All-Star Break Report Card

The staff here at the have come together to take a long hard look at the Giants and what they've done right this season, and what they've done wrong, and are handing out some first half awards in some hotly debated categories. So, without further ado, the All-Star Break Report Card for the San Francisco Giants

First Base J.T. Snow, Andres Galaragga
Writer Grade
Keith B+
Kevin B+
Martin B+
Sara B+
GPA 3.33

Sara says: Snow is defense and Galarraga is offense, but Galarraga has also shown that he is able to play first base. He’s had some pretty extensive and impressive plays at first where the throws were a little wide. Offensively, no question, Galarraga is the better hitter than Snow, but Snow sees the ball better than Galarraga does as El Gato strikes out a lot and Snow is much more patient at the plate. Without a doubt, the Giants are set for this position if one or the other (Snow or Galarraga) is injured.

Martin says: Snow simply shouldn't hit against any lefty, period. But he has been great hitting righties, getting on base, and hitting with runners on.  Big Cat was Bond-like in part-time play, Snow-like in full-time play.

Keith says: And a solid "B+", at that.  Snow's batting average hasn't been this high in nearly 3 years and I'm still being a little lenient when it comes to his hitting thanks to his 2002 postseason performance.  His glove is still, in word, gold.  El Gato Mas Grande does nothing more than hit.  And hit.  He's doing his job admirably.

Kevin says: Complaining about Snow has become too much of a tradition with Giants fans, and it keeps them from noticing his accomplishments at the plate, including a great .386 OBP. Also, both of these guys are the clutch hitters for the Giants, with the Big Cat hitting .353 with runners in scoring position, and Snow hitting .315 in those spots, 1st and 3rd on the team, respecitvely. However, Cat's defense gives me chills when contemplating moving Bonds to first, and Snow's still streaky, and is ice cold against lefties.

Second Base Ray Durham
Writer Grade
Keith A-
Kevin B+
Martin A-
Sara A-
GPA 3.58

Keith says: While the team may miss Jeff Kent's RBI production, they don't miss his lack of range at the 2B position.  Durham has downright dazzled on the right side of the infield.  If he had 4 more SB's at this point, he'd have an "A".  However, his average, his speed and his affable, un-Kent personality make his offseason signing a no-brainer.

Martin says: Everything we expected when we signed him as a free agent and more as his defense was better than advertised.  I only minused him for his first DL stint in at least 7-8 years as he has a string of 150+ game seasons.

Sara says: Durham has been one of the biggest suprises as well as one of the best acquisition. What can’t this guy do? He’s got speed, he can hit the ball, and he can play defense. It’s fun to watch him jump over the oncoming base runners who try to ruin the double play possibility. Also, when he is on the DL, the Giants start losing. His presence in the line-up is that important to this team. Even though Grissom has done a good job leading off, I still think Ray belongs at the lead off spot. He doesn’t just have speed, this little guy’s also got power. In his first at-bat of the season he jacked one out of the park. Welcome to San Francisco, Ray D.!

Kevin says: Durham's done a very good job manning second base in the absence of Sabean's first brainstorm, Jeff Kent. No one was expecting Ray to keep up those power numbers, so the 4 home runs isn't a black mark. Good average (.301) and excellent OBP (.389). However, I was expecting more stolen bases than Bonds and Grissom (the three are tied at 7 for the team lead). I'd also like to see him take better advantage of the gaps in Pac Bell and be more aggressive on the basepaths, and help that slugging percentage with more doubles and triples.

Shortstop Rich Aurilia
Writer Grade
Keith D+
Kevin C
Martin C+
Sara B-
GPA 2.08

Sara says: Yeah, that was painful, giving Richie the B-. I was contemplating between a B- and a C+ but as you can see, I’m soft when it comes to Richie. Anyway, I don’t need to say this, Richie just hasn’t been having the season that we all know he can have, but he’s been a team player. He’s been switched around in the line-up I don’t know how many times, going from 3rd to 2nd to 3rd to 7th to 6th to 5th and with Santiago back in the line-up mostlikely back to either 6th or 7th, and yet, he doesn’t mind. He just wants to do what he can to help his team win. His defense has been solid as usual, and I don’t like to count his early errors that make him the team leader in errors because they were due to his eye problems. Maybe it’s about time the Giants start telling those opposing pitchers to pitch him inside (maybe hit him but NOT on his face) and to have fans tell Richie he sucks when he’s batting.

Kevin says: I love Richie, but he's been battling things this season and hasn't quite pulled himself out of his funk quite yet. But, though he's been below par so far this season, he's not so far that he can't get back to his career norms with a lukewarm second half. Richie is also an adreniline player, and loves pennant races, and always performs better in the second half. So I've gotta give him a straight C, with some understanding for the eye problems in the first couple of months.

Martin says: Has not been hitting like he normally does with men on base, nor with the power he had demonstrated before, and that is a big component of what he does.  Playing good defense as usual but hitting still like he is having eye problems.

Keith says: His eye problems maybe be symptomatic of his poor hitting but the guy should say something if it's still affecting him.  His season took a downward turn in the team's first visit to Coors Field in late May when he posted a 1-17 in 4 games.  At the onset of that particular series his average was at .291.  Now he's hitting a LeMaster-like .257 with a complete absence of pop in his bat.  He's downright lunging after pitches when he's not fouling off the hittable ones.  Add 8 errors to the mix and you come away shaking your head when considering that 2003 is a contract year for him.

Third Base Edgardo Alfonzo
Writer Grade
Keith D-
Kevin F
Martin D+
Sara B-
GPA 1.17

Kevin says: There's just no excuse for a batting average under .250 all season with almost no pop whatsoever, especially at the price we're paying for him. I like Alf, and I really want him to do good, but his problems have created a huge hole in our lineup and he can't seem to do anything to get out of his funk. Combine that with being among the team leaders in errors, and all you can say is he's failing to do his job.

Martin says: Almost nothing of what we expected when we signed him as a free agent and only his defense has been as good as advertised.  I gave him the plus because of his great defense and the fact that he at least is hitting better with runners on than with no one on base, which is a strong reason why we got him (high OBP being the other).  Hello, Edgardo, your brain should be here with the Giants and not on top of taxicabs the way he has been hitting all season.

Keith says: Hands down the most disappointing free agent of the year.  With the exception of the last two weeks, his bat merely floated through the strike zone with miserable results.  Only an upsurge of 20+ points in his batting average in the last 14+ games and his stellar fielding prevented Edgardo from earning a one legged "A".

Sara says: Alfonzo has been slumping, but he’s slowly and surely climbing out of his slump, a little bit at a time. If you asked me two weeks ago, he may have gotten a flat out C, but now he’s coming around. He hasn’t had a homerun in close to two hundred at-bats... poor guy. You gotta give him credit though, he’s not up there hacking at everything. He's still patient in the batter’s box and when he sees a good pitch to hit, he’d just poke at it for a base hit rather than smacking it to try for the homerun. I’m sure he knows he still needs to work on and to establish a swing before he can start hacking again. And what about his defense? The Giants acquired him for offense, but how impressive has he been on third base? Diving for drilled ground balls and then throwing on one knee... Wow. Let’s give Fonzie some credit, he’ll come around.

Catcher Benito Santiago, Yorvit Torrealba
Writer Grade
Keith A-
Kevin B+
Martin A
Sara A-
GPA 3.67

Keith says: Trainer Stan Conte recently quoted Benito as saying, "You can't break steel," when asked about how his injured pinky was.  It's true.  The man defies Father Time with each at-bat and every throw from his knees.  With the poor quality catcher's around the league, you have to treasure a guy like 'Nito.  Torrealba's skills are also solid, but he needs to reduce the strikeouts.

Martin says: Santiago and Torrealba have been a great combo and both have excelled offensively and defensively.

Sara says: A lot of teams can say they have a good catcher, but not a lot of teams can say they have a good catcher and a good back up catcher. Even though Santiago’s presence is needed behind the plate, pitchers are gradually getting used to pitching to Torrealba, and Torre has made a good stance to make rookies like Jerome Williams listen to him. Offensively, Santiago continues to deliever, getting those clutch base hit and once in a while drilling one into the bleachers. Torrealba has also shown that he is able to swing the bat, taking over when Santiago is injured or when the 38 year-old needs a breather.

Kevin says: It's hard to find bad things to say about this tandem. Santiago's done well, despite getting beat up this season, aside from recent problems with a dislocated finger. Torrealba is making his case to be the full time starter next year with ever improving defensive plays. Yorvit also gains huge points from me for being the most demonstrative and energetic on the field. The power numbers from these guys aren't bad, but I'd like to see Yorvit muscle up a little more, and maybe see Santiago get a little more patient at the plate and cut down on those strikeouts.

Outfield Barry Bonds, Marquis Grissom, Jose Cruz, Jr.
Writer Grade
Keith A
Kevin A-
Martin A
Sara A
GPA 3.92

Martin says: Bonds ('Nuff Said!).  Grissom first playing the way we imagined him playing and then, after being made leadoff, playing the way Grissom coudn't have imagined in his mind.  A great Cruz catch followed by a Cruz swinging strike three but overall what we would have expected except that he isn't hitting with runners on.

Sara says: Offensively and defensively, these guys have shown the world of baseball that they are one of the best trios in the league. Bonds has been Bonds, smashing those homeruns and stealing those bases while playing solid defense in left field. Grissom has been the biggest suprise, coming from LA and being promised that he’ll play everyday, he took this oppurtunity and really went with it. He plays hard and he works hard, this guy just wants to play baseball. Oh, brownie points for being this season’s Dodger Killer. Nice going, Gris. When Giant fans think of Cruz, they no longer think about the hot offensive start he had, they think about him diving and scrambling for fly balls. How many times has the TV shown a fly ball that’s about to fall, and out of nowhere comes Cruz and seconds later the ball never touched the ground and is in his glove? Forget about his offense (which is starting to heat up) he gets an A because of his defense. Gold Glove, Jose?

Kevin says: The outfield production the Giants are currently getting rivals any year they've had as long as I've been around. Marquis, being our obligatory ex-Dodger, has been a revelation, solidifying what has been a soft spot on the Giants in center field for the past half decade. Cruz has also taken a hold on right, getting rid of yearly platoons out there since Ellis Burks' departure. And Bonds is in a slump, when leading the league in HR, OBP, SLG and BB? Not bad at all. Cruz's offensive cold streak through May and June and Bonds' limits in defensive range are the only knocks on this trio.

Keith says: Grissom ranks highly as one of the biggest free agent steals.  With a taped up nub on the end of his bat, he has socked around pitchers with regularity and his legs still have some fire left in them.  With the exception of those gaffes against the A's in Pac Bell two weeks ago, his fielding has also bordered on superb.  As for Cruz, he's still an upgrade from Reggie Sanders and his fielding is a 5 reel human highlight film.  Nice to see his stroke and power coming back recently, too.  And then there's what's-his-name.  Barry's okay, I guess.

Bench Pedro Feliz, Neifi Perrez, Marvin Benard, and the other guys who have backed up multiple positions
Writer Grade
Keith B+
Kevin B
Martin B-
Sara B+
GPA 3.08

Keith says: Feliz has started to show some of that potential Dusty's been talking about for the last couple of years.  He still has to cut down his strikeouts.  Perez could be showing us a glimpse of the Giants in 2004 if they choose to show Aurilia the door.  Benard just makes me livid over the fact that he's still on the team and Russ Ortiz and his salary will be appearing in Chicago for the All Star Game next Tuesday.

Kevin says: The bench has been playing short a lot of this season, due to problems with injury in the pitching staff dictating carrying more pitchers. Feliz's revelation as a utility player in both the infield and outfield helps this grade out a lot, though. He's finally making his case to be more than just a bench player, though his home position is locked up for a while. Benard has led the outfield bench players, despite his injury problems. He's hot and cold, but his hot moments have been much more important and memorable. Neifi is a good bench player, but I hope he never starts. He has no power whatsoever.

Martin says: Neifi finally listening to Joe Morgan's advice to utilize his speed with bunts and being actually worth his salary, but horribly Neifi-like to start the season.  Feliz actually outhomering Bonds when playing leftfield and not embarassing himself in the field (not like Candy Maldonado or Glenallen Hill at least).  Benard bringing down the grade because he's basically hasn't been here.

Sara says: In the beginning of the season, the bench was really inconsistent, but more recently, the Giants have been able to have a few breathers knowing that their bench players will deliver. Feliz had the name “A’s Killer” bestowed upon him and continues his solid play defensively. His offense has cooled down since Oakland, though. Perez was acquired for his defense and that’s exactly what he does. He comes up with the most impressive defensive plays, both at second and shortstop. And have you seen this guy throw? Wow, I think the Giants can put him on the mound for fun one of these days. Bernard needs to stay healthy, and when he is, he is still able to give the Giants productive innings.

Starting Pitching Jason Schmidt, Kirk Rueter, Kurt Ainsworth, Damian Moss, Jesse Foppert, Jerome Williams
Writer Grade
Keith C
Kevin B-
Martin B
Sara B+
GPA 3.08

Sara says: Jason Schmidt is the Giants’ ace, no questions, no arguments about this at all. Kirk Rueter is the other veteran, but has been struggling recently. He had a strong start, but his last few games have been shaky. Too bad he wasn’t able to go all out in his last start, where he was taken out early because he had a strained muscle in his shoulder. Rueter will get it back, and hopefully his injury isn’t too severe. Damian Moss is slowly getting his rhythm back, and even when he does, he’ll be “wildly effective,” you can’t expect anything else from Aussie Mossy. Kurt Ainsworth looked like he was going to have a very promising season, but unfortunately his injury set him back. No matter, the Giants have Jerome Williams. How good has this kid been? He played in just eight games and has already pitched two complete games, one against the patient Oakland team and another against the best offensive team in the league, the Cardinals. Whenever he gets into trouble, he stays relaxed, kisses his puka shell necklace, and does what he needs to do to get the final outs of the inning. That’s poise for you. The other rookie, Jesse Foppert, has been another story. He threw hard and once he entered the big leagues, everyone was excited over his 95 mph fast ball. Giants’ fans everywhere drooled as they watched batters swing and miss at his pitches, but that’s hardly the case now. Foppert has been highly inconsistent and is in big need of control and command in his pitches. Hopefully, he’ll get that back. Once he has that, he’ll be one of the greatest pitchers in the league.

Keith says: Jason Schmidt is showing everyone that he could very well be a superstar.  Better late than never is all I have to say.  He's been unhittable at times even when every hitter knows that the number 1 is coming right down the pipe.  Rueter's  injury could shed light on his recent poor outings.  Jerome Williams has been the most pleasant surprise of the year, but counting on a rookie for the stretch run is risky at best.  Perhaps someone can put him on the 2002 John Lackey diet and that might allay some concerns.  Foppert?  If it weren't for injuries to Ainsworth (and now Woody), he'd be in AA where he belongs.  I honestly don't think he knows what he's doing out there.  Ryan Jensen must be pitching slightly better than me for him not to be on this M*A*S*H unit the Giants are calling their starting rotation.  As for Damian Moss, see my comments about Marvin Benard.  Sabean has got to do his best David Copperfield impression in the next 3 weeks to shore up this staff.

Kevin says: The discussion has to start with the awesomeness that is Schmidt. 3 Shutouts fueling a 2.36 ERA? Just plain money. Behind him is a rotation in flux. Rueter was steady for most of the year until a recent touch of shoulder problems ballooned his ERA. Moss was just wild enough early, and way too wild late. He is again in the bullpen. Ainsworth pitched rock solid early. He may not have been as impressive as Williams, but he was more consistent and showed great pitching smarts before his injury. Williams has been a savior through other starters' problems and injuries, but I was glad to see him only go 6 innings to make sure he doesn't get into arm trouble. Foppert has the stuff, but just needs to gain a little more confidence in his stuff, and I think we'll see him back in his May form after a short stint in the minors. Still, too many injuries in this group.

Martin says: Two Aces and four wild cards (title of my article once I'm done but you can use here).  But overall, very effective and hasn't been as big a strain on the bullpen as feared.  But still a strain.  Schmidt-inator. Rueter more ups than downs and that's what counts in the end.  Williams' puka-shell pitching like a veteran twice his age. Foppert flashing both sides of his rookie card. Moss superhot then supercold.  Ainsworth flashing his potential then his potential downfall, injuries.

Relief Pitching Tim Worrell, Scott Eyre, Joe Nathan, Felix Rodriguez, Jim Brower
Writer Grade
Keith Inc.
Kevin C+
Martin B-
Sara B+
GPA 2.78

Kevin says: It's one thing for a player to be streaky. It's another thing for an entire group of players to be streaky in sync with each other. With the exception of Tim Worrell, who's been excellent filling in for Nen at closer, this group has been solidly unpredictable. In April, they were money. In May and early June, we couldn't find a reliever for the life of us. In late June and up through the break, they've been solid again. What gives? Is Joe Nathan the guy who gave up 16 runs in four consecutive outings in late May, or the guy San Diego GM Kevin Towers says could be a closer? Is Scott Eyre a specialist or capable of pitching 2 innings at a time? Is F-Rod pure gas or purely gaseous? An up and down season with a steady Worrel puts these guys just over average.

Martin says: Only Worrell and Eyre has been good all season.  Everyone else has had spells of GREAT outings vs. HORRIBLE outings.  But FRod appears to be recovered from his flu so perhaps others have been affected as well as it seemed half the team was sick. 

Keith says: With the exception of Worrell and Brower, I don't know what to make of these characters.  They'll look like Fingers, Gossage and Sutter one moment and then Moe, Larry and Curly the next.  Consistency is their biggest problem.  I'll only mention two relievers as you'll probably get the gist of what I have to say about the entire staff.  For example, We're still waiting for Felix Rodriguez to mature.  Furthermore, Eyre can dominate in one outing and then get roped while starting off every hitter 2-0.  I give up.  One thing's for sure:  Sabean might have to do a bullpen make-over.

Sara says: The beginning was great, the middle was bad, and recently they’ve been good again. Jim Brower has been awesome in long relief and Chad Zerbe has also been able to give some innings. Jason Christiansen has made his return heard and Joe Nathan is throwing strikes again. Scott Eyre has become the ideal set-up man for the set-up man and gives solid outings everytime he hits the mound. Felix Rodriguez is almost making his shaky outings history with the great performances he’s had recently. Tim Worrell has been brilliant as the Giants’ closer, giving them relief from the season ending injury of Robb Nen. Worrell has been impressive, already with twenty saves and is recognized as one of the league’s leading closers.

Management Felipe Alou, Brian Sabean and the staff
Writer Grade
Keith A
Kevin B+
Martin A+
Sara B+
GPA 3.75

Martin says: How else can you grade 21 games over .500, first in the division by 5.5 games, 2nd best record in NL, 3rd best record in MLB, and with all the things that can go wrong, going wrong, starting with Nen out the whole season.  And especially for having a better record than Dusty has now with the Cubs.

Keith says: A new line-up and a new manager... and STILL 20 games over .500 AND in first place?  Incredible.  The front office will earn management an "A+" if they can bring in the hired guns for August thru October.  And Felipe is everything Dusty is not.  Specifically, he's unpredictable.  He juggles line-ups and he has his baserunners run.  No favoritism to veterans and no comments lacking common sense in the newspapers are only some of the things why Felipe is an upgrade over Dusty.  And if he's in a Game 6 situation, he won't flip the ball to his starting pitcher when removing him from the game.

Sara says: Felipe Alou has done a pretty good job coming into a team where not only the players are new but also the environment. I can tell he favors some players more than others, but every manager has their favorites. I bet he stays awake every night thinking about how to make the team better, even though they have a winning record. I also have to give Alou credit for not leaving his pitchers in the game for too long, as opposed to Dusty Baker last year who did that in hopes of his pitchers working their way out of a jam. It took Alou a while to find the right line-up order for the Giants, but it looks like he has it now. He’s got the right recipe and chemistry and now he just needs his guys to come through.

Kevin says: It's hard to argue with a team that's been in first place all the way through. I have some minor quibbles with both playing time (Alfonzo's still starting full-time?) and pick-ups (I think we're paying too much for a back up like Perez), but certainly the team has done very well overall. If Sabean can pick up a good midseason care package, I'll be much happier.



Team MVP: Tie- Barry Bonds and Jason Schmidt

Martin says: 'Nuff Said, I said!

Keith says: Barry.  It's his team.  Get out of his way and jump on the coat-tails.  Schmidt would be the winner, otherwise.  Barry's just in different stratosphere when it comes to greatness.

Sara says: Picking Barry Bonds is such a no duh, so I’ll go with Schmidty. He’s not only been dominate on the mound, but he’s out there to give his team a chance to win. If you walk through the clubhouse before a game that Schmidty’s pitching and ask every player, chances are they’ll bet you money that they’ll win that game. Schmidt doesn’t care about records, he doesn’t care if he has ten shut out games or if he has eleven wins, all that matter is his team winning in the end, and he’s never whined about it or complained about it when his team doesn’t give him the run support that’s so lacking in his starts. All that matters to him is for the team to win. What a way to take one for the team, Schmidty.

Kevin says: Barry's been hot lately, but I have to take Jason on this. Not only has he been Cy Young worthy, but he's done it all through some personal problems and mostly, to anchor down a rotation that is so in flux that the other four opening day starters are not in the rotation here at the All-Star break. Without him, I'd be scared to think of where we'd be.

Rookie of the Year: Jerome WIlliams

Runner-up: Kurt Ainsworth

Sara says: If Ainsworth wasn’t on the DL, he’d definately be my Rookie of the Year, but since he is, let’s go with his replacement, who isn’t any different. Williams has not only been impressive, but he’s been suprisingly so. Two complete games and shutting down the best offensive team two starts in a row in two different ballparks? Man, not even some multi-year veterans can do that. The future looks bright for this kid.

Keith says: His easy delivery reminds me of Livan Hernandez when he still had confidence and the movement on his pitches reminds me of Ortiz.  What impresses me the most is his approach.  Very tough and very mature.  He's proving that he is wise beyond his years with each start.

Martin says: Only rookie still doing well, so it could just be a matter of the music just stopping now.  But, man, what a debut!  I've been waiting for a rookie pitcher debut like this since Montefusco first came up.

Kevin says: As good as Jerome's done, I'm still picking Kurt Ainsworth. Kurt impressed me by picking up the rotation through the first rough spots by following Jensen's short starts with long outings. The crown performance of his campaign before he got injured was three hitting the Rockies in Colorado, and then coming back in his next start to face them again at Pac Bell and have an entirely different look so that Todd Helton said "He looked like an entirely different pitcher." Good stuff. Jerome will have to keep pitching well to overcome Kurt, especially if Kurt returns in a month as is possible.

Surprise Player: Marquis Grissom (Unanimous)

Kevin says: As much as some might think Galaragga deserves this after being so valuable when he signed a minor league contract, Grissom overcame everyone's expectations of being a platoon player and turned into a very good full-time starter. We all laughed when he said he wanted to play everyday in Spring Training; no one's laughing now. If only he'd get a little more patient and take some walks, he'd be even better.

Sara says: When he first started, he was batting 8th in the order, and he was happy about it. He was happy to just be playing everyday, and yet, he’s earned his way to the top of the line-up, taking on the all important lead-off spot when needed and now he bats in front of Bonds, where he gets his healthy feed of fastballs and is able to connect. No one had much faith in Grissom, as he is also adding up age wise, but he’s shown everyone that he is still able to play ball and to play it well.

Martin says: Beat Neifi out by a nose.  All the prognosticators and Sabremetricians had him relegated to being productive only in a platoon and he has been GREAT! playing full time, great offense and defense.  A godsend especially when Durham went down and the offense went south momentarily and then he set the flame again at white-HOT!

Keith says: I was hoping for .270 and some late inning speed on the basepaths.  He's provided even more with his power and graceful fielding.  And anyone who helps beat the Dodgers can't be half bad, right?

Disappointment: Tie - Edgardo Alfonzo and Jesse Foppert

Martin says: Who else than Alfonzo? (at least Moss had that great April)  And what more can you say?  He stinks, he needs to pick it up and soon.

Kevin says: Though fingers are pointed at Foppert, he's more the victim of hype and being a rookie than anything. Alfonzo got a big contract to do great here, and he's not even close to being good.

Keith says: I was going to say Alfonzo without breaking a sweat until I saw Foppert's face when he handed the ball over to Alou last night in Denver.  He looked completely dazed and devoid of any inkling as to what he is doing on the mound every few days.  Terrible.  He didn't have to crush teams but getting 5 innings under his belt isn't too much to ask from a young arm.  P.U.

Sara says: Everything looked so positive for Foppert when he first arrived in the big leagues, but everything’s made a drastic u-turn, and now Foppert is struggling on the mound in all his outings. He never recovered since his best game in Chicago against the White Sox, and he is still not showing any signs whatsoever of recovering. He needs to get his act together, and again, either be sent to the bullpen or back down to the minors. He better watch out, with Jim Brower performing the way he is, Fop may be out of a job if he doesn’t shape up.

Underrated: J.T. Snow

Runners-Up: Jim Brower, Tim Worrell

Kevin says: Bashing J.T. after two .240 seasons is easy enough, but everyone forgets his abilities defensively and his batting eye. Though he's slow on the paths, he can draw walks enough to warrant batting second, and has been thriving there. Combined with being on of the most clutch guys on the team (look at his performance last October) and the great defense, more respect needs to be given to him.

Keith says: What did you really want from J.T.?  A .300 batting average and 51 RBI's at the break?  Once you return to the real world, you'll see that J.T. has quietly put together a decent season.  Moving him to the 2 spot in the batting order may be helpful, as well.  Okay fine, I'm really mentioning him here because he was Jeter-like in the playoffs, but so what!

Sara says: While we’re on the subject of Brower, he’ll be my pick for underrated player. Most relievers are underrated, and Brower is no different. He was pulled up to start one game and then sent back down again. Not many guys can handle that, being shoved around, but Brower doesn’t mind. Yet another guy who doesn’t mind doing whatever it takes to help his team win games. Oh yeah, he’s a pretty good hitting pitcher, too. I wouldn’t mind having him bat for himself a few times. No matter where he is, the bullpen or the starting rotation, he never changes his approach to his pitches. He throws beautiful strikes and he gets the batters out, no questions asked. Also, have you ever met a nicer guy? He makes sure everyone gets an autograph before he leaves and he shook my hand. How nice is that? Definately underrated.

Martin says: Worrell stopper par excellante thus far in place of Nen.  We could have collapsed like other teams that lost their closer and/or just have their closer (or closer by committee) suck:  Rangers, Cubs, Red Sox, White Sox, Padres, Mariners, etc.

Best Offseason Pick-up: Ray Durham

Runners up: Jose Cruz, Jr., Jim Brower

Martin says: Durham beats Grissom by a feetfirst slide (but no more as that's how he got injured).  Everything as advertised and has been a great sparkplug for the offense on top of the lineup, especially getting on base for Bonds and to allow Bonds to bat in the first.

Keith says: No moping and no wheelies on a motorcycle.  Just exceptional defense and more than dependable hitting.

Sara says: Can you imagine Reggie Sanders out there in right field diving for fly balls and running into walls while catching the ball? No, didn’t think so, and I can’t either. Cruz has been a defensive machine, and even though people are giving him smack about slumping offensively, it doesn’t matter. As long as the rest of the team picks it up and he continues his spectacular performance defensively, he can help his team win lots of ball games. If I were pitching, I’d have the batters hit the ball to right field everytime because I know that Cruz will somehow get to it.

Kevin says: Okay, I know y'all are thinking 'Jim Brower?', but hear me out. First of all, the big object of his pickup was to open up a rotation spot for Kurt Ainsworth, which was big. As good as Livan has been in Montreal, he needed out of San Francisco in a bad way. Also, Brower is an awesome long reliever with the ability to start a game or two, something the Giants were lacking and is very important, as is being shown lately.

Award: Kruk & Kuip's "Bring a Glove, Get a Ball" Award

Winner: Jose Cruz, Jr.

Kevin says: Cruz has been plain awesome playing right field this year. I haven't ever seen a right fielder make so many great catches because so many teams designate that position for their worst fielder, but with the crazy wall at Pac Bell, we've needed a good defender. Cruz has made catches of every conceivable kind out there, climbing the walls, diving into the dirt, and racing into the gap. Combine with it the ability to get rid of the ball, which helps him lead the league in outfield assists, and this man deserves some golden leather at the end of the year.

Award:  The Comeback Award

Co-Winners:  JT Snow & Andres Galarraga

Martin says:  Just when J.T. was written off as an overpaid hasbeen, he has been very important contributor this season.

Sara says: Andres who? Remember saying that? That’s because El Gato has been the bench player of bench players, rarely getting a chance to play at all. Well, this year he had his chance and boy did he come back. He has now become the number one option for Alou as a pinch hitter and why not? This guy is seven homeruns away from having four hundred career jacks, why did we ever sit him for such a long period of time? Well, patience rewards and Galarraga was rewarded. He’s now a dependable first baseman and Alou never hesitates to use him in anything.

Award:  The Please Comeback Award

Winner:  Edgardo Alfonzo

Martin Says:  This is not the same man who was a dominating hitting force for 6 seasons in the NL.  He is either an imposter and the real Alfonzo must comeback or he MUST come back!

Award: Most Likely to Choke on Sunflower Seeds

Winner: Barry Bonds

Sara Says: Ah, the beauty of baseball... an environment where men are in their natural habitat, free to scratch, spit, sniff, shoot snot rockets, grab their crotch, make funny faces, and yawn all they want while the TV captures it all. Have you seen Barry chug sunflower seeds? You almost want to reach out to pat him on the back so he won’t choke and be out for the rest of the season or something *knocks on wood*. J.T. is famous for his gum and snot rockets, and I’ve seen Richie chug sunflower seeds a few times as well as chew his gum, but nobody beats Barry. When he’s not smacking baseballs, he’s throwing sunflower seeds into his mouth.

Award: The Go Giants! Award

Winner: Bonds, Schmidt, Torrealba, Alou and whoever other players who had a significant relative seriously ill

Martin says: Despite personal travails that have fallen their way, some how they have all sucked it up and have done very well. What more can you say except, Go Giants!

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