Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Guys I Don't Want Back Next Year

I don't really feel like going into detail about the disgrace of the past week that sent the Giants spiraling out of playoff contention, and I don't think anybody really feels like discussing it, either. Instead, I think it's time we took a little look into the future.

The future, John Ryder?

Yes, anonymous disembodied voice...all the way into the year 2007!

Let's face it, the team pretty much sucked this year, with the exception of like two red-hot streaks, so the list of guys I don't want to see back in a Giants uni next season is quite extensive. For time's sake, though, we'll just talk about those players who are impending free agents, which is why the obvious selections of Armando Benitez and Matt Morris (who would absolutely head this list) are omitted. Here they are, the Giant free agents I absolutely do not want back in 2007.

Pedro Feliz Ah, my favorite whipping boy. It seems like every time I come on here to post Feliz's horrific batting line, that batting line just gets worse. To wit: he now stands at .247/.285/.433. The average National League catcher is hitting .268/.327/.416. If Bumblebee Man were here he'd be jumping up and down yelling "Jode Horrible!" or something. Just ugly.

Giants fans should hope that Feliz reaches that 100 RBI mark (he's currently at 96), because then he may raise some eyebrows on the market and price himself right out of the Giants' 2007 plans. At $5 million per for about 3 years, which is probably what he'll go for, he's too expensive. Let's put it this way: if he took a minor league deal to stay in SF, I still wouldn't want him back. He's so frigging bad, and I can't believe it's taken people this long to figure it out. As a guy who's getting 300 at-bats or so in a platoon like he did in 2003, he's got value. As a regular third baseman who hits like a beefed-up Brad Ausmus, he's gotta go.

I've heard Giants fans argue that Feliz should be brought back simply because there are no viable alternatives on the free agent market. Trust me, if he's got two legs, two eyes and can lay off first pitch sliders in the dirt, he's viable. It's cause for Brian Sabean to get creative, to go all Billy Beane up in this shit and find an undervalued player wandering around who can produce for cheap. I'm sure there's somebody out there, whether it be a Quad-A player or a couple of guys you can platoon. Anything but Pedro. Please, this time, don't vote for fucking Pedro.

Attractive, yet not altogether realistic option: Aramis Ramirez of the Cubs has an option to back out of his contract and become a free agent this winter. It'd be a bit of a gamble; he's due to make $11 million in 2007. However, the opportunity to make even more, coupled with the fact that the Cubbies suck butt, may be enough to push him onto the market. He'd cost a ton, maybe upwards of $15 million, but for a stud 3B with 40-homer pop (he's not a product of Wrigley Field, as his home/road splits are roughly even), who hits for a high average, rarely strikes out, and plays solid defense, I think it'd be more than worth it.

Shea Hillenbrand Hillenbrand is a platoon player stuck in a regular's body, and the platoon player inside him is just screaming to get out, as evidenced by the .863 OPS against lefty pitchers (.737 vs. righties). Hillenbrand would be great if played strictly as a lefty-masher, a la Greg Colbrunn. Unfortunately, once you get that "everyday player" label, it's hard to ever go back.

It's easy to see how much Hillenbrand sucks when he hits .251/.280/.422, as he has with the Giants. Sadly, when he hits something like .287/.325/.449 (his career line), he still isn't very good, but that batting average gets people thinking he can hold up as a regular, when he's really just hurting your team, because he doesn't have enough power or patience for a corner. If he comes back on a one-year deal for cheap...meh. More likely, he goes to some pseudo-contender in the NL Central, helps kill that team's playoff chances, and earns a Giants legacy as one of Sabean's failed trade deadline acquisitions, like Shawon Dunston in 1998 or, God help us, Ricky Ledee in 2004.

Jason Schmidt It pains me to put Schmitty on this list, because he's one of my favorite all-time Giants and his 2002-2004 years were pure, unaduterated badass. However, the man is done. Well, maybe not done, but he's finished being a dominant pitcher and his declining strikeout rate and 4.78 second half ERA are reason enough not to bring him back. He'll command at least $10 million on the market, and with Matt Cain emerging as an ace there's just no need to shell out that kind of money for a guy who may deteriorate into a 3rd-4th starter-type in a heartbeat. If he takes a hometown discount to stay in SF, like J.T. Snow a few years back, then hey, now we're talking, but it looks like he's as good as gone. It's been fun, Schmitty. We'll miss ya.

Moises Alou Again, nothing against Moises, but he'll be 40, he can't stay on the field, and he'll be too expensive. Alou is an amazing hitter when he's healthy, but he's seemingly on the DL like every other week, and even when he isn't hurting, he gets every third day off anyway. As with Schmidt, it's probably best to just give Moises a shake of the hand, thank him for his services, send him on his way, and give Todd Linden a shot in '07.

Felipe Alou Dubbed "Flippy" by many Giants fans, Alou's time is up as a manager. He hasn't been horrible; I can think of quite a few other managers who are worse, but he has to be one of the most ineffectual team motivators out there at this point. My main complaints with Felipe over the years include:

-His penchant for bringing in like ten relievers in one inning of a blowout game. This is perhaps the most interminable thing to watch on a baseball field.

-His handling of Jason Schmidt has at times been absolutely unacceptable. A typical Alou-caused Schmidt disgrace from the past two years goes like this: Schmidt tosses 120 pitches through six innings to keep the Giants ahead, but is obviously gassed. Regardless, Crazy Alou sends him out for the seventh, Schmidt has nothing, gets smoked, and the Giants blow it. This happened like five times last season.

-His penchant for bunting his best top of the order hitters in situations that simply don't call for it. If I ever see Omar Vizquel bunt a guy from second to third with nobody out again, I'm going to throw up. The man is hitting .300, he's one of the best hitters on the team...let him swing the goddamned bat!!!! Felipe did this same thing with Randy Winn last year, giving him the bunt sign with runners on even though Winn was hitting like .800 in September.

-It has nothing to do with on-field stuff, but the whole Larry Krueger thing still bugs me. Yes, Krueger said some uncalled-for things, but refusing to accept his apology and then calling him a messenger of Satan? Are you two-years-old, Felipe?

-Ridiculous batting order construction. Failing to maximize Barry Bonds's at-bats by hitting him 4th and then exacerbating that by hitting guys like Shea Hillenbrand and Pedro Feliz third...it boggles the mind.

-Steve Finley. I don't know if it's really Felipe's fault that Finley has soaked up 420 interminable at-bats, or if it's more of a mandate from the top, but man, Finley is freaking horrible.

(Speaking of Finley, this FJM teardown of a Rich Draper puff piece on Finley this past February made me laugh then, but looking at it now, it's like ten times funnier, and maybe even a little sad.)

Like I said, Alou wasn't really terrible, but I think it's time to bring a new face in and let Felipe ride off into the sunset. It's a the beginning of a new Giants era, for better or worse, and I think the team needs a manager who doesn't adhere so much to old-fashioned baseball wisdom.

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