Now It Gets Fun 

July 5th: Mark it on your calendars. It's a national day off, which in this day and age means that the post office and banks are closed but commerce rages on as usual. You can't send a letter or get a home loan, but you can buy condoms and hair gel.

Not only will the Rite-Aid be open, but also the gates of Pac Bell Park as the Giants host the Rockies. By July 5th, the game against the Rockies will have some serious significance. Because between now and then, the Giants play 16 games against Boston, Los Angeles, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Oakland for a true test of this so-called comeback against the dregs of both the American and National Leagues. (I attended all three Toronto games this week -- it's good to be a "freelance writer," i.e., seriously underemployed -- and boy, are those Jays bad. Not all their fault, with so many injuries. But still P.U. Stinky.)

So after eating Cap'n Crunch for breakfast the past month, the Giants are suddenly switching to Grape Nuts. If they can handle the switch, they will benefit from increased regularity and easier digestion. If they can't handle the switch, they will be in search of the second half of an extended breakfast cereal metaphor that wasn't so great to begin with.

(Don't laugh. Ray Ratto actually gets paid for shit like this.)

During the same stretch, other than the seven against SF, the Dodgers play the Yankees three at home, and split six against Anaheim. Call the schedule difficulty a draw. Those 16 games aren't necessarily make or break, unless either the Giants or Dodgers lay down some serious whoopin' on the other. With the resurgent Giants' offense -- while Grissom's OPS has declined each month so far, Alfonzo and Feliz and Mohr and Pierzynski and Tucker have steadily improved, Durham is now (knock on wood) fully healthy and Minor, though not hitting for power, is getting on base as if he were a big, doofy Rickey Henderson -- one has to figure their home-and-home series with LA will at least be better contested than the two embarrassing April series.

After all the kicking and screaming and hair-pulling of the first two months, is it possible that Brian Sabean actually knew what he was doing? That no one, no how, no way, would pull away in the NL West, and that half a year of baseball-on-the-cheap could be just enough to keep butts in the seats and hope alive; and that spending less (if you can call half of $80 million "less") for half a year could persuade P-Mag J. Pursestrings to loosen the sphincter a little for the stretch run...

Speaking of which, El Jefe de los Azules de Westwood wants us to spread the following unsubstantiated rumor: Could the Giants be looking to trade for Mike Sweeney and Jason Grimsley of the Royals?

My personal take: Sweeney's a great hitter but his hinky back and big contract are big risks. Yes, he's been relatively healthy this year (without putting up his typical big numbers). And Pedro Feliz is doing a fine job as the right-handed first baseman, as long as he doesn't have to hit behind Bonds. Grimsley is a solid reliever who would help the bullpen, sure, but at this point, the bullpen would be equally helped by getting another starter who regularly pitches more than 6 innings.

Conclusion: it's a fun rumor to start, but I'll bet a few sheckels that Sabean goes for a starter and an outfielder and picks up bullpen help on the super-cheap.

Here's another rumor to start. What if the Sox decide to get some value for Nomah before he walks as a free agent? They can afford to lose some hitting. How about Nomah for a great pitching prospect (either Cain or Valdez), a good prospect (Lowry or Correia), and Ransom? Or Linden, who's considered major-league ready from the right side of the plate, which would let him take aim at the Green Monster in a platoon next year that replaces Trot Nixon? With Nomah on board for the stretch run, Feliz moves to first full-time, Snow becomes the late defensive replacement/occasional starter against tough right handers, and Neifi becomes the middle infield backup.


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