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The 39th Parallel

One of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's more memorable fireside chats was one from September 30, 1934, where one of the topics was journalistic integrity. It was both fair and damning, with the effects of the stirring address to be felt for generations. The last sentence of the address was quite memorable: "If it's good enough for the Beaver County Times, it's good enough for me."

Fast forward seven decades, and the Beaver County Times has reported the Giants have an interest in Josh Fogg. This ties in perfectly with the fake F.D.R. anecdote I made up to tie in perfectly with the Josh Fogg rumor. What were the odds? A Beaver County Times rumor mentioned in passing is good enough for me, and it's good enough for today's post.

Fogg isn't good. He had an average year when he was a rookie, and has since had three below-average years. He's somewhat durable, having gone for 26 to 33 starts every year, but has yet to crack 200 innings for a season. Then again, it is hard to crack 200 innings when going for five at a time. He'd tax the bullpen the way Kirk Rueter did.

Coming up in the White Sox system, Fogg was a fair prospect. He has always shown good control, and in A-ball he struck out over a batter per inning. Somewhere between A and AA, however, he lost the strikeout pitch. He had a fine season in AA, and a very nice introduction to the majors, but the out pitch never came back. Over the last three seasons he's been extremely hittable, and the lack of a strikeout pitch is the obvious reason why.

He's young enough to hope for improvement, and you'd have to think a couple of pitching coaches or scouting directors who would like to try. Maybe there's a pitch like Esteban Loiaza's cutter out there for Fogg, which would allow him to miss more bats. Maybe, but doubtful. For every Leo Mazzone or Dave Duncan reclamation project worth hearing about, there are hundreds of lost causes who could only be helped if the mound was moved in twenty feet each half-inning.

Using sketchy walk and strikeout rates to achieve almost-average results is the same gimmick used by Brad Hennessey last year. In the near-term, there isn't much to be lost by switching the two out. There is still a chance for Hennessey to find consistency with his breaking ball and morph into an average starter, and trying to find that consistency in Fresno isn't a bad idea. I would be surprised if either pitcher greatly improved their production in 2006, even if Hennessey has a better chance to do so at some point in his career.

The best case scenario would be for Fogg to go to Fresno on a minor-league deal. This would allow Hennessey more time with the steep learning curve of the major leagues, and Fogg is an improvement on most in-house solutions for a rotation replacement. That just isn't going to happen, though. The market for even below-average starters is thin. He'll likely get a million or two, and might even get a second guaranteed season.

It ain't my money, and the Giants do need some semblance of depth, but there is hardly an upside to Fogg worth a two-year deal. I wouldn't really want him to do anything but compete for a job in the spring. Should the Giants sign him and guarantee him a spot, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. However, the only thing he would provide would be depth. He'd be one more buffer between Kevin Correia and 180 major league innings. That's the only reason to acquire him, and it's not exciting. With the free agent list dwindling, though, it's going to be almost impossible to improve on Hennessey. Getting that Correia buffer might be the only logical solution left to fortify the team before April.

Fogg isn't good, but he isn't terrible. Not terrible might be all that's left.