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Inbox: How aggressive should Giants be this winter?

Am I crazy for thinking this? We have good, top prospects in outfielder Gary Brown and reliever Heath Hembree. Would it be totally crazy to try to deal them to the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton, a proven player with good power? I mean, is this something that could be considered? I think if we just try to keep our team together from last year, we won't do much, a la 2011. We have to improve. Every other team in the National League West is getting better. Shouldn't we?
-- Eric M., Las Vegas

Part of what Eric said makes sense. Entering the 2013 season with a roster that's nearly identical to this past year's would be a mistake. I'm not advocating change simply for change's sake. But there's always room for upgrading, even with a World Series winner, since powerhouse teams rarely exist in this era. Free agency, the format of the First-Year Player Draft and the diluted talent distributed among 30 Major League teams are some of the factors that foster parity. Looking back -- though hindsight is unfair to club management -- the Giants should have tried to strengthen themselves in the outfield, at first base or in both areas more than they did after 2010. And the less said about Miguel Tejada, the better. So, this offseason, the Giants should act boldly, if possible (more on that below).

But it won't happen by offering Brown and Hembree for Stanton. The Giants would need to assemble a much more impressive package of players in front of the Marlins just to get their attention. Miami would want a Bryce Harper-level prospect or two included in that kind of deal. With all due respect to Brown and Hembree, they're not as highly regarded as Harper was. The Giants are better off using free agency to try to replenish their outfield -- since they currently lack regulars in left and center -- and add pitching depth.

By the way, Stanton doesn't possess "good" power. He has awesomepower.

I was very surprised to see Las Vegas oddsmakers had the Giants favored to sign Josh Hamilton at 3-1. I think it makes more sense to go after Michael Bourn than Angel Pagan or Hamilton. Pagan had a great season, but it was a career year which may be hard to produce again. And he'll most likely be overpaid. Hamilton's problems are well-documented. What do you think about these players and them fitting in here in San Francisco?
-- Zach F., San Bruno, Calif.

I doubt that the Giants will even try to sign Hamilton, and I fully realize the risks involved in obtaining him. That said -- go ahead, tell me that my brain is turning to couscous -- it's the type of move that would reaffirm the Giants' intent to win it all again. Sure, his contract would blow San Francisco's budget. Yes, he's a health risk. Certainly his 162 strikeouts this season, up from 93 in 2011, appear ominous. But just imagine him batting consecutively with Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval. They'd potentially revive the grandeur and thump of Mays-McCovey-Cepeda and Clark-Mitchell-Williams. More importantly, they'd probably help the Giants win plenty of games.

Pagan will be overpaid regardless of which team signs him. That's a basic function of free agency. Yet though I understand the temptation to call 2012 a "career year" for Pagan, I believe he can remain productive as long as he stays healthy. Anybody who believes in "fighting like an upside-down cat," as Pagan likes to say, will keep motivating himself to excel. If the Giants can't retain Pagan, Bourn would be a fine alternative.

The Giants need outfield depth and a solid bat. Would they go after free agent Cody Ross to bring him back to AT&T Park? He's coming off a good year and was a fan favorite and a great team player.
-- Paul L., Nottingham, UK

Ross didn't quite burn bridges upon leaving the Giants after the 2011 season, but he may have ignored the metering lights. The perception among club insiders is that San Francisco appeared poised to re-sign Ross before he or his representatives suddenly increased contract demands. That annoyed general manager Brian Sabean, to put matters mildly. Any agreements between the parties irrevocably dissolved.

Strictly from a baseball standpoint, Ross' production for Boston this year could be interpreted skeptically. His totals, which included a .267 batting average, 22 home runs and 81 RBIs were fueled by playing home games at Fenway Park, where he hit .298 with 13 homers and 49 RBIs. But Ross is a winner, as he proved with the Giants, so there might be a match if both sides agree to put aside past differences.

San Francisco Giants