As the San Francisco Giants open up the second half of the 2010 season with a 2-0 victory over the New York Mets on Thursday, the rumors of trading for a big bat still grabbed more attention.

Whether it is more talk about Milwaukee Brewers’ outfielder Corey Hart, Kansas City Royals’ outfielder Jose Guillen, or even what the minor league signing of pitcher Dontrelle Willis’ means to trading for a bat, the buzz about the Giants is centering around improving the offense.

Despite the fact Tim Lincecum was at his filthiest on Thursday, dominating the Metropolitans for a complete game shutout, and despite the fact both the young studs Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey drove in big runs, the news still centered around possible trade acquisitions.

And in all fairness, discussing potential offensive upgrades to the Giants is only far too easy.

Obviously, the biggest issue with the Giants not being able to truly contend in recent seasons has been their lack of offensive talent.

However, the problem is that the most popular rumors are dealing with corner outfielders and not corner infielders.

Which is the heart of the problem.

San Francisco already owns a glut of outfielders.

Aaron Rowand has been struggling throughout the season and as much as fans rejoice in his lack of playing time, his $12 million per year contract must see to it that he plays at least every now and then as well as everyday when he gets on a hot streak.

Then there is Rowand’s main replacement in Andres Torres, the speedy center fielder who is currently sidelined with a minor injury (no DL necessary as of yet) but has given the Giants the prototypical leadoff man they have been missing for quite some time.

Plus, with solid veteran bats in Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff at the outfield corner positions and the defensive prowess of Nate Schierholtz, the Giants already have five outfielders eating up innings.

Even if the Giants move Huff back to first base, and then trade for an outfielder, that still leaves two outfielders worthy of significant playing time on the bench.

And with the Giants manager Bruce Bochy always having trouble making out a consistent lineup card, adding more glut to the outfield isn’t an ideal situation.

Not only would the Giants have to give up an arm and a leg (most likely Matt Cain and prospect Thomas Neal) to acquire an outfielder in Hart (whose current value is through the roof) but what would that mean to Nate Schierholtz?

Or what about Torres? Would he get less playing time if Rowand starts swinging the bat? And Pat Burrell should be getting 3-4 starts a week but not playing everyday.

When Burrell takes a game off, do the Giants move Huff back to left field and insert Ishikawa at first?

The point that needs to be addressed is that even I am confusing myself in discussing all the possible outfield and infield combinations if the Giants were to trade for yet another outfielder.

While being versatile is ideal, switching players around everyday can cause certain players to struggle.

It can’t be ignored that consistency in where players find themselves in the lineup and on the field each and everyday often helps them reach their a comfort zone quicker than if they keep getting moved up and down the lineup and from position to position.

What is the most wide open spot the Giants have on the field?

Corner infield.

Or more specifically first base.

With Pablo Sandoval capable of playing either first or third, ideally the Giants would target a trade for either a third or first baseman.

Why is this the case? Well, when you consider that  Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey and now Travis Ishikawa have all seen time at first base, it is clear that a spot is available to be anchored down at first base.

With Huff now playing a lot in the outfield, Posey moved to catcher full time, and Ishikawa more of a role player than everyday starter, there is a clear vacancy for an everyday first baseman.

Now when it comes to corner infielders available, the spot to look first would be in Washington in an attempt to see what it would take to acquire either third baseman Ryan Zimmerman or first baseman Adam Dunn.

Both players would probably require as much, if not more than, the return the Brewers will be asking for in regards to Hart.

So chances are, both players are out of San Francisco’s price range.

That said, looking around the bottom feeding teams in the National League and there are some quality corner infielders that should be available for considerably less in return.

For example, the Chicago Cubs are not going anywhere this season, and the 35-year-old Derrek Lee could be had for merely prospects. He may be only hitting .238 thus far, but he has proven throughout his career to be a dynamic hitter.

Change of scenery to a place closer to his Sacramento roots could jump start the veteran first baseman.

Houston’s Lance Berkman could be had for relatively cheap, as the 34-year-old hasn’t been playing up to his prior standards this season. While he still has enough game to require better prospects, Berkman is still an intriguing option.

There is also Arizona’s Adam Laroche, who was said to have been offered more money by the Giants this offseason before signing a one year deal with the Diamondbacks. With things not going as planned in Arizona, and LaRoche’s camp reporting that there aren’t any negative feelings towards the Giants, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in orange & black.

And finally, the only cheap option still in his 20’s is none other than Pittsburgh’s Garrett Jones. Jones can hit for power and play everyday at first base and solidify the Giant infield. He isn’t likely to cost much more than maybe a reliever with some big league experience and an average prospect.

Each one of these cheaper candidates are low risk, high reward. They each currently play for a lousy NL team, and would welcome a change to a winning team.

Sure, all Giants fans would prefer the Ryan Braun’s, Prince Fielder’s, Adam Dunn’s, and Adrian Gonzalez’s of the world, but the asking price for these types of players is going to be too high.

Plus, for those of us who complain about the Giants not having a marquee bat, then just blame the Giants front office team who could have signed Dunn as a free agent prior to the 2009 season.

Trading for him now would just be a huge waste of prospects and probably a starting pitcher when they could have just signed him as a free agent two years ago.

Fortunately, there are currently some lesser options who could prove to be just as effective down the stretch as Dunn would be, but at a lower cost.

Let’s just hope the Giants take this advice and trade for a low risk NL first baseman and not another American Leaguer.

Because we all know how well the trades for AJ Pierzynski, Shea Hillenbrand and Ryan Garko worked out for the Giants.

Not so good.

But those veteran NL first baseman (who currently play for underachieving teams) are exactly the bats San Francisco should try to acquire before the July 31st trade deadline.


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