Monday, November 20, 2006


Rescued From Slappy the Stinker

It looks as though the Dodgers may have saved the Giants from themselves by offering punch-and-judy speedster Juan Pierre a five year contract for way too much money. Pierre is one of those pesky smallball types that Bill Plascke and his ilk cream themselves over, but at that money, man, if the Giants had signed him for anywhere close to what the Dodgers are paying him, I'd have gladly invited all of you to a live gala event where I jump off the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Giants' pursuit of a center fielder has me completely baffled. With holes at first base, second base, third base, right field, left field, at closer, and quite possibly at catcher, I just don't understand what has Brian Sabean thinking he all of a sudden desperately needs to find a leadoff hitting center fielder. With Randy Winn under contract for three more years, the Giants need another crappy outfielder like they need a bullet in the head. Sabean is correct in deducing that Winn's bad hitting was one of the reasons the Giants stunk last year, but it wasn't a major reason. There are other, much more pressing needs that need to be taken care of before the already zany free agent market completely dries up. Needs like, oh, I don't know, finding a player who can take some pitches or hit some home runs.

I guess if the Giants have to overpay for a center fielder in this market I'd take Gary Matthews Jr., but that just illustrates the irrelevancy of it all. Matthews is rumored to be getting $10 million a year, which is idiotic for a guy who just put up his first great season at age 31, in a hitter's park no less. Why pay Matthews this kind of cash when the whole point of locking up Randy Winn last winter was so that the team had their center fielder of the future? It boggles the mind. It's like Sabean is just out and out admitting that he made a huge gaffe in extending Winn's contract. If Matthews is indeed signed that probably means that Winn moves over to right field, and that just isn't good for anybody.

Here's a tip for you, Mr. Brian Sabean. You want a speedy leadoff hitter? Fine, I got one for you. Kenny Lofton is out there and you know what? He's both better and cheaper than Juan Pierre. He may not be as good as Matthews but I can hardly imagine him being a significant downgrade and he'd settle for a contract that wouldn't cripple the team's payroll for three years. Hell, Lofton is probably going to be even cheaper than good ol' Dave Roberts, another focus of Sabean's strange crushes and a so-called "bargain basement" free agent. Lofton would solve this imaginary glaring center field problem at a third of the price, which would mean more money open to spend on something we actually do need.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Hot Stove of Darkness

Cutting through the thick fog of the frigid winter night, the lone messenger suddenly comes to a stop. After a long, arduous journey, the messenger has finally reached his destination. He stands at the doorstep of the enigmatic and reclusive blogger known as John Ryder, who has been rumored to have been driven completely insane by the Giants' struggles of the past two years. He has been sent to this dark place by his higher ups in the Giants organization to deliver a message. A message of hope, a signaling of a changing era, one reminiscent of the good ol' turf-infected speedball days of Ryder's infancy. Perhaps the news will bring Ryder out from seclusion and enable him to spread the good word to Giants fans everywhere, bringing joy and ecstasy to the masses.

The messenger finds Ryder in his room, wrapped in blankets, mumbling to himself, and furiously tapping away at his XBOX 360 controller, playing a game that apparently involves zombies and a chainsaw-wielding clown. As the messenger slowly creeps closer, Ryder suddenly turns his head and looks the boy right in the eye. The messenger matches his gaze, and in Ryder's eyes he can see a man who has been staring into the darkness for far too long. Too many Tomkos, too many Benitezes, too many Wayne Franklins inexplicably on the mound in season-deciding situations. The messenger fears Ryder, fears what this man represents, but still knows that he must conquer his fear and deliver his vital message. He begins to speak...

Messenger: Uh, Mr. Ryder...

Ryder: I expected someone like you.

Messenger: I, uh, someone like...wha?

Ryder (slowly wipes his brow with a wet rag): Are you an assassin?

Messenger (eyes shifting nervously): Um...well, not exactly.

Ryder: No. You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks to collect a bill.

Messenger: Yeah, well, about that. Actually, Mr. Ryder, I'm here to deliver a message from my superiors in the Giants front office. They want you to know about our plans to compete in 2007.

Ryder, silent, perhaps understandably skeptical, cranes his head toward the boy, beckoning him to go on. The messenger shrugs and nervously continues.

Messenger: You see, we've decided that the first step toward improvement is to sign a leadoff-hitting center fielder, a guy who can serve as a catalyst at the top of the order. Someone who can distract a pitcher with his base-stealing ability and play Gold Glove defense. So we've offered contracts of three years, $30 million dollars to Juan Pierre and Gary Matthews Jr., and we're waiting to see who takes it first.

Ryder looks away and stares at nothing in particular.

Messenger: Well, what do you think, Mr. Ryder?

Ryder (drops his head and puts his hands over his eyes): The horror. The horror.

At once the boy sees in Ryder a shadowy reflection of himself. Once a naive, unfailingly optimistic young man just like the messenger hinself, Ryder had been jaded by too many bad moves, too many bad signings such as these. He had watched the Giants ink names like Benitez, Morris, and Matheny to expensive and self-immolating contracts. He had watched a bright young prospect named Liriano, once Giants property, shine with another team while the Giants ended up with nothing to show for him. He had watched home runs by Scott Spezio and Steve Finley ruin would-be magical seasons. The weight of all this tragedy had turned him into a burned-out shell of a man.

Seeing Ryder in this state forces the messenger to see the error of his organization's ways. Doling out substantial money to Juan Pierre or Gary Matthews to fill a position already manned by another overpaid mediocrity would certainly not be a way to help this Giants team. It has been silly, counterproductive moves like these that have sent the Giants to two straight losing seasons and have them staring at a dismal future. Moves such as these have sent not only Ryder but an entire Giants fanbase spiralling into this heart of darkness.

Thanks to this encounter with Ryder, the messenger understands. He turns to leave, unsure of what to report back to his superiors. Suddenly, he stops as he remembers one last crucial bit of info.

Messenger: Oh, yeah, and one more thing, Mr. Ryder.

Ryder turns to listen.

Messenger: Apparently Tom and Katie did get married after all.

Ryder: Oh, son of a...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Down With Drew Day

In a much-needed change of pace from all the mostly unfounded hating, Peter Gammons pimps free agent J.D. Drew here. Drew, as you probably know by now, opted out of the final 3 years/$33 million of his contract with the Dodgers, meaning either 1) he was very, very confident that he could get more moolah on the free agent market, 2) he really wanted to get the hell out of L.A., and hey, who doesn't?, or 3) Scott Boras is just one conniving son of a bitch.

In his blog entry, Gammons points out that Drew's .889 OPS last season was fourth-best among major league right fielders (Dye, Guerrero, and Hawpe were better). Hmm, didn't realize that. Also according to Gammons, Drew's OPS the past three years (.946) is better than Alex Rodriguez's (.945). Hmm, didn't know that either. Let's see, now, with Moises Alou leaving and Barry Bonds and his agent taking turns spouting off ludicrous salary demands, it would seem the Giants have a hole to fill at a corner outfield spot. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

A lot of people pooh-pooh the idea of Drew coming to the Giants but there's really no reason why. Drew is a guy who keeps to himself, isn't particularly quotable, and quietly goes about producing, and in a big market like L.A. those guys tend to get raked over the coals. It's amazing how players like Drew, who put up numbers without much publicity, get unfairly ripped for not being team players or whatnot, while wired guys Darin Erstad get all kinds of praise even though they completely blow ass. People also still hold animosity toward the man after he refused to sign with the Phillies in 1997, but I think we can get over that at this point and, again, Scott Boras is just a bastard like that.

All Drew did last season was lead the Dodgers in doubles, home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage, and OPS. In a Giants lineup that was starving for power and patience, he'd be a wonderful addition. He does have a well-documented history of injuries, but the knee problems that plagued him in St. Louis appear to be behind him, and other than a freak injury in 2005, he's been perfectly healthy the past three years (including a monster 2004 in Atlanta).

So if the Giants can get Drew for somewhere in the $12 million per year area, I'd be happy. My original pipe dream free agent signee, Aramis Ramirez, decided that he'd rather roast in Dante's Inferno for five more years than come to the heavenly pastures of Mays Field, so now I'm looking for Plan B. Drew does everything a nerdy nerd like me goes gaga over: he hits for pop, he draws lots of walks, he can run a little, he can field all outfield positions very well, and he's still in his prime. What's not to like? While other teams are throwing $10 million a year at idiots like Juan Pierre (uh, yeah...other teams), the Giants should be focusing on guys like Drew who produce. The guy is routinely lambasted, but hey, Gammons has got his back, and so do I. Drew in '07!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Crazed Giants Trade Scenario #1

Hey, it's that time again! The World Series has come and gone in a whirlwind of bad fielding and Eckstein-y mayhem, and we've got another six grueling months until Opening Day to look forward to. As we wade through the boredom and the large contract extensions being doled out to unsightly NBA players, we now have to set our sights on the raging fires of the hot stove season. And you know what that means. It's time for some loony trade proposals! Anyone who's ever ventured onto one of those ESPN team fan forums knows how this kind of thing usually plays out:

stickandBIGBALLSguy6969: dood, we should TOTALLY trade Misch, Neikro, Taschner, Jamey Wright, and Knoedler for AROD...we get the yanks to pay ALL his way they don't do it!!!

This then touches off a "debate" that consists of people being called queer, mothers being insulted, and the one inevitable individual who attempts to serve as the voice of reason, only to get drowned out in a sea of ROFLMAOs. I'm going to attempt the impossible here, then. I'm going to throw out a crazy proposal and then try to back it up with reason and sound analysis. If, after my arguments have been presented, people still don't agree with me, well, that's when the "yo mommas" will start to fly.

All right, let's do this. A reasoned and thought-out trade proposal by a guy on the Internet. We're in uncharted waters here, people...

Giants trade Matt Morris to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for Dallas McPherson and Mike Napoli.

Don't kill me. There will be two factions of Giants fans hating me for this one. There will be those who will call me a jackass for even thinking that the Angels would trade two power prospects for a crappy, overpaid veteran pitcher. Then there will be those who rip me for wanting to trade a viable innings-eater and veteran rotation anchor for two guys who combined to hit .238 last year with 130 whiffs in 383 at-bats. I can hear the message board denizens now: "You're off your rocker, Ryder! Off your fvcxing gord!!!!"

Just hear me out. The Giants, of course, would pay a portion of Morris's salary. I realize that in any trade scenario, whenever it involves a player fans want to get rid of (see Alfonzo, Edgardo circa 2005), the old "ah, we'll just pay half his salary" thing always gets thrown out, as if that's a deal-sealer that rival GMs just can't pass up. I'm no fan of this (the Giants would still be paying the guy about $9 million to pitch in SoCal, after all), but since Morris is overpaid it's basically a necessity. Call it atoning for a past mistake. Here are the pros and cons of this deal, as I see them:


With one fell swoop, the Giants could potentially fill two holes in their lineup with impact bats. McPherson could take over third base (or possibly first, in the event that the Giants sign Aramis Ramirez pleasepleaseplease), while Napoli could provide some offensive juice at the catcher position. Here are the 2006 lines for each player:

Napoli: .228/.360/.455
McPherson: .261/.298/.478

Here are the lines for the Elizier Alfonzo and Pedro Feliz, the Giants' starting catcher and third baseman in 2006, respectively:

Alfonzo: .266/.302/.465
Feliz: .244/.281/.428

The batting average on Napoli might have some thumbing their noses, but the important numbers are in those OBP and slugging categories. Even with a batting average 38 points lower, Napoli's .360 OBP still dwarfed Alfonzo's because of all the walks he drew. Napoli also smacked 16 home runs in 268 at-bats; that's a pace for about 30 homers given a full season of playing time. Even with the poor batting average and eye-popping strikeout rates (one every three at-bats...yikes!), a catcher who can rake 30 homers and get on base at a rate in the .360s has immense value.

With McPherson, it's kind of the same deal, only without the walks. His line looks a little like Super-Lance Neikro, but he has way more power and is still young enough to put it together. Scouts thought McPherson would develop 40-homer power. If that kind of power does manifest, and he starts to put fear into opposing pitchers, that sub-.300 OBP will go the way of the dodo. In the minor leagues, McPherson displayed the ability to take a walk and to hit for a high average, and usually that kind of skill doesn't just magically go away once a player hits the majors.

One major problem the Giants' batting order had the past two years was a lack of pop, and this move would go a long way toward curing that. Instead of the kind of non-production the Giants have gotten at the corners in the past few years, you have a guy who can hit 40 bombs. At catcher, you'd get a guy who could turn out to be a Mickey Tettleton-type, providing lots of walks and homers. Yes, Alfonzo had a good year, but I'm not sold on him as a long term solution due to his age and 74:9 K:BB ratio. Napoli is young enough (he'll be 25 next year) to fix some of those contact problems and become a major asset.

Perhaps most importantly, these guys are both cheap, making under $1 million, and when you can get production like this for pennies, you should take it. Plus, it would free up space on the payroll to spend big money on a marquee, say, Aramis Ramirez.


I'm not the biggest fan of Matt Morris, and his 2006 season could charitably be described as mediocre. However, there is something to be said about a guy who can go out there and take the ball for 200 innings and not get lit up like the night sky on Independence Day. At the least, Morris will probably give you 32 starts of reasonable quality and half a season of unkempt facial hair.

The Giants will have a very young rotation next season, with Matt Cain, Noah Lowry, and Jonathan Sanchez likely headlining the rotation. With all of the question marks that apply to pitchers so young, who knows how many innings they'll be able to go, or how effective they'll be? By trading Morris you give up a stable veteran, a guy who is
assured of giving you innings, and who can mentor the young 'ins during their rough patches. I'm a guy who thinks "veteran presence" is immensely overrated, but in this case I think there is something to be said for it.

As for Napoli and McPherson, well, the strikeouts
are a problem. With a guy like Napoli, if he can't make more contact or learn to hit the ball the opposite way once in a while, the power will be nullified and his value will collapse, impressive walk rate or no. He is in major danger of turning into a Bobby Estalella clone. The Angels have already seemed to sour a little on McPherson and, like I said, his major league batting line screams Lance Neikro. There's a chance that both of these guys could crap out and the Giants would be left with the same smoking craters at the catcher and corner positions that they started off with.

Taking both pros and cons into consideration, I still think it'd be well worth it. Sometimes you just have to take a chance. Think about it this way: in November 2003, the Twins took a major gamble by trading an All-Star catcher to the Giants for a middle reliever with one healthy year and a rap for not being able to get it done in the playoffs, a minor league pitcher with dwindling peripheral numbers, and another minor league pitcher who couldn't stay healthy for weeks at a time. We all know how that went.

It's the kind of trade, dealing a known commodity for a couple of unknowns, that may piss off the scribes at the Chron, like Sabean's Matt Williams trade in '97, but in the end it could pay huge dividends. It shows something that this front office has lacked when coming up with position players: creativity. I harp on this like in every post, but it still gets me. Instead of going out and finding unknowns with some potential to fill holes, Sabean will always settle for ol' reliable, the sage veteran. When said veteran OPSes .700, Sabean shrugs and gives us more politico bullshit about getting younger, as horrifying rumors of a Luis Gonzalez signing begin to swirl about.

What are the chances that the Angels will go for this kind of deal? I like to tell myself that they are quite good. Anyone who has followed the Angels for the past five years knows that they are enamored with high batting average/contact guys, and aren't particularly patient with Three True Outcomes guys like Napoli or McPherson. With a loaded farm system and viable alternatives at first base and catcher, the Angels might be willing to talk.

Of course, I doubt even the Angels would be blind to the value inherent in a catcher who can mash like Napoli, and they were high on McPherson once upon a time, so I doubt they'd give up on him too easily. Plus, with five solid options in the starting rotation (assuming Bartolo Colon is healthy), they probably don't need Matt Morris, or his salary.

So in the end, this is just a little pipe dream I had in between bouts of Dead Rising on my off day. I'm just looking out for my team, rolling around helpful deals in my head and thinking of ways to make this team better. You know, stuff that doesn't involve 38-year-old ex-DBacks. Hey, it's better than the usual Fred Lewis-for-Vlad Guerrero crap you usually see from foamy-mouthed assholes with a voice on the web. It's probably not a deal that will be made, but I can always dream.
I mean, if Scott Kazmir-for-Victor Zambrano can go down, then why not this?

When Pedro Feliz is back at third base next year, I'll close my eyes and pretend it's McPherson in the middle of a .290/.360/.550 season. When Mike Matheny makes his triumphant return to being an automatic out, I'll pretend it's Napoli, channeling Gene Tenace with a .250/.380/.510 line. With the way the past two seasons have turned out, and with the gloomy outlook of the 2007 season, maybe dreaming is all we Giants fans have left.

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