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12.06.2005

That's Just Lefty Being Lefty 

Fasten your seat belts, we could be in for a bumpy night and a busy tomorrow.

Other than a few splashy signings and trades, most of the Hot Stove action has been elbow-jostling for prime position on Dec. 7, as no doubt a bunch of players (Vicente Padilla? Byung Hyun Kim? Milton Bradley?) might suddenly become free agents and the meager chicken scratch that everyone has been pecking at (Matt Morris, ooh! aah!) will be spread a little more widely if not much more deeply.

Also breaking up the logjam could be the Burnett signing today, with a cascade effect down the chain of free agent pitchers.

Sabean has been doing his own jostling. He signed Tim Worrell, and now according to a couple reports he has saved the Giants $2 million by trading LaTroy Hawkins for Steve Kline. In St Louis Kline's nasty lid inspired a whole gaggle of dirty little groupies.

It's probably no better than a lateral move. Both Hawkins and Kline have had good relief careers until recent hard times; Hawkins a short, dominant streak with Minnesota, Kline several years of steady but not spectacular work. If a team between now and April needs lefty relief, the Giants have a trade chip. Did I mention the move also saves the Giants about $2 million?

[UPDATE: It now seems the Giants sent cash to the Orioles to even out the difference in salary. This is very very bad. The whole reason for trading Hawkins in this new era of wildly overvalued relievers was to dump salary or get useful position players. Argh.]

Before all heck breaks loose in Dallas, I'll strap on the Predictatron 4500 and behold the Giants' future.

I predict...!

...the Giants pass on Matt Morris, Jeff Weaver, and all the other free agent pitchers demanding $10 million a year. Instead they trade for a cheaper, younger arb-eligible guy (Kip Wells?), maybe sign a guy not offered arbitration (Byung Hyun Kim?).

However, if the Giants sign Matt Morris, they turn around and trade Jason Schmidt in a package for offense.

...the Giants will sign Nomah to an oddly shaped, prove-you're-healthy contract that has incentives and options and lets him play multiple positions. With time at 1B, perhaps the starter's job at 3B, plus backing up Durham and Vizquel up the middle and Bonds in LF, Nomah gets 500 at bats and is installed as the everyday second baseman when Durham leaves in 2007.

The more I think about it, the more a healthy Nomar makes sense, especially if he learns to play several positions decently. It's all about his health, as Dusty Baker points out:

"It's just a matter of how many games is Nomar going to play and if he can stay healthy. That's been the issue for a couple years now. When he's healthy, Nomar is a heck of a player. Sometimes you go through those periods and streaks in your career. You might not get hurt again for the next five, six years."

He's never going to hit 1.000 OPS again, but .850-.900 isn't out of the realm of possibility.

A spooky comparison:

In December 2000, Darren Dreifort was 28 year old good ol' boy from the southern Midwest, had pitched 670 big-league innings over the span of 7 seasons, had recovered from one Tommy John surgery, and signed a 5 year, $55 million contract.

In December 2005, AJ Burnett was a 28 year old good ol' boy from the southern Midwest, had pitched 1,524 big league innings over the span of 7 seasons, had recovered from one Tommy John surgery, and signed a 5 year, $55 million contract. And pierced nipples.

I predict the Giants don't sign a pitcher with pierced nipples.

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