SF Giants Moves: 4 Implications of Dropping Rowand, Tejada, Adding Burrell, Pill
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Finally. Our long national—well, regional—nightmare has ended.
Wow. Two allusions to Richard Nixon and I'm not even past the intro slide.
It does feel like a gray cloud has lifted over Giant-ville.
Their NL West deficit has swelled to six games (hmm...opportunity to contrast deficit to mounting national debt...no, you're not Scott Ostler. Get to point, now).
But the D-backs arrive Friday. They meet six more times. If the offense can awaken just a little.
Perhaps cutting two offensive zombies and bringing up a slugging rookie will prove to be a turning point.
For now, here are four immediate implications of releasing Rowand and Tejada, activating Pat Burrell and adding Brett Pill.
Status Quo Was No Longer Tolerable
Tejada won't drop any more bunts in San Francisco
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Their offensive miseries aside, the Giants' hopes of returning to the playoffs aren't yet dashed.
So far, not so good. The two-game deficit from a week ago has ballooned to six heading into Wednesday's matchup with the Chicago Cubs.
On-field failures alone didn't prompt the Giants to jettison Rowand or Tejada. The last straws, so-to-speak, were their recent churlish behavior.
Rowand trashed the Giants organization to a Chicago reporter. Tejada openly rebelled at being asked to bunt during a pinch-hitting appearance, then casually sashayed his way up the first-base line.
For the little they've given the club this year, you'd have thought Rowand and Tejada would have taken the club's nearly $20 million greenbacks (in combined salary) a bit more graciously.
In a clubhouse that lacks a clear leader, that toxicity was having a ripple effect; it had to stop. And in one moment, Sabean and Bochy have signaled that they're not going to take it any more.
Management Is Still Thinking Postseason
Giants brass clings to the belief that this could happen again
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Brian Sabean could have dumped Rowand and Tejada and added Pat Burrell and Brett Pill on or after September 1, when clubs are allowed to expand their major league rosters.
By pulling the trigger a day earlier, Sabean:
1. Is hoping a playoff-bound club might trade for Rowand, who has done one thing well in 2011 (aside from being a malcontent): pinch-hit. The Phillies, perhaps?
It's less obvious why anyone would want Tejada.
2. Gave Bruce Bochy two power bats that would be on the postseason roster should the Giants qualify.
Even thinking about the postseason at this point may seem fanciful. Perhaps Sabean and Bochy just decided it was best to begin the housecleaning sooner than later. The Merc's Tim Kawakami has an interesting take on that.
Until this weekend's series with Arizona plays out, we should assume the club still believes in its playoff hopes.
So should we.
As Dorothy Said, We're Not in Kansas Any More
Newkom (left) would like a repeat of this scene
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Eating the remaining $12 million owed to Rowand next season is, believe it or not, a relatively inconsequential move for San Francisco.
Yes. Hard for me to comprehend too—especially after all those years of spendthrift ways.
Guess filling AT&T Park to the gills and effectively exploiting every other imaginable marketing and revenue stream does have its benefits.
But it's true: The Giants have become a "big budget" organization, willing to spend what it takes to compete (adding Beltran) and eat their losses when appropriate (dumping Rowand).
Arizona ranks 25th in player payroll, at $53.6 million. That'll jump if the D-Backs make a serious postseason run. Their key contributors will all have earned nice raises.
And the fact that the D-Backs may depose the Giants as NL West champs at less than half the cost will be a pebble—an expensive one at that—in Bill Newkom's shoe.
Newkom and his fellow principal investors should—and likely will—want to know Brian Sabean's plan to avoid a repeat of what we've seen in 2011.
Giants fans should be a bit comforted by that.
Finally, a Brett Pill Sighting
Pill's presence may be aimed at awakening Huff
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Given their offensive struggles, it's been odd, bordering on bizarre, to see former Class-AAA Fresno first baseman Brett Pill slugging away for the Grizzlies while Aubrey Huff scuffled in San Francisco.
Here's what Pill has done: .312 BA/.530 SLG/.871 OPS, 25 HR, 107 RBI, 167 hits, including 36 doubles.
The 6'4", 210 Pill, drafted by the Giants with their seventh pick in the 2006 amateur draft, is a classically-built corner infielder.
Pill split his time at Fresno between first base (sensible) and second (sort of odd, given his size). Rumor is that the organization was determining if it could take advantage of Pill's bat at another defensive position in San Francisco.
Bruce Bochy said Wednesday he'll use Pill situationally, at least for now. Lord knows he can use a solid bat off the bench.
We should wonder if Pill's arrival rouses the morose Huff.
He's struggled all year, appeared out of shape and never given a hint he might awaken in time to make a difference.
Bochy may be running out of patience. He's been sitting Huff occasionally, even against right handers. Mark DeRosa played first base Wednesday against the Cubs even though the Giants were facing right hander Rodrigo Lopez.