The Giants traded beleaguered third baseman Edgardo Alfonzo to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for beleaguered outfielder Steve Finley on Wednesday.
The deal essentially swaps highly paid disappointments to teams where they’ll at least fill a bigger need. The Giants get a left handed bat who can hit with power when healthy – as he did in Los Angeles in 2004, hitting a grand slam to cap off a comeback victory against the Giants and win the division for the Dodgers for the first time since 1988. Meanwhile, the Angels get a third baseman who can compete with the young Dallas McPherson for time at third base, and perhaps play some second base as well.
Both players have a $7 million base salary for 2006 with $1 million in extras. Alfonzo gets $1 million of a signing bonus paid in 2006, while Finley has a mutual option for $7 million that has a buyout for $1 million.
Finley, who’ll turn 41 during spring training next year, went to the Angels from the Los Angeles Dodgers, spurning a longer and more lucrative deal from the Giants, but now finds himself in San Francisco anyway. But this time, Finley is making it sound like San Francisco is where he wanted to go. "I'm so glad this trade happened -- to get traded to a place that I had my mind set on is exciting, you don't always get that opportunity," he said of the deal.
Finley hit a disappointing .222 with just 12 home runs in an injury plagued 2005, which included a right shoulder injury in the 2nd game of the year that sapped his strength. The home run total was his lowest since 1995, and less than half of his total in 5 of the last 7 years. In 17 seasons, he has played for 5 teams and has a career batting average of .273 with 297 career home runs. Finley is a 2 time All-Star and five time Gold Glove winner.
"Being the fourth outfielder is my intention, but I feel 30," said the 17-year Major Leaguer. "I hurt my shoulder the second game of the year, but I got myself in great shape and still have a lot to prove. I want my name written in the lineup every day."
Alfonzo, 32, had a better year in batting average, hitting .277 on the season for the Giants. However, he hit only 2 home runs on the year, both coming in the first week of the season. Over 11 years with the Mets and Giants, Alfonzo has a career batting average of .287 with 146 home runs.
Finley will compete with another new Giant, Mark Sweeney, and two young outfielders in Todd Linden and Jason Ellison for playing time as a backup outfielder behind Barry Bonds and Moises Alou. Giants General Manager Brian Sabean even suggested, that Alou may play ‘other positions.’ However, the move’s most significant effect on the Giants is the affirmation that Pedro Feliz will be the everyday third baseman for the first time in his career after years of being shuffled around the infield and outfield to find playing time.
Sabean also said that San Francisco will still look for a backup infielder and catcher, as well as a possible fifth starter. "At the end of the day, the list [of candidates] is lackluster, but we'll wade through it."
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