The Unkindest Cut 

Old friend Russ Ortiz, still enshrined bobbleheadedly in the bathroom of The Fort Miley Marauder, was given his walking papers today by the Arizona Diamondbacks. That means Arizona will pay Russell $22 million through the end of 2008 for not playing for Arizona, which could describe anything from a) playing for another big-league team to b) mowing his lawn to c) sitting on the couch eating Cheetos to d) opening a ministry. Given Russ's prayerfulness and inability to get hitters out the past year and a half, d) is your best bet.

ESPN has a wee podcast today featuring Alan Schwarz and Keith Law, two SABR-smarties, discussing the move. Law said something that caught my ear: it's easy for a GM like Arizona's Josh Byrnes to cut a player his predecessor signed, but let's see a GM with real cojones cut one of his own signees.

My immediate thought: we have seen it. Last year, Brian Sabean let Marquis Grissom and Kirk Rueter go. Neither move was that brave considering both had only a couple months left on their contracts, but an admission nonetheless that the contracts Sabean engineered for each player outlived the players' usefulness.

I've seen clamor for the Giants to cut Benitez now that he's compounded his shaky on-field performance with ill-advised off-field comments. Making a few discreet phone calls regarding a trade is one thing, but cutting Benitez outright would be foolish. The Giants won't get back the $12 M still owed to Mando. He gets paid no matter what.

DFA is for a guy like Ortiz, who has descended into the abyss. Benitez has had a couple shaky months sandwiched around a devastating injury and by all accounts worked like a dog to return from the injury earlier than anyone expected. Now he's finally throwing like his old self, whining a bit about playing time and respect, blah blah blah -- like wow, no major leaguer has ever whined before! -- and boobirds want to toss him and a big chunk of change overboard? Please.

Trade bait resumes tomorrow.


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