Randy Johnson’s career numbers in Dodger Stadium were something like 17-0 with a 0.13 ERA, so it goes without saying that he’d get doused in an accelerant and lit up today. The man looks completely lost out there—well, not anymore, as he’s now leaving the game with two out in the fourth. Yet again, the Giants go after a significant player—about 10 years too late. (I’m thinking here of guys like Steve Carlton, Benito Santiago, and Steve Finley: a Hall-of-Famer and two major Giants killers, irrespective of how good they ever were against the rest of the league.)
Well, that’s okay, I guess. Who doesn’t hope their free-agent signees play well? In particular, what Giants fans aren’t rooting for Johnson to dominate, and for Edgar Renteria to annoy other teams for a change? Instead—maybe just because I’m the Giants fan I am—I envision Johnson and Renteria as a pair of $8 million millstones. Given what the team was looking at internally for second base and shortstop—i.e., Emmanuel Burriss and Kevin Frandsen—how is it that the Giants wind up paying more than twice as much to a two-time Gold-Glove shortstop (but not since 2003) with an OPS+ of 84 (with Detroit last year) as the Dodgers do for Orlando Hudson, a younger player, a three-time Gold-Glove second baseman (most recently in 2007) with an OPS+ of 108 (with the Diamondbacks last year)? Hudson would have been very much an “outside the box” type of choice, and I’m wondering if Brian Sabean, et al., entertained even the tiniest thought of bringing him aboard? After all, Burriss pretty much took shortstop away from Omar Vizquel last year, so why not consider bringing in a free-agent second baseman rather than a shortstop?
Maybe I’m being unfair. No doubt lots of people would look at this and think, “Well, that’s a classic second-guess.” But that doesn’t wash if these had been my views before the aforementioned free agents had signed with anybody. For Hudson, well, I can’t claim that, but I would’ve been moderately pleased had the Giants signed him, in contradistinction to my reaction after the Giants actually did sign both Johnson and Renteria, which was along the lines of “Why?”—at its kindest. There’s no question both men have put up some terrific years (Johnson more so, obviously), but would you say either of them has an upside? I wouldn’t. Hudson’s 31, and theoretically past his prime as well (though I tend to believe that players these days have longer (and often later) primes), but he’s not close to being over the hill yet. Johnson’s hill is a distant speck in his rear-view mirror, and Renteria is more than halfway between his own hill and the barbecue pit that signifies the end of his career.
Meanwhile, the Giants just signed third baseman Dallas McPherson to a minor league contract, which suggests that they’re a little iffy about Pablo Sandoval. McPherson’s major league numbers have been fairly putrid, but he did hammer 42 home runs at Triple-A Albuquerque last year, with an OPS just a shade under a thousand. I don’t know how that would translate to AT&T Park, or if we’ll ever find out.
(And should I mention that Orlando Hudson has hit for the cycle in today’s game? This is the first cycle ever at Dodger Stadium, says Mike Krukow. No, hitting for the cycle is not an indication of overall offensive prowess, but it makes perfect sense to me on a day when Renteria and Johnson have pissed me off tremendously, and I’m wondering if Hudson even got a look from the Giants’ Brain Trust.)
More important than any of this, though, is the health of Joe Martinez, who, as you know by now, took a line smash off the forehead a few days ago. He has a concussion—and baseball takes concussions a lot more seriously these days, as they should—plus some hairline fractures. The report is that he’s doing well and could be back sooner than anticipated, but the Giants ought not rush him. The play made me think of Pete Smith, the Braves pitcher, who took a line drive to the face, courtesy of a Giants batter—I can’t remember who—about 20 years ago. I feel fortunate to have listened to this (as well as the Martinez play) on the radio—as opposed to watching it on TV, I mean. I do not enjoy watching ballplayers get hurt.
I also thought about Terry Mulholland taking a liner off the bat of Atlanta’s Gerald Perry in 1988. That one I did see, though from the upper deck. Still, you can almost feel the impact. Mulholland felt it more, though: broken arm; season over.
(Okay, then, should I mention that with the Giants down 7-1 and Dodgers on first and third with nobody out, Aaron Rowand just caught a fairly deep fly ball and then threw the ball to third? Nah. Nor should I point out further that the throw enabled the runner on first to tag and go to second, thus removing the double-play possibility. This is what I’m always talking about with Rowand, who seems to throw to the wrong base at least twice a week. Did Rowand just not make any mistakes the year he won the Gold Glove? I mean, I do not see “Defensive Wizard” in this guy.)
I shall close by passing on jolliest annual celebration wishes to EEEEEE! contributor David Beck (who got to witness the Mulholland injury with me, and who now is almost spectacularly old), knowing that he would have had to wade through all the foregoing just to be thrown a “Happy Birthday” bone.