Always Be Closing 

The holy-shit money being thrown at relief pitchers has stirred up outrage among some baseball observers. But we Giants fans are always looking for the silver lining -- or at least the cheap pun -- behind every fiasco.

Closers suddenly too rich, too old, or both for most teams' blood? Step right up, my little GM friends, and talk to your Uncle Sabes.

For teams that don't want to spend $10 million a year on a closer, the Giants have two potential solutions: LaTroy Hawkins and Tyler Walker. Both have spent shaky time in the role. Hawkins flamed out as the Cubs' closer, but no doubt there's a team willing to take a chance on him for one year and $4-5 million. (His contract calls for extra money if he closes.)

Walker showed promise but not much consistency last year filling in for Armando Benitez. With the top closer free agents (Gordon, Hoffman, Wickman) all in their late 30s and probably looking for 3 years and more than $20 million, I'll bet Walker is enticing to several teams right now. He's so young and cheap, in fact, Tyler could be a very valuable commodity. Of course, he could end up as the next Joe Nathan; Sabean would be foolish to part with him too quickly. Given Benitez's health questions, Walker might be pressed into emergency save duties in '06, too.

But with Accardo coming on strong, potentially as Benitez's heir apparent, I'd say the Giants can afford to trade Walker for the right price. Even better would be a trade of Hawkins and his outrageous salary.

Reports this morning say Sabean went hard after Loaiza, lost him to the A's, and has an offer out to Matt Morris. Waiting for an answer, Sabes will turn his attention to the bullpen. We assume that to mean he wants to buy. Why not sell, too?


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