10/22/2003 3:12 PM ET
Bay Area forecast: Chance of Snow
First baseman released but may re-sign with Giants
By Rich Draper / MLB.com WorldSeries.com
Four-time Gold Glove winner J.T. Snow may re-sign with the Giants. (Dino Vournas/AP)
SAN FRANCISCO -- Don't expect veteran J.T. Snow to go elsewhere next season.
The Giants first baseman is still too valuable as a defensive whiz and offensive threat and showed his toughness with a good 2003 campaign despite lingering injury problems.
San Francisco declined to re-sign him at $6.5 million, opting for a $750,000 buyout and making the 35-year-old Snow a free agent. That was almost preordained.
But he shouldn't be free for long, as the four-time Gold Glove winner has previously indicated he would love to return to the National League West champions, while San Francisco's options at first seem limited.
His agent, Dan Horwits, reiterated that feeling this week, and even with the Giants slashing their budget of around $84 million by perhaps a projected $8.5 million for next season, Snow could stay with the club.
"One of his option is to go back to the Giants -- he'd definitely like to do that once the club makes the first move," said Horwits. "But J.T. always looks at Pac Bell as not conducive to his strengths, and he talks about how many [home run] balls get taken away from him there.
"When the time comes to talk to other clubs there may be teams interested in him being their first baseman," added Horwits. "We'll see how that plays out. The Giants may go out and get a free agent player or do it from within -- they have plenty of options."
Losing Snow could literally cost the Giants a half-dozen games due to his glovework. They would lose his second-best on-base-percentage (.387) and penchant for drawing walks.
Despite lingering groin problems, Snow still hit .273, drove in 51 runs and hammered eight homers over 103 games. He drew 55 walks, only four less than in 2002 when he played in 40 more games.
"He was definitely frustrated by the injuries," said Horwits, "but losing in the end was the biggest frustration of all."
J.T. Snow / 1B
In the wings are versatile infielder/outfielder Pedro Feliz -- still uncomfortable at first -- and minor leaguer Lance Niekro, who may be a year away from being a big leaguer.
The Giants will probably not re-sign 2003 backup Andres Galarraga unless the 42-year-old decides to play cheaply and fulfill his dream of hitting two more homers for 400 career blasts.
Meantime, another Horwits client, Eric Young, will not re-sign with San Francisco. The 36-year-old infielder was acquired from Milwaukee as a replacement for then-injured Ray Durham at second base in mid-August.
The Giants declined to pick up Young's option for 2004.
"He's in the same boat as J.T.," said Horwits, "But he's less likely to go back because he wants to play every day and the Giants have a lot of fine infielders. He played for Milwaukee five or six days a week and was a fine leadoff hitter."
Young hit .197 in 26 games for the Giants.
Running game? A much-ballyhoed speed game in 2003 was to be a departure from the wait-for-the-big-inning strategy from previous seasons, when Barry Bonds' and other players' homers would spur the offense.
Homer production did drop from 198 in 2002 to 180 last season with the loss of sluggers Jeff Kent, Reggie Sanders and David Bell.
But the running game fell flat on its face, with stolen bases dropping from 74 in 2002 to only 53 this year, worst in the league. Ray Durham had averaged around 25 SBs for the past three seasons, but stole only seven for the Giants due to recurring injuries.
Jose Cruz Jr., whose $4 million option was declined by the Giants on Wednesday, had 32 base thefts for Toronto two seasons ago but stole only five this year, being caught eight times. Marquis Grissom's outstanding season including 11 steals, six more than last year with the Dodgers.
The bottom line? It didn't matter. The Giants' 755 runs were only sixth best in league, yet the club still won 100 games and breezed through the NL West.
Manager Felipe Alou said the fewer stolen bases was more a matter of situational issues, and he preferred not to force the thefts.
We either make ourselves happy or miserable.
The amount of work is the same.