In a day dominated by the MLB draft, I find myself constrained by my promise to review the AJ Pierzinsky deal. Curse me for making promises ahead of time without recalling events that are scheduled to occur. But no matter, we'll go over that first thing tomorrow!
OK, back to business. Dateline: November 14, 2003. Brian Sabean is sitting in his office pondering the situation of his franchise. He sees a team that is, for lack of a better term, archaic. His squad is also focused around satisfying one man, that being Big Bat Barry. Regardless of these deficiencies, the team was literally a hair's breadth of contact on a filthy K-Rod fastball away from a world title. Sabean's catcher, Benito Santiago, is retiring at the tender age of 38 despite stellar play during the previous season. He fit in well with the other senior citizens donning their Giants uniforms, but decided Miami was a better place to live out his years. The GM obviously felt pressured to at least hold ground in that position, and searched for a catcher to fill the newfound void.
Meanwhile, Terry Ryan is watching a young, underfinanced team work its magic in an inconspicuous AL central. Help is on the way, as top prospects like Jason Kubel, Justin Mornaeu, and Joe Mauer are making their way up. But Terry Ryan also realizes that there's no harm in adding to the stockpile, and his revelation coincides with Sabean's dilemma. Hey, you know what I have? A .300 hitting catcher in his prime with a reasonable expiring contract and a hot head! What a perfect short-term solution for a shortsighted fool!
Ryan could have picked one major prospect, like the highly mediocre Jerome Williams. However, he saw a several players within the organization that he felt were very undervalued. The first was Joe Nathan, who had put in a successful stint in the bullpen but for some reason or another was viewed as easily replacable. The second was Boof Bonser,a first round pick fallen out of style. And the last was an unknown commodity, a throw-in guy with a high ceiling but little chance of developing it. Let's call him Fransisco Liriano.
AJ Pierzinsky acted in his typical mercenarial way, playing one decent year for San Fransisco and bolting to the Chicago White Sox. The Giants had a respectable year but fell short of their '02 mark, losing to the trophy-destined Marlins in the NLDS.
The Twins are still in control of all 3 players they acquired. Joe Nathan is one of the very best closers in the game, possibly the most consistent there has been since Mariano Rivera had a fastball.
Boof Bonser is now pitching in the big leagues. He's pitched 168 innings over these past two seasons, posting a 4.18 ERA and striking out 163. He's an asset any team would love to have: a 26-year old #2 starter.
Fransisco Liriano got his callup last season and emerged in a whirlwind, dominating major leaguers left and right. His stuff is very likely the very best in the entire MLB:His repertoire features a high nineties fastball with movement, allegedly the best slider in the game, and a changeup comparable to the one thrown by the best pitcher in the game, teammate Johan Santana. He's had a major setback lately, requiring Tommy John surgery that renders him incapable of playing this entire season. However, expect him back next season and with a vengeance. This is a true blue chip #1.
Brian Sabean's complete ignorance in all things trade becomes clearly evident. He dealt a proven young bullpen arm, a first round pick, and a pitcher with incredible upside for a 1-year rental of a catcher who was merely decent during his time in San Fran.
Advantage.... I'm not sure. It's hard to decide between the Minnesota Twins and THE ENTIRETY OF THE NATIONAL LEAGUE.