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12.07.2005

Sweeney? Odd. 

There's a report on the San Diego Union Trib's Web site that the Giants have signed career backup/pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney. If true (I haven't seen it anywhere else), Sweeney would likely be the Giants' main first baseman and platoon with Lance Niekro. Although he could be a bench guy who's serving as Plan B in case the Giants can't get anyone more powerful.

Here are a few deals that have some impact on the Giants:

- Trevor Hoffman decides to stay with the Padres. Impact: Crap! That guy kills the Giants. I was praying he'd be lured out of the league by Cleveland.

- Mark Loretta goes from San Diego to Boston for backup catcher (and former G) Doug Mirabelli. Impact: Pretty good. When healthy, Loretta is an excellent hitter. Mirabelli is a big lumbering backup who may end up as San Diego's #1 catcher.

- The D'Backs get catcher Johnny Estrada from Atlanta for two middling pitching prospects. Estrada was excellent in '04 with Atlanta but fell off sharply this year. I think he was injured. Impact: He's better than, uh, whoever was their catcher last year.

Here's what the media said today about the Kline-Hawkins deal.

Joe Sheehan, Baseball Prospectus:

The Orioles and Giants swapped disappointing relievers, with the Os sending Steve Kline west for LaTroy Hawkins. The deal is interesting largely because it means Hawkins becomes one of Leo Mazzone’s charges in his first season on the Chesapeake. Hawkins has been a very good pitcher at times, and his reputation as a guy who can’t handle pressure situations in more myth than fact. It would not surprise me at all to see Hawkins be one of the top five relievers in the AL next year.

Christina Kahrl, BP:

So, would you take an offer of Kline for Jerome Williams and David Aardsma? I didn't think so, but that's effectively the result of the latest sprig of Brian Sabean's creative thinking. The Giants are hoping he's happier going back to the NL after a lot of public pouting over his decision to sign with the Orioles, and have been quick to talk up his second half: 3.8 runs per nine, four home runs as part of a hit per inning clip allowed in those 28.2 IP, nine walks, and eleven strikeouts. Yes, that really is what Sabean referred to as the good news. Financially, it looks like the deal is a wash, since Hawkins is due $3.5 million, Kline $3 million, hence the Orioles getting cash in what, in the fuzziest of reads, can be interpreted as an exchange of problems. But Kline was a flop as a situational reliever in '05 (.317/.364/.515 against lefties), he's the one who's 33, and he's the one whose up-side is ... well, not too dissimilar from that of a retread like Scott Eyre.

John Shea, SF Chronicle:

The Giants swung a reliever-for-reliever deal Tuesday that better balanced their bullpen and possibly made it easier to fill other holes on their roster... The Giants also sent the Orioles cash to help compensate for the difference between the 2006 salaries for Kline ($3 million) and Hawkins ($4.35 million), leaving them the flexibility to fill their other needs, including a starting pitcher.

I immediately sent Shea an e-mail asking how sending the extra cash leaves the Giants with the flexibility to fill other needs. No word yet on that.

Andrew Baggarly, Oakland Trib:

Hawkins, 34, was acquired from the Cubs in May at a steep price (Jerome Williams and David Aardsma) but never settled in with the Giants and was made expendable after the Giants signed Tim Worrell last week. But with the exploding market for relievers, Hawkins figured to fetch something, even with $4.35million owed to him next season. The Orioles reportedly plan to use Hawkins as their closer. Kline is due to make $3million next season. A club source said the Giants sent about $700,000 to Baltimore to offset the two salaries.

Jeff Zreibec, Baltimore Sun:

Meanwhile, Orioles executive vice president Mike Flanagan said that he made the Kline trade to give the left-hander a "change of scenery" and the Orioles a power arm in the bullpen for the seventh and eighth innings. The Giants also sent some cash the Orioles' way, believed to be around $900,000, to cover the difference in the two relievers' contracts...Hawkins, who learned of the trade while talking with the builder of his new house in suburban Dallas, said he was excited to get back into the American League and work with Orioles pitching coach Leo Mazzone..."Leo is a good dude. He is funny as [heck]. He's a pitcher's pitching coach," said Hawkins, who spoke with Mazzone for about 45 minutes yesterday.

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