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12/09/09 7:23 PM EST

Sabean chats with fans from Meetings

Giants GM discusses player development, offseason moves

San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean participated in a live Web chat with fans from the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis on Wednesday. During the chat he answered many questions, including giving his thoughts on current players' progress, upcoming activity for the offseason and the Giants' outlook for 2010.

Sabean: Hello everyone, coming live to you from the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis! Thanks for joining me today. Let's get started with your questions.

treal_jay: Brian, position-player-wise, what are the Giants' most critical needs in order of high to lowest priority?

Sabean: Regardless of position we need to improve our offense. Pablo Sandoval will be the fourth hitter, and we will need to be able to place someone in back and in front of him.

k90sdrk: Do you think Buster Posey is ready to catch at the Major League level, and how consistent will he be in a 162-game season?

Sabean: We are not sure. Having said that, he is ahead of his own development schedule and has been named the Minor League player of the year. So it may come to that with him being our catcher, and if so, we are willing to take that risk. Because he's played so little professional baseball, it's hard to predict what he will do in his first Major League season.

dbgiant21: Do you expect to pick up a "Juan Uribe" this offseason, such as Nick Greene, or would it be preferred to use homegrown players?

Sabean: We consider Juan a super-utility type of talent at this time; we don't know of our ability to re-sign him. If he does not re-sign, we will look internally at people like Emmanuel Burriss or Ryan Rohlinger who can play the middle of the infield.

mescalbean: Mr. Sabean, thank you very much for the opportunity to ask a question. My question is this: on the basis of the 2009 season, have the Giants seen enough of John Bowker, Travis Ishikawa and Nate Schierholtz to determine whether they can be starter-calibre ballplayers?

Sabean: Short answer is probably not. Having said that, they will be given ample opportunities in Spring Training to distinguish themselves.

eddiesf: Which team in our division do you think will be the biggest challenge to our ballclub in 2010?

Sabean: I'm not sure, but the West seemingly has a shotgun start every year. From recent history it's usually up for grabs every year. Our goal is to be in position to win the division.

nomobonds: If both Bumgarner and Posey are on the Major League roster next year, who in your opinion will be the organization's top Minor League prospect?

Sabean: Dan Runzler, Waldis Joaquin and Joe Martinez have a chance to make our 12-man staff. I'm going to monitor very closely the progress next year with Brandon Crawford, Francisco Peguero, Thomas Neal and Roger Kieschnick.

nomobonds: Performance-wise, which Giant impressed you most last season?

Sabean: Sandoval, because of the fact that he met our needs and expectations, and actually surpassed our expectations.

sucio1: Hello, Brian. My question is, are you confident that if the Giants are not able to fill their needs via free agency and/or trades that you could field a competitive ballclub in 2010?

Sabean: Yes, by virtue of our pitching staff and its depth.

Sandals: Since losing Brad Penny to the Cardinals, do you plan on looking for a starting pitcher this offseason? Or would you be comfortable with a rotation that contains both Jonathan Sanchez and Bumgarner come April?

Sabean: Because of Bumgarner's talent alone, he is very capable of being our fifth starter, but much like the Posey situation, we want to be sure that we are not rushing him. As a result we will continue to look at other options. Bumgarner very well though could be the fifth starter.

Sandals: Are you looking into signing Tim Lincecum to a long-term deal this year? Or if not, could it be done next offseason?

Sabean: At this time we are going to wait until January and us filing our number for arbitration, and then view their filing number to decide if there is a window or opportunity for more than a one-year deal. Or decide it's more prudent this year to go with a one-year contract and if that's means going to arbitration then we are prepared to do so.

gintssoxfn: I'm a Giants season ticket holder and look forward to the upcoming season. What are plans to strengthen the lineup, especially at left field and first base? Any interest in players just a level below the top dollar guys -- players like Hank Blalock, Xavier Nady, etc.?

Sabean: We are exploring opportunities to upgrade at first base and in the outfield, from a run production standpoint.

APeeler: Your best guess as to what level Thomas Neal will start next season?

Sabean: Probably Double-A at the beginning of the year. Who knows at the end of the year where he'll end up. He played very well in the Arizona Fall League against older and more experienced players.

APeeler: What is the best part of the Winter Meetings?

Sabean: The fellowship.

strakman1: How are the health issues with Edgar Renteria and Freddy Sanchez?

Sabean: They seem to be doing fine with their offseason rehab programs and will be thoroughly evaluated at the first of the year to get a timetable to start baseball activity.

bond1942: Will Ryan Garko be tendered a contact this week?

Sabean: We have until Saturday at 9 p.m. PT to make that decision, and as of now we have not made that decision yet.

Sabean: We feel that these meetings are productive at putting our roster together. We don't feel pressure of having to do something while we're here. We are prepared to act in a timely fashion when the right opportunities present themselves. Thanks everyone for joining us today. Happy holidays, and we will talk to you again after the first of the year.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.