With the World Series over, it is officially the start of free agent season. The Giants, sensing the feeding frenzy to come, jumped all over one of their pending free agents. Welcome back, Jeff Fassero. Starting the offseason by retaining Fassero is a little like a new president appointing a Secretary of Prussian Affairs as the first member of their cabinet.
Fassero has his uses. For one, he's known to have pockets filled with shiny quarters, and he's always giving them out to the younger members of the bullpen. They just love that. The Giants can stay under budget easier with Fassero, as he makes sure the Giants reuse all of their rubber bands and aluminum foil. More importantly, he was an effective member of the Giants bullpen. For all of the hand-wringing over his initial signing - and I was the wringiest of them all - he gave much more than we had a right to expect.
To me, one of the surprising things about Fassero was his arsenal of pitches. Without paying much attention to him before the Giants acquired him, I assumed he was going to throw 85 mph, live off the corners, and would only be able to strike out a guy trying to hard to hit a ball 600 feet. Instead, he kept the fastball in the low-90s, and had an average collection of breaking balls to try and get hitters to fish at. It's easy to see why lefties had trouble against him.
There is nothing wrong with bringing the guy back as a lefty specialist, especially at under a million dollars. If the Giants entered the season with only Fassero and Jack Taschner as their sole lefties in the bullpen, it wouldn't be the end of the world. Should Scott Eyre be retainable the setup would be similar to last year, and hopefully allow Eyre to be more than a one out and gone kind of pitcher. Taschner might be that same type of versatile, full inning-type of pitcher, which would leave Fassero as the only pitcher on the staff you wouldn't want to leave in against hitters from both sides of the plate.
It isn't a creative move. There are going to be other pitchers who would have a higher risk/reward paradigm on the free agent market. When talking about the last man in the bullpen, though, it's hard to be too critical. If he gets lit up in April, the Giants will fit him with the same cement shoes as Jim Brower and Matt Herges, I'm sure. He's cheap, he's old, and he's back.