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Weighing In

The trade to get Randy Winn encapsulates everything wrong with how the Giants are constructed. It represents a failure of imagination, and a squandering of resources. And it's a good trade for the Giants as they are presently constructed.

The first step in embracing this trade is to believe Jesse Foppert was never going to be more than roster filler for the Giants. The Jerome Williams trade was the equivalent of sending your kid to military school for taking a sip of boxed wine at the family Christmas party. Williams had been, at the very least, an above-average pitcher at each level he pitched, and usually much younger than his competition.

Foppert was the pitcher who was to unsheathe the sword in the stone; the hometown kid who was going to ape Tom Seaver's career. The scouting reports became myth, as Baseball America might as well have had a FoppWatch meter on its homepage. An easy 99-mph. Picture perfect mechanics. Hard, biting slider. He struck out 28 batters for every nine innings he pitched, and was poised to be one of the greatest......

And then you can hear the record player screech to a stop. There was the Tommy John surgery, of course, but of more concern was the velocity that happened in Fresno, and stayed in Fresno. He left the Giants with a sneaky-fast 89-mph fastball, and nothing resembling a second pitch or good control. If Foppert has success as a major-league pitcher, it will be down the line. There is to be no immediate, pre-arbitration success with Foppert. Whatever success he might find will come in the Jose Lima/Jaime Moyer mold, miles away from his original organization. His departure is a touch sad, but Randy Winn is a solid player. If it takes the ethereal promise of Jesse Foppert to get a fair complement to Jason Ellison, then you at least hope the parting gifts are nice.

The more disturbing part of the deal is the toss-in of Yorvit Torrealba. Not that Torrealba was some great flea market find for the Mariners. He is what he is, which is a great backup and harmless starter. What makes it disturbing is the renewal of vows between the Giants and Mike Matheny. The Giants have problems. The problems are almost exclusively pitching related, and they will likely need to devote serious capital to address them. Having a player like Torrealba, who is a superb defender and acceptable hitter, would have allowed the Giants to fill a starting position cheaply, and allowed them to spend a touch more money for a pitcher. Brian Sabean's wish-list for his starting catcher obviously begins and ends at defense, with offense a negligible concern. Perfect. Try and foist the $6M or so left on Matheny's contract on whomever might be interested in the offseason.

That was never to be. The front office is still attached to the idea that Matheny is the blue blanket to the pitching staff's inner Linus. As if the Giants collective ERA would be 6.00 without the mystical pitcher-tamer with the curly locks. And if Matheny is, and always was, the Giants guy, then Yorvit was good for little more than a warm feeling of security in the tummy. Having Foppert and Yorvit off the team, and Winn on, makes the Giants a better team. Nothing earth-shattering, mind you. With the trade, the Giants moved from 73-win team to 74-win team, and somewhere Ricky Watters is muttering, "For what? For whom?" It isn't often that a trade can help your favorite team, and still leave you discouraged.