Sweeney signing official

Perhaps the Giants were holding off on the announcement until after they had declined arbitration to J.T. Snow. Thursday, the signing of Mark Sweeney became official.

The deal had been rumored for over 24 hours beforehand, but the Giants finally announced it on Thursday, having signed first baseman Mark Sweeney from the San Diego Padres.

Sweeney, a longtime friend of former Giants first baseman J.T. Snow, talked highly of the man who had just been denied arbitration. "We have mutual respect for each other. His career with the Giants has been unbelievable. I'm not replacing J.T. -- I don't think you can do that."

The attraction in Sweeney is in his versatility, his fit with current players, and his price. In versatility, he can play both first base and the corner outfield positions. He fits primarily well with the young Lance Niekro because of his splits. Sweeney hit .303/.402/.493 against right handed pitchers, while batting a meager .200/.320/.200 against southpaws. By comparison, Lance Niekro hit .324/.361/.657 against left handers, and only .206/.251/.335 against right handers.

And then there’s the cost. Sweeney comes to the Giants costing a very affordable $1.8 million over 2 years. Sweeney will get $850,000 in 2006 and $950,000 in 2007, with $275,000 in performance bonuses each year. So, while Sweeney is far from the left handed slugger General Manager Brian Sabean still covets, he does address a problem the Giants had at a cost that won’t prohibit further acquisitions.

Sabean is still focusing efforts on finding a starting pitcher, with St. Louis Cardinals starter Matt Morris the favored choice. However, Morris is biding his time and appears to be leaning towards returning to St. Louis if the money is right.

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