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Closing it out....

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This final installment of how the Giants are shaping up for the 2006 season is likely to be more read than the last episode of M.A.S.H. Think about it. There are links to the other installments in the post directly below this one, and I am too lazy to copy and paste.

Though it was the Achilles Heel, Forearm, and Groin of the 2004 team, there was more expected out of this year's bullpen. It's generally a bad idea to try and remedy your problem by throwing money at whatever free agent walks by, but the Giants were almost lucky. It turned out the best reliever on the market was actually a good one, and someone with a track record worth overspending for. Almost lucky, they were, except in his first month with the Giants he was awful, and then finished a game by going down like a lassoed AT-AT on his way to first base.

Tyler Walker used to be a highly thought of prospect, and you can see why. His fastball is fast, his slider is slidey, and he's a huge battleship-sized fella. He has had some magical appearances as the replacement for Benitez, including one of the more dominant pitching performances you will ever see, but to this point, he's a guy who is likely to give up a run every other time out on the mound. Most of us would rather trust Steve Garvey with our daughter than Walker with a one-run lead. He can learn, though, and will be a cheap and welcome addition to next year's bullpen.

Scott Eyre will be overpaid by someone this offseason, and there's a heck of a chance it will be by the Giants. Forgetting Sunday's game, Eyre has been a constant plus all year. His biggest improvement, holding right-handers to a .204 average, just isn't something you bet on to stay with a multi-year deal. The previous three years saw him as useless against righties, allowing a .293 average. Did Eyre suddenly learn to pitch against right-handed batters? Sure, I'll buy the idea. But I'll need more than 47 innings before I buy the player. Two years and modest money, he'll be welcome back.

Forgetting the trade that brought him here -- I suggest model glue, a paper bag, and a friend who knows CPR -- Latroy Hawkins is a good pitcher. The Cubs fans were harsh, but he has something of a track record to fall back on. With Benitez as the closer he'll be setting up, the Giants will have shown impressive dedication to the art of having a reputation of sucking in important situations. Getting the two together could open the door to another, distinctly non-clutch, universe. Beats Hermanson and Herges, regardless of what Hermanson is doing this year.

The rest of the bullpen should be filled from the farm. Scott Munter as rubber-armed sinkerman. Jack Taschner as second lefty specialist. Jeremy Accardo as The Kid. No Fassero, and no Christiansen. Add a free agent from the pile, if you must, but this bullpen looks mostly stable, if the front office trusts the youngsters. Which they probably aren't. Your bullpen, if you would.