Winter Meetings Preview, Now With More Edgardo Alfonzo

The headline of a post over at Amazin Avenue:

Edgardo Alfonzo Left Off Hall Of Fame Ballot

You may also remember similar posts such as "Man Has Thumbs," "Car Needs Gas To Run," and "Cap'n Crunch Tears the Absolute Crap Out of the Roof of Area Person's Mouth." At least, that's what it feels like to Giants fans. Of course Edgardo Alfonzo was left off the Hall-of-Fame ballot. He was disqualified after he admitted to being Edgardo Alfonzo. That sort of stigma sticks with you for years.

But for Mets fans, Alfonzo was one of those players. Comparable players for us might be Jack Clark, Robby Thompson, or Matt Williams -- they leave our team, but they never leave … our hearts. If Matt Williams were left off the Hall ballot, we'd notice. It would merit a mention.

For Giants fans, Alfonzo was a guy who came over and didn't do anything. Like, he didn't do anything -- he'd just stand around and wait for people to bring him coffee and foodstuffs. Then he was traded for Steve Finley, who is literally the worst person on the planet. Literally. Alfonzo was ostensibly the replacement for Jeff Kent in the middle of the order, though he technically replaced Bill Mueller at third. Kent will probably make the Hall of Fame. Mueller made the same ballot that Alfonzo didn't. Mistakes were made.

Right before the Winter Meetings is a good time to point out, though, that the 2002/2003 offseason was almost one of my favorite Brian Sabean offseasons. At the time, at least. Jeff Kent was going to be 35, and he played a position where players didn't age well. Giving him a big deal would have been lunacy. The Astros broke down and gave him $17.5 million over two seasons. Why, that's almost Renteria money! No thanks, I thought at the time.

Alfonzo was coming off an age-28 season in which he hit .308/.391/.459, good for his third OPS+ over 125 in four years. He could play second, and he was in the prime of his career. That was master stroke #1.

Ray Durham was a bit older at 30, but he had a career on-base percentage of .352, and it was trending upward in the seasons leading up to his free agency. He was a good player, signed for a reasonable price. And he was an iron man, with seven straight seasons of 150 games or more. That was master stroke #2.

Marquis Grissom was a player who was aging horribly until a career power year with the Dodgers, and the Giants signed him to a two-year deal when he was 36. Horrible move, but when replacing the bat of Tsuyoshi Shinjo, the standards were low. I got over the move quickly.

We all know what happened: Alfonzo was adequate for a little bit before falling off a cliff, Durham was good when healthy, which was rarely. Grissom was the best signing of the bunch, although his defense negated some of his value. The 2002/2003 offseason was the beginning of the end, though we didn't really know it yet. The Giants won 100 games in 2003, followed by 91 in 2004 and 75 in 2005. It's not like the difference was entirely the fault of Alfonzo's disappointing production or Durham's fragility, but the team did count on those two players to anchor 25% of the offense, and the Giants declined to be too active in the markets that followed because of the commitments already in place.

But, again, I loved the offseason between the 2002 and 2003 seasons. It made me so optimistic for the team's future. And when Todd Linden was ready, boy, things were going to be wild.

Which is all to say: I'm a moron. I was wrong, and how. This isn't news. You've been wrong yourself, smart face. It happens to us all. Sometimes it happens more often to goateed and surly general managers, but it happens to us all. We'll be wrong again.

This is important to remember because you'll need to keep that grain of optimism in your brain for whatever stupid move the Giants make next week. Just remember that Grissom worked out and Alfonzo didn't. The 36-year-old with the horrific OBP coming off a fluke season was a positive addition. The 28-year-old former All-Star signed through his peak years was a dud. Baseball is drunk. It always has been. Remember that.

So whatever happens, it might work out. Or, if you're overly thrilled with a move, remember that it could explode in your face. Remember, this site would have gone goofy for Nick Johnson if he had accepted the Giants' offer. Aubrey Huff was something that washed up in high tide. Sometimes, bad moves work. Or they were good moves, and you were just wrong. And sometimes the good moves fail. The important thing to remember is to freak out right away the second you read the news. That's where the good, honest analysis comes from.

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