Deadline Deals

September 1st

                       The last time I held a garage sale I was living in a cul de sac in Bakersfield.  We put advertisements in the newspaper and posted signs around the neighborhood, announcing we would be open at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning.  When I rolled out to the front lawn to pick up my newspaper at 7:30, ladies in two cars were waiting.  It must have been the baby clothes.

                       Monday, the Chicago White Sox declared a garage sale, and the Los Angeles Dodgers were like those early-birds in the cars.  They jumped right in and snatched Jim ( Me Hit Ball ) Thome from the Sox, apparently worried that other ladies from Colorado or San Francisco might snag him.   The Dodgers then went to a garage sale right in their own neighborhood, and got pitcher Jon Garland from the team they were hosting, the Diamondbacks.  The Rockies settled for pitcher Jose Contreras from the White Sox.

                       Giants fans who might have been feeling pretty frisky earlier in the day, when it was apparent pitcher Brad Penny was going to be signed, had to wonder what  they missed out on.  As the Giants were busy working out Penny’s deal, the White Sox announced that everything must go!  It was like passing over a Marvel Magazine comic book collection that turned out to be priceless, to pick up a used stair-master on the street..

                        Penny was out of his element in Boston, and in the American League.  His career stats against the National League are decidedly better than against American League foes.  One plus for the Giants is that he left the Dodgers on very bad terms.  A negative for the Giants is that he left the Dodgers on very bad terms because he is not a prince of a guy.  Maybe he’ll be on his best behavior this month, the Giants didn’t have to give up anything for him because he cleared waivers, and he’ll be cheap.

                       Penny should help, however.  He’s motivated during the stretch run to puff up his next contract.  He also has postseason experience, and as a #5 starter, should be better than what the Giants have been carting out there the last couple of months.  Joe Martinez and Ryan Sadowski are both swell guys, but both got found out by major league scouts and hitters.  Penny will probably enjoy returning to the National ( I get to pitch to pitchers ) League.

                      The Giants have made it this far on pitching, and with the arms they’ll be calling up Tuesday, should be loaded for bear.  In addition, Randy Johnson might come out of the bullpen later in September.  How nasty will RJ be as a LOOGY ( Left-handed one-out guy )?  When the Giants play the Dodgers in three weeks, Johnson might be called upon in a late-inning situation to get Thome out.

                    Thome gives the Dodgers another left-handed power bat, but here’s the dilemma:  the Dodgers already have slick-fielding James Loney at first, and Thome hasn’t played there at all for a couple of years.  He’s been a designated hitter, and he’s 39, so it’ll be tough to play him frequently, although he can still hit a little.  Looks like a late-inning pinch hitter and postseason DH, a la Jason Giambi with the Rockies.

                   The better acquisition, the one that isn’t getting as much press, is Jon Garland.  I touted him as a possible Giants acquisition earlier this season.  The Dodgers starting rotation needed help, and you couldn’t count on Vicente Padilla to take them down the stretch.

                   Garland’s numbers aren’t great.  He’s given up 188 hits in 167 innings but usually has pretty good control and gets a lot of  ground balls.  His ERA is 4.29 but is 3.89 in August.  He’s also a much better pitcher outside of Arizona, with a 3.39 road ERA.  That’s not bad for a #5 starter.   It’s easy to see why the Dodgers targeted him:  he had a 2.77 ERA in two starts against them this year.

                   The Rockies also wanted Garland, but lost a wrestling match with the ladies in the first car, the Dodgers.  So they settled for a potholder instead of the crock pot.  They got Jose Contreras to fill out their rotation, depleted by the injury to Aaron Cook.  Contreras, who might be 49, has been awful with the White Sox.  He’s 1-6 with a 6.97 ERA since the All-Star Break.

                   To rank the teams by their deadline deals, it’s Dodgers-Giants-Rockies.  If the standings end up that way at the end of the season, the Giants will probably be in the playoffs.  For now, they’re tied with the Rockies for the Wild Card, and 5 1/2 behind the Dodgers in the West. 

                   Gentlemen, ( or ladies ) start your engines.

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