Sabean: Signing A-Rod would be ``a reach'' for Giants
SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean plans to "kick the tires" to determine the feasibility of signing free agent Alex Rodriguez, but characterized the team's chances of acquiring the slugger as "a reach."
With Barry Bonds' tenure in San Francisco over after 15 seasons, there has been speculation that the Giants could try to replace baseball's home run king with the player considered to have the best chance to break Bonds' record.
Rodriguez recently opted out of his $252 million, 10-year contract with the New York Yankees and filed for free agency. Sabean was asked on a conference call Thursday whether the team was willing to commit a large percentage of its payroll to a player expected to receive a contract worth $30 million or more per year.
"I don't even know that they know what their expectations are," Sabean said of A-Rod and agent Scott Boras. "You have to do due diligence. I think that's the best way to put it: kick the tires on anything, including him. In baseball, almost anything is possible. How probable something like that would be would be a reach for me for the reasons you said. It can literally hamstring what you want to do for quite a while."
The 32-year-old Rodriguez led the majors with 54 homers and 156 RBIs this season. His 518 career home runs are the most by anybody his age and 184 more than Bonds' 334 at the same age. Bonds holds the career mark with 762 home runs.
Ned Colletti, GM of the rival Dodgers, didn't know whether Rodriguez would be interested in the Dodgers now that they've signed Joe Torre to manage.
"It's somewhat of a question for Alex and his representative," Colletti said. "We're going to meet as a group here at some point in time and discuss not only Alex Rodriguez but everybody else who is a free agent, plus the different trade scenarios we've got."
Torre, who managed Rodriguez in New York the past four seasons, was surprised A-Rod opted to end his contract with the Yankees.
"I know he liked it here, and I know he enjoyed the Yankees this year more than any other year," Torre said on WFAN. "We kind of forged this relationship this year and I don't know what clicked, to be honest with you, because I don't think I did anything different."
Torre also was taken aback that Rodriguez terminated his deal with the Yankees during Game 4 of the World Series.
"That certainly didn't sit well with anybody," Torre told the radio station.
Sabean said the Giants already were in discussions about a one-year deal with a vesting option for free-agent shortstop Omar Vizquel, and was interested in re-signing third baseman Pedro Feliz.
The priority this offseason is improving an offense that finished last in the majors in slugging percentage with a .387 mark and second-worst with 693 runs scored. That will have to be done without Bonds. Sabean reiterated the team's stance that it will not bring him back despite recent comments by the slugger that suggested there was still a chance he could return to San Francisco.
With a thin free-agent pool, Sabean said upgrades might require trading some of the club's young pitchers.
The Giants also hired a new hitting coach Thursday, giving the job to former AL batting champion Carney Lansford.
Lansford, a five-time All-Star who won the batting title in 1981, received a two-year contract to replace Joe Lefebvre on manager Bruce Bochy's staff. Lansford grew up in the Bay Area cheering for the Giants.
Lansford said he will encourage "unselfish baseball," with players taking pitches to allow for stolen bases. He wants his hitters advancing runners and creating runs.
"We have to do whatever it takes to win a ballgame," he said. "If that means taking pitches, you have to do that and feel good about it. At the same time, still move that runner over so the next guy can pick him up. That's hard to do sometimes, but winning ballclubs do that."
Sabean quickly added that did not mean the team didn't want to have any power in the lineup.
"We're not looking to have a Punch and Judy team," he said. "Nor is Carney going to be a Punch and Judy hitting coach. We believe in trying to hit doubles, trying to hit the ball as hard as you can. There will be times where those doubles are going to turn into home runs."
Lansford batted .290 during a 15-year career with the Angels, Boston and Oakland. Lansford, who was hitting coach for the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate this season, had previously been a bench coach for Tony La Russa in Oakland (1994-95) and St. Louis (1997-98).
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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