Giants interested in free agent righty Calero

December 29, 2009, 5:31 pm
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By Mychael Urban
Now that the Mark DeRosa deal is done, the Giants likely are going to ramp up their efforts in getting Juan Uribe's return finalized. Assuming that gets done, they're essentially -- as I noted last week -- back to square one offensively. And given their self-imposed payroll limitations and Tim Lincecum's looming largesse, it doesn't look good for fans hoping to see the team make a big free-agent splash. Here's an idea, though: Instead of looking for an offensive cannonball like Jason Bay or Matt Holliday or Adrian Beltre, why not look into something more artful, more subtle? Instead of obsessing over shoring up weaknesses, what about building on strengths?It's a notion that struck me as sound after hearing from a low-level source while I was working to get the DeRosa details confirmed yesterday. I was told that the Giants could be in on Kiko Calero, a right-handed reliever who posted a 1.95 ERA in 67 games with the Marlins last season. Running with info from a low-level source is not something I'm quick to do, so I didn't. But I've since heard from higher powers that the Giants have, in fact, discussed going after Calero, who could slide quite easily into the righty setup role in which since-dispatched Bobby Howry failed so miserably last season.You might remember Calero. He pitched for the A's from 2005-2008. Nasty slider. Throws a ton of them. Was a stud the year Oakland went to the ALCS (2006). Starting in 2007, though, he fell victim to the injury curse that's plagued the A's for years. Hurt his elbow. Missed a ton of time. Hurt his shoulder. Missed all but five games in 2008. Got the boot. Some pretty smart people thought he was done. Baseball, of course, has a way of making pretty smart people look pretty dumb -- present company absolutely included.Calero, 34, proved everyone wrong, signing a one-year deal with the Marlins and going OFF. Struck out 69 with 30 walks over 60 innings. Posted a 1.10 WHIP. All for 500,000.He'll get more than that as a free agent, but not a ton more. And good luck finding a better fit for the Giants' bullpen.
Throw Calero into an already potent mix that includes Sergio Romo and Jeremy Affeldt bridging the gap from the starters to Brian Wilson, and you've shortened the game to six innings. That would be a tremendous help in the event that Madison Bumgarner or a rent-a-vet ends up the No. 5 starter, no?Yes. Kiko Calero is indeed a perfect fit in San Francisco, where pitching is -- and always should be -- the priority. You heard it here first. Stay tuned.

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