Tiiime is NOT on our side, no it ain't

OK, that's the title I wanted for my last post....

Sabean said 48 hours, it's past 48 hours now, either Morris and his agent were bluffing or maybe he has had a change of heart (of the kind that Bonds had when he resigned with the Giants "I wasn't really going to leave the Giants...." or something like that). Either way, most reported signs are that the Cards either insulted Morris with their low-ball offer of "hometown" discount or are balking at 3 years or both and Morris' agent said that they aren't looking at accepting arbitration for a one year deal and that they are open to leaving if the Cards aren't going to be competitive with their contract offer, which so far we've heard that they were insulted by the offer, yet the clock is still ticking, he hasn't chosen yet.

Perhaps Sabean meant the 48 hours as a sign that Morris isn't interested in the Giants but is interested in using the Giants to leverage the Cards into a bettter deal. Obviously something is slowing down negotiations, as it is. Maybe Morris was hoping to get more like what Burnett got, it would cheese me if I was as good a pitcher as Morris was earlier in his career whereas Burnett hasn't really done as much, but because Morris had the bad two years because of the injury, he's going to get less than someone who appears to be around the same skill level as you (or perhaps worse, depending on what you look at for comparison). Maybe he really wants to stay with the Cards but needed to display a negotiation edge (can't get any bids from other teams saying that you only want to stay with the Cards).

Whatever it is, I feel like the Giants are the groom at the altar with the wedding ring in hand, waiting for the bride to come down the aisle and the music is playing but still no bride. Cold feet? Change of mind? Phone not working? Climbed through the bathroom window? Took off with her old boyfriend?

I hope the Giants stick to the offers I've seen in the press: 2 years, $18M or 3 years, $25M. To think that we, meaning baseball, are to the point of paying $7M for an "inning-eating" pitcher appalls me. I've been told to get used to it, that it's the new revenues rolling in, that this is the market, that I'm an oldtimer (OK, I called myself that one :^).

But to me an "innings-eater" is just another way of saying mediocre pitcher who don't pitch particularly well but he can pitch a LOT of innings and that's a good thing. No, it's not. It is time to find other ways to eat those innings. Heck, for $7M, take every prospect we have in our farm system, sign every free agent pitcher to a minimum contract, and use the gelatine (I don't want any trademark lawyers coming at me ;^) on the wall trick and see who can eat a lot of innings mediocrely.

Because we have a pretty good core of Schmidt, Lowry, and Cain. They may all not pitch dominantly as a top of the rotation type of pitcher in 2006 but as long as we have Bonds in the lineup, we got a dominant offense, and you saw how many games Rueter could win not pitching dominantly but pitching well enough for our offense. As I noted in the other post, they should be good enough for the top of our rotation in 2006, we just need inning eatting #4 and #5 starters to get us through to the middle of the year, where we could then trade for a rental starter in the Top of the Rotation mode of pitchers to get us to the finish line.

The longer it takes, the worse it is

The Matt Morris "Watch" is now in its "final" day. Sabean said nearly two days ago that this should be resolved in 24-48 hours - we are less than 12 hours away from that guess. I figure the longer it takes, the more likely it is that Morris is signing with someone else, presumably the Cardinals. Obviously he wants to make sure that there's no chance of resigning with them before moving on or even taking arbitration, which is a new option for him.

And that option is not that bad for him. He gets to stay where he wants to stay, the new big contracts means he's going to get at least $7-8M anyway in arbitration, probably more, then he gets another year to prove that he's the pitcher he was prior to 2004 and not the pitcher of 2004-5, though the risk is that another substandard year would clearly mark his career turn. But even if that, average pitchers today are getting $7-8M and it's going up each off-season for the past couple of off-seasons, so he'll get at least what the Giants are offering anyway. But the gain is that he jumps back to elite status and get something in the $11M+ range. The worse case scenario is that he has a horrible year and no multi-year offers come in next off-season. Plus, now that the Cards are stuck with him anyway, they can still negotiate a long-term contract anyway before the arbitration date.

I have been mainly for getting Morris as the best of our options during this offseason among the free agents. I don't want to deal with Boras, mainly because he gouges teams in terms of years and money (can you imagine making any team appear to be ripped off signing an A-Rod? or making it look like a good move to trade him? And yet he did) and the track record is not good (hello Kevin Brown). That left A.J. Burnett as the cream of the crop but he's not worth the $10M+ he obviously was going to get (he got $11M eventually). And it physically sickens me that mediocre pitchers like Benson and Loaiza get $7M+ per year contracts. Morris at least was average the past two seasons, but was obviously very good previously, so we had the potential of hitting the jackpot with him if he returned to previous form and only a slight loss if he performs at the level of the Benson's and Loaiza's.

But I've been coming to the feeling that it may be best to pass on these higher priced "established" pitchers and wait for the non-tenders of Dec. 20th to see what comes up then. The risk is that we end up with no one, but there should be at least one OK pitcher, just needing a chance to prove himself, who we could sign so that we could leave Correia in AAA as backup. And if we are lucky, we get two and also have Hennessey in AAA as backup as well. I am beginning to think it's better to save the money if we can for a trade later in the season.

Because I like our starting three: Schmidt, Lowry, Cain. When they are on, any of them can be a dominant top of the rotation kind of starter. Schmidt's year was scary but he righted himself by mid-season and performed well. And he actually pitched OK most of the season, only May was horrible, though September was bad also: 3.41 ERA in April, 7.78, 4.35, 4.03, 3.13, 5.40. However, Sept was a bad luck month as he was good otherwise: 1.35 WHIP, .205 BAA, < 1.0 HR/9, K/W=2.0, 10.8 K/9, about 7 H/9, only his walks were bad at 5.4 W/9. Lowry had a similar year, very poor start, but he was downright dominant in August. And Cain had a scintillating start to his career, the only negative one can say is that he walked too many at 3.7 W/9 but otherwise he shut down the other teams, even on his second time around with a couple of the teams. If they are all on, we don't really need to add another top of the rotation pitcher.

However, if we do, then by mid-year, a struggling team will want to get rid of their soon to be free-agent expensive starting pitcher (maybe Zito? :^) and the Giants will have the budget to pick up such a pitcher for minimal prospects. Plus, this opens the door for the Giants to pursue, instead of a starting pitcher eventually, a power-hitting LHH at some point at the corner positions of the infield. Derrek Lee will be a free agent next season and the Cubs are a year older and signed a bunch of relievers plus traded for Pierre but are missing the power of the past couple of seasons, with Alou and Sosa gone first, then Jeromy Burnitz this past season, and the Giants have dealed with them before. Give them Valdez and Simon?

So I can go either way with Morris now. If we sign him great, but if we don't sign him, that's great too. As much as I think Morris is a good risk, I think we should wait for the non-tenders and pick from there. We've picked up nice pieces before (Jose Cruz Jr. comes to mind) plus players by January become cheap (Reggie Sanders and Kenny Lofton signed for $1M with Pirates one off-season). It won't be a big bang acquisition we Giants fans wanted but with this lame batch of free agents, there really wasn't any sure thing hitter or pitcher out there for the grabbing, we're just picking our poison.

Given that, while I've been agitating, like most Giants fans, for Sabean to do something to "show the white smoke coming from the church chimney", perhaps it might be better to wait this one out and see what happens. While our team is not ideal and it can be crippled easily with a key injury or three or a few poor performances, I think the team as is can stay close in the NL West because no one else is doing well in the off-season either. Pick up a few pitchers with potential that get non-tendered, maybe a corner infielder, who all have their problems and risk but also the potential to do well, and their motivated performance in 2006 might put us over the top. If not, we have the money to pick up somebody as a rental in the second half.

That's because baseball is no longer a 162 game season. You only need to survive the first half in good shape then retool mid-year with either prospects or trade to finish strong going into the playoffs. There's no reason to win the most games you can, because, as we saw in the NL West this past season, all you really need to do is finish with the most wins in your division. As long as you got a good finishing kick going, you might be able to ride that streak through the playoffs to the World Series Championship. Because, how often does the winningest team in the regular season win the World Series? Go Giants!


Coming down to the end on Morris

The bidding for Morris is coming to a head. The San Jose Merc says the Giants offer is 2 years/$18M or 3 years/$25M. Sabean says that something should happen within 48 hours, yea or nay. The Giants appear to be the front runner at the moment, with Texas and Seattle also in the running. It appears that Morris' agent, Barry Axelrod, is waiting for the Cardinals to make their best bid now and that Sabean probably gave them 48 hours to take it or leave it, hence his being able to say that 48 hours is the timetable - I'm sure the agent would be more than happy to let things run and see what happens with the bidding.

Funny how the Cards are presented depending on the source. The St. Louis papers are saying that St. Louis is working hard to re-sign Morris and preparing a 3 year deal while the SF Bay papers are saying that St. Louis is balking at a multi-year contract with Axelrod saying that one year doesn't cut it for Morris, he wants multiple years.

Hard to say which contract I prefer right now, the 2 year-$18M or the 3 year-$25M. Obviously, shorter is better, but the other contract has him at $7M for the third season effectively and the way contracts are going right now, that's cheap for even the decline in performance that Morris has done in the past two seasons. And he was better in 2005 than 2004, giving some hope that it was 1) his injury that caused his poor 2004 and 2) it was his surgery that caused his poor second half of 2005, perhaps weakening it enough so that he wasn't effective but obviously he was lights out in the first half (3.10 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .246 BAA) when he still had his arm strength. Based on this reasoning, I guess I prefer him to sign the 3 year deal but either way I would hold my nose and wish for the best.


End of an Era: Giants decline arbitration to Snow (also Tomko)

Here's the Chron's take on the news. Not too surprising. Snow was the fall-back option if the Giants couldn't find someone to fit their needs for a 1B/OF but they came to an agreement with Sweeney, which is not official, but reported by a newspaper already plus noted in the Chron's take.

Thanks Snow, it's an end of an era, I appreciate all he has done for us, I think he was underrated, particularly ironic in this era of sabers, as he had a pretty good OBP. But people were always fixated on his lack of power for a 1B. I still think defense is very important at 1B and we had one of the best of his era.

And Tomko should have seen the writing on the wall based on the total lack of communication with Sabean. Apparently he spoke with Colletti once during the off-season, but perhaps Ned was priming the pump just in case he gained employment as GM somewhere - let's see if he ends up in LA after this. Thanks but don't let the door hit ya on the way out.

Some may say why not offer arbitration to Tomko, but if the Giants really wanted to pay Tomko $7-8M per season, don't you think they would have done so already? After all, he's been beating the drum for that figure since last off-season when he pointed out how cheap he was and noted Kris Benson's contract. But if they offer arbitration, they risk him accepting it if the offers are not good (and apparently, there has been a strong lack of interest in him and in offering more than a year or two) and having the arbitration board award him a $7.5-8.0M contract because similar players were getting that this off-season. I am sure teams are spooked by his inconsistency.

Other interesting news in the Chron include that Morris was offered 2 years, $8M+ by the Giants and that while the Giants have backed off after A.J. signed with Toronto, freeing up St. Louis to pursue Morris, St. Louis said that the money the Giants offered is too rich for their blood. So maybe the Giants are getting cold feet?

After seeing the possibilities for non-tenders, I think I would rather wait for the names to pop up there and have money to pick up a couple of starting pitchers on the cheap or who needs to prove something, than to pay such a high salary for "proven" starters. The only proven ones to me were Morris and AJ Burnett but AJ was getting too rich, and risk-wise both, to me, are about equal, where you pick your poison, so Morris was more appealing because he would get less money.

I'll be still happy if we sign Morris but I won't be upset if we end up not signing him. I'm not really comfortable with paying so much money for uncertainty, for the hope that he'll perform. But that's where we are in this crazy market, paying a lot of money and hoping you made the right choice. I think I would rather go for what's behind curtain number 2 and see which pitchers get non-tendered. Like the Chicago White Sox benefited from our non-tendering Pierzynski, maybe we can allow our budget towards a couple of non-tendered starters and leave Hennessey and Correia as backup options in AAA.

Also, the Cards offered him arbitration so signing him will cost us another draft pick. But it would only be a third round choice, if I remember right how much it would cost us for Morris.

Also interesting, it was noted that Boras approached Sabean and asked for an audience, not the other way around, which most accounts I've seen had it, that Sabean initiated it. That's good, I don't want Sabean to help Boras drive the bidding up for his greedy players-clients.


In Kline'd to be Angry; Sweeneying 1B

As announced all over the place, the Giants trade LaTroy Hawkins and cash considerations to the Baltimore Orioles for Steve Kline. I was ready to rip into the trade as a huge mismatch of talent but his record as a relief pitcher is comparable to Hawkins, from glancing at his splits and career numbers; when I get time during my vacation soon, I'll try to compare in a more detailed way.

However, one area where Hawkins shines like a lighthouse whereas Kline is a kandle, is in his K/W ratio - Hawkins had a down year last season but normally had 4.0-5.0 ratio, where 2.2 is considered very good, whereas Kline in two of the past three seasons his ratio was nearly 1.0, a ratio that is virtually unsustainable in the long run. So, according to stats compiled in Ron Shandler's 2005 book, a pitcher with his k9 and w9 rate of the past few years had an average ERA of 4.86, with his k/w ratio had an average ERA of 4.98 (with his k9 rate, ERA of 4.96), and with his k-rate 4.47 ERA. These two pitchers are at the extremes of the spectrum. That doesn't mean that Kline couldn't be a tail-end of the spectrum who could pitch like that and still perform well, but odds don't favor it whereas it is much easier for a pitcher like Hawkins to be dominating.

We Got Tom Sawyered

So just on talent, I think we are giving up more and therefore should have gotten a prospect from Baltimore to make up for that gap in talent. But, not only do we not get a prospect, we have to send some cash to the Orioles to make up for the gap in salaries as Hawkins makes more than Kline! Are you freaking kidding me?

Next, it was clear that the Orioles were not happy with Kline, as he did not perform as well as he had before. Plus the fans were not happy because he complained that he wished he never signed with the Orioles and that he would rather be with the Cards. Clearly he was damaged goods with the Orioles and a commodity that they would want to get rid of. Match that with their loss of their closer with no good option in their bullpen, the Giants should have been able to trade him to the Orioles for Kline without giving up cash plus getting a prospect back from the Orioles!

The Birds Tom Sawyered us: hey, if you give us your great pitcher and some cash, we'll give you this pitcher we were disappointed in and that our fans hate.

Giants Doing OK But Not Focused on Real Problems

That rant done, overall the Giants are doing OK with their moves in recent days. The bullpen is pretty good now, even with Eyre leaving, manned by Benitez, Worrell, Kline, Walker, Munter, Fassero, and Accardo/Taschner. They changed Hawkins and Eyre from the end of last season for Worrell and Kline, who perhaps won't match Hawkins/Eyre, but should still be very good in their roles and make the bullpen a strength of the team, with either Accardo or Taschner waiting in the minors to backup the possibility that someone falters.

However, the bullpen was not an big problem area for the team. The bullpen would have been OK as is because, even if one of the rookies faltered and had a poor sophomore year, there are pitchers in the minors who could come up and try to do the same as Munter, Taschner, and Accardo did in 2005, like Valdez, Simon, Sadler (if he's not Rule 5 drafted).

An area that was a bigger problem is the starting pitching, which currently would start Hennessey and Correia. They were close to getting Loaiza (lucky we didn't get him) and are hot on the trail of Matt Morris now, though the Cards are back in the pictures after losing out on the A.J. Burnett sweepstakes (crazy 5 year/$55M contract for an injury prone pitcher).

Then of course there's the elephant in the room, how Barry's going to do. If he's out again like 2005, the team could be sunk again, though if everyone else pulls their weight, it won't be the nuclear meltdown of the offense like in 2005 because we'll have Durham, Winn, and Alou being the main contributors and Vizquel, Matheny, Niekro, and Feliz (and now Sweeney) complementing them. They should be focusing on getting a good 1B to help pick up the offensive slack should Barry go down - Sweeney is a nice bench player but he'll probably be exposed if he played everyday as he's never been a starter in his career and only had more than 200 AB in a season last season.

Signing Sweeney

Speaking of Sweeney, we signed him today for 2 years, $1.8M. Seems like a fair salary for someone who will probably see a lot of ABs at 1B, OF, and especially PHing, even if the Giants do as I hope and get a strong offensive player for 1B. No great news but he's a solid player to pick up for our bench, especially since he's a lefty and will help with the Giants problems hitting RHP, especially when Barry is out of the lineup. Hopefully Sabean is scanning the non-tender wires for someone to pick up a lefty to boost up our 1B position.


Let the Trades Begin!

In sfgiants.com, I got this quote from Sabean:
"We've got a couple of irons getting warmer in the fire," he said. "Right now, we could trade a position player for a starting pitcher, but we're not real enamored with it. We could trade a reliever for another reliever, or a reliever for a position player."

The key question is: who are they thinking of trading?

Initial guesses include either Feliz/Alfonzo (maybe even Durham or perhaps Winn if they are finding it hard to sign him to a long-term deal) for a starting pitcher, Hawkins for another (cheaper or LOOGY) reliever, or Hawkins for a position player (presumably 1B/OF).

Jane, Stop this Crazy Thing!

One thing that I hate about this off-season is looking at Giants fans salivate over Loaiza and Byrd and thinking that $7M is an OK salary for them. I don't care what the market says, this is stupid. This is going the way of the Tulip craze of Holland where people were buying a tulip bulb (yes, that common thing you buy at an OSH) for the equivalent price of an expensive house for that era. Finally somebody came to their senses and that was that, the prices came down in a hurry and crashed.

That's why I like trying for Morris despite all the warning signs on him. He has actually been a very good pitcher earlier in his career, unlike these late bloomers and he's probably just going to go for $1-2M more per year than these one-year wonders. I would rather risk him because if he gets back to where he was before, we will have one premium pitcher for a good salary.

On the other hand, I don't think anyone is under the illusion that Loaiza or Byrd will ever become such a premium pitcher. And somebody is going to overpay for A.J. Burnett because of this scarcity and I want to avoid that. Morris is going to be in-between because of his recent struggles, but Burnett's too injury prone to not be another Darren Dreifort, the only question being will it be early in the contract or late when his injuries become a big problem.

All things being equal, I would just pass on all the pitchers avalable via free agency right now. Risks abound that we'll get the equivalent of Alfonzo pitching for us. However, I believe that Bonds can deliver a good offensive performance this season and that the offense will bust out with him back and Alou batting behind him, Winn hitting high in the order, and Durham hopefully healthy and productive again, especially in his walk year. In fact, right now, it is all their walk years.

With Bonds productive probably and possibly his last year being productive, the Giants need to go all out to try to make it all the way this season. So I'm willing to risk getting one of the free agents - and I'm focused on Morris - because a lot of payroll will be cleared out in droves the next two years, allowing Sabean to reshape the roster drastically, whereas a trade will short-circuit our development plans for the Giants 2008-09 unless the player will headline the Giants 2008-09. But we need another good starter to go with Schmidt to move deep into the playoffs and make the World Series and I'm not totally sold yet that Lowry and Cain will necessarily deliver great seasons, though I'm hopeful that we'll get at least one from one of the two. And I'm still hoping Sabean will pleasantly surprise us, though I've been disappointed the past few off-seasons.


This and That before the Winter Meetings

Winter Meetings: Please Shock and Awe the Faithful, Sabean

The Giants are in poor shape right now, having more needs than budget to fill them. It will take an imaginative trade like the Matt Williams trade to net the Giants adequate talent to fill the Giants needs at starting pitching, 1B, OF, and utility MI. Hopefully Sabean can pull the rabbit out of the hat, but right now my hope meter is running low.

Giants Not Place Free Agents Want to Come

At least, that's what John Shea of the Chronicle wonders, using Loaiza and Eyre as examples, then noting Moises Alou's mid-season complaint about camraderie. It just goes to show how some writers get, clutching at straws for something to write about. First, Loaiza is a bad example. The Giants offered 3 years - the A's offered 3 years and an option year. True, it is not at his option but players still consider this a better offer. As a side note, good thing we dodged the bullet, I don't particularly think that Loaiza will be that good a starting pitcher for the A's or Giants.

Second, Eyre is a lousy example, particular after his response to Bruce Jenkins at the same newspaper. The Giants offered only 2 years, don't know how much, whereas the Cubs offered 2 years plus another year AT HIS OPTION. That's a huge swing of money due to that extra year, with the possibility that if he continues to pitch well, he'll go free agent for more money - win/win for him either way. In addition, he told Bruce Jenkins that he loved playing for Felipe Alou - a point he didn't have to make at all but he went out of his way to contact Bruce and share his feelings. He could have just stayed silent or, worse, "tell all" and complain about Felipe - players today have no compunction to hold back, many let it all hang out.

Third, he mentions Moises Alou's comment about camraderie. From what I recall, he has recanted on that. Near the end of the season, he mentioned that he wished he had not spoken up, because things got better. He was just jumping the gun as it took a while for the clubhouse to gel together.

Schmidt as Trade Bait

One interesting thing from the article is that it was mentioned that perhaps Schmidt is on the block, presumably a 1B. He noted that Schmidt is in his final year of his contract and it would be a huge risk if they are serious about 2006, but could net them another starting pitcher and a position player. At McCovey Chronicles, someone mentioned a rumor (unsubstantiated, just radio blather) that perhaps the Giants might trade Schmidt to the Phillies for Bobby Abreu.

Really, at this point, any moves the Giants might make right now carries great risk. The risk of overpaying for a non-producing starting pitcher (Loaiza has no "proven" history for me; Morris is a possible injury risk, plus low strikeout rate and horrible second half of 2005; some call Weaver a headcase; etc.) The risk of picking up a semi-regular left 1B/OF who probably is filled with flaws.

Schmidt is a very valuable commodity and, while I would prefer keeping him, if it nets us a premier hitter like Abreu or a nice, young starting pitcher and 1B tandem, I hope the Giants would at least listen to the deal. I would hope the Giants go to some desperate teams looking for an ace and pick off their 1B prospect who is ready for the show (like Adrian Gonzalez of Texas, though they probably don't have a pitcher we would want) plus a young starting pitcher who is also ready for the show - teams like to jump the process sometimes by going with experience than young (like the Giants, only Sabean said that his moves this year is suppose to reflect more of a future look, than here and now concerns).

There will be huge risks that Schmidt could leave without the Giants getting anything in return after the 2006 season. He has had public clashes with Felipe previously. He sounded none too happy when reporters broached the subject of the Giants not picking up his option when asked in May - admittedly it should be a touchy subject, but his defensive response indicates it hit a nerve, else he would have just laughed it off as reporter speculation and say that he'll deal with things after the season, once the Giants figure out what they are doing and that he's confident things will work out right, or some pablum like that. And he did pitch pretty poorly in 2004 but the A's still got a lot out of the Cardinal's for Mulder, despite his poor second half. I think the Giants need to at least kick the tires and see what the going market price for a Jason Schmidt is, you never know if there's any team crazy enough to offer the moon for him.

Other Rumors

I have also seen a number of rumors around the place.

  • Matt Morris appears to be the player the team is most targeting right now. Just keep it reasonable please.
  • One said that Feliz is on the trading block. This makes some sense, they are promoting him as their starting 3B since the end of the season. He is one of our more tradeable players where we can get something of value for. His contract is not that bad, it is reasonable I think. They can also go back to Alfonzo as their 3B and hope 2005 was an aberration, with the idea of trading for 3B help in May if it turns out to be the end of his career.
  • Another mentioned the possibility of the Giants trading Alfonzo to the Mets for Kaz Matsui. Their salaries match, both teams are tired of them, both teams plan to not start the player. Could be a situation for "I give you my problem, you give me yours, maybe it'll be the kick in the butt they need."
  • ADDENDUM: Reportedly, the Giants have been inquiring with the Mets about Kris Benson. The Mets reportedly are not happy with Benson and wants to dump his salary. Unless the Giants are getting some cash out of this deal plus not give up much in prospects, they should pass on Benson, whose career record looks eerily like Brett Tomko. If they are that desperate they could resign Tomko to the same contract as Benson had, Tomko claimed he wanted Benson type money last off-season.
  • ADDENDUM: David Wells reportedly said that he would be "happy with the San Francisco Giants." I think he would be as good an addition as anyone else right now among the free agents. His contract is a mix of a small base with bonuses for milestones in games started, which escalates up to $9M. He pitched well over the last few seasons, though his road numbers were horrid with Boston, but he pitched very well with San Diego the year before and he wants to be in the NL, where his ERA will go down due to the lack of the DH. Plus, if he's not pitching well, we could dump him mid-year and only be out maybe $4-5M for only 2006, whereas obtaining mediocre pitchers like Loaiza, Tomko, Byrd, looks like it will cost in the $7M+ range per year, 2-3 years, if they should falter.

Dodgers to Sign Furcal for 3 year, $40M - Hooray, the end is nigh!

Rejoice, as the Dodgers have signed up their own Alfonzo! Though at that salary, it is basically two Alfonzos! I think this deal is a very strong evidence that Sheriff Ned is the culprit in the Giants front office for some of the crazy contracts we've seen during the Sabean era.

The evidence, forthwith, Furcal's stat lines:

Career on the road: .264/.330/.386/.716 in 1669 AB.

Away in 2005: .246/.311/.346/.657 in 301 AB.

He's a home boy: in Atlanta, he hit .305/.366/.432/.798 in 1589 AB.

Plus his career at Dodger Stadium: .157/.253/.200/.453 in 70 AB.

I don't know my stats well enough to know whether that's significant or not, but it sure looks like his home and away are significantly different.

The more money the cash strapped Dodgers waste on players like Furcal and Drew (their Durham doppelganger), the better off we are. At those potential offense performance levels suggested by his away stats, Furcal's not much better than Neifi with the bat. Only his speed differentiates him, but most saber studies don't find any great connection between SB and scoring runs - at a success rate (78%) just under the 80% that most people consider to be the crossover point at which SB is actually productive. And he's no Ozzie Smith with the glove, which is what he'll probably have to be to make up for the offense it looks like he'll provide playing for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers are stewpid, to paraphrase Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory, for signing Furcal to such a huge contract, even if he could hit what he hit for Atlanta, his .777 OPS in 2005, still only ranked 7th among players who played SS in 2005 and qualified (out of 21); I think only Jeter and A-Rod are the only SS who have higher salaries (A-Rod should be SS). His road OPS of .716 would only rank 12th in the majors, out of the 21 qualifying SS. Both are OK but not $13M per year good.

This is a huge mistake if the Dodgers are as strapped for cash and by debt as I've been led to believe from accounts I've read about McCourt's finances. Goody for the Giants!