so much for long-term help; let's talk short term. with the phillies leading the wild-card race and just a game out of the division lead, billy wagner's not going anywhere. so let me introduce my latest relief-pitcher crush: him. the basic numbers speak for themselves: his era has gone down every year sine 1999, his hits per inning and strikeout-to-walk are uniformly excellent, and he has 151 career saves. and then i saw this: his w/k ratio against left-handed hitters is 4-53 over the last three years, in which time he's held them to .187 / .206 / .259 / .465. he's owed $4 million this year, after which he becomes a free-agent; he has playoff experience; and the mariners would probably be glad enough to get out from under the rest of the contract that jocketty won't have to throw in a whole lot of talent to consummate the deal.
other fish in the southpaw sea: this veteran, owed $1.85m in 2005 and no obligations thereafter. since 2002 vs lefthanders: 17 walks, 78 whiffs, and .201 / .249 / .288 / .537 . . . . and this guy is perfect in almost every respect -- his team's going nowhere, he's an intimidator, and he's nearly as tough against right-handed batters as against left. alas, the fatal flaw: he's under contract for 2006 to the tune of $3 million. deal breaker. . . .
while i'm talking roster, here's a suggestion for a sometime outfielder / pinch-hitter: matt stairs. i know, i know -- he's 37, and the last thing this team needs is another geezer out there, and an unathletic one at that. but stairs is what we now refer to as a "professional hitter": he has power, he has plate discipline, and he can start for a month without killing your team. give him schumaker's roster spot, get rid of cedeno, and here's your bench:
how much could it take to get him -- an organizational player and a couple hundred thousand bucks cash? . . . another option: the giants might be willing to move michael tucker, who swings a lesser stick but can run and field a little and, like stairs, has to be available for cheap.