In last night’s woozy post I outlined two of the sharper moves the Giants braintrust has made this year: moving Correia to the starting rotation and giving Dan Ortmeier on-the-job training as a first baseman. Neither move will have Brian Sabean et al nominated for the 2007 Nobel Prize in Sports Management, but each decision was a modest flash of creative thinking, a baseball trait many Giants fans say is only found on the right side of the Bay Bridge these days.
So what other moves, macro or micro, get a gold star this year?
* By a length and a half, the best decision of the year was trading Matt Morris for Raj Davis and the ex-PTBNL Spanky McFarland. As we’ve documented, and as the Pirates proved by firing the man on the receiving end just a month after the trade, this coup was more a matter of someone else’s mental midgetry. But hey. We’ll take it. And every time Raj Davis does this, we’ll smile.
* Sticking with Brad Hennessey as the closer. Hennessey was the Macgyver-ish bubble-gum solution to the giant crack in the village dam known as Armando Benitez. Not only has the bubble gum held up decently, it has given the Giants time to clear up the murky water behind the dam and develop a new, improved bubble gum made of advanced polymers extracted from the shells of tiny translucent beetles. If you have your own extended bullpen metaphor, please mail it to
El Lefty Malo
attn: Extended Bullpen Metaphor Contest
Mail stop A-321
22 Plaza Izquierda
Winners will be notified by, hmm, how about never?
* Handling Tim Lincecum. The team isn’t eager to fast-track young players, but Lincecum made it impossible to keep him on the farm any longer. After five starts in Fresno this spring, he was obviously ready. When he hit a bad patch in June, no one panicked or suggested a demotion. He’s been solid and occasionally spectacular since, and now that he’s pushing toward 200 innings for the year, the Giants are being extra-cautious about his workload. So far, a job well done.
* Bengie Molina. The contract — 3 years, $18 M — was excessive. But the Giants had just learned Mike Matheny would retire because of concussions. Like the Omar Vizquel contract, it was an over-reach to provide some stability. Molina doesn’t get on base very much, and when he does he’s painfully slow, but at least this year he has made his hits count. Using the rough guide of OPS, he’s as good offensively as Kenji Jojima, better than Pudge Rodriguez, and not far behind Brian McCann and John Buck, two of the more promising young catchers. On defense he’s thrown out 29% of basestealers, not great, but better than several other respected defenders. On the downside, Molina has the second-most passed balls in the big leagues.
Molina might prove my rosy assessment wrong by breaking down horribly in ‘08/’09, but so far the $6 M a year for a solid B-grade catcher when there was little in the pipeline seems like a great move. If you’re cynical, you could say the Giants panicked into a lucky move. You? Cynical? Nah.
What other moves, strategies or decisions this year deserve praise?