Thursday, December 22, 2005
A Giant-Killer Among Us
On the bright side, the portly, worthless Edgardo Alfonso is now a memory. I guess I'd rather pay $7 million to a 4th outfielder who was good just two years ago than give that same amount to a Punch-and-Judy third sacker whose last good season was six years ago. I would have liked to see the Giants' other useless waste of a 3B, Pedro Feliz, get traded for something good, but this will do for now. Finley gives the Giants' pseudo-Methuselahan outfield some injury insurance and provides at least some value, which is more than can be said for poor Alfie. Finley also gives the Giants another 40-year-old. Joy.
There might be some hope for a rebound in 2006, but trying to find a silver lining in Steve Finley's splits last year is like trying to find human decency in Dick Cheney...there is none. The guy was crap in a little plastic bag. He sucked ass at home, he sucked ass on the road, he sucked at night, during the day, before the Break, after the Break. Finley sucked ass in the rain, Finley sucked ass in a train, Finley sucked ass in a box, Finley sucked ass with a fox. I guess he kinda hit lefties well, but we're reaching here.
I guess it pretty much sums up the Giants' tawdry offseason that the second biggest move the team has made has been to swap a couple of crappy veteran contracts. While we're sitting here debating the merits of Finley and Mark Sweeney, the Dodgers are signing Rafael Furcal and Nomar Garciaparra. Does anybody else see anything wrong with this?
Speaking of the Dodgers (and of traitors, as my post yesterday discussed), Brett Tomko is about to sign a two-year deal with the Bums for about $8.7 million. I don't know what's more amusing, that the Dodgers actually believe that Tomko can help them, or that they're paying about $4.5 million a year so he can whine his way through another year of mediocrity and man-love paintings of his catcher. Either way, they're welcome to him. You think Ned Coletti would have learned his Tomko lesson from last year, but I guess not.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Anyway, today I'd like to talk about traitors. We all know the many famous traitors in history: Benedict Arnold, the Rosenbergs, John Walker-Lindh, Joe Pantoliano in "The Matrix". They're diabolical individuals, willing to sell out their friends and family for wealth or other forms of personal gain. It takes a truly heinous person to cozy up to the enemy in a time of war, as Arnold and Lindh did, and you have to be a really twisted bastard to hand your friends over to Agent Smith, like Pantoliano.
However, it takes a really, REALLY depraved mind to wave sayonara to the Giants and then walk right over to their hated enemies, the Dodgers. Doing this is basically akin to Dwight Eisenhower kicking the Nazis' ass in WWII and then one day waking up and deciding to become a Communist. It's the freaking DODGERS!!! You'd guess this sick conversion unthinkable, but it's happened not once, not twice, but three times in the past year and it could happen for a fourth time soon. First it was Jeff Kent last offseason, then it was Ned Coletti and Bill Mueller, and J.T. Snow might follow along fairly soon. What is going on here?
With the news of Kent's embracing of the dark side last year, the reaction was a little muted. Sure, his bat was a big reason for the Giants' '97 resurgence and he may have established himself as a Hall of Famer while in SF, but he WAS kind of a jerk, with poor car washing/fibbing skills and he took some parting shots at the Giants after leaving, ripping their "french vanilla" uniforms, among other things. Oh, and there was that time he dropped some F-bombs on David Bell in San Diego within earshot of like every fan down the left field line, then got into a shoving match with Barry, then demanded a trade. Then there's that creepy mustache...Yeah, you can see why Giants fans would be a tad apathetic to Kent's demonic conversion, since he already seemingly had satanic Dodger genes running through him anyway.
But then this winter Ned Coletti, erstwhile Giants assistant GM, signed on to become the Dodgers' General Manager. Hmm, that's not so cool. Colletti, Brian Sabean's right hand man, a key player behind the scenes in the Giants' four postseason births from 1997-2003, now pushing buttons for the enemy. A little confusing, a little disconcerting. Didn't Coletti learn anything from '97? The reason the Brian Johnson home run was so sweet was because it was against the DODGERS! You were there, Ned, where do you think the energy in Candlestick came from? The wind? It's not like the reaction would have been the same had we been playing the Expos. For Giants fans, beating the Dodgers is like second only to winning a World Series. They're like the Slytherin to our Gryffindor (a Harry Potter reference? Why do I suddenly feel so dirty?) Our searing hatred of the Bums apparently didn't stop Coletti from stabbing us in the back.
But wait, he IS just a front office type, and it's not like he's Branch Rickey or anything. Also, he IS the guy who allegedly negotiated contracts with free agents, so we may have him to thank for three years (maybe four) of Mike Matheny. So his defection may be curious and inherently wrong, but if he keeps making dumb decisions that lead to Neifi-esque disasters, this isn't a killer.
OK, so Kent and Coletti we can maybe take, but now here comes the doozy. Bill Mueller. Just the mere act of writing the words "Bill Mueller, Dodger" triggers a "Clockwork Orange"-ian reaction that has me keeling over and dashing for the nearest toilet seat. Billy, WHY??? Over the past ten years, you'd be hard pressed to find a player more beloved by Giants fans. There was just something about him that made us all root for him. He hit .330 in his rookie season in 1996. He was a slick fielder and a very solid line drive hitter who would work a walk and set up the Bonds and Kent show. I remember his first major league homer off of Alex Fernandez in Florida, and his first two-homer game coming against Andy Benes and the DBacks in 1998. In '97, he hit one of the most shocking home runs I've ever seen, an upper deck blast at Candlestick off of Mark Leiter. Barry Bonds would only hit 2 or 3 into that deck in a season; nobody expected Mueller to plant one up there.
For five seasons, Mueller was one of my faves, and now this Dodger thing is just killing me. It's like the prodigal son announcing at Thanksgiving dinner that he's having a sex change operation. It's not a good baseball decision for the Dodgers to sign a 35-year-old for 4.5 million, but who cares? I don't want to see Mueller in Dodger blue any more than I want to see John Kruk in a G-string. This is beyond backstabbing, this is tragedy. This is like Anakin moving to the dark side. Billy has good in him obviously, but what could possibly possess him to turn against those who loved him so?
Years ago this kind of thing was unheard of, but now its becoming more common. Jackie Robinson once retired rather than accept a trade to the Giants. However, in recent years we've seen Orel Hershisher, Brett Butler, Brian Johnson, and now these three switch sides, and now J.T. might be next. Does team loyalty mean nothing to these people anymore? Money is the most powerful influence of all, obviously, but it still pains us Giants fans to watch these defections take place. Meanwhile, the only converted Dodger we get is Marquis Grissom, and they didn't even want him, anyway. Maybe Fernandomania can be coaxed out of retirement to even the odds a bit. Maybe we can hire DePodesta on as an advisor just to stick it to the LA media and the McCourts when we beat the Dodgers. But please, stay away from Lima Time and, if at all possible, Ricky Ledee*.
*Speaking of Ledee, I guess he could technically be called a traitor, but the term only qualifies if we actually care that the player leaves. No one was happier to see Ledee go to the Dodgers than me. After he was done sabotaging our 2004 playoff hopes, he might as well have gone to LA to fuck them over. Ledee was a Dodger plant anyway; how else do you explain his hideous tenure as a Giant? No one can be that bad without trying to be that bad, except maybe Neifi.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Whoah, Speak Of The Devil
I like the deal on the outset, just because Kline is cheaper than Hawkins and ostensibly replaces Scott Eyre as the team's resident LOOGY. He wasn't very good last year, allowing lefties to smack .317 against him, but he's made a career as a lefty killer and lefties have hit just .227 against him since he came up in 1997. He probably won't outperform Jack Taschner and this might be just a case of Sabean getting googly-eyed over a "name" LOOGY, but I have no qualms about this deal. If it frees up more cash to improve the lineup, it's worth it.
Of course, Giants fans all have a place in their hearts for Kline after he served up a fat slider that Kenny Lofton roped for a pennant-winning single in 2002 when Kline was with St. Louis. The memory provides a good excuse to toss up a completely gratuitous yet uplifting photo that never ceases to bring a tear to my eye.
If you look close enough you can see Kline there in the middle of the maelstrom, caught like a mouse in the middle of a Fancy Feast ad, just before he started pointing and talking crap to Rich Aurilia like a poor loser. At this point he was probably pondering the benefits of a life of contraband smuggling. Oh, and wouldn't you know it, there's Mike Matheny at the bottom of the frame, sucking in grass after J.D. Drew 18-hopper finally reached his glove, long before any of us could ever imagine he'd be our regular catcher. Ah, memories!
So, You're Gonna Call Me, Right? Right...?
"I'd like to stay in San Francisco, but they've made minimal efforts to contact us. That's surprising to me because I had a decent feeling when the season ended."
I'm not sure, but I seem to remember a game in late September where you got battered out of the third inning despite being given like three leads to hold against the Padres. And my memory isn't what it used to be, but I also seem to recall that game being fairly important, like the season hinging on it or something. Oh, but wait, you threw a complete game in a meaningless game against the DBacks, so good feelings abound!
"I'm a good quality guy who brings a lot to a team, including close to 200 innings."
Close to 200 innings: check. 200 innings of crap: double check. And if bringing a lot to the team means making charcoal sketches of the Bay Bridge and Mike Matheny's ass, then I agree. As far as pitching performance, other than the second half of 2004, there's no reason to even consider bringing you back, my friend.
Meet The New Geezer, Same As The Old Geezer
Um, I take it that this isn't a still from Game 6.
A few lasting images of Tim Worrell in a Giants uniform overshadow his overall effectiveness with the team from 2001-2003. The first, of course, being his meltdown in Game 6. As we all don't want to remember (but I'm masochistically bringing it up anyway), Worrell came on in the 8th inning of that fateful game and squandered a 5-3 lead. Also, I'm quite convinced we have him to thank for the media's man-crush on Darin Erstad after Worrell surrendered an Erstad home run to ignite that 8th inning rally. So not only was Worrell a key player in the most brutal loss in Giants history, but he also fueled hours upon hours of mindless gushing over Erstad's red-assishness.
The second bad memory being his inability to hold a 3-2 lead in the pivotal NLDS Game 3 against the Marlins in 2003. It didn't help that Jose Cruz Jr. muffed the first out of the inning, but watching I-Rod slap an 0-2 pitch for a game winning single was one of the worst things I've ever experienced as a Giants fan. Of course, that was one-upped the next day by the image of J.T. Snow chomping dirt around home plate as I-Rod yelled triumphantly and hugged a pre-insane Ozzie Guillen.
Why? Why do I do this to myself?!?
The Todd's Brother signing gives the Giants some depth in the bullpen. "OK," you say, "they already had decent depth with Accardo, Munter, Hawkins, Walker, Tashner, and Benitez, so why the hell did they go out and grab this guy instead of upgrading at another, more crucial position, like first base? What does giving an old reliever $4 million for two years do to improve the team? And what is it with Sabean and his strange veteran fetish? This is a major league baseball team, not Space Cowboys. And what in holy hell is The War At Home still doing on the air?"
Well, Michael Rapaport still sucks, but I can name a couple positives concerning the Worrell deal. One, it now gives the Giants a chance to trade LaTroy Hawkins. I'm not all that crazy about that guy soaking up 4.35 million next year, so if the Giants could trade him to a team looking for a reliever/closer, they could free up payroll and hopefully get something decent in return, like some young guys who can hit. Hawkins has closer experience (albeit none too successful) and after watching the market for relievers smash through the ceiling this winter (B.J. Ryan, meet $47 million), there's bound to be some takers for him.
Second, Worrell is a quality relief arm, and his contract is basically beans compared to some of the other relief pitchers being overpaid this offseason. Worrell was ghastly with the Phillies to start the season, but then put up a 2.27 ERA after being traded to Arizona. Keep in mind that the BOB is one of the premier hitter's parks and you get an idea of how good he was.
Third, I'd much rather pay Tim Worrell $4 million for a couple years than shell out $11 million for Scott Eyre over three years. Over the past four years, Worrell has been more valuable than Eyre, but Eyre just had the fortune of putting up a terrific season in a contract year. Eyre has had that one great year that he's not likely to repeat, while Worrell, except for that one hiccup with the Phils last year, has been consistently good for a while now. Even if the Giants make no other moves with the bullpen, at the very least Worrell helps fill the void left by Eyre, and I would wager that this signing will be beneficial for the coming season.