Apparently the Marlins and Mariners are REALLY interested because they sent TWO scouts to check out Benitez (or at least that is how I interpret "they sent double coverage, while the Boston Red Sox also sent a representative"). According to the Merc's account, Benitez "snapped off several sharp sliders and his fastball sat at a consistent 93 MPH."
Why They Want Benitez
What do our potential trade buddies want with Benitez? Obviously, he's a closer/reliever, so that's the major thing. Here is what each team is thinking, according to the Merc (plus other stuff I remember from past accounts):
- Florida is still looking for a closer and many in the organization believe they have the right environment for Benitez to repeat his 2004 season. From what I have been reading, they have a bunch of young guys - Tankersley being the most accomplished (I had him on my fantasy team last year, I wouldn't mind getting him in trade for Benitez!) - who have no closing experience. However, they being cheap, they want the Giants to pay Armando's full freight (and that's some load), so I would want someone very good from them, a top position prospect perhaps, or someone like Tankersley, who I think would be a good to great reliever, not someone like Petit, who had been mentioned, who is more a guile pitcher than a heat pitcher that you want out of relief. Taking him on would be taking on a failed prospect, as he struggle last season, so we better get more than just him for Armando. Especially since the Marlins TWICE beat us in the playoffs, and then went on to win the World Series both times.
- Boston, as noted in the post earlier today, is also interested. According to the Merc today, they are hunting for a closer (No! Do tell, ya mean Papelbon isn't going to start AND close as well, except, of course, his own games?) and would be able to take on more of the $7.6M owed Benitez. Well, of course they could take on more, this is the Marlins and Red Sox we are talking about, that's like comparing me with Bill Gates, Gates probably wastes more money building his techno-home than I'll ever see in my lifetime. Even so, I would like Benitez to pitch well enough to get a good prospect out of the Red Sox, they gave up a lot to the Marlins for Beckett and Lowell, and both had their problem areas and good performance history. Too bad Hanley isn't still available. :^)
- Seattle are the new comers to the observation station (which apparently is so small that the five scouts there was too much and one of them had to, gasp, sit in the aisle) and while they have J.J. Putz as their closer, they had traded away Rafael Soriano during the offseason, so they are looking for someone to set up. Plus, I would think that any team today would want to have a closer and ex-closer in their pen since most closers seem to have the shelf life of bread. Plus maybe an ex-closer in the minors - Dustin Hermanson, bad back and all, which cost him his 2006 season, got a minor league contract - with the Reds if I remember right. That could explain why the Giants re-signed Tyler Walker after the D-Rays dropped him after his Tommy John surgery - he's going to rehab in the minors, and, according to the Merc, he thinks he can return to rehab in June and be ready to return to the active roster near the All-Star Break. Better than bringing up Lincecum to close, I would rather keep Lincecum as a starter to maximize the time we control him as a starter, he seems to be a special one.
Giants News Updates
According to the same article in the Merc, Bochy is pretty much set at the #3 spot in the lineup but haven't settled yet on a #8. Oh well, like our offense isn't average enough, we put our best hitter in a spot that historically wastes a hitter's performance.
However, according to an account, which I can remember the source for right now, Bochy is set on Molina for the 7th because, batting 8th, since Molina has slow wheels, then pitchers would not be able to move him up with a sacrifice due to his lack of a second gear (or even a first from reports I've read - he might even lose a foot race with a snail, even after the snail spots him 30 feet).
I think that's better because Molina has been effective batting in the 7th spot, as he has some power. However, what I'm worried about is whether that means Feliz is batting 8th or batting 6th. At 8th, he has a lot of offensive value, because most 8 hitters are crappy anyhow, so his OPS would be the big fish in the small pond. But at 6th, oy, he would probably waste all the RBI opportunities there plus Bochy had impressed me earlier by saying almost from the get-go that Feliz, being a low OBP hitter, should hit in the bottom of the order - you can't go more bottom than 8th.
In addition, I forgot to mention Lincecum's nice pitching turn the other day, as chronicled in the Chron. While it is great news that he went 3 scoreless innings with 4 K's and 2 singles given up ("mostly baffling the Mariners with his 95-mph fastball, curve and splitter...") and that he's probably going to start the season in AAA starting, the more interesting, to me, was this quote from Matt Cain. He said, "I want to do nothing but help him. We're all in this together." Man, I love that kind of stuff, can we vote Cain for "Giants for Life"? I was very impressed with his comments after his contract signing and it just gets better. In contrast, recall Bonds's statement that he has never helped anyone because he didn't know whether they will be teammates next season.
Speaking of contract, I should have wrote on that yesterday, but since Lefty Malo had a nice account of it already, I'll just direct you all to his site for the 411, particularly since he got some of it wrong initially and got bitch slapped - OK, gentlely corrected - by Andrew Baggarly on some of the details (I love Baggarly's work but I'm still a bit miffed when he dropped a rumor about Vlad and the Giants a few years back so I e-mailed him with a question about it and he never returned my e-mail, not even a courtesy e-mail, like I've gotten from other sportswriters. Of course, it could be that I'm still bitter over the Vlad non-signing and want someone convenient to get mad at too. :^). Lefty always has good stuff to read and good thoughts too.
Not too shabby a deal (and good reporting by Baggarly, apparently he scooped everyone else and usually it is AP who gets the good contract stuff) for Cain, he can almost double the contract by performing well and triggering all the options and escalators. Hopefully he will, because one of the clauses has to do with him winning the Cy Young award. But it is so complicated that it is like patting your head and rubbing your tummy WHILE hopping on one foot AND reciting the Gettysburg Address, all at the same time. Hopefully that is something Cain's agents can worry about and Cain can just think, "take ball, throw strikes".