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Don't Trust Anyone Over 30

Remember the old hippie adage “don’t trust anyone over 30?” Few people remember that Abbie Hoffman revised it to “don’t trust anyone under 30” in the late 1970s. And Brian Sabean pushed it to its limits this off-season.

The 2004 San Francisco Giants were an old team, and Sabean made the 2005 version even older. Every returning position player will be a year older in 2005, and he dumped the Pierzynski/Torrealba platoon for 34-year old Mike Matheny, a career .239 hitter, brought in 37-year old shortstop Omar Vizquel, and tried to have 40-year old Steve Finley backed up by 37-year old Marquis Grissom in Center Field. 32-year old Armando Benitez shored up the bullpen, but the prospect of having only five relievers over 30 so frightened Brian Sabean that he’s been going after 36-year old Kent Mercker. Sabean might be forced to trade now that he lost out on Finley – and Noah Lowry is the most sought-after Giant. Young players should be happy the Giants are forfeiting their first round draft picks, because they’ll never get a chance to play in this organization.

The Matheny signing saves the Giants as much as $2 million over Pierzynski, but Matheny’s anemic hitting also costs them a win or two if A.J. bounces back even a little bit this year. But we’ll never know since the Giants released Pierzynski, putting an end to an ugly chapter in Giants history. The team gave up Joe Nathan (he of the 44 saves in 2004), prospects Boof Bonser and Francisco Liriano, cash, and several million in payroll all for one year of Pierzynski’s services. And what exactly makes A.J. such a pariah? A different set of initials: B.A. Bad Attitude. Yes, a team that turns a blind eye to steroid use by several of its players (like Benito Santiago, Armando Rios, Marvin Benard, Bobby Estalella, not just Barry Bonds), falls all over itself to let Neifi Perez and Kirk Rueter stink up the field, and rips Jeff Kent and Steve Finley in the press just threw away their $10-million investment because they think A.J.’s a jerk. Not that the Giants mind having jerks on their team – when did Barry Bonds become a nice guy? Regardless, what really matters in the majors is how you hit and nothing else. That’s why Marvin Benard’s in AAA, Tsuyochi Shinjo’s retired, and Terrence Long just got traded for spare parts. And that’s why a possibly good-natured Mike Matheny is worth way less than a punk A.J. Pierzynski.

On the positive side, the Giants also missed out on Scott Podsednik, who, his left-handedness notwithstanding, would have actually been worse than Marquis Grissom. Plenty of other fish in the sea? For whatever reason, the Giants are refusing to negotiate with any Scott Boras clients. That means J.D. Drew and Magglio Ordonez, among many others, are out of the picture.

Bottom line: the Giants need to win 95 or 96 games in 2005. They’re not there yet. Mike Matheny doesn’t move them closer to the goal. Considering Brian Sabean’s mediocre deals the last two years, I don’t see how he’ll pull off what’s necessary to have a team that could actually win the World Series. Next time: the A’s, and why they really want to deal Tim Hudson.