The Giants Add Pen Arms

Ramon Ramirez

This is the second time Ramirez will pitch in the National League West. Previously he spent the 2006 and part of the 2007 season with the Colorado Rockies. He performed well then by FIP measures before being traded to Kansas City. The rest of the story is more mainstream as he was dealt to Boston for Coco Crisp and has since struggled to replicate that magical 2008 season. His numbers this year are actually pretty close to what they were in 2009 with the exception of an increased homer rate, hence why his xFIP is actually lower this season by nearly a half run per nine.

In exchange, the Giants give up 24 year old Daniel Turpen. He’s a relief prospect with nice numbers in Double-A. It’s safe to say this is the lesser of the outputs today by the Giants.

Javier Lopez

Here’s the marquee deal and sort of head scratcher. Lopez is a true blue side-arming left-handed specialist. Lopez’s overall numbers are nothing special this year and digging deeper he’s hade more success against righties than lefties, an abnormality in his career (his career FIP versus lefties is a full run lower). Lopez was a bargain bin pickup and not exactly something to give up talent for, yet that’s what Brian Sabean did.

Joe Martinez gets groundballs against righties and struggles versus lefties. He relies on a low-90s, high-80s fastball along with a curve and change. He’s only made 13 appearances in his major league career and six came as a starter. He seems likely to head to the bullpen where his upside could be a right-handed specialist.

That deal alone probably favors the Pirates. Somehow, Neal Huntington also grabbed John Bowker in the deal. Bowker isn’t particularly valuable – he’s a 26 year old first baseman with 513 career plate appearances and a .294 wOBA – but there’s something intriguing about his seemingly newfound ability to reach base. Over the last two seasons in Triple-A (more than 600 plate appearances) Bowker has walked 97 times and struck out 101 times. Before that, Bowker had struck out 370 times while walking 136 times.

He’s a little older and maybe he never becomes anything but a tease. Still, as a throw-in the Pirates could do worse. The question is where he’ll play on the major league team with Garret Jones, Lastings Milledge, Jeff Clement, and eventually Ryan Doumit splitting time in right field and first base. Then again, having a ton of potentially useful options is a new thing for Pittsburgh.

The Giants didn’t drastically overpay in either case, it just seems like a case of tunnel vision in the Lopez deal.




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38 Responses to “The Giants Add Pen Arms”

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  1. NSCEGF says:

    Bowker is like the next Garrett Jones, except better, and younger.

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  2. Gigantes says:

    Lopez’s overall numbers are nothing special this year and digging deeper he’s hade more success against righties than lefties, an abnormality in his career (his career FIP versus lefties is a full run lower).

    That statement is a complete contradiction by the way.

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  3. Giants Kev says:

    Ugh, I knew this would happen after listening to the radio yesterday hearing both the host and the reporter harp on how the Giants need a situational lefty and then watching Bochy nearly overmanage the Dodgers to a win (oh, he’s the Giants manager?)

    This idiocy of a situational lefty is narrow minded old school baseball talk. Adding a bat like Dunn, Fielder, or any of a dozen names would have had 10 times the impact.

    At least Sabean didn’t add Baumgartner or another top arm into the mix.

    Are we sure this isn’t some kind of super-secret ptbnl left over from the Sanchez trade?

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  4. DrBGiantsfan says:

    I’m OK with both deals. Anyone who saw Friday’s game against the Dodgers with the game on the line, runners on base, Ethier and Loney coming up, and the Giants bringing in Jonathan Sanchez is what must have been very uncomfortable situation for him, knows the the Giants had to make the deal for Lopez. I’ll take my chances with him in that situation over any RHP not named Brian Wilson on the Giants roster. No, Geno Espinelli or Alex Hinshaw are not the answer either, and they couldn’t afford to wait for Runzler and/or Affeldt to come off the DL.

    As for Martinez and Bowker. No way in heck is Martinez adequate compensation for a proven MLB LOOGY. Martinez has been a gas can in the majors and not all that great in the minors. He will never have a significant MLB career. Bowker has hit great in the minors where a lot of pitchers apparently aren’t able to plant a breaking ball at his back foot, something at least 90% of MLB RHP’s are able to do with consistency. We won’t talk about LHP’s. Maybe Bowker will someday figure out how to recognize and lay off that pitch. Maybe the Pirates can afford to give him enough AB’s for it to happen. At 27 yo, he’s rapidly running out of time. He didn’t have a place in the Giants current 25 man roster, and he was well behind Peguero, Neal, and Belt in the future depth chart.

    The reaction to these trades on some of the more well known Giants oriented blogs is downright irrational!

    As for who the Giants will DFA when Ramirez arrives, the conventional wisdom is that Bautista seale his fate in the 8′th inning today. I’m betting on Casilla who has seemed to be in Bochy’s doghouse after getting lit up about a week ago.

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    • marcello says:

      The only irrational thing would be trusting Lopez in any high leverage situation.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Now THAT is an irrational thing to say. Lopez is a proven effective MLB LOOGY. Would I trust him over Brian Wilson in the 9′th against Ethier and Loney? Of course not! I would, however, trust him over any other RHP in the Giants bullpen.

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      • Bhaakon says:

        I’d take Romo over him as well (and I wasn’t happy that he was apparently yanked for a platoon matchup the other night). It’s hard to imagine a situation in which :Lopez is the preferred option in a late and close situation, and even harder for me to justify a trade for him when the dearth of left-handed relief is only temporary.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Romo BA/OBP against LHB’s: .264/.339

        Lopez BA/OBP against LHB’s: .204/.323

        So, if you had runners on first and third with 1 out and Ethier and Loney coming up, you’d call Romo before you’d call Lopez? Now, THAT is irrational!

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      • Bhaakon says:

        I see you left the SLG% out of those splits

        Romo: .321
        Lopez: .352

        Considering that they’re pretty comparable, I’d rather have Romo in there, because1) he can continue to pitch past the lefty, and 2) he can’t be neutralized (or worse, exploited) by a pinch hitter.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Romo has a very odd split in HR’s over the course of his career in that he has given up 9 HR’s to RH hitters and 0 to LH hitters with 5 of those HR’s to RH hitters given up this year alone. That may be partly due to the effects of his home park, but is more likely just a sample size quirk. He’s been extremely good against both R and L handed hitters prior to this year. His significantly higher BAA against LH hitters this year would suggest that the odds will catch up with him soon enough. I still like the Giants chances against a team like the Dodgers late in close games much more with Lopez in the pen than without him.

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  5. Justin Mosovsky says:

    DrBGiantsfan, you claim other people are acting irrational, so I decided to look at the facts, (this is fangraphs by the way). Here are some facts, using the last three years of data for Javier Vasquez if he is used EXCLUSIVELY as a LOOGY, (I.E. only his split stats vs. lefties). That’s what you seem to see him as.

    2008 FIP 4.19 xFIP 4.36

    Ignoring 2009 as only 4.2 IP against Lefties. If you REALLY want to know, the answer for both is above 4.5 for both but just ignore as only 4.2 IP

    2010 FIP 4.68 xFIP 3.78

    His K/BB rates has been 1.71. This year it is at 1.78. That doesn’t scream effective to me.

    Now lets look at the “irrational” view that Lopez has been poor in high leverage situations over his career.

    FIP in high leverage situations career 4.45.
    xFIP in high leverage situations career 4.96

    Seems reasonable that he has performed poorly in high leverage situations. It might be irrational to expect it in the future, but at least there is past data to support the argument.

    If you want to look into advanced metrics concerning his ability as a reliever ahead, please do. I just want to point out not using data isn’t the way to argue here on fangraphs.

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    • DrBGiantsfan says:

      I am talking about a specific type of high leverage situation, late innings, runners on base and a 1-3 LHB’s coming up. You want numbers? Here are some numbers! BA/OBP vs LHB’s:

      Brian Wilson- .228/.322.
      Sergio Romo- .264/.339
      Guillermo Mota- .269/.385.
      Denny Bautista- .178/.333
      Chris Ray- .250/.324.
      Santiago Casilla-.214/.371
      Javier Lopez- .204/.323.

      Now, which of those pitchers would you call on in the late innings, runners on base and 1-3 LHB’s coming up?

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      • eldingo says:

        Dude why are you using batting average and obp, you realize this is fangraphs right? Your not going to change anybodies mind with poorly researched stats

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      • richard says:

        how dare you use such meaningless stats… start using numbers that people who don’t actually WATCH baseball use!

        advanced metrics have become meaningless ever since FG used them to show how good a pickup Fred Lewis was for Toronto…

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  6. walt526 says:

    I don’t have a problem with either deal. Neither Martinez or Bowker figure to be anything more than a AAAA spare part (which is their upside). Bowker has shown that he can either hit for power or maintain a decent walk rate–but not simultaneously, which makes him an inferior option at 1B/LF/RF considering his defense and baserunning limitations.

    I don’t know much about Turpen despite following the Giants pretty closely, so I can’t imagine that he’s much of a prospect (certainly nothing that I’ve read in the past few hours contradicts that preconception). I’m not convinced that Ramirez will represent much of an upgrade, but I suppose that another slightly above-average middle reliever will be helpful.

    It’s not a trade that will likely impact their chances at making the playoffs, but they didn’t seem to give up much of value.

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  7. oldjacket says:

    I have a problem with calling John Bowker a first baseman. He stood near first base for a while, but he actually plays outfield.

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  8. thrill says:

    you can have Joe Martinez but why give up Bowker and Turpen for a couple o’ turds?? Mota and Casilla have had some rough stretches lately but i’d still use either of them before Lopez or Ramirez and i wouldn’t DFA Bautista for them either….this is a sick joke…THEY’RE NOT AN UPGRADE OVER ANYONE IN THE GIANTS’ PEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    • DrBGiantsfan says:

      Agreed on Mota, although I would much rather see Lopez in there against Andre Ethier and James Loney in the late innings of a tight game but Bautista? You’re kidding, right?

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    • richard says:

      have you actually watched mota, casilla, and bautista? they’d all be great if they could throw strikes. every time bochy goes to the ‘pen for one of them instead of romo or wilson, giants fans everywhere pretty much resign themselves to seeing the next batter walked/hit.

      and who cares about bowker? he’s a minor league lifer. he can’t hit MLB breaking stuff, and has proven it time and again.

      as for turpen… check out how scott barnes is handling himself these days…

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  9. Justin Mosovsky says:

    Didn’t your stats that you pulled up just say that Bautista is extremely comparable to Lopez against LHB’s DrBGiants? .178/.333 does not seem to me that much worse than .204/.323 that you would trade potential assets, (it is eerily similar how close Bowker’s #s are to Luke Scott’s BTW) to obtain him. If you are going to cherry pick the stat you use to show that Lopez is good, and those same stats show Bautista to be comparable, don’t complain when someone else points it out.

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    • DrBGiantsfan says:

      I think Bautista has pitched a lot better than a lot of Giants fans are giving him credit for now. I included his numbers to be fair, knowing full well that somebody like you would jump all over it and hold it up as “proof” that the Giants didn’t need to acquire Lopez. Bautista’s numbers are based an a microscopic sample size, and he’s shown absolutely no consistency at all. Plus, he’s the only guy on the list other than Wilson who comes close to Lopez’ numbers against Lefties. If you were Sabean and Bochy, would you really want to go the next 3 weeks minimum with Bautista as your best option against LH hitters late in the game? I know I wouldn’t!!

      As for Bowker vs Luke Scott, I don’t know what numbers you are looking at, but here are their respective MLB career batting lines:

      Bowker- .238/.285/.394

      Scott- .266/.349/.502.

      Remember, all those great looking numbers that Bowker has been putting up for the last 2 years? They’ve been in the MINORS, and the PCL to boot!

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  10. Giants 162-0 says:

    The ‘pen has been a bit of an issue as of late, especially with handling larger leads… they wouldnt NEED to swing a trade for a lefty bridge guy (to pitch in high leverage situations) to Wilson if the guys could protect 7-2 and 6-3 leads …. what the Giants need are some relievers who can throw strikes, Bautista and Casilla have terrible control numbers (17BB/22inn for Casilla and 26/32 for Bautista)… they end up walking their way into high leverage situations. Lopez has much better control 18BB/38.2inn which ill gladly take in our ‘pen.

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  11. Justin Mosovsky says:

    When referring to Luke Scott being similar, I meant they both spent an absurdly long time in the minors and both put up extremely similar stats with both players last 2 minor league seasons coming in the PCL, if everyone thoughts great numbers in the MINORS in the PCL by overage players meant absolutely nothing, Luke Scott would never have got a chance in the bigs. Seriously, it would not look pretty if I posted the comparison here, but McCovey Chronicles got a chart up right here

    http://www.mccoveychronicles.com/2010/7/31/1598745/giants-trade-away-left-handed#43381260

    Obviously, we are not assured, (understatement) that Bowker will become anything near as good as Luke Scott, but looking at this it doesn’t seem illogical that it is possible. Also amusing, o ye who bring up BA and OBP of this year against lefties to determine how good a player has done. The other guy you traded away, Joe Martinez? He had a .176/.300 BA/OBP against lefties this year. If you are not going to use advanced metrics to determine how good a player is, then you get guys like Martinez and Bautista outperforming them, especially in SSS. I just find it amusing you are so infatuated with Lopez.

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    • beat_la_25 says:

      I’d been sorta beginning to resign myself to the fact that Bowker had Todd Linden Syndrome anyway. Great minor league guy but never really able to put it together long enough to have a productive big league career. Sad to see him go though, he’s a great guy and I wish him the best of luck in the Pirates org.

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    • DrBGiantsfan says:

      For every Luke Scott, there are at least 20 guys you can find with similar PCL stats who never made it. As for mccoveychronicles.com (which by the way, is generally a very good website), for some reason Grant just developed this huge mancrush on Bowker that ended up way beyond rationality. If you can find any other respected analyist who really thinks Bowker is going to be the next Luke Scott, I’ll be happy to take a look at it.

      As for my own infatuation with Lopez, I really don’t think I’m being terribly unrealistic here. If Affeldt and Runzler were both healthy I wouldn’t be happy about this trade, but then again I don’t think Brian Sabean would have made the trade. As it is, the Giants absolutely had to acquire a legitimate LHP option for the pen. Lopez fills that need and they really didn’t give up anything of value to get him.

      As for Bautista and Martinez, I really hope you are joking or just trying to pull my chain because if you would honestly rather see them face Andre Ethier and James Loney, or AGone, or CarGon and IStew in the 7′th or 8′th inning of a close ballgame, then you really have no clue what you are talking about.

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      • Justin Mosovsky says:

        I WOULDN’T rather have Bautista or Martinez face said people, but the ONLY STATS YOU USED to say that Lopez was worth getting also implied that these two people are just as good if not better than him. The whole point is that when you look at advanced metrics, Lopez doesn’t look that attractive to be worth an actual prospect plus a pitcher who profiles as a back-end starter for 5 years at low cost. As I said, I’m PERSONALLY not saying that Lambo or McDonald are going to be any good, (chances are very good that they won’t be), I’m just saying that the chance of the doing half decent seems to be worth more than a LOOGY who doesn’t seem to be great. It’s all about risk to reward ratios. The risk in the Giants case that Bowker OR Martinez manages to play close to their potential outweighs the reward of getting a LOOGY who is not great.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        That LOOGY who is not great(no argument there) is better than the other available options internally or externally. As their bullpen is structured, and with the Giants in a very tight pennant race, they absolutely could not afford to wait for Affeldt and Runzler to come back. Lopez might not be the greatest on in the league, but he was the best available and better than other options available for dealing with tough LH batters in the late innings.

        Who’s saying that Martinez profiles as a #5 starter for 5 years? He has shown absolutely nothing at any time that should make you think he is any more than an average AAA starter.

        If the Pirates can afford to give Bowker the time to learn to lay off the breaking ball at his back foot, more power to them. He’s made absolutely no progress in the last 3 years despite knowing that is the one thing he had to work on in AAA, so it could take awhile. I like Bowk. I wish him the best of luck, but he wasn’t in the Giants plans, nor should he have been. He has poor range in the OF, has a weak throwing arm and can’t hit a breaking ball to save his life. If you think that makes him the next Luke Scott, well, just go right on thinking that. Just don’t make any bets on it.

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      • Justin Mosovsky says:

        You just said that Javier Lopez was the best pitcher available externally at dealing with lefties and that is why you think he was so valuable. Here are FIPs/xFIPs for the last 2 seasons of Lopez compared to some other relievers traded this trade deadline just so I can check to make sure you are right. Data should always be used, and if I am wrong I at least want data to prove me wrong (will ignore the 2009 season for Lopez with xFIP and FIP both over 5 because it occurred in only 4.2 innings. I’m requiring double digit innings for a season to count)

        Lopez

        2008 FIP 4.19 xFIP 4.36
        2010 FIP 4.65 xFIP 3.77

        Kyle Farnsworth, (and he can get righties out too!)

        2009 FIP 3.16 xFIP 3.53
        2010 FIP 3.78 xFIP 4.66

        Will Ohman

        2008 FIP 2.93 xFIP 3.07
        2010 FIP 3.95 xFIP 4.29

        Caveat for Ohman, his 2009 season consisting of 6.2 innings was even more of a disaster than Lopez’ 4.2 inning 2009. Really, xFIP of 5.89 and that is the pretty number. This is because of an injury. So I’m not really going to assume that his better career xFIP than Lopez has meaning anymore. They seem to be quite similar.

        D.J. Carassco (Also a righty!)

        2009 FIP 4.88 xFIP 5.18
        2010 FIP 3.99 xFIP 3.69

        Kerry Wood, (righty)

        2009 FIP 4 xFIP 3.67
        2010 FIP 4.95 xFIP 5.41

        Octavio Dotel

        He is HORRENDOUS AGAINST LEFTIES, WOW IS HE BAD

        5.66 xFIP in 2009 against lefties is his prettiest number. That bad.

        Ramon Ramirez (righty)

        2009 FIP 5.82 xFIP 5.66
        2010 FIP 4.19 xFIP 4.27

        Joe Ramirez (righty)

        not enough data for 2 seasons, current career of above 5.5 in both though through 18 IP against them, so obviously needs to develop against lefties.

        Matt Capps (righty)

        2009 FIP 6.06 xFIP 4.5
        2010 FIP 2.75 xFIP 3.06

        Dan Hudson (righty)

        2009 FIP 4.7 xFIP 5.31
        2010 FIP 3.39 xFIP 5.53

        Chad Qualls (righty)

        2009 FIP 2.58! xFIP 2.77
        2010 FIP 5.45 xFIP 4.34

        (this year seems like a huge abnormality for Qualls, he’s got a career 3.4 FIP and xFIP of 3.33 against lefties, a decent reverse platoon split compared to Lopez’s semi-impressive 3.8/3.92 split against lefties. What happened to him this year I don’t know, his counting stats just went off the charts bad. Maybe recovering from the knee surgeries sapped him, but he seems so much better than his counting stats put him at this year.

        James MacDonald

        Not enough IP for seasons, 3.83 FIP xFIP 5.03 career

        Jesse Chavez

        Just bad this year. xFIP over 5 and FIP worse.

        So, after all that, it looks like Lopez is one of the better options for getting lefties out, but Qualls for a PTBNL would probably have been a nicer deal for Sabean to pull of unless said PTBNL was actually really good, (probably not considering Qualls counting #s). Capps was probably too expensive for you, but he was an external option who seems to be a nice asset against lefties, (career numbers have him worse than Lopez by .2 and .24 in FIP and xFIP respectfully and obviously he is better at getting righties out. Will Ohman is the closest comparison to Lopez, they are extremely similar and he was gotten for Rick Vanden Hurk, a 25 year old righty with control and fly balls problems but good K rates who has missed quite a lot of time with injuries. These are just relievers that were traded this deadline. This is not counting internal options. It does look like Lopez was one of the better ones out there, but that doesn’t mean a ton.

        You are right that Lopez was one of the better options available on the market, maybe not the best as you say, but one of the better options. That doesn’t change the fact that the Giants overpaid for a mediocre player. Bowker’s range in the outfield has given him a postive UZR/150, which I’d say isn’t poor. Saying you saw a guy not make a play doesn’t mean he can’t play outfield decently. The Martinez as 5th starter comment was a mistake, I was thinking of someone else, as others have mentioned he seems like a righty bullpen specialist with long team control, my bad. R.J. Anderson and Marc Hulet both say righty bullpen specialist for him instead of triple AAA starter for him like you mention, though I will point out he has nice GB rates.

        TL; DR version

        Our disagreement is that I believe that you don’t overpay for a mediocre LOOGY. You believe that Lopez has a good chance of providing the key difference between missing the playoffs and making the playoffs by performing well in high leverage situations that he traditionally hasn’t done well in. I don’t know how many people agree with you, but I take it that there is a good chance that many more people think that either Bowker or Martinez turns into a serviceable player over the course of time. IF that larger, (presumably) group is correct, then this seems to be an overpay.

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  12. Jim Lahey says:

    As a Boston fan, have “fun” watching them.

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  13. Will says:

    R.J.,

    I am really hung up by something you said in your blog:

    “His numbers this year are actually pretty close to what they were in 2009 with the exception of an increased homer rate, hence why his xFIP is actually lower this season by nearly a half run per nine.”

    I’m sure I am missing some fundamental element here, but why would it be the case that an increased homer rate would lower one’s xFIP? I thought xFIP was an adjustment off FIP that took HR rate out of the picture by using a normalized ratio of league average HR/FB. Hence any change in HR rate from year to year for a specific pitcher shouldn’t affect his xFIP at all.

    If you could explain why this is the case I would be very happy! Thank you.

    Will

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  14. Carlos Zambrano says:

    I will be aquired for Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Huff, and 55 million dollars

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  15. bSpittle says:

    Another trade for trading’s sake.

    At least hopefully bowker gets a decent shot in pittsburgh

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  16. Hindsight says:

    Well, looks like the Giants did pretty damn well on this deal, naysayers.

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