I was for the Armando Benitez deal before I was against it. The Giants had a problem in the bullpen, Benitez was a pitcher who was good even in his worst years, so throwing a little extra money his way was understandable. But the first year of the contract was a disaster. Ruben Rivera playing the part of Mel Gibson in the final scene of Gallipoli kind of disaster. It's almost been a year, so let's post the video clip of Rivera running around the bases just for the heck of it.
I still like Benitez on the Giants in that special all-things-being-equal-kind-of-way. As an allocation of resources, though, it's hard to be a rabid fan. The Giants are wading in power bullpen arms, and while Benitez is a likely improvement on each and every one in the present, it'd be a lot purtier to see that seven million applied to a hitter like Carlos Delgado. This month's feature is Projecting the Future, though. If you were hoping for Grumbling with the Benefit of Perfect Hindsight, you'll likely be able to catch the reruns in March. Benitez was one of the select few I would have ever paid a premium for, and the Giants needed a bullpen arm as much for public relations as for on-the-field reasons. There are still two seasons left to squeeze some production from the guy.
The biggest fear with Benitez in 2006 is how awful he looked before his injury. Even before he snapped his hamstring, he wasn't impressive. The fastball was only in the low-90s, and the splitter/breaking pitches were inconsistent at best. He was rushed back, so it's hard to put too much emphasis on his return, but he didn't impress then either.
The theory I'm choosing to take is Benitez's hamstring was weak the whole season, finally giving out on the routine cover of first against the Padres. Before that, it was hard for him to push off as he was used to, which spoiled his breaking pitches and took some feet off his fastball. If those of you with actual medical knowledge don't see how that could be the case, let me know, and I'll be sure to find a creative way to ignore you. Lalalala.... Benitez will be fine.... Lalalalala.....