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I admit to parting with half a buck most days for the Toronto Star, despite Richard Griffin. And I like the Saturday Globe for the features. I refuse to buy the paper that claims to be "National" (and is, if the nation is Bay Street and Alberta) or the annoying tabloid, but sometimes people leave them on the subway, and I'll look anywhere on the Web for baseball news.

This link to Bob Elliott's latest Sun column is provided for a couple of reasons. Elliott, although his prose is mundane and his facts are occasionally wrong, seems to have good connections. He rarely resorts to commenting on rumours started by other reporters (the tactic that feeds baseball coverage in the Big Apple) and has often scooped his local rivals.

Although today's trade-gossip piece completely ignores the Jays, the stuff about the Giants, if true, throws cold water on some of the previous speculation in this rectangle.

Elliott says, with some certainty, that the Giants are interested in Brian Giles, and the Pirates want a package including Russ Ortiz in return. Presumably, that package would contain Jerome Williams, or one of the other great pitching prospects some of us have been coveting, somewhat optimistically, for Jose Cruz Jr. If Brian Sabean has a choice between Giles and Cruz, it's a no-brainer. Ortiz-for-J.D. Drew rumours have also come to Elliott's attention, further suggesting that serious Giants-Jays talks may be wishful thinking on the part of Toronto fans.

Earlier this week (also in the Sun) Mike Rutsey quoted J.P. Ricciardi:

"Unless we get hit with something that is really going to help us address our major need which is pitching, we'd just as soon keep our players because we like them. Lots of teams are interested in a player like Hudson for the same reason we like him but there also comes a time too where you have to look up and say, 'I've got all these players but I've got no pitching. What can bring me the best bang for my buck?'

"We're not trying to move money, we're trying to make baseball trades. So sometimes we don't match up with people. They're trying to get us to take money that we just spent a whole year ridding ourselves of. We don't want to get back in that jam."

It sounds like the Blue Jays may have little choice but to take the present roster to Florida in February. That isn't a bad thing; the longer Ricciardi keeps his "MVP" -- payroll flexibility -- the more likely he can take advantage of another team's increasing desperation. The new economy of baseball favours the patient and conservative. If J.P. maintains his stance through the winter meetings, and other teams "blink" -- falling into the traditional trap of overspending on questionable assets -- Toronto moves further ahead of the pack by doing nothing.

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_Jordan - Sunday, December 01 2002 @ 02:11 AM EST (#101869) #
Kent, I think the link might be wrong -- it leads to a Griffin column in the Star. Man, that's like leaving a trail of bread crumbs that leads to the minotaur. :-)

I think Brian Giles is just terrific, and normally I would pay handsomely to acquire him; but I think the Giants would be making a big mistake if they tried. Giles should be the target of a team close to the playoffs or Series that needs just one big bat to get there, not a team that just shot its bolt and that is heading downwards on the success cycle. If they give up their pitching depth to acquire Giles, they'll be in serious trouble in a couple of years, because the end of Bonds's career is in sight, they have hardly any good young positional players, and that farm system is otherwise pretty bare. If Pittsburgh could coax Ortiz, Williams and maybe Tony Torcato out of the Giants, it would be a fitting comeback for losing Bonds to San Fran all those years ago, and maybe the renaissance of a dormant Steeltown franchise.

If I were the Giants, I would also be very careful of JD Drew. I used to look at him and think Jose Canseco, or at worst Eric Davis. Now I look at him and think Von Hayes. I may be giving up on him a little early, but I'm coming to think he'll never string three good years together.

I think you're absolutely right regarding JP's position and likely strategy -- he can be both a buyer and a seller, which makes him almost unique in this market, and I think he'll take advantage of that. Still and all, though, I could see him dealing one of the middle infielders if the right deal came along at the winter meetings. If he checks the wind and senses that the deals will be made now rather than later, he won't hesitate, since the chance may not come again. But unlike almost everyone else, he can bide his time -- he could go to spring training with this roster, pick up the best of the unsigned free agents on the cheap, and be relatively content. It's an enviable position, and you're right that he won't squander it.
_Kent - Sunday, December 01 2002 @ 09:47 AM EST (#101870) #
You're right about the link, I'm embarrassed, and it's fixed. Shows what everyone close to me already knows: my ability to multitask is severely diminished since the "accident" -- reaching middle age.
_Justin B. - Monday, December 02 2002 @ 01:48 AM EST (#101871) #
Generally agreed Jordan. However you could also look at the Giants from another perspective. This year they could very well have won the World Series. Their team will not be very different this next year (apart from the admittedly huge question of Jeff Kent). Giles would be a substantial upgrade in the outfield, especially if he could play center (although an outfield with him and Bonds next to each other is frightening in more ways than one). In Bonds they have quite possibly the greatest player ever, and it would be really difficult to let this team fall back on the success cycle without giving it your all with Bonds at his peak. Giving up multiple prospects for Giles would certainly set them back in the future and stretch out the rebuilding process, but acquiring Giles for one last push may well be worth it.
_Shrike - Monday, December 02 2002 @ 05:14 PM EST (#101872) #
Let me chime in here to support Justin's view, which I have expounded elsewhere. I'd try to dust off my dormant html skills to link to it, but I'm dead tired after a fun, but non-sleep-filled weekend in Seattle.

In a nutshell, I think Brian Sabean has to deal one or two of his prized young pitchers, or one of his established starters, to reconfigure his starting nine. This imperative is driven by the singular presence of Barry Bonds. In my opinion, the Giants need to acquire a Brian Giles, Jose Cruz, or some other competent OF, as well as one more bat to maintain their potent offense.

I'll have more to say on this once I feel more coherent. -)
_Shrike - Monday, December 02 2002 @ 05:40 PM EST (#101873) #
Let me hasten to add that Brian Giles is far beyond competent! As any sophisticated baseball fan knows, he's arguably the second or third-best OF in the NL; I did not mean to offer him a backhanded compliment in my previous post.
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