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An argument for Cody Ross

It's not strange to be disappointed in how a Giants' season has gone. That's sort of the default. And that's not just in a annoyingly cynical Giants-fan kind of way. The default for every team is disappointment -- even Yankees fans are annoyed with how a season ends about 75% of the time. Every team goes through the woulda/shoulda/coulda/Cabreras at the end of the season.

What is strange is how disappointing this season has been so far, but how little there is to change. Usually when a team has a wretched, miserable offense, you want a different team. You want transactions that lead to other transactions, roster pyrotechnics that make flames you can see for miles. Scorched earth, building anew. The 2011 Giants aren't like that. I want the old catcher -- the new old catcher, not the old old catcher -- to come back healthy. I want a better shortstop. If Huff has to play -- and he pretty much does -- I just hope that Brandon Belt is left unmolested in left field. I'd love a right fielder with on-base skillz and power who doesn't require a six-year deal. Like, oh, Carlos Beltran.

One of my strangest (and strongest!) hopes, though, is for the offseason market for outfielders to collapse upon itself, forcing Cody Ross to slink back to the Giants on a small, short-term deal to be the fourth outfielder. Yeah, not likely. But he hasn't exactly hit well enough to start at a corner spot for most teams. And then there's the list of teams for whom he'd be an obvious, clear upgrade for in center:


You can add Oakland to that list once you figure that Coco Crisp is a free agent. The Nationals are experimenting with Jayson Werth in center, too, which would give them all sorts of options in the offseason, including bringing Bryce Harper up to cure/punch some lepers, so they might not be crazy about getting another center fielder just yet.

How much money would another team give Ross to play right field after this year? Not much, I'm assuming. Hoping, really. I'd be surprised if he got anything longer than a two-year deal, and a two-year deal would surprise me a little bit. Welcome to Proveyourselfagainonaoneyeardealsville, Cody: population, you.

Even if he were the player from the past few years, he'd help the Giants as currently constructed. He could be a floating right-handed part of a semi-platoon with Torres, Belt, and/or Schierholtz -- a role the Giants will desperately need to fill this offseason if Ross leaves. They've gotten a look at Justin Christian (two years older than Ross, by the way), and he's a cheaper, lesser version of Ross.

Justin Christian is the Polystation of fourth outfielders. Better than nothing. Provides some value. There's probably something better at the store, though. He's alright at the end of the bench, but you certainly don't want him starting. Ross starting isn't so bad. As an insurance policy, he'd be a better one in the event of breaking Giants. Or certainty. Certainty of breaking Giants.

But I also can't help but hope that Ross is in the middle of a metamorphosis. In his fewest plate appearances since 2007, he's already blown past his career high in walks. He's swinging at fewer pitches out of the strike zone, and swinging at far fewer pitches overall. It looks like he's a different hitter this year, and his reward has been less power and an even lower batting average than he's used to. Pitchers are giving less to hit, and he isn't chasing.

I'm no PitchFx magician, so I couldn't tell you if the change is meaningful. It's just something that I noticed with the ol' eyeballs and inner straw hat, and that the numbers confirmed. A more disciplined Ross could be a pretty sweet player -- something even better than the productive CF he was for the Marlins.

If not, though, I'd be satisfied with the same old Ross. He's useful to the right team, even without the stinky-yet-comfortable-slippers factor, he fits the Giants really well. Again. My big fear from this past offseason is that the Giants would rush into some weird three-year arrangement with Ross. Now one of my fears is that another team will.

Also, I have one of his bobbleheads. And he pisses Phillies fans off. That has a lot of intangible value, too. Ssory, doc! Have to get those out before the playoffs!