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The Congressional Hearings

Lots to discuss from today’s Congressional hearings starring Bud Selig, Donald Fehr and George Mitchell. Now that the home Internet service is back up, let’s get to them.

— So, the Giants should’ve responded to former trainer Stan Conte’s concerns that Greg Anderson was bringing steroids into the clubhouse? Gee, never would’ve guessed. Look, the actual news that Congress was mighty unpleased with how general manager Brian Sabean and owner Peter Magowan reacted shouldn’t really be news at all. The newsy thing is that grown men, with supposedly solid upbringings, could just thumb their nose at ethics. Then again, that really isn’t news, because a) professional sports has been about gaining an edge, and b) the more money your corporation attains, the easier it is to assume that accountability will never come back to you. There’s been many a Congressman (and Presidents) who operated under the same assumption.

— Or, to put it another way: What were the Giants going to do? Bonds was their meal ticket. Say your workplace had an employee so good at what he/she did that no matter his/her personal conduct, the company was rolling in green? Hard to believe the company CEO and the other employees wouldn’t look the other way.

— Miguel Tejda, step right up, you’re the next competitor in the “Amazing Disgraced.” Congress is going to investigate Tejada for perjury, which means it’s probably only a matter of time until he’s forced to confess or stage questionable interviews on “60 Minutes.”

— Speaking of Tejada, it’s now official. A’s fans should’ve stopped watching after the great 1970′s run. Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, charter members of the “Amazing Disgraced,” have permanently stained the great teams of the late 1980s (thank goodness those teams were defined much, much more by the classy Dave Stewart than by the Bash Brothers), and now some of the greatest moments of the 20-game winning streak are questionable, too.

— Here’s the amazing thing about Bud Selig and Donald Fehr. The more they spill the rhetoric about wishing they’d known something sooner, and agonizing that they didn’t do more and pledging to be more vigilant in the future, the more you get the feeling that if presented with the exact same set of circumstances again, both would respond the exact same way.

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The Hot Stove Heats UP

Two big moves in baseball today:1) Aaron Rowand has signed a five-year, $60 million contract with the Giants to patrol center field. Love this signing. Rowand is the anti-Barry Bonds, and is just what that clubhouse needs. He’ll run through a wall at a moment’s notice, and that’s the kind of fire that’s been lacking there for a long time. It’s easy to hitch your wagon to the home run king, but when that home run kings seems bored and selfish much of the time, that spills over. Good move to change the culture of the team.2) Miguel Tejada goes from the Baltimore Orioles to the Houston Astros in a trade for five players: Not sure what the Astros are thinking. They need pitching, and they traded away some in this deal. The Astros then cleared out the shortstop position for Tejada by non-tendering Adam Everett Wednesday evening. Tejada should put up huge numbers in Houston, and he’s in a better organization, but he may have to put up with another year of losing.Your thoughts? 

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So much for the trades

Day Three of the Winter Meetings is headed into the evening, and that’s generally when you start hearing about potential action. But as of now, this has become the most-hyped, least-substance event since the Super Bowl. No trades Wednesday (though the Miguel Cabrera-Dontrelle Willis trade to Detroit was officially announced). Here are some notes from the lobby:

— One A’s official said he’d be “shocked” if the team moves Dan Haren or Joe Blanton before the meetings are over or anytime soon thereafter. When presented with that information, an A’s executive said that’s a “safe” assumption. The Arizona Diamondbacks supposedly had assumed the lead in the sweepstakes for the two pitchers, but apparently there’s nothing imminent.

— One A’s source said the team had no meetings scheduled with any teams planned on Wednesday night. This, of course, could always change. The A’s were scheduled to meet with an agent, believed to be Alan Hendricks, who represents Huston Street.

— Don’t anticipate a Johan Santana trade getting done, even in principle. The Red Sox, according to several sources, has backed down on their interest. One intriguing team linked to Santana is the Seattle Mariners, and they’re reportedly willing to give up center fielder Adam Jones for him. Jones, according to the buzz, is supposed to be another Torii Hunter.

— Toronto Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi headed out of Nashville on Wednesday, lessening the chance that a Alex Rios-for-Tim Lincecum deal will be made. The Giants brass haven’t met with the media today, so clearly, they’re busy.

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The Big Trade

Thoughts from the Winter Meetings on a bleary-eyed morning here at the Opryland Amusement Park, er Hotel in Nashville, Tenn.

— The acquisition of Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis by the Detroit Tigers in the biggest move of the meetings does two things. 1) It puts the Tigers in a class with the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels as the big dogs of the American League, and 2) It increases the necessity for the Minnesota Twins, their fellow rival in the AL Central, to deal Johan Santana. Even with Santana, it’s impossible to picture the Twins hanging with both Detroit and Cleveland; thus, better to get what you can for your best asset. It could portend a trade of Minnesota closer Joe Nathan, too.

— Speaking of Santana, the guess here is that he’ll go to the Red Sox, and that wouldn’t be a terrible thing. Can’t you picture the Tigers potential lineup against a potential Red Sox rotation of Santana, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Curt Schilling in an October showdown.

— Would love to be a fly on the wall to hear the internal discussions the Giants are holding regarding the possibility of trading Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain to Toronto for outfielder Alex Rios. Personally, I wouldn’t move Cain unless I could have the entire Tigers lineup.  Lincecum might be less painful to move, but not much. Keep in mind that Rios would be entering his second year of arbitration this winter, so he’s not nearly the financial bargain that Lincecum is.

— Continue to get the feeling that the A’s are more likely to deal Joe Blanton than they are Dan Haren, and that such a move likely won’t come until the meetings are over. One report says the Diamondbacks are offering a “Herschel Walker-type” deal for Haren, but I’ve heard just the opposite, namely that they don’t have nearly enough. That’s the nature of these meetings: Deciphering what’s true and what isn’t is like reading Beowulf.

— Speaking of the A’s, general manager Billy Beane summed up the nature of the meetings perfectly: “You don’t get any sleep, you don’t eat well, you don’t get any exercise. Everything grinds to a halt and not much actually happens.”

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How bad were the Giants?

A few stats to contemplate while waiting for some deals to go down on the second day of the Winter Meetings, courtesy Media News’ Andrew Baggarly.

— The Giants’ .387 slugging percentage was dead last in the major leagues in 2007. Imagine if Barry Bonds hadn’t been in the lineup.

— Speaking of Bonds, he led the Giants with 28 home runs last season. The Giants got a whopping 26 home runs from the rest of their outfield. Ouch.

— The Giants were a whopping 26-44 against their National League West foes last season. No other team in the majors had a worse record against teams in its own division. Shows just large a gap general manager Brian Sabean must close to move up even a couple of rungs.

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Whither Miguel Tejada

One of the rumors making the rounds here at the Winter Meetings is that the Giants will be major players for Baltimore Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada.

Tejada has been worn out from four years of losing in Baltimore, and some questions have arisen about his attitude. Anybody who saw him play in Oakland will tell you that he could be an inspiration inside and outside the clubhouse once he’s revitalized, and a move to the Giants would do it.

His numbers also slid last year, but again, that’s nothing that a change of scenery couldn’t cure. Losing wears on players after awhile and until proven wrong, it’s worth assuming that four years on a pathetic franchise has done that to Miggy.

Now, logical thinking would indicate Giants GM Brian Sabean would not have to give up either Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum to get Tejada, who could provide a big bat for a lineup that currently has nobody that even accelerates the heart rate. Baltimore reportedly is shopping ace Erik Bedard, so the Giants might be able to consumate a deal using only Noah Lowry, Jonathan Sanchez, Brad Hennessey or any combo of the three as bait.  

Of course, the O’s have proven to be anything but logical over the past decade, but maybe that’ll change with new general manager Andy McPhail. McPhail built winners in Minnesota and Chicago, and now is trying to do the same in Baltimore. The biggest obstacle could be O’s owner Peter Angelos’ love for Tejada, and Angelos is probably the worst owner this side of Al Davis when it comes to negatively influencing what his team does.

And what about Omar Vizquel, you ask? Well, the O’s are selling Tejada as a third baseman, even though Tejada apparently still sees himself as a shorstop. Hard to imagine he’d complain about playing besides Omar Vizquel, though, especially since a trade to the Giants would bring him back to the Bay Area.

Worth keeping an eye on.