: Giants in Scottsdale

If the Giants' offseason was a movie from the 1980s, it'd be Trading Places. San Francisco is coming off a fairly abysmmal season, but that doesn't mean the Giants can't charge back into contention in a particularly weak NL West if a couple of good moves work out they way they've planned. That's clearly the motivation behind signing veteran ace Randy Johnson -- who will be able to pitch out of the No. 3 or 4 start -- and shortstop Edgar Renteria. If Renteria returns to his prior NL form, the Giants may suddenly have a little offense to work with ... assuming they don't make the one big outfield move they've inquired about in recent weeks. Here's a hint about that one: His name starts with an "M", he has two World Series rings and the maturity of a 14-year-old.

  • Will they or won't they sign Manny Ramirez? Throughout the offseason the Giants have said they'd only splurge for Ramirez if he made sense within their own cost restraints. That means they're not about to break the bank offering him a five-year deal. But what about an incentive-laden three-year deal, a possibility the team has reportedly explored? Would Manny go for that? And would the Giants offer conditional terms that would guarantee a third year if the Dodgers were offering two years and a third year would land Manny by the bay? It's a situation that bears watching, even though San Francisco Chronicle writer Henry Schulman says that the team is only monitoring Ramirez's negotiations at a relatively cursory level.

  • Was the Randy Johnson experiment a marketing ploy or a move geared at locking down one of the deepest rotations in the majors? Johnson can pitch out of the three or four slot for the Giants, and he also makes at least one of San Francisco's young pitchers expendable if San Francisco is miraculously in position to contend at the all-star break and the team needs a bat. Noah Lowry would probably be the young pitcher to go, according to Andrew Baggerly of the San Jose Mercury-News.

  • Does Edgar Renteria have anything left? The veteran shortstop is coming off a mediocre season in Detroit, but his best baseball has always come in the National League. Now that he's in the NL West, can he rediscover the power that once made him one of the most respected power hitting shortstops in the game?

  • The Giants are a team in transition, so who's going to take a leadership role? If this is the team of Tim Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez, now would be a good time for them to emerge as a one-two knockout punch in the rotation. Lincecum showed signs of becoming the team's emotional leader down the stretch last year, extending himself and screaming in the dugout during late saves that held up close wins, even though the Giants were long out of the race. If he cues up those theatrics again, he might become the leader -- let alone the pitcher -- that San Francisco so desperately needs him to be. Needless to say, the organization has taken notice: They're already talking about a long-term deal with Lincecum, according to's Chris Haft.

  • The Giants broke the ice on offseason's free agency, inking left-handed relief specialist Jeremy Affeldt to a two-year, $8 million deal. At the time it looked like a benchmark signing for other relievers to work off. In fact, it's turned out to be a red herring, leading other relievers to hold out for bigger and better deals ... or at least a deal that matches Affeldt's money. Dennys Reyes may be more prominent than any other lefty reliever in this question, though Joe Beimel is also notable.

By Cameron Smith  |  February 24, 2009; 11:21 AM ET
Categories:  Giants  
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