P.M. UPDATE: Guess who’s among this writer’s top-eight prospects to change hands at the deadline? R-A-J-A-I Rajai Rajai Rajai! Smith writes: “Davis lacks any upside but in an organization about to enter a rebuilding mode, swapping an overpaid Morris for a leadoff hitter-to-be is as good a move as can be made.”
More kudos, from BP’s Christina Kahrl (no Sabean fan, she): “Sabean just reaped an outstanding financial divided that should help greatly in making over the team in the winter to come. It may not be a repeatable achievement, but this ranks among the better deadline moves made by anybody.”
OK, Brian, so far so good. Now let’s see you make a good trade with someone whose skills at running a franchise extend beyond one of those KFC/Taco Bell hybrid huts. Hello, I’m Dave, and the word of the day is “crunchewmelty”!
Matt Morris is not a happy camper, and he hasn't been one for a while. A couple weeks ago he loosened his tent flap and told the world the Giants seemed more interested in milking the Bondstravaganza than, um, hello, winning ballgames?
Hearing yesterday that he'd been steel-toed out of town, Morris had more choice words: "It is what it is."
Pittsburgh is what it is — Matt Morris’s new home — mainly because Morris pitched like a friendly Jugs machine the past month (motto: “Everyone Loves to Hit!”). A few more solid outings, and he might have been chasing a playoff spot with Atlanta, Philadelphia, or Seattle.
I've been to Pittsburgh in the summer, and I found it green and leafy and hilly, a bit like San Francisco but with more river, more humidity, and more fried food. It's got a fine scientifically-minded university and a football team everyone is nuts about. Their baseball team leaves a lot to be desired. So does ours, but theirs might be better to pitch for. Again, here's Morris:
"I'm excited about getting back to the NL Central and getting some better defense and some young guys out there who are looking to play hard," Morris said.
That, ladies and germs, is known as a parting shot. So is this:
"It's been hard (in San Francisco) - it's almost been that you start to accept it (losing) and I hate to say that, unfortunately. It was different. I was used to (Cardinals manager) Tony La Russa in the past and he kind of runs the show and there's a lot of structure. I went to the Giants where it was totally opposite, a different, laid-back feeling.''
It's easy to dimiss Morris's comments as sour grapes. But let's assume for a moment he speaks the truth, that the Giant clubhouse is too laid-back. Implicit in his LaRussa comment: Bruce Bochy does not run the show, and I’ll give you three seconds to guess who does.
Next year will be a high-profile clubhouse chemistry experiment: what happens when you remove the best offensive player and the most distracting clubhouse element all in one go? Will the extra harmony quickly be smothered by all the extra-crappy offense? Will the good cheer help oil the gears of a precise, energetic, well-honed small-ball strategy?
If a Bonds-less Giants return to respectability next year, the proponents of chemistry — not to mention the Bonds haters — will pump their fists in glee. I can see the headlines now: “Bye-Bye Barry: Addition by Subtraction.” (Hey, not bad. I should do this for a living.)
But there will be no return to respectability, even mediocrity, if the best cleanup hitter the Giants can find next year is Ray Durham.
Near-future agenda: In the next 30 days, Sabean will keep trying to trade veterans who clear waivers. Also on his to-do list: pluck the player-to-be-named from the Pirates’ farm system. There’s an excellent discussion on the McChronic about the possibilities.