August 31, 2011
Facing a six-game deficit in the NL West, a decision deadline on their September roster, along with a possible postseason appearance, the San Francisco Giants made two bold — but probably long overdue — moves Wednesday afternoon.
As reported by Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News and others, both Aaron Rowand(notes) and Miguel Tejada(notes) were designated for assignment by the team. That means the Giants have 10 days to trade them, reassign them to the minors or release them.
What made these DFA decisions particularly bold was the amount of money still owed to each player, specifically Rowand. The Giants still have to pay him $14 million (including $12 million for next season). They owe Tejada a month's worth of his $6.5 million salary. Combined, this season and next, that's $30.5 million in salary they cut.
Yet, GM Brian Sabean said team ownership had no issues with eating that money.
All of this comes after a story broke Tuesday night about a former team employee, a payroll manager, having been arrested for stealing money from the players.
Oh, the next episode of "The Franchise" on Showtime ought to be a good one.
In terms of production, getting rid of Rowand and Tejada was a no-brainer for Sabean, who said he would try to trade both by the waiver trading deadline Wednesday night.
Rowand lost his starting job to Andres Torres(notes) in 2010, and the late-season acquisition of Burrell took care of whatever playing time he might have gotten. This year, with Torres struggling and Burrell hurt, Rowand still couldn't do anything to win a job back, batting .233/.274/.347 with four home runs and 21 RBIs in 351 plate appearances.
Tejada signed with the Giants as a free agent to be the starting shortstop, a curious decision that prompted disbelief around baseball. Even if Tejada could still hit, his range at shortstop had long disappeared. But then he stopped hitting, mustering just a .239/.270/.326 average. Between that and a move to third base, Tejada was facing a DFA at midseason.
Neither player spoke to media in the Giants' clubhouse after the moves were announced, though Rowand later texted Baggarly:
"I wish things would have turned out differently. I thank the Giants for the opportunity. I'm gonna miss my teammates and I wish every single one of them the best."
Tejada reportedly had similar sentiments.
McCovey Chronicles' Grant Brisbee accurately captured the likelihood of any trades happening with raucous laughter. But either player should be free to find a position elsewhere once they clear waivers and get released. Rowand reuniting with the Philadelphia Phillies is a possibility.
Another reason for ownership's willingness to jettison Rowand, according to Baggarly's report, is that he had become an unbearable presence in the clubhouse with his constant complaining.
Tejada had also pouted his way into disfavor with Giants coaches, especially with his snit over being asked to lay down a sacrifice bunt on Sunday.
Burrell doesn't figure to see much regular playing time, with Brandon Belt(notes) now establishing himself in left field. But manager Bruce Bochy seems intrigued with getting Pill into the lineup. In 576 plate appearances with Fresno this season, he batted .312/.341/.530 with 25 homers and 107 RBIs.
Regardless of how the Giants' roster shakes out in the last month of the season, the urgency of the task at hand is obvious. The defending World Series champs made that painfully clear by kicking two high-priced veterans to the curb.
The NL West isn't out of reach yet, but it's moving further from the Giants' fingertips. (At this time last year, they were four games behind the San Diego Padres.) And the 2011 schedule is getting closer to its end.