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01/13/12 6:04 PM EST

Inbox: Who will be left out of the outfield?

Where is the outfield situation headed? With Brandon Belt, Melky Cabrera and Nate Schierholtz already pretty much in place, I don't see the need for Angel Pagan. Is it possible the team trades Aubrey Huff to put Belt at first base? What can the Giants get for Huff right now? I find it hard to imagine Pagan as the fourth outfielder.
-- Eric Y., San Jose

Little is certain regarding San Francisco's outfield, which explains why manager Bruce Bochy refused to name a starting threesome during last month's Winter Meetings. In fact, making definitive statements about any of the top five candidates is challenging:

Cabrera almost surely will begin the season in the lineup. But at what position?

Since the Giants gave the Mets two Major Leaguers (Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez) for Pagan, he also appears likely to start. So why didn't Bochy commit to him?

Does Schierholtz really have right field locked up? If so, it would be the first time.

Huff is virtually impossible to trade, given his $10 million salary and dismal 2011 performance. The Giants hierarchy would prefer to see him at first base rather than at one of the outfield corners.

Coming off a .225 rookie season, Belt must excel in Cactus League exhibitions just to have a chance to start either in left field or at first base. But I believe that he's capable of sustaining the kind of effort that would earn him a job.

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With most of the offseason talk based around Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez, do you think they'll feel added stress that could hinder their performance?
-- J.R., San Francisco

Absolutely not. Posey grew accustomed long ago to being the center of attention. He'll be eager to demonstrate that he's healthy and can remain productive, though his attitude will reflect determination and not a sense of "Hey, look at me." Sanchez overcame multiple obstacles, most notably abnormalities in both feet at birth, to reach the Major Leagues. Recovering from a dislocated right shoulder and striving to regain his game won't break him.

I read a month ago that the Giants were finalizing a contract with reliever Guillermo Mota, but he is still not on the roster. What gives?
-- Ray G., Gettysburg, Pa.

The deal should be finalized soon. Some contractual language needs to be tweaked.

This is more of a comment than a question. Barry Zito's agent (Scott Boras) negotiated a great contract for him. In retrospect, the Giants overpaid. However, Zito shows up to work every day, works hard, trains hard, and is a great citizen and human being. Of course I am disappointed in his performance, but he deserves credit for being a good teammate and trying to contribute to the team's success. He isn't a slacker. Painful to put this in print, since he is a Trojan.
-- Ed B., San Francisco

If I say anything nasty about the Trojans, I might not receive media credentials, so I'm staying mum on that subject. Otherwise, you've captured what has made Zito's Giants tenure so frustrating. Zito is genuinely caring, sensitive and diligent. Moreover, he still possesses pitching talent, as his 5-0 start in 2010 and his three-game winning streak last year demonstrated. But once he gets derailed, he stays derailed. This year he has to produce, because he has no margin for error. He's sandwiched by Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong, who clearly outrank him, and Eric Surkamp and a host of non-roster candidates, who view him as vulnerable as they vie for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. A competitive spring awaits.

Now that Manny Ramirez wants to come back to the Major Leagues, do you believe it is in the Giants' best interests to take a look at him and possibly sign him, even though we have a full contingent of outfielders? He's a career .312 hitter and likely would be a catalyst in the lineup this year if he were to perform up to par. As an added bonus, he may be cheap to sign.
-- Stephen F., San Jose

Adding Ramirez is an intriguing idea, but he wasn't the same as a hitter at the end of 2010 with the White Sox (.261, one homer in 88 plate appearances) and with Tampa Bay last year (1-for-17). Ordinarily, some teams would take a chance on him, given his career accomplishments. But the combination of his apparent decline, the performance-enhancing-drug cloud surrounding him and the potential distraction of just having him around may scare off potential suitors.

Before the Beard gained so much celebrity, Brian Wilson said that once the Giants lose, he would shave it off. Since they didn't make the postseason, does he shave or keep it?
-- Donavan G., Bay City, Ore.

So far he's keeping it, based on various photos taken in the last few months. Besides, it might not matter what Wilson wants. Don't you think the Beard has gained a life of its own?

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.