"You'd have to gauge, and we don't know this, what somebody's legitimate interest is -- how do we know he doesn't want to stay in the American League, how do we know what he really thinks about San Francisco," Sabean said. "So at this point, the best track for us is to be on the outside looking in, until things really get defined. ... Knowing Scott's due diligence, this is going to go all the way to or through the Winter Meetings, so there's still plenty of time."Sabean re-emphasized that acquiring players through trade probably will be more fruitful than free agency for the Giants and most clubs, given the shortage of attractive free agents. He did issue a qualified hands-off policy regarding right-hander Tim Lincecum, the 2007 rookie sensation who has been cited in various trade rumors. "Right now the only way it's come up is if teams have asked about him. And that's where it ends," Sabean said. "I am in no position to think that there's a trade out there that we would make to want to give up Lincecum. But when you finish 20 games below .500 and you're in last place, you have to listen." Vizquel contributed to the Giants' forgettable season by batting .246, a 49-point drop from 2006. But the 11-time Gold Glove Award winner also maintained his deft defense, prompting the Giants to retain him. Vizquel, said Sabean, leads by "a higher level of example." "He's never in the training room, he's always ready to play, he's enthusiastic, he has passion, he's completely all-out on the field," Sabean said. "For a younger team, or with people who are learning this game, there's nobody better to learn from. He's going to the Hall of Fame and he still has the passion of a rookie and plays every game like it's his last."
In fact, the 40-year-old Vizquel spent Friday playing his second game in a three-month stint for Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League, a gesture meant to reciprocate the appreciation of fans in his native country.Coming off a three-year, $12.25 million contract, Vizquel will earn $5 million next season. Reportedly, if he appears in 140 games, he'll be guaranteed $5.2 million in 2009. After that, the Giants hope that either Emmanuel Burris or Brian Bocock, their top shortstop prospects, will be Major League ready. Vizquel will get a $300,000 buyout if the option clause isn't activated. "It just depends on the way I play," Vizquel said. "Everybody knows if you play good, they're going to give you a lot of playing time."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.