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5.22.2006

G's Up, 'Kro's Down 

After a week of waiting, Lance Niekro and his bum shoulder have gone on the disabled list, leaving the Giants with Mark Sweeney as the starting 1B and Kevin Frandsen up from Fresnoville to fill the roster spot.

Given the Giants just won five of six by a collective score of 44-8 on the road against two tough teams, it doesn't seem like Lance will be missed very much. To review his season so far:

Horrific April
Not-so-good May

Before the injury he was "heating up," though his 9-for-25 over seven games included just two extra base hits. I prefer to think of it as a gentle stovetop simmer or the microwave "defrost" setting.

Niekro may still surprise us, but anything the Giants get from him beyond the occasional useful start against a lefty will be gravy.

Short term, barring a trade, the best solution in my book is to play Frandsen at third base and Pedro Feliz at first base against lefties. But from today's press reports, Felipe seems inclined to keep Pedro at third, where undeniably he's playing excellent defense. That means Sweeney starts at 1B full-time, or the Giants continue to throw Jose Vizcaino in the lineup against lefties, where he is likely the worst-hitting 1B ever, unless somehow Neifi Perez or Mario Mendoza have spent time manning the sack.

Perhaps if Moises Alou comes back soon and hits as he was pre-injury, and Barry Bonds returns to his spry 39-year-old form, and Pedro Feliz is hypnotized into thinking he's always in Houston, and the starting rotation continues to average just over a run allowed per game, perhaps Jose Vizcaino would be a right decent option to platoon at first base. And perhaps the New York Times Co. is in negotiations to buy El Lefty Malo Productions LLC for an undisclosed but generous sum of cash and stock.

No doubt the Giants will try to hang tight until Moises returns -- sometime before mid-June, we can only pray -- and let Sweeney play against right-handed starters (.286/.325/.532 vs. RHP this year, .278/.377/.476 the past three years).

But a lineup without Alou, with Vizcaino at first base part-time, with Feliz quickly returning to Felizidades (1-for-12 in Oakland with 4 Ks), and no more visits to Houston this year is whistling past the graveyard.

The three-game set with St. Louis starting tonight should provide a much clearer reminder of how good the Giants have to be to make their last "Win One For Barry" campaign more than a glue-and-baling-wire MacGyver fantasy.

And for God's sake, don't pitch to Pujols.

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