Despite this year's struggles, this September and coming offseason promise to be one of the most interesting in recent years for the Giants.
The Giants keep winning, and the Padres keep stumbling. It's not a race yet, but if the Giants can gain another game during their Dodgers series, it will be.
Auditioning for next season are a few players whose future with the club next year are questionable, and whose fates may be intertwined in an indirect way.
Let me backtrack a bit. Can we all agree that the bullpen will very likely stand pat as is, with the fate of one current bullpen member in question? There will have to be one of the current crop who is not there at the beginning of next year (I'm hoping this will be Jeff Fassero, even though I love the guy for what he's brought the team this year). But it is a largely set entity, being doubtful that Brain Sabean would choose to bring anyone in from the outside.
That leaves the starting pitching and position players as the areas left to make change. Of the rotation, the only obvious locks are Jason Schmidt and Noah Lowry, with Brad Hennessey, Matt Cain, and Kevin Correia all making auditions for a spot next season, and Brett Tomko, I suppose, still being an option (he'd better pitch lights out while Correia is hurt, though).
The position players are largely set as well. Randy Winn, Barry Bonds, and Moises Alou will start in the outfield, the positions of SS, catcher, and 2B will be filled by Omar Vizquel, Mike Matheny, and Ray Durham, and 3B will probably be Pedro Feliz, provided Sabes gets an epiphany on how to dump Edgardo Alfonzo and his Hindenburg contract. The backup catcher and utility fielder may come from outside the organization. That leaves...1st base, and the question of the J.T. Snow/Lance Niekro platoon, or a free agent?
I'll pose the question to everyone. If the Giants manage to dump Alfonzo, this would mean the two about-seven million dollar contracts of him and Kirk Rueter would be off the books. Where should any extra money go? Should it be used to get free agent starting pitching, or to acquiring an offensive 1st baseman to give the Giants more offense?