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Giants Roundup

Remember May 25

It seems like years ago, but rewind just one fortnight, and there was a buzz surrounding the San Francisco Giants. They'd just taken the first two games from the rival Dodgers, and climbed above the .500 mark for the first time all season. With the win, they were now tied for third place, looking up at only the Diamondbacks and Padres, each of whom had their own problems to worry about.

Sure, the 2005 Giants wasn't the greatest collection of talent the world had ever seen, but perhaps their veteran guile would be enough to keep them afloat until their leader rehabilitated his gimpy knee. Fifteen days, one win, and a dozen losses later, and that optimism looks mighty foolish.

Even by the standards of losing streaks, the Giants recent run is especially demoralizing.

Jason Schmidt's return from the disabled list has been highlighted by two poor starts, a five mph drop in velocity, and a notable reluctance to throw the curve ball. It doesn't take a genius or Dr. James Andrews to suspect something still isn't right.

LaTroy Hawkins has been more disastrous than anyone could have predicted, sporting a robust 19.29 ERA in his first four appearances since changing uniforms. Apparently, the pitcher-friendly environment of SBC Park is not the antidote for what ails Hawkins, as opponents are stroking his pitches to the tune of a .400 BA.

GM Brian Sabean has reiterated that he did not acquire Hawkins to take over closing duties, but Tyler Walker is making a convincing argument otherwise. In five outings since the Giants jettisoned half of the viable prospects in their minor league system, Walker has surrendered seven runs while picking up a loss and a blown save. His ERA, previously at 3.43, has ballooned to 5.18.

And if the Giants' wounds weren't painful enough, the major league draft, which took place this past week, emptied several shakers worth of salt into those open sores. The Giants, who need an infusion of youth as much as Joan Rivers and Liz Taylor combined, were forced to sit in the waiting room for 131 picks before they got a chance to submit a name (University of Pittsburgh center fielder Ben Copeland) to be read by the commissioner.

As has been the calling card of GM Brian Sabean, the notion of building through the draft has been scrapped in favor of signing aging veterans. Fortunately for the Giants, Major League Baseball prohibits teams from trading draft picks. (Otherwise, they would have an endless supply of Ho-Hos and Cheetos instead of Copeland) However, the system is set up so that teams signing prominent free agents must provide draft picks as compensation.

Regardless of whether Sabean is aware of this or skipped the fine print in his General Managing for Dummies guide, the Giants delivered their first, second and third round picks to the Marlins, Cardinals and Indians respectively in order to sign Armando Benitez (5.79 ERA, 60-day DL), Mike Matheny (34 years old, .293 OBP, .691 OPS) and Omar Vizquel (38 years old, .380 slugging).

The question now is whether the Giants concede that this is a lost season and unload the players they signed during the offseason for some prospects who can fill in their minor league system. Thus far, Moises Alou has been terrific, but since he's 38 years old and will be nearing his father's age the next time the Giants are competing for something, he's of little value. And Vizquel, despite his lack of power, still has considerable trading value because of his sterling defensive reputation.

Fans will see Sabean for the moron he is if he trades the guys he coveted just two months ago. As always though, there is a silver lining: All of the fans at SBC there to watch baseball as opposed to (or in addition to) pounding $7.00 Bud Lights and shoveling Orlando Cepeda rice bowls into their mouth already think he's an idiot.

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