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Giants Roundup

Progress Report

Schools are evil. Growing up, kids can count on being grounded four times a year -- at the end of each quarter when report cards are sent home. It's a part of growing up.

But progress reports are just plain mean. With report cards, at least you start over next quarter. Everyone's slate is cleaned to allow parents' powers of denial kick back in. After a weekend moping around the house, normalcy reigns once again.

Progress reports are a totally different animal, because they leave half the quarter for you to improve. That means your freedom isn't restricted for a weekend or a week, but a solid month and a half. And if your grades don't improve, who knows what the consequences might be. It's exactly why they're so damn effective.

So out of love for the Giants, here goes.

Honor Roll
Omar Vizquel, Mike Matheny, Moises Alou, Lance Niekro, Scott Munter, Scott Eyre

I've made it my personal quest to bash the Giants' brass for their offseason maneuvering, but quite simply, Vizquel, Matheny and Alou have been everything and more than what the Giants' hoped for when they threw $50 million at this triumvirate of aging players. Vizquel has outperformed all three of the NL's shortstops -- Jimmy Rollins, David Eckstein and Cesar Izturis -- especially if you credit him for the heaping of defensive praise continually thrown at his feet.

We can take it one step further with Matheny: He's the most valuable catcher in the NL this year. Despite a slight disadvantage in OPS to Michael Barrett and Jason Larue, Matheny's superior defensive skill easily bridges that gap. When you combine this with the fact that Matheny plays in a severe pitchers' park and has hit at a .373 clip with runners in scoring position, there isn't much of a debate left.

Alou didn't deserve his spot on the All-Star team, but it doesn't mean he's not having a great season, arguably as good as any he's had since 2000. At 39, that's impressive.

One can tell Niekro learned baseball from his father and uncle -- he treats walks like most people do flesh-eating viruses. Of course, his teachers were pitchers. Well, at least he can hit.

The two Scotts, Munter (27.2 IP, 1.95 ERA) and Eyre (37.1 IP, 2.65 ERA), are the only reason MLB still allows the Giants to call the members of their bullpen relief pitchers.

General Ed
Ray Durham, Jason Ellison, Edgardo Alfonzo, Michael Tucker, Deivi Cruz, Tyler Walker

At 33, Durham is still a useful player. But from the looks of things, he won't be much longer. Since arriving in San Francisco three years ago, Durham has missed a quarter of games due to injuries. And the speed that allowed him to consistently steal 30 bases a year a decade ago has vanished along with his twenties. With the Giants needing to think about rebuilding, Durham should be the first name that comes up in trade discussions.

Unlike most of his other teammates, Ellison is still young enough to do something in his career. Unfortunately, he's not good enough. Even in the minors, he never hit much, probably a good indication he won't hit in the majors either. The hot start fooled some doe-eyed optimists, but the last month, he's been cold as a San Francisco breeze off the ocean.

In all likelihood, Alfonzo played to his potential the first half of the season, but injuries robbed him of any chance of making the honor roll. Plus, how can a guy with that big an ass have only two home runs? Tucker and Cruz are fine as bench players, liabilities as anything more. If only Felipe Alou realized that.

Walker definitely looks like a closer: He's got a bit of a paunch, has a decent glare and crosses 95 on the radar gun. Now if he stops walking so many hitters, he'll start pitching like one.

Vocational Tech Transfers
Pedro Feliz, J.T. Snow, Marquis Grissom, the rest of the Giants' pitchers

Feliz deserves a better fate than this. He hasn't been awful this year, just merely bad. But when you're given the duty of replacing Barry Bonds at a premium offensive position, you're basically ensured of failing. And Feliz has.

When a team's two worst hitters play first base and left field, it has serious problems. Neither Snow nor Feliz is the team's worst hitter, but both are close. Snow's game mirrors a journeyman shortstop. I don't care how important GM's say defense at first base is, that's not a compliment.

Grissom has been atrocious. If this were Little League, the only reason he'd get time on the field is because the league says everyone gets to participate. If he were in Fresno, he still might not start. Sabean should offer him a financial incentive to stay on the disabled list. It would be the first smart thing Sabean's done all year.

Jason Schmidt is the biggest disappointment in baseball this year. Kirk Rueter may be the worst starter in the league. Brett Tomko falls somewhere in between. Noah Lowry's youth means there's still hope for him. Each time he pitches though, that shining light dims a tad more. The bullpen isn't even worth mentioning. Anyone from that collection of garbage who hasn't been discussed already should be swapped for their Fresno counterpart. I'd be curious to see whether that improves the team.

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