Giants escaping the formula that made them a late-80s powerhouse

>> Tuesday

If you haven't heard about today's big baseball transaction yet, then you're probably either not much of a fan, or you just don't have friends like Matt Bechtel who are good enough to call you at work and break the news.

For those of you in either category, the San Francisco Giants signed former Braves and Padres star Ryan Klesko to a one-year, $1.75million contract this afternoon. Klesko, 35, will platoon at first base with fellow 35 year-old Rich Aurilia, giving the Giants an opening day first base situation that sounds like a late-July injury patch job.

Klesko adds more veteran experience to an everyday lineup that's already comically old. Consider that his double play combo will be Ray Durham, 35, and Omar Vizquel, 39, while fellow bottom-third hitter and catcher Mike Matheny is 36. Third baseman Pedro Feliz is listed at 31, but remember--he's from the DR, which could mean he's as old as 59. Also, should Klesko and Aurilia get hurt or forced to play out-of-position (or should I say, positions they once played clumsily five years ago) because another old Giant's achin' knees give out, the next 1B on the depth chart is the 37 year-old Mark Sweeney.

Giants GM Brian Sabean knew his team's lack of youth would be a concern this offseason and has spent the free agent signing season addressing the issue ... by maintaining it mostly. Not only has Sabean re-signed the 42 year-old Barry Bonds and brought in Aurilia and Klesko, he also signed the 34 year-old centerfielder Dave Roberts, who, incredibly, is a seven-year improvement on last year's centerfielder Steve Finley.

Finley--who finally told management this offseason, "Seriously, you guys; I'm too old. Haven't you been watching me? I really can't play anymore. Honest. I'm hanging it up"--leaves the team along with the 39 year-old Moises Alou (again, a product of the DR with their wacky birth certificates and all), who leaves for the equally aged New York Mets. Both moves, along with the replacement of manager Felipe Alou--whose age I could look up but would rather just go on appearance and say 85--may suggest that the Giants are committed to a youth movement. Or, as Matt posited, they might just be considering bringing Felipe back to play right field.

All of this old Giant talk got me thinking--how do the 2006/2007 Giants stack up to the 1989 Giants that won the old NL West, in terms of their age? And I don't mean in terms of their ages in 1989. I mean their ages now. They were a pretty young team back then, and that wasn't so long ago. Given the chance, maybe that team could reassemble and save the Giants' franchise.

Some key players on the 2006/2007 Giants and their current ages:
Barry Bonds, 42
Omar Vizquel, 39
Steve Finley, 41 (retired this offseason)
Moises Alou, 39 (recently signed with Mets)
Mike Stanton, 39 (recently signed with Reds)
Tim Worrell, 39 (not at all "key" but on their roster)
Jose Vizcaino, 38 (recently signed with Cardinals)
Jeff Fassero, 43 (sent to the glue factory this offseason)

Some key players on the 1989 Giants and their current ages:
Will Clark, 42
Matt Williams, 41
Kevin Mitchell, 44
Kirt Manwaring, 41
Robby Thompson, 44
Jeff Brantley, 43
Scott Garrelts, 44

Come on Sabean--you're gonna tell me Will Clark doesn't have another thrill ride left in him? A pass on Mitchell I can understand, as I assume he's had many angioplasties by now. And Uribe, well...obviously. (God rest his soul.) But this team won 92 games, and clearly, they're still young enough to play. Bring 'em back! Admittedly, staff ace Rick Reuschel would probably be too old to pitch now at 57, but who knows--he always had kind of an old man's game anyhow. What's another seventeen years onto that?

For good measure, I'd also suggest bringing back Benito Santiago for a second stint, Terry Mulholland for a third, and Shawon Dunston for a fourth. And then trade Lance Niekro for Phil and Joe Niekro.

Bringing back the '89 team may not get the Giants in the playoffs, but seriously, it can't be much worse than signing Cliff Floyd (which I just assume they're bound to do).


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