Monday, December 10, 2007


Feliz Navidad: An Early Holiday Gift For Giants Fans

The sensation I feel right about now after Pedro Feliz's decision to decline the Giants' arbitration offer is somewhat akin to what Chief Bromden must have felt at the end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, either the book or the film, take your pick. I feel like I've been stuck in a nuthouse for years, with all sorts of loonies surrounding me and one hell of a bitch nurse who won't let me go out on a freaking boat trip. Only instead of the likes of George Sorenson obsessively washing his hands, there's Brian Sabean, poking me with a small plastic baseball bat and jabbering on and on nonsensically about the Giants' need to fill the team with proven vets to surround Barry Bonds. Like it was for poor Chief Broom, it's been a long series of hallucinations of stupid personnel decisions that only a madman could think would improve a baseball team.

Now, with this one move, my eyes have been awakened. I don't feel small anymore. I can grab Pedro Feliz, throw him through the window, and run and run all the way into a new Giants era. "I been away a long time", indeed. I've been away too long from horrible first pitch hacks at sliders two feet off the plate, from weakly hit grounders to the shortstop in crucial late-game situations, from OBP numbers that would make Johnny LeMaster hold his nose.

This, fellow Giants fans, is known as progress. If the Giants really want to move on and get younger and better, jettisoning one of the worst hitters in baseball is a great way to start. Now the Giants can sit back and pray that some dumb team (the Twins perhaps, as they seem to have the same disregard for on-base percentage that the Giants do) will sign Feliz and they can get a draft pick out of the whole debacle. Getting a draft pick for Feliz after his years of suckitude is a little like being given a napkin after having a bag of manure dumped on you, but it'll have to do.

The most talked-about in-house option to replace Feliz is Kevin Frandsen. A lot of Giants fans (including me, at least until recently) are worried that Frandsen won't be a feasible option at third base because his power is lacking for the position. Here's the thing: so is Feliz's. Over the past three years, despite the double digit home runs, Feliz hasn't broken a .430 slugging percentage one time. That's not good. Meanwhile, Frandsen's career slugging in the minor leagues is .458. Meanwhile, it goes without saying that his ability to get to first base is also clearly better.

Bottom line: Frandsen may not be the answer in the long run, but it's worth a shot to find out if he can at least be Bill Mueller. If nothing else, the chances of him being a better player than Feliz, even without the defense, are so high I'd throw all my roulette chips on it. Even last season, Frandsen's .331 OBP dwarfed Feliz's hideous .290 mark, and Frandsen also out-VORPed him 2.9 to -2.7, despite having nearly 250 less at-bats (!).

--Before I get too excited, it must be pointed out that there is still a chance that Feliz could come back to the Giants. In the olden days, if a player refused, or was refused, arbitration with his former team, he could not renegotiate with that team until May 1 of the next year. Under the new CBA, though, starting this offseason, a team can now negotiate with a player any time it wants after the arbitration deadline.

The only difference would be that, if Feliz does come crawling back, it'd be on the Giants' terms. Like, the team could say "here's $2 million to be a part-time player and defensive specialist, take it or leave it." Which is the way it should have been since forever.

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