Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Hot Stove Yawnfest
-I swear I thought the Giants would offer Ryan Garko arbitration simply because they didn't want to end up surrendering a decent prospect for two months of nothing. Many have surmised that this is a case of the front office not being able to distinguish sample size fooferah from Garko's true performance level, but I think it's just the Giants being cheap and not wanting to pony up for a guy they consider a platoon player. Not to mention, the Giants are all about defense, perhaps even taking it to an extreme, and Garko was just terrible in the field. Perhaps the non-tender is a sign they're looking to upgrade to a Nick Johnson or something.
-I'm constantly confused by this perception that a) Eugenio Velez is some kind of prospect growing into his talent and b) he's in any way adequate as a leadoff hitter. Velez is 28, and last I checked, when baseball players get to be that age, what you see is generally what you get. Also, Velez just isn't very good. His speed, which the Giants evidently love, hasn't translated into an ability to consistently get on base at the major league level.
This Velez/Andres Torres dancing bear act they have slated to start in left field has disaster written all over it. Don't get me wrong, I love Andres Torres. He can get on base and has a wonderful glove, but he ain't a regular. There's a reason he languished in the minors for the majority of the decade. Putting either of these guys at the top of the lineup is pretty much a death knell for any kind of run production. Do the Giants even realize how run-scoring works?
-The Giants signed erstwhile living Joe Posnanski punchline Tony Pena Jr. to a minor league contract, causing me to do an epic spit take. Now, when I heard this, I hadn't realized that Pena had already made the conversion from legendary offensive eunuch to budding reliever; I thought the transition was still in the rumor stages. Thus, I rolled my eyes when I heard the news, figuring here was a guy with a good defensive rep who the Giants would find way too much playing time for. Think Neifi Perez from Hell, if you can even begin to comprehend that.
In reality, the Giants signed him to give him a shot to contribute out of the bullpen. I guess it could work out, in theory. The guy has a good arm. Still, it's sad that this is the most exciting bit of Giants news right now as the baseball world is bustling with blockbuster moves. It does give me the chance to repeat my favorite Tony Pena Jr. factoid though, that in the midst of a season where he was hitting .169/.189/.209, he was for some reason intentionally walked twice.
-With the decade winding down, the trendy thing to do now is give out an All-Aughts list, so here's mine for the best Giants of the 2000s, admittedly mostly just off the top of my head.
1B J.T. Snow
2B Jeff Kent
SS Rich Aurilia
3B Pablo Sandoval
LF Barry Bonds
CF Marquis Grissom
RF Randy Winn
C Benito Santiago
SP Tim Lincecum
RP Robb Nen
Crotch-Kicking Malcontent: A.J Pierzynski
Player Inspiring Most Burned Effigies: Neifi Perez
The no-brainers here are Bonds, Kent, and Snow, though Snow gets minus points for his contrived "comeback" in 2008. Aurilia's ridiculous 2001 season and his awesome goatee help him edge Omar Vizquel, who gets docked for two truly horrible years with the bat in 2007 and 2008. Since I refuse to nominate Pedro Feliz for anything praiseworthy, we'll cheat a little and give Sandoval the nod due to his brilliant 2009. I'd love to give the honor to Bill Mueller, but he only served as the regular for one season this decade (and wasn't nearly as good as Pablo, obviously), which is kind of weird when you think about it.
Grissom leads a surprisingly uninspired group of center fielders. That will happen when you enter the century with Marvin Benard penciled in the lineup card every day. Also a bit of a surprise is Randy Winn, who was solid offensively, spectacular defensively, and edges single seasons from Ellis Burks, Reggie Sanders, Jose Cruz Jr, and Michael Tucker. Santiago's home run in the 2002 NLCS, perhaps the biggest in San Francisco Giants history, plus two solid years with the bat, give him a photo finish win over Bengie Molina.
Picking between Tim Lincecum and Jason Schmidt for best starter was a doozy, but in the end I had to go with Lincecum's two Cys and the two seasons leading the league in strikeouts. It's certainly arguable, though. Less debatable is Nen, who may be the Giants' best closer ever and literally gave his career to trying to get the Giants a title.