Vaya Con Dios, Woodmeister 

Stricken with toe gout is not the way most Giants fans will remember Kirk Rueter, at least not fans who have a warm organ nestled deep among their otherwise cold sabermetric bones. He was lucky, he was crafty, he was funny-looking, he invited all the guys to his big-ass backyard Shed in the St. Louis suburbs and even made hats with "Woody's Shed" on them (how cool is that?).

He thrived at times with a great sinker, but he never really recovered after umpires stopped calling the "Atlanta" strike -- the pitch three inches off the outside corner. When Sandy Alderson started enforcing the real strike zone, it was the beginning of the end for Woody.

This was his final linescore as a Giant, Jul 29 v. MIL:

4.2 IP / 7 H / 5 R / 5 ER / 1 HR / 2 BB / 1 K

But I prefer to remember this one, Sept. 30 vs FLA, game 1 of NLDS:

7 IP / 4 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 3 BB / 5 K

Word comes from the wires that Sabean thought he could trade Rueter this weekend, but nothing happened and now he's designated for assignment. The Giants have 10 days to trade him, at which point he'll be a free man.

This brings up a serious question about Sabean's ability to get any value at all for the Giants veterans. Nothing happened at the July 31 deadline except for the Winn trade. Now we're in August, and some of these guys -- Snow, Alfonzo, Tomko, Rueter, etc -- must have some kind of value to someone. Tomko was apparently claimed off waivers by the Rangers, but the teams couldn't come to terms on a deal.

What's the hang-up, Sabes? The Rangers were offering two boxes of Kleenex, and you wanted three? Did the Rangers refuse to throw in a can of shaving cream for Mike Matheny's glove?

Get something, anything.

And dammit, play Lance Niekro everyday. Let's see if he can hit the Becketts, Burnetts and Smoltzes of the world. Giving J.T. Snow starts at first base from this point on is foolish.

I've said before that if Sabean can start the rebuilding process and give us a sense that things are moving in the right direction, I'll forgive the post-2002 blunders. But the inability so far to dump some contracts and either get decent prospects in return or ease the '06 payroll is an ominous sign that this franchise is heading into dark corners with strange smells and small scuttling things just out of your field of vision.

But let's remember happier times: what's your favorite Woody performance?


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