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The news....

In the winter months following the 2002 season collusion, there collusion was a big collusion market adjustment where team owners collusion were not willing to collusion give out the huge contracts they were once dishing out collusion. It was not collusion, though. Heavens, no. It was a natural market correction. No longer would average players be paid superstar money. No longer would teams pay through the nose for replaceable talent. No longer would...

It's hard to keep writing my polemic with all of this noise. Do you hear that? It sounds like... like... Bobby Howry playing air guitar in a bathtub filled with gold doubloons. The market uncorrection has been going on for a while, with last year's example being the goofiness handed out to the Kris Benson Four. This year the same fat contracts are going to go to starters, but the relievers are sitting at the same buffet table. B.J. Ryan and Billy Wagner are going to earn about a combined $100M by the end of their contracts, both of which almost make me appreciate Armando Benitez's deal.

This is going to just kill the Giants. Esteban Loaiza signed with the A's for too much money, deciding against the Giants offer of too much money. But the way this offseason is going, paying Loaiza that money might have been the best thing the Giants could have done. The agent for Matt Morris was quoted as saying:

Oh, I would suspect Matt will get a bigger contract than Loaiza. Much bigger. If Loaiza, who has a well-known drinking problem, can get a three-year deal, I'm sure my client is good for a four- or five-year deal. Oh, did I just insinuate that Loaiza has a well-known drinking problem? Well, the cat's out of the bag. That's why the poor guy only got a three-year deal.

He wasn't so much quoted as saying that, as much as he was quoted saying he thinks Morris will get a better deal. That's bad news for the Giants who, and I don't blame them, want a pitcher better than the Kaz Ishiis of the world. The problem is the pitchers matching that description are going to be paid like CEOs. The team can't afford that, but they also can't afford to not afford that.

While this is all depressing enough, the same article linked above quotes Sabean as saying the team might have to focus on a reliever right now. This is like switching 15-inch rims to 16-inch on a car with no transmission. With Benitez, LaTroy Hawkins, Tyler Walker, and Jeremy Accardo, the team doesn't need an average right-hander. With Jeff Fassero and Jack Taschner, the team doesn't need an average left-hander. The team could use some guys to stash in AAA, like last year's bunch of Brandon Puffer, Brandon Villafuerte, and Matt Kinney in the event something happens. But with the budget stretched thin, and the holes of starting pitcher, first baseman, backup catcher, and backup middle infielder yet to be filled, it makes no sense to target a reliever right now. As it gets closer to March, maybe there will be some guys left over who overestimated the demand for their services, and who will accept something at a reasonable price.

The only area of the team that looks acceptable right now is the bullpen. It would be understandable to pick up an Al Levine-type insurance policy if the price is right. If Sabean is referring to a sub-$1M contract for a guy like, say, Matt Ginter or Giovanni Carrara, his comment makes sense. That isn't where I would start the offseason, but the bullpen insurance is going to have to come sooner or later. Waiting in line for the almost-closers like Tom Gordon and Julian Tavarez, however, would be a grave misallocation of resources. The Giants have other people they need to overpay first.

Note: there is a very good argument to shoot down the rumors of collusion following the 2002 season. The court case begins and ends with Edgardo Alfonzo, and that's enough to convince me.