Hot Stove Best and Worst 

With this lull in hot stove action and nary a blockbuster trade in sight, I'll take a few minutes to make my calls on best and worst of the moves so far.

Best trade for both teams

White Sox/D'Backs. Sox get Javier Vazquez, who could be anything from a decent workhorse to a top-flight guy, and Arizona is paying part of his salary. D'Backs get what everyone says is a can't-miss outfield prospect, Chris Young, plus a stop-gap veteran pitcher (El Duque) and a hard-throwing reliever (Luis Vizcaino).

Worst trade for both teams

Reds/Pirates. Sean Casey is an empty .300 hitter and getting worse, but he was the Mayor of Cincinnati and probably could have returned something better than mediocre lefty Dave Williams.

Most lopsided trades

1) Rangers/Nationals. Look, up in the sky, beyond the moon, beyond Jupiter, there's a small dim orb, never seen before by man. I shall name it Planet Bowden. Earth to Jim: You just traded a solid, versatile player (Wilkerson) and a decent fourth OF (Sledge) who'll hit some homers in Arlington for Alfonso Soriano, a guy who wants $12 million this year but doesn't want to move from the position where he's more butcher than fielder. Plus he's a fly ball hitter moving to a home-run-killing yard. Brilliant.

2) White Sox/Phillies. If Jim Thome can stay healthy, take a bow, Kenny Williams. You've just stolen the Liberty Bell from under Ben Franklin's nose, and money out of his wallet, too. The Phils get Aaron Rowand, a good glove, decent bat centerfielder you didn't need. And pitching prosects. Big deal. The Sox get one of the best power hitters in the game who'll be able to DH to his heart's -- or back's -- content. Plus Philly is picking up some of his contract.

Best free agent signings

San Diego, Trevor Hoffman and Brian Giles. I'm lumping them together because the Padres convinced both guys to take hometown discounts. Both are getting older, but Hoffman doesn't need to throw hard to be unhittable. Giles's value comes as much with his batting eye as his power stroke.

Yankees, Johnny Damon. $13 mil a year for four years won't be a bank-breaker, and you can expect that at least for a couple years more Damon will play at a premium level. Plus it poked a stick in the eye of every Red Sox fan, which for the Yankees is well worth overpaying.

Worst free agent signing

You could argue for any of the big pitching contracts -- Burnett, Ryan, Millwood, Washburn, even Morris (though I contend the way it's structured, with only $5 m due in '06, makes it a smart contract) -- but the most egregious for me was the Yankees giving Kyle Farnsworth $17 million over three years. The guy is a hothead and a bum. He had a career year under the wings of Leo Mazzone. No way he handles the pressure of the Bronx.

How have the Giants done so far?

I think the Finley/Alfonzo trade was a coup. The Giants were going to spend $8 million anyway, so why not try a guy who was a consistent power hitter and above-average center fielder through 2004? The risk is that 2005 was the beginning of Finley's downfall, but the reward -- a fourth outfielder who has legitimate power, decent speed and D, and can play a lot -- is well worth it.

Kline for Hawkins: Deck chairs.

Morris: See above.

Sweeney: Great bench addition. He could pleasntly surprise in a platoon situation at 1B.

The moves the Giants haven't made

- They did not acquire a true "ace" starter. They've placed their bets on Schmidt regaining most if not all his top form, the young guys developing quickly, and Matt Morris holding steady if not spectacular. The plan is that in two or three years, Matt Cain could be the ace, with Noah Lowry a strong complement.

- They did not trade Pedro %^$%& Feliz, hoping a full year in one position will make his on-base % sprout skyward, as if the soil around the third-base bag were full of nutritious manure and nitrogen. This would be OK if there were not many other offensive question marks and potential long-term injury bummers in the lineup.


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