Waiting for Boof
Blog devoted to the San Francisco Giants
     Wednesday, December 22, 2004
 

Clever Pun Involving Mohr/More Homophone and Urine Joke



1) In Fellini's Ghostbusters, the protagonists are given an impossible task. They were faced with a phantom who could take the physical form of their worst fears, and so were asked to not think of anything at all. We, as Giants fans, have a duty here. It is imperative, absolutely necessary, that no one think of Glenallen Hill right now. There is a time and a pl...hey! No thinking about Glenallen Hill! Seriously.

Forget what it was like to watch someone play right field like they were Joe Cocker in a golf cart. Don't think about it, and maybe it won't happen. Moises Alou was signed to a two-year deal, or will sign soon according to ESPN Deportes and the AP. Mixed feelings, mixed feelings, mixed feelings.
Point

Alou had an excellent season last year.


Counterpoint

He was great at home, but was no better than Michael Tucker on the road.


Point

Yeah, but that was probably an anomaly. It isn't like Wrigley Field is a huge hitter's park anymore.


Counterpoint

Sure, but his road stats have been pretty static over the last few years. If anything was a fluke, it was his home stats last year.


Point
It is still more comforting to see his name in the lineup over Michael Tucker. And Tucker is back to the role which suits him best, as a super-sub.


Counterpoint

In the lineup it looks better, sure. But what of the loss on defense? Alou has no arm and no range.


Point

Mike Matheny and Omar Vizquel will not allow balls to drop.


Counterpoint

But they play different positions, hundreds of feet away from Alou. How...


Point

MIKE MATHENY AND OMAR VIZQUEL WILL NOT ALLOW BALLS TO DROP. They are the truth and light, quenching that which must be sated.


Counterpoint

Wait a sec. You aren't a legitimate viewpoint at all, are you? You're just a brainwashed optimist.


Point

No. Wait. Maybe. That isn't relevant. Alou will help this team.


Counterpoint

Wrong. He will hurt the team on the field, and with payroll constraints around the trade deadline. Also, the guy urinates on his hands to toughen them up. That just ain't right.


Point
I know a guy who drunkenly tried to urinate into the mouth of a stone gargoyle, thinking it was hollow. It was definitely solid, though, and the urine went everywhere, including all over the guy's hands. His hands didn't toughen up; not by a long shot. All it got him was a kink in his neck when he woke up in the bathtub, covered with a bathmat and his own vomit. It took quite a bit of cajoling to get my girlfriend to talk to me again. His girlfriend, I mean.

Wait, what were we talking about, again?
The heart says Alou has one more year in him, and his bat will compensate for his glove. The mind says Alou will be old, likely injured, ineffective with the bat, and terrible with the glove. Alou has been a plus hitter more often than not in his career, but he is going to be 39 next year. Worrying about a hitting decline isn't the top concern, however. That hand wringing is saved for Alou's ability to hunt down prospective triples in rightfield.

If Alou manages to be an acceptable fielder, which is somewhere past unlikely, there is still the ripple effect created by this move. Marquis Grissom will have to stay in center if no one else is acquired. That's three players with declining range in a huge outfield. That's a bold combination, in the gallon of bleach, gallon of ammonia, and sealed garden shed sense of bold.

There has to be a defensive-minded centerfielder on the way. Sabean can't spend his offseason trying to, correctly or not, rustle up vats of elixir for the Giants fielding woes, and then turn around to give a substantial contract to someone who might make us pine for the Benardian era of yore. The names of the centerfielders available are not attractive, however. Dave Roberts fetched a pretty good chunk of change in trade, and he is a good option only with some serious accounting tricks .

The Alou move makes the offense a bit more interesting. It makes the defense waaay more interesting. The money doesn't matter, really. Two years isn't a killer, and the millions weren't going to go to Carlos Beltran. The thumbs-up/down portion of this move is suspended until there is some personal observation of the guy actually playing some rightfield. Maybe he isn't Glenallen Hill.

Crap. Wasn't supposed to think of that guy....




2) Henry Schulman, intrepid Giants beatnik of the Chronicle, is one of the best in the business. Every so often, he'd poke his head in the sewing club known as alt.sports.baseball.sf-giants and shoot the breeze. The denizens of asbsf-g would harp about the importance of on-base percentage with almost every visit. Schulman would listen. He didn't run out and get Bill James' face tattooed on his inner thigh, but he listened. Slowly, he started to work on-base percentage into his daily recaps. This was before Barry Bonds made on-base percentage even a little sexy with his record-setting seasons, and well before "Moneyball".

So it comes as no surprise the way he wrote up the Dustan Mohr debacle. There is a tone of incredulity in the opening part of the article. The rest of the piece is a standard recounting of the move. The best part, however, was saved for last:
After a terrible start in 2004, Mohr finished with a .274 average. His .394 on-base percentage was third-best on the team among those with more than 200 at-bats.
What a twist of the knife. Schulman's job isn't to editorialize, but there might be some lines to read between at the end of the piece. Maybe that's reading too much into what was merely thorough reporting. It likely made Brian Sabean google the term, "on-base percentage", though. Here's hoping more came up than on-base percentage themed porn. Big in Japan, they say.

The first reaction was emotional. It's one thing to treat first-round draft picks like ridiculous luxuries; like 18-inch rims made out of caviar, or something. It's another thing to claim poverty when the team has a fat cable contract and outstanding attendance. But pretending to not be able to afford a bench player in his first year of arbitration is the kind of fraud which should lead to key conspirators being frog-marched out of 24 Willie Mays Plaza in handcuffs.

Then the interviews behind the move came out. It wasn't about the money. Sweet mercy, it wasn't about the money. It was the Giants taking a long look at a player. This player took walks. He hit for power. He threw his body all around the park, crashing into walls and diving into the stands. The fans loved him. His teammates loved him. He could play all three outfield positions. He was going to be cheap.

The Giants looked at this player, and said, no, that's just not what we're looking for. No thanks, we can do better. "E" for effort, young man, but we don't want any of those things. Maybe if you put on a fez and drove a little red car out to your position, like the rest of the Shriners we prefer to have on our team, we would have considered you. Now, scram.

After the rage subsided, there was an unwilling acceptance of what the Giants did. Tony Torcato has his faults, but it is also important to look at what he can bring to a bench. He's an extreme contact hitter who is exactly the right call off the bench with a runner on third, and less than two outs. He has experience at third and first in an emergency. As the last hitter on a bench, Torcato is a fine option, and even has a sliver of upside. Torcato is out of options, and would need to clear waivers if he didn't make the team.

Assuming the Giants are going to carry 12 pitchers again, after the eight starters there are five bench spots. Yorvit, Deivi, Marquis, and Tucker are guaranteed spots. That left a choice between Mohr and Torcato. Mohr wasn't left-handed, had no experience in the infield, and was already into his arbitration years. Those are some pretty serious strikes against him. Yet, and this is very important now, Torcato isn't especially good. If the stars were to align perfectly, we could see in our wildest dreams a Tony Torcato who hits .310/.330/.430 in the big leagues. It is more likely Torcato is going to be a poor-man's A.J. Pierzynski without the ability to catch, regardless of how well he's hitting in winter ball.

Mohr had exactly one good season under his belt since he was in AA, so there is no guarantee his last season was indicative of his talent level, but he was already one of my favorite Giants. This hurts. It is understandable where Sabean was coming from, but it doesn't get the taste out of my mouth. Grissom should have had his option declined. The team should have contemplated an 11-man pitching staff. The team should have figured out a way to keep Mohr. Something. Anything. Damn.

posted by G at 11:37 PM





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     Tuesday, December 14, 2004
 

Headline: Madalyn Murray 0'Hair Rises From Grave, Exclaims, "I Told You So"



I direct your attention to the flaming wreck in the ditch by the side of the road. People are running around, frantic. Babies are crying. A siren moans in the distance. This is what happened the last time the Giants experimented with the all-defense, absolutely-no-offense player in Neifi Perez. In six million years, Venutian anthropologists are going to uncover cave paintings of tiny stick figures recoiling in horror from a charcoal likeness of Neifi. Brian Sabean saw as much, and released Neifi with about 20% of his contract left.

Enter Mike Matheny. He is older, and more likely to break down than Neifi ever was. He is just as bad a hitter as Neifi ever was. The Giants had a better, cheaper option to Matheny already in the system. This is the worst move of Brian Sabean's career. This is Brian Sabean drinking rubbing alcohol and hitting on his brother's wife, because this is as low as our fearless general manager can get.

The lack of rational thought behind this move is staggering. After the deal was announced, countless Giants fans were refreshing CNN.com and Google News, hoping to see if authorities had arrested Yorvit Torrealba for planting that pipe bomb under a bus filled with nuns. Slowly, the unthinkable became obvious. Torrealba, in fact, did not plant a pipe bomb under a bus filled with nuns. There was officially no reason to panic and sign Matheny. For three years. And $10.5 million dollars. Good gravy.

The chatter coming from this organization is reminiscent of The Manchurian Candidate.
Reporter:
"Say, what prompted you to sign Matheny?"

Ned Colleti:
"Mike Matheny is the greatest, kindest, grittiest, most gifted defensive catcher I've ever known in my life."

Reporter:
"Great! How about you Mr. Sabean? Give us your thoughts on Matheny."

Brian Sabean:
"Mike Matheny is the greatest, kindest, grittiest, most gifted defensive catcher I've ever known in my life."
Just wait, everyone cries! Mike Matheny can block balls in the dirt like no one else! Mike Matheny calls the best game in the major leagues! Mike Matheny can catch stealing runners just by spitting the ball out, like Snoopy does! Whatever. If he were that much better than your garden variety catcher, it would be obvious. If he were $10M more of a defender than Torrealba, who is a fine defensive catcher in his own right, it would be provable in some capacity. Instead:
2004 Cardinals team ERA: 3.75
When Matheny was catching: 3.89

2003 Cardinals team ERA: 4.60
When Matheny was catching: 4.58

2002 Cardinals team ERA: 3.70
When Matheny was catching: 3.48

2001 Cardinals team ERA: 3.93
When Matheny was catching: 4.03

2000 Cardinals team ERA: 4.38
When Matheny was catching: 4.34
There was no discernable difference when Mike Matheny was catching a game over the Cardinals backup. No discernable difference. Catcher's ERA is not a perfect stat, but you'd think if Matheny were $10M better defensively than Torrealba, it could be quantified in some respect. There really isn't much of a difference in the rate with which they throw out runners on the basepaths, either.

Sabean would never agree with the above. You can't put stats on leadership, he might say. Or calling a great game. Or working with young pitchers. Leadership, man, leadership. Here is Brian Sabean, then, as he buys a used car:
"It has 180,000 miles on it, and the transmission needs work. But,"

The salesman leans closer and whispers

"It's surrounded by magical pixies. Pixies which keep your family safe."

"I can't see any pixies."

"Oh, well they aren't the sort of thing you can see. But they are there, alright."

"Hmm. And what does this car cost?"

"Keeping in mind the pixies now, this baby can be had for only $20,000."

"I'll give you $30,000."

"Sold."

"Give me a pen, before you change your mind!"
If you are going to play the leadership card, you might as well admit you believe in the pixies as well. If there is a general manager who believes Matheny's aura, or intangibles, or je ne sais quoi is worth $10M over three years, he is not fit to manage a lemonade stand.

This is terrible on so many levels. The Giants are going to pay $10M to a guy who will make the team worse. That's $10M they could have given to a guy like Nomar Garciaparra, who is trying to prove himself with a one-year deal following a down year. That's $10M they could have given to a guy like Preston Wilson, who is in the final year of an overpriced contract, and available for a sack of dirty socks. That's $10M they could have given to Jerome Williams, Noah Lowry, or Jesse Foppert to buy out arbitration years in the event just one of them is worth keeping. Instead, they have made the team worse.

If we grant that Matheny is superior defensively to Torrealba, which he likely is, there is still the matter of offense. Torrealba's worst season at the plate in his young career was better than Matheny's best season. Torrealba has shown flashes of power, and definitely runs better than the average catcher. There is an upside, fer crying out loud. He might never be as good as he was in his rookie season, but there was a chance. There is nothing to hope for from Matheny. The following is an actual quote from the Oakland Tribune, describing why the Giants would prefer to have Matheny start over Torrealba:
The Giants are wary of sacrificing offense when they still haven't found an RBI man to protect Barry Bonds in the lineup.
After reading this sentence, there was a knock at my front door. A lawyer handed me papers. It seems that my brain immediately filed a restraining order against me for ingesting that sentence. I'll miss you, you pink bastard. So, someone in the front office had a panic attack, and exclaimed, gee, if we get rid of A.J., we'll be sacrificing offense! Okay, fine. But which idiot poked his head out of the opium den and said, "You're right. Get me the agent of Mike Matheny"? You can spread that kind of stupidity on a sandwich. One more quote:
"(Matheny) also drove in 50 runs last year -- that's something to be proud of." -- Brian Sabean
What kind of last-place-in-the-4th-grade-spelling-bee crap is this? Matheny was on the best offensive team in the National League. Every time he came up, the bases were crawling with runners. Does Sabean really evaluate players as if he were a first-year rotisserie player?

I've defended Sabean in the past. He deals with these players in person. He can attach personalities and scouting reports to the stats. He knows these guys. There is so much to building a baseball team that we amateurs likely can't grasp. That just doesn't apply here. Sabean used outdated thinking to obtain an anachronism of a catcher. Matheny is an aging catcher with declining defensive skills, and one who has never hit much better than the average NL pitcher. For this, the Giants will pay a healthy sum of money.

The Giants dodged a bullet when Steve Finley rejected a 3-year, $18M contract. However, while the Giants were unconsciously dodging bullets, they were intentionally descending waist-deep in fire ants to wait for the Enola Gay. When the reports came out about this signing, there was hope. "Pending a physical", the article read. It is the first time in my life I hoped for a family of beavers to be living inside the knee of another human being, trying to make a dam out of ligaments. It is not something to be proud of. But this was the worst move of Brian Sabean's career, and there was still a hope it could be saved.

Also, I was not in favor of the decision to sign Mike Matheny.




2) It's a shame that Sabean had to ass his team up right before demonstrating one of his greatest strengths as a talent evaluator. The Giants signed the following interesting bullpen arms to minor league contracts:
Armando Almanza
Matt Kinney
Jeremy Fikac
Brandon Puffer
Brandon Villafuerte

It's a long shot for any of them to contribute next year, but they are good risks to take. Brendan Donnelly is the ultimate example, but guys like Kiko Calero emerge every year on a more modest scale. Any of those five names are just as likely to do so as the minor league veterans around the league who do break out this season.

Of course, this is like getting a "I'm Sorry I Kicked Your Dog" greeting card after a guy kicks your dog. The hurt and distrust is still there, Brian.


3) Aadik, an incredibly prolific regular at Baseball Primer, has started a blog about the Giants here. Check him out. And when I say regular, I mean regular. Not in a fiber kind of way, but in a George Wendt from "Cheers" kind of way. We're all looking forward to some good stuff, Aadik.

posted by G at 10:56 PM





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     Monday, December 06, 2004
 
The bidding starts at $800,000 for my new screenplay, entitled, "Bonds and Giambi Light Schoolchildren on Fire". Hollywood-types, take note:
PROSECUTOR:
The vial of clear liquid?

BONDS:
Flaxseed oil.

PROSECUTOR:
The vat of cream?

BONDS:
Arthritic balm

PROSECUTOR:
How about Exhibit H? A brown paper bag, with the word "Steroids" written in Sharpie on the front. Inside, there are steroids. Stapled to the bag is note which reads, "Dear Barry; Enjoy the 'roids. Love, Greg (Your Trainer and Childhood Friend)". Hmm?

BONDS:
He mispelled "Rolaids".

PROSECUTOR:
And what of the steroids inside the bag?

BONDS:
They have a lot to answer for at the Rolaids plant. I'm trying to get rid of gas, and then I get all huge? That's not right.

PROSECUTOR:
Are you still gassy?

BONDS:
A little.

When filming the scene with Bonds' edgy and impressively ignorant comments, Juror #3 should be played by Pauly Shore after consuming a liter of NyQuil. If this does not convey the right amount of rank stupidity, it might be advisable to hit Mr. Shore over the head with a canoe paddle right before his performance.
JUROR #3:
So, like, if you're so totally rich, right, why don't you buy your trainer a mansion? What kind of rich person isn't passing out mansions like Halloween Milk Duds? Give him a mansion! I want a mansion! Mansions for all! Hooray!

BONDS:
No way. I'm a black man, and I have to keep my money. White people have all the money. So do Asians. I've watched TV. I've seen Tom Vu. He built a real estate empire up from the ground. He's got his money, his cars, and his beautiful women. I'm keeping my money. You don't see black men build an empire like Tom Vu.

Well, now you do. Now you have. I am the black Tom Vu, and I'm intending to keep it that way.

The courtroom erupts in spontaneous applause.

My people will be in touch with your people, Pauly. Back to the courtroom:
PROSECUTOR:
Can you translate this: "Barry 12-2-02, T, 1 cc G - pee"? Does that correspond to you getting, you know, growth hormones or testosterone or giving a urine test or anything of those things that you can recall from Mr. Anderson?

BONDS:
T could mean anything. G could mean anything. Pee could mean, uh, almost anything urine-related.

PROSECUTOR:
How about this: "Barry 10-3-03, 6 shrts, 2 pnts, hvy. starch, TICKET #2109"?

BONDS:
I have an idea about this one.

PROSECUTOR:
Are you using, or have you ever used, the starch?

BONDS:
The what?

PROSECUTOR:
Are you starched to the gills right now? As we speak? Tell me the truth!

BONDS:
I don't kn....

PROSECUTOR:
The truth, Mr. Bonds! I can handle it! Please, ask me if I can handle it. C'mon, ask me if I can handle it! I really can, you know.

BONDS:
I'm not sure of the question. Starch? I, uh, had yams for dinner last night.

PROSECUTOR:
I'll see you in hell, starcher.

Even though privacy concerns and due process are so 2000, there might be a vocal minority who want to hear how grand jury testimony from a Federal trial was leaked. Phhppt. Whiners. In any case:
DEEP THROAT:
Take this. It's the entire grand jury testimony.

REPORTER:
Cool. We'll work on the story tonight. But, if I may ask, why are you wearing a trenchcoat, and trying to hide your face?

DEEP THROAT:
This goes far deeper than you could ever imagine. You are not safe with this information. If you knew exactly who gave you this information, your safety would be compromised even more. My safety would be in jeopardy, as well.

REPORTER:
But, haven't we received several illegal leaks from you before, Mr. Novitsky? It all seemed to work out fine.

DEEP THROAT:
Gaah! How did you know my name?

Deep Throat releases a smoke bomb, and jumps off the top of the parking garage, parachuting safely down.

DEEP THROAT (while falling):
I'll get you for this, Bonds! I mean, Reporter!

It all leads back to the courtroom drama, though. That's the meat of the story:
PROSECUTOR:
Do you know why BALCO would have been testing for your testosterone level?

BONDS:
I have no idea.

PROSECUTOR:
Do you know why your testosterone level would have been -- according to the report -- higher than the level, the normal range indicated for males 29 to 49 years old?

BONDS:
Why don't you get me a beer, and then we'll talk about it, wimp? WOOOOOOO-HOOOOARRRRGGGH!

Bonds slaps the stenographer high-five.

BONDS:
I, uh.... I am, uh.... What just happened? I kind of blacked out....

Unfortunately, the whole thing is a little Bonds-centric right now. Rest assured, however, there will be plenty of scenes with the rest of the cast.
PROSECUTOR:
So, uh...

He tries to stifle a giggle.

Where did you inject the steroids?

GIAMBI:
In my butt.

PROSECUTOR:
I'm sorry, but we couldn't hear that back here. Could you repeat it?

GIAMBI:
I injected the steroids in my butt.

The prosecutor is trying not to explode in laughter. He "shssh"s the lawyers behind him, who are giggling uncontrollably with their heads on the table in front of them.

PROSECUTOR:
I hate to do this to you, but the air conditioning is making this weird humming sound, and I couldn't hear you. I'm sorry, but one last time, where did you inject the steroids?

GIAMBI:
In my butt.

PROSECUTOR:
In your butt.

GIAMBI:
Yes.

PROSECUTOR:
You did say your butt, right?

GIAMBI:
YES! ALRIGHT! I SHOT DRUGS INTO MY ASS! ARE YOU HAPPY? YES!

Deafening laughter fills the courtroom at this point. People are wiping tears away from the laughter, only to start up again.

PROSECUTOR:
No further questions. Thank you Mr. Giambi, I'm sure we will get to the bottom of this.

Oliver Stone, I believe the next move is yours.




2) If you were hoping for a more serious post about the scandal, you're in luck. Hours upon hours of work in the lab have produced this, the distillation of every steroid-related article:
What Bonds Did
by Major Reporter

Steroids and our children. National pastime. What would they think back then? Our heroes. Oh, our sweet heroes. Banned or suspension? Neither or both. Cheating equals wrong in my book.

Clean it up, Mr. Selig! Asterisk? Perhaps, but no. Game will go on. Must go on. Darker times than this. Darkest time ever? No, yes, no. Not my child. Thank you.

The Winter Meetings can not come soon enough.


3) The fine folks over at SFist took the time to ask me a few questions here. If you ever had a hankering to know my real name, or see a picture of an enormous cat being exploited, head on over.

New blog alert: Splash Landings. Go! Like the wind!

posted by G at 1:42 PM





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     Wednesday, December 01, 2004
 

Hey, At Least They Were Yankees He Was Drilling in the Back



Trust me, you were in for a treat. If you get juiced thinking about trade scenarios revolving around Buddy Carlyle and Colter Bean, you would have loved the post I just shelved. Does the mad shuffling of Rule 5 draftees and six-year minor league free agents keep you up at night? Would. Have. Loved it.

Instead, the Giants got the best reliever on the free agent market, and answered most of the bullpen questions at the same time. Armando Benitez is going to be overpaid, sure. And he is, or at least was in his youth, a card-carrying goofball. However, he was the best reliever available. If there was any inclination to trade the remaining vestiges of the farm system for Ugueth Urbina, it's gone now.

There is a school of thought -- and I'm at least taking correspondence courses from this school -- that you shouldn't pay out huge salaries to closers. Closers are everywhere, waiting to be found. There was a piece of sublime ridiculousness in the idea of the Giants front office picking Dustin Hermanson off the top of the recycle bin, then turning around and feeding him a multi-year deal to be a closer. He was just a guy. He didn't have some latent closer aura churning beneath his mortal trappings, waiting to be released by meditation and, apparently, ridiculous facial hair rituals. He was tried as a closer earlier in his career, in 2000, and he stunk.

If you have to pay a closer big money, make sure he's more than acceptable. Danny Graves is going to make...wait, let me look this up...a squajillion dollars next year. He isn't who you would want to overpay. Armando Benitez has been one of the better relievers in the NL for a good long while. He's been durable and consistent. He isn't going to have the year again which he had last year, that seems like a safe bet, but he's in the upper strata of closers. Benitez isn't Gagne or Rivera, but he's just a notch below. Overpaying him isn't ideal, but there are worse ways to spend the money.

And he is being paid way too much. That's obvious. Armando Benitez and Omar Vizquel are going to combine to make a whole lot of clams next year. It is a very distinct possibility that Vizquel is going to hit .210, and Benitez will throw four spring training innings before his elbow elopes with Robb Nen's shoulder. That's true of anyone, though. Well, more so from a 47-year old shortstop, but you get the idea. All things being equal, the Giants bullpen is in better shape next year.

This is yet another case of "'tain't my money". As long as the Giants don't stop spending for 2005, it is irrelevant what Benitez makes. The fortunes of the Giants for the 2007 season are more than a little bleak, but they shouldn't be the main concern while Barry Bonds is still playing. Why worry about chlorofluorocarbons screwing up the environment in the future, when you can spray cheese from an aerosol can now. From a can, damnit!
The definites in the Giants pen:

Benitez
Brower
Eyre
Herges

The possibles:

Aardsma
Merkin
Franklin
Walker
Foppert
This isn't an exhaustive list. There is always some random character who sneaks his way into any bullpen, like Tyler Walker did last year. One day you wake up, it's May, and Brian Mallette is coming in to the eighth inning of a tie game against the Dodgers. Still, the above list still looks a bit thin. A lot depends on the progress of Aardsma, and it would be nice if Foppert could regain some arm strength in the bullpen while also being effective.

With the idea that closers are eminently replaceable comes the belief it is easy and desirable to furbish a bullpen using castaways. Give me Josue Matos, Billy Sylvester, and Joey Dawley, one might say, and you'll have an average bullpen at minimum salary. You just might. You could also have a meltdown, and, more importantly, one which isn't easily explained to thousands of season ticket-holders. Benitez is a huge gain in the public relations department, as well as a good pitcher.

Sabean is a pro at nabbing these bullpen raffle tickets on his own. He tried last year with Dave Veres, Tyler Walker, and Mike Crudale. The year before that, he picked up Matt Herges and gave Joe Nathan a shot. In 2002, it was Scott Eyre. Previously, it was Felix Rodriguez, Rich Rodriguez, John Johnstone, and Alan Embree. He was less successful with Kevin Walker, Manny Aybar, and Troy Brohawn, but he has never shied from the idea of freely available bullpen help. He'll keep it up through this offseason, trying to stock in Fresno little Q-Tips of antiseptic in the event of a bear attack.

However, the Giants needed something more definite. Sabean needed an anti-Herges. Herges is a nice guy, and I'm one of the few people who would actually applaud Sabean for trying him at closer, but he was a disaster. He was "Judge Dredd" as the in-flight movie on the Hindenburg, and that's being charitable. At this point, it also makes little sense to lament the dear, departed Joe Nathan. There is a subset of fans devoted to reversing the flow of time, just to negate that deal. Right now, they're working on a theory that the super-secret magic time machine fuel is distilled and refined using the power of whining. Godspeed, you brave folks. And, if it works, can y'all drop a piano on Scott Speizio's elbow around September of 2002?

Last year, I wrote, "I have no idea if Shigetoshi Hasegawa will be a better reliever than Dan Miceli in 2004". The idea was to just pull two relievers out of the air to make a point, but it could have not worked out better. Hasegawa was coming off a year in which he was spectacular. Miceli was coming off a year in which he played for four different teams. Yet, Miceli was a fine reliever in 2004. Hasegawa was almost as bad as Herges last year. It wouldn't be baseball if "ya never know" didn't come in to play, but with relievers it becomes, "ya never ever ever ever know. Stop thinking you do. You're wrong. Stop it."

There are only a handful of relievers who generally don't vacilitate between effective and ghastly; rather, they find a happy place between great and solid. For an average of $7M a year, the Giants had better hope Benitez is more on that fluffy great side, but in reality what they're paying the premium for is consistency. It is a drastic overpayment, no question. But Benitez makes the 2005 Giants a better team, and until the roster tinkering is complete, that's all we can ask for. Except for maybe another power hitter. Or a second starter. Maybe a setup man. Lower beer prices. Cooler mascot, maybe?

posted by G at 8:34 AM





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