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Andy Green becomes a Ham Fighter

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I was just going to put this story into a diary, as a minor sidenote to this winter's activities. But let's give Mr. Green some respect - not least, because that was something sadly lacking during the 2006 season. The Most Valuable Player in the Pacific Coast League the previous season, was forced to sit on the bench and watch Damion Easley suck up at-bats and games like a vacuum cleaner on meth. Easley's OPS was .741 - among NL players with 200+ PA's, that ranked 122 of 180 - in contrast, Stephen Drew was thirty-ninth.

And Easley would have been a whole lot lower if not for that freakish game in Atlanta where he smacked three homers: he's only had one other month where he's hit more than that, since August 2001. But perhaps Easley's most unforgiveable sin was occupying a 40-man roster spot that might - just might - have been given to Dan Uggla. So far, this off-season's signings have been pleasantly devoid of "veteran presence" players like Easley, Jarvis, Grimsley, etc. Long may that continue.

Not that Green's line (.186/.293/.267) was exactly amazing, but I can't help thinking that more playing time would have been a benefit. Certainly, it's hard to see how a player can excel when he gets to start just nine games all tear, and came to the plate only twenty-five times after the All-Star break. He did spend most of August on the DL with a "shoulder injury", but I can only imagine that was because it had seized up through lack of use. Having battled his way all through his career, from being a 24th-round draft pick in 2000, last season must have been an immensely frustrating experience for Green.

And now it's off to the Land of the Rising Salary, to play for the champion Nippon Ham Fighter. There, Andy apparently can expect to earn twice as much as he would as a bench-warmer in AZ, around $710K, including the signing bonus. The Fighters also have an $850K option for the season after that (with a $100K buyout), and the total package could come close to $2m. The D'backs get some money back, but it's basically pocket-change, and isn't enough to pay even one player at major-league minimum.

I'm not sure whether or not the Diamondbacks dangled Green as trade-bait around other teams. He's hardly a has-been at age 29, but I can see there might not have been much interest in someone whose batting average over 136 major-league games is below the Mendoza line. We would probably have been better off attempting to work out a deal after his 2005 season, when he batted .343 with 19 home runs, and led all minor-league players in total hits. That kind of gaudy output, even in a known hitter's park like Tucson (and league, like the PCL), would surely have drawn polite enquiries from interested parties, at the very least.

Still, we wish Green all the best in his new home, and hope he meets the same degree of success as a previous Diamondbacks' export, Alex Cabrera. In case you'd forgotten, we sold the Venezuelan first-basemen to the Seibu Lions after the 2000 season (the day before we signed Mark Grace), and he then went on to tie the Japanese single-season HR record, hitting 55 in 2002, and being voted MVP in the Pacific League. In six seasons there, he has now hit 246 homers, with a .308 average and an OPS of 1.058. I wonder what he might have done, if he'd been kept in Arizona...