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I'm usually not one for self-promotion -- as you'll recall, GrantFest was a disaster -- but I just realized that I've been writing about the Giants for five years now. Five freaking years. Except for a brief hiatus in 2004, it's been a pretty consistent haul too. I've learned a lot. For example, I've learned that I should be running the Giants' personnel department. Yep, it's true. To prove it, I've compiled five predictions, opinions, or reactions from the past five years

My Five Greatest Moments:

5.

The 2004 lineup could be:

Durham, 2B
Aurilia, SS
Bonds, LF
Alfonzo, 3B
Cruz, CF
Linden, RF
Torcato/Niekro, 1B
Torrealba, C

With a staff of:

Schmidt
Moss
Foppert
Ainsworth
Williams

A lot would have to fall into place, but that could be a juggernaut.

Oh, yeah. Jose Cruz, Jr. has had three straight years of 30/30, Edgardo Alfonzo is just starting to wind down his career, and first base isn't an issue anymore because of Torcaniekro there. Hear what I'm sayin'? It's the sooth, baby.

Lesson learned: Stop, just stop, trying to go too far into the future. "The 2013 Giants will have quite the pickle on their hands with Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Alderson, and ...urrrrkrkrrr." (Note: the "urrrrkrkrrrr" signifies that I've been tazed. I'll trust you to do the right thing if I forget this lesson.)

4.

As of twelve hours ago, this column was going to be a plea to overpay for Richie Sexson.

Roberts
Vizquel
Durham
Bonds
Sexson
Aurilia
Winn
Molina

That's not bad. Not great...but much better than I could have guessed. It would hinge on that trade for a first baseman with substantial power, though. I was excited. Sign a guy like Maddux, and the rotation would have been solid, too.

Ah, how topical. Yes, at this time last year, I was still thinking that the Giants could compete. When they brought back Pedro, everything was ruined! Forget that the team was relying on five players over the age of 35 to make huge contributions to the offense. That was a non-issue. It was all Pedro's fault! Grrrrrr! Oh, and Richie Sexson was the solution to the Giants' problems, too.

Lesson learned: Remember that scapegoats make you feel better, but they're usually just one contributor to a larger problem. And that larger problem is that the Giants are tearing, have torn, and will tear your heart out.

3.

It is a drastic overpayment, no question. But Benitez makes the 2005 Giants a better team, and until the roster tinkering is complete, that's all we can ask for.

The Giants lost the 2004 division because their bullpen was awful. Armando Benitez was the best reliever on the 2004/2005 offseason market. Ergo, post prompter ex hoc facto, the Giants needed to sign Armando Benitez.

Lesson learned: Armando Benitez is an unwatchable tub of goo.

2.

The unnamed minor leaguer is Francisco Liriano, who is a decent prospect. At least, decent for a guy who averages four innings a season. This was a lot to give up for Pierzynski, but the Twins are going to kick in another player or cash. I don't think this trade can be properly viewed until we know what else Sabean has up his sleeve. I am surprised at the amount of talent given up for a guy everyone knew the Twins were going to trade, but he is a solid player.

Dammit. What would the odds in Vegas have been for a successful career for Francisco Liriano? Dude would pitch five minor league innings before his uvula would get sore, and that was it until the next season. And Joe Nathan? 2001 AAA: 7.33; 2002 AAA: 5.61; 2003 NL: 2.96. Note that there were major shoulder problems mixed in. How was that not a good time to trade him? Wasn't it perfectly reasonable to assume he'd regress or get hurt again? If you get a chance at an above-average catcher in his 20s, you give up your injury-prone pitchers every time. Dammit.

Lesson learned: Sometimes -- and I know I'm just riffing here -- young pitchers actually succeed. So maybe you shouldn't treat them like drink tickets at a company Christmas party. They don't lose all value once the night is over. Sometimes, it's okay to hold onto them, or at least you shouldn't trade them for players whose value is all tied up in a turf-aided batting average when you have a perfectly acceptable 20-something alternative already in place.

1.

Joe Nathan: Uninspired Bullpen Candidate. I wouldn't put Nathan on the team if it were a competition between him and Jeff Juden.

This was even worse than the previous transgression because it cuts to the quick of the Bad Bad Arrogant Blogging Nerd Who Has Never Played a Day in His Life-stereotype. Why was I so opposed to Nathan in the bullpen? Because of AAA stats. When would those stats start to be useless? When a guy shows up in Scottsdale in February and starts throwing mid-90s gas with a nasty curveball.

Lesson learned: Watch the players before getting too sure of yourself, jackass. Especially the pitchers. It took about two innings for me to see why the Giants put Nathan on the roster. It's a little tougher with hitters, but if a guy is throwing fantastic stuff and controlling it well, sometimes it makes sense to minimize the past struggles.

Cherry-pick some of your own past idiocies or lavish praise on me. Your choice.