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Here’s a note from a fan expressing a sentiment that has been echoed by numerous sfgiants.com readers this offseason:
Do the Giants have any interest in Mike Jacobs to play first base? I know they liked him in the past. They can probably get him at a nice price to compete with Travis Ishikawa.
– Chris P., Phoenix, AZ
If I had a dollar for each e-mail I’ve received about Mike Jacobs, I’d be able to pay off my older daughter’s college tuition for the rest of the school year. OK, that’s a slight exaggeration. But the voice of the fan is always compelling when it’s unified.
Jacobs isn’t a premier free agent like Matt Holliday or Jason Bay. He isn’t even considered a second-tier free agent. But he did hit 51 home runs in the previous two seasons. Jacobs would have an AT&T Park concession-stand menu item named after him, kind of like the “Cha Cha Bowl” saluting Orlando Cepeda, if he homered at that pace for the Giants.
These are the same Giants who ranked last in the Major Leagues with 94 home runs in 2008 and next-to-last in the National League with 122 homers last season. Granted, power isn’t the cure-all to the Giants’ offensive woes. But you have to wonder whether Jacobs might be worth signing to a one-year contract for a low base salary and enough performance bonuses to reward him for a job well done.
The Giants, who continue to seek offensive help, have contacted Jacobs’ agent, John Boggs. Their interest in Jacobs appears minimal, however. “They haven’t given any indication that he’s a player they’ve targeted,” Boggs said Monday. “But he could be the answer to completing their lineup.”
Maybe Jacobs, 29, can be this year’s Russell Branyan, who amassed 31 homers for Seattle last year after averaging 12 in the previous six seasons.
Boggs told me that I was the first reporter to ask him about his client this winter. This doesn’t qualify me for Mensa. Jacobs possesses plenty of statistical baggage. His on-base percentage dipped below .300 in each of the last two seasons and he hit just .228 with Kansas City in 2009, prompting the Royals to release him last month when they needed a 40-man roster spot for the Rule 5 Draft, of all things. He played only 15 games at first base for the Royals, prompting doubts about his ability to handle the position.
But many teams need power. And Jacobs’ 2008-09 home run output can’t be denied. After clobbering 32 two years ago with Florida, he hit just 19 last year. Yet given the adjustments Jacobs faced due to switching leagues, that was hardly a precipitous drop. He bats left-handed, an ominous trait to take into AT&T Park. But most observers agree that his slugging ability is legitimate.
The Giants surely believe that they can acquire better hitters than Jacobs, and maybe they’re right. But third baseman Adrian Beltre’s agreement with Boston removed another potential option from the Giants’ list. Unless they’re considering other first basemen (Adam LaRoche, Branyan, Carlos Delgado), contemplating the largely untapped supply of second basemen (Felipe Lopez, Orlando Hudson) or pondering the wisdom of adding an outfielder (Scott Podsednik, Rick Ankiel, Ryan Church, Xavier Nady), they might have to look harder at performers like Jacobs as Spring Training approaches.
– Chris Haft