San Francisco Giants Sign Aaron Rowand

Another day, and another big free agent is off the market. Today, Aaron Rowand agreed to a $60 million, five-year contract with the San Francisco Giants. And the Giants didn’t even have to trade either of its pitching prospects (Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum).

The 30-year-old Rowand is expected to bat fifth in the lineup for San Francisco. Rowand spent spent the past two seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies. Prior to the Phillies, Rowand was with the Chicago White Sox who won the 2005 World Series. The Phillies, Rangers, White Sox, and the Dodgers (before signing Andruw Jones) all were looking into signing Rowand.

“Bottom line, I wanted to get in a spot where I would be long term,” said Rowand, who noted he considered four or five similar multi-year offers. “In this day of free agency, that’s not common-place. That’s really the thing I was looking forward to most.”

Rowand is coming off his best season yet, earning his first Gold Glove award and All-Star selection while helping the Phillies to the NL East title. Rowand batted 0.309 with 27 home runs and career bests of 89 RBIs, 105 runs, 189 hits, and 45 doubles in 161 games.

“With this move, we will no longer listen to any offers for Cain and Lincecum,” General Manager of the San Francisco Giants, Brian Sabean said. “We know the value of both individuals, believe me, maybe more so now that we’ve gone through this exercise. They might be the hottest two names in baseball.” I am not sure about hottest names in baseball (can you say Santana?), but I do give Sabean due credit.

While manager Bruce Bochy had said Rajai Davis would get a chance to earn the center-field job in spring training, Rowand was brought in to provide consistency at center field. That means Dave Roberts likely will shift from center to left, replacing the cheater, err, Barry Bonds. Winn will probably stay in right field while Davis and some of the other young outfielders share time in a reserve role. Of course, they may still be dealt, a move which Sabean is contemplating.

“I said I wanted to change the culture of the clubhouse and get back to the warrior mentality and play the game hard for nine innings,” Bochy said. “Aaron’s the type of player who can do that. He’s the type of player who can hold everyone accountable.”

The Giants have been coasting through a pathetic existence in the last few years. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2003. In 2007, the Giants had twenty more losses (91) than wins (71). The Giants haven’t reached the playoffs since 2003. The Giants are still working on completing their team, as they still have holes to fill at third base and also at first. Sabean also mentioned that he’s seeking help in the bullpen.

“We still have to address what to do at third base,” Sabean said. “We’ll wade through what the possibilities are. We’re not shutting it off.”

Rowand said he believes the Giants will contend in the much-improved division. “Boch’s goals, as far as the way he wants to play the game, the kind of persona he wants this team to have, really lends itself to the way I’ve gone about doing my business throughout my career. For me, it’s about bringing everything I have to the table every day and laying it all out there.” Rowand is a good player, playing hard. We all remember that fateful play in 2006 when he made a daring catch and hit the center-field fence at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, which fractured his nose and bones around his left eye. With that play, he has cemented himself as a passionate, determined, gritty, and respectable baseball player.

“For me, it’s probably the greatest compliment that I could get, not only from people who watch me play, but [also] from my peers,” Rowand said. “It’s one thing if you say, ‘That guy’s a great hitter’ or, ‘That guy’s a great outfielder,’ but it’s another thing to say, ‘That guy … would do whatever it takes to win every day.’ … If that’s the only thing I’m remembered for, I’d be completely content with that the rest of my days.”

Rowand, you have my respect for playing hard. But when you said that “I really, deep down, feel [that I am joining a team that] is going to be contending and reach the ultimate goal, and that’s winning a World Series,” you have lost a few points in my book. First of all, have you seen what the Padres did in the NL West? Second, the Dodgers are going to come back to solid form with Joe Torre as manager and Andruw Jones in center field. I forgive Rowand, however, as I think Rowand made the mistake that contention in the land of the Giants means not finishing last in the NL West.

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~ by mlb2007playoffs on December 12, 2007.

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