Giants Moves, Raiders QB. . . and More
by Glenn Dickey
Dec 08, 2005

THE GIANTS are making sensible moves in the offseason, and the decision not to offer salary arbitration to J. T. Snow and Brett Tomko, effectively ending their Giants careers, is one of that.

Snow is a real gentleman, and that attribute has always made the Giants over-value him. In truth, his viability as an every-day player ended when Jeff Kent left. Giants GM Brian Sabean had put together a combination that was counter-intuitive but worked: Because Kent had off-the-charts power and run production for a middle infielder, the Giants could afford Snow, who supplied marginal power at best for a first baseman. In the field, Snow’s defensive ability and range covered for Kent, who had below average range, though he was excellent as the middle man on the double play.

Snow’s power numbers declined even further after Kent left, and with Edgardo Alfonzo at third, the corner infielders were supplying virtually no power. Adding left-handed hitting Mark Sweeney, as the Giants are apparently planning to do, will give them a righty/left platoon at first with Lance Niekro which will help to address the power shortage when Barry Bonds is out of the lineup.

Now, if they can just get rid of Alfonzo. . .

BRADLEY RUMOR: It was amusing to read last week that the A’s were pursuing Milton Bradley, and then to read a few days later that they had “dropped out” of the competition for Bradley. In truth, they never dropped in.

Bradley was worth the gamble for the Dodgers last year because they were so desperately in need of offensive help. He would have been a terrible fit for the A’s, who are a strong contender even if they don’t make another move in the offseason.

That “story” was an unfortunate example of how the media works these days. One reporter hears a rumor, talks to another reporter about it and then writes that his rumor has been “confirmed” by another source. The same thing happens with all the speculation on the Internet. Unless the writer has actually talked to a decision-maker, ignore the speculation.

The Frank Thomas stories are much more credible. A’s general manager Billy Beane mentioned Thomas to me when we talked a month ago. Thomas would be a risk because of his health problems the last two years, but if he can stay healthy, he certainly fits the A’s needs.

RAIDERS QUARTERBACKS: The elevation of Marques Tuiasosopo to the starter at quarterback was both a physical and economic necessity for the Raiders.

When injuries to the offensive line caused the Raiders’ pass protection to break down, Kerry Collins was no longer an effective quarterback for them. With his salary/bonus package escalating to $8.5 million next season, he won't be brought back.

So, the Raiders have to find out if Tui can do the job as their starter. He certainly has ability and much more mobility than Collins, which is important at this point. But can he be effective in the current Raiders system, with its emphasis on deep throws? Nobody really knows, because he’s never played in that type of system, either in college at Washington or with the Raiders.

If he can’t, the Raiders are in trouble for 2006. Andrew Walter, a rookie this year, fits the deep passing mold, but he hasn’t done anything but run the “Scout” team in practice. Given the way Al Davis has operated in recent years, he’ll probably bring in another veteran quarterback like Collins who will fail, and the Raiders will continue to wallow in the bottom half of the standings.

What was that line about Commitment to Excellence?

TV NONSENSE: At halftime of the Raiders-Chargers game, one of the idiots on the telecast said, “The Raiders have to feel they’ve got the Chargers right where they want them.” Really? Just before halftime, the Chargers had put together a long touchdown drive to go ahead, 17-10. Hard to believe that any team is going to feel that it’s advantageous to be trailing at halftime.

NELLIE TIME: The most productive seasons in Chris Mullin’s career came when Don Nelson coached the Warriors, and that was no coincidence.

“Playing for Nellie was just great fun,” Mullin said. “He always had a different way of doing things, and I loved that. You could see teams just didn’t understand what we were doing to them. He’d take a matchup that seemed to put us at a disadvantage but somehow turn it into an advantage for us.”

With Mullin playing with Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond, the TMC grouping, Nelson had a go-go offense, which required extra conditioning for the three. “A lot of teams say they want to run,” Mullin said, “but by the end of November, they’re saying, ‘Whoa, we can’t take this pace.’ We kept it going because we knew that was the best way for us to win.”

YOUR ORDER, PLEASE: The disappointing start to Stanford’s basketball season hasn’t dulled the sense of humor of coach Trent Johnson. At this week’s luncheon promoting the Dec. 21 Pete Newell Challenge, a waitress asked Johnson what he wanted. “Forty-five per cent field goal shooting, better defense. . . “

Asked whether he’d talked to Mike Montgomery, former Stanford head coach for whom Johnson had once been an assistant, Johnson said, “You know Mike’s sarcasm. He usually calls me when things are going wrong to say, ‘What the hell are you doing over there?’”

When I saw Montgomery the next day, he said, “Yeah, I’ll give Trent a call this afternoon to give him hell.”

Where are your friends when you need them?

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