A Wish List

In honor Christmas, here’s my wish list for the rest of the Giants offseason:

  1. Jackie Bradley Jr. Really, #1 on my wish list is a great defensive center fielder, but there is a massive gap between Jackie Bradley and the rest of the field. Yes, Jerrod Dyson is out there as a free agent. Yes, the Giants could be foolish and sign Lorenzo Cain (giving up precious picks). Yes, there’s the Billy Hamilton rumors. But, go big or go home. It’s obvious even to Sox fans that he is the most movable asset for the Boston as they try chasing the Yankees. I have no idea if/how the Giants could get this done, but I would send them anyone except Andrew Suarez to make this happen. (What about Heliot Ramons, Chris Shaw, and an arm?) One of the quickest paths to success for the Giants in 2018 is for some rebounds from underperforming, or injured, players (see Posey, Crawford, Belt, Bumgarner, and Cueto). But the other way is to improve the three gaping holes in the roster: a 3B who can hit (check), a CF who can get to the ball, and a competent fourth starter (more in a moment). Again, while there are some other options out there at CF Bradley Jr. would be a quantum step forward.
  2. Another starting pitcher. The Giants do not have the funds to make a major improvement here. Matt Moore, who I still would love to have seen rebound in 2018, was one of the worst starting pitchers in MLB last year, and all they need to get from Chris Stratton is some league averageness to make up significant ground. That being said, the rotation, which for so long has been the backbone of this franchise, for the first time since 2008, feels full of question marks and lacks signficant depth. Stratton and Ty Blach could hold it down and be fine. Tyler Beede and/or Andrew Suarez could come up and be awesome. But, I would like to see someone brought in to at least push those guys and maybe even take the first 10-12 starts before turning to a Beede/Suarez/Blach. My short list: Trevor Cahill, Clay Bucholz, Chris Tillman, Jaime Garcia.
  3. One more source of power. This is what seems to be at the top of the list for the Giants at the moment. All eyes are on Jay Bruce. IF the market for Jay Bruce collapses a bit and comes down to, say, 3 years and $36-42 mil, I’d be for it. What I’m hearing rumored now is longer and higher than that (yikes). But there are other options. What about a one year deal for Jose Bautista? What about someone like Colby Rasmus or Michael Saunders? They could be Jay Bruce imitations without breaking the bank, and they could be easily moved along for the Austin Slater and Chris Shaws of the world if need be.
  4. Take a gamble on the bullpen. It seems like the market for relievers is a little out of control. The top guys are now getting what middle of the rotation starters used to get. But there are still a ton of names available and I’d be into a lot of them if the price were right. Here’s where I’d love to see the Giants be patient and then grab a few guys in February and see how they perform in the spring. On this list: John Axford, Jason Grilli (welcome back!), Bud Norris, Trevor Rosenthal, Drew Storen, Glen Perkins, Zack Duke.
  5. Strengthen the Bench. I know what you are thinking. How are the Giants going to do all these moves? They can’t get all the things I have on my list and spend big league money. They do not want to go into the tax for Zack Duke in other words. But, there are a lot of teams in the same position as the Giants and the market has moved slow and I think it will stay that way and I hope the team can be patient enough to luck into some deals. And I think one area this will happen in is with solid bench options. Right now, the Giants are looking at Pablo Sandoval, Gorkys Hernandez, Jarrett Parker, and Kelby Tomlinson as key reserves. I think they can do way better. They’ve already made some moves for guys they can take a look at this spring. These are great moves, not because these players are the answer to anything, but, you never know. Remember: Juan Uribe and Andres Torres were non-roster invitees to spring training who ended up heroes. On my list here: Howie Kendrick, Austin Jackson, Danny Espinoza, and Darwin Barney.

I’d also like to make a Do Not Wish list:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. John Lackey
  3. Jason Werth
  4. Jorge de la Rosa

Merry Christmas!

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Eeeeeevvaaaaaaa!!!!!!!

When I lived in Boston I won two Opening Day tickets to the Red Sox 2009 season. They did a lottery thing, and we lucked out and opening day at Fenway was as adorable and awesome as you might imagine. It was also really cold.

Anyway, the Sox opened that year at home against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Red Sox had won the World Series in 2007, and the Rays had knocked them out of the postseason in epic fashion in 2008 (on their way to losing to the Pat Burrell led Phillies in the World Series. Isn’t baseball amazing).

This was a showdown game on opening day.
James Shields versus Josh Beckett.
Dustin Pedroia hit a home run and Beckett struck out 10
and Jonathan Papelbon saved the game.

Also, a second year stud named Evan Longoria hit a 2-run double.

And every time he came to the plate this buzzed dude that sat near us screamed at the top of his lungs, in a sing-song voice: “Eeeeevvvvaaaaaa….Eeeeevvvaaaaaaa.” (Which is funny because of Eva Longoria who is super famous and a woman).

I can never think about Evan Longoria and not think about that drunk dude at that opening day game.

Fast-forward to today and Eeeeevvvaaaaa is coming to your San Francisco Giants.

Evan Longoria, overall, is a stud.
He’s been one of the best players in baseball,
an MVP candidate,
the first of the wave of modern, awesome third basemen,
and now he’s a Giant.

But he’s also old, and expensive, and that creates all kinds of questions and riskiness for the future of the Giants.

Do we like this trade?

Let’s start here with the positives:

  • He plays 3B, an area of tremendous need. The Giants used NINE third basemen last year who collectively tallied a .216/.268/.300 slash line. That is horrid. I think Madison Bumgarner could have bested that if they let him play 3B for the whole year.
  • Longoria’s won 3 gold gloves and the Giants have the potential to win a gold glove at every infield position in 2018 (yes, this will be hard to do with Nolan Arrenado being alive, but you get my point).
  • He hits right-handed. Hey, this is cool! An actual, legit right-handed hitter. What an idea!
  • He hits home runs too!
  • He doesn’t get hurt much and has played as many games as any player in MLB over the past 5 seasons. For a team that used the DL more often than I tell my son to lower the volume of his voice (this is a lot), a durable player is a true gift.
  • This trade allowed the Giants to get rid of Denard Span and his contract, which, among other things, creates some space to get another player or two.

Now for the negatives:

  • The Giants had a legit young, cheap alternative at 3B and not only does this move block him, he actually was part of the trade. I was in to the idea of Christian Arroyo being a big part of the 2018 Giants, but it was not to be.
  • The Giants do have a potentially great infield defense on paper, but they really needed to get better with the gloves in the outfield, especially since most of their pitchers are flyball/strikeout type guys. This infield would be awesome for a staff of sinkerballers, and maybe Ty Blach and Chris Stratton and Tyler Beede move the team in that direction. But it’s hard to see how infield defense really helps Bumgarner, Cueto, and especially Samardzija.
  • He does hit righthanded, but the bar here is really low as Todd Hundley was the only right-handed hitter on the team to hit more than 3 home runs at AT&T.
  • About those home runs. Longoria only hit 20 last year in a hitters division and league. Now he comes to a pitchers division and league and a tough home ballpark. Yikes. The good news is he hit 36 in 2016, so it wasn’t that long ago that he set a career high, but his power drop-off strangely mirrors the team he is joining.
  • Not getting hurt is a good thing and there isn’t any cavalry coming behind him, so the Giants need him to be in the lineup, but he is 32 and most iron mans start becoming less irony (haha) around this age (see: Pence, Hunter).
  • The good news here is that Longoria’s contract situation and the ability to shed Span are actually very helpful for 2018, the catch though is that Longoria’s contract is bad from 2019 until 2023. Gulp.

This trade perfectly captures the essence of the conundrum the Giants find themselves in. They purposefully and strategically went young and created the core of a team that won 3 championships. It was a master class in roster building in some ways.

But that success led to reward and commitment, a commitment that now threatens to strangle the franchise for years. There’s no getting away from the fact that Giants are all in on the Posey/Crawford/Belt/Bumgarner core (you could add Matt Cain to this list). That has led to long-term commitments to Cueto/Samardzija/Pence/Melancon.

In poker terms, the Giants are pot committed, and so it isn’t that big of a deal to add a Longoria.

But, oh does it smack of the opposite direction that led this team to the top in the first place.


2018 Opening Day Lineup as of right now:

  • Steven Duggar CF
  • Joe Panik 2B
  • Buster Posey C
  • Evan Longoria 3B
  • Brandon Belt 1B
  • Hunter Pence LF
  • Brandon Crawford SS
  • Austin Slater???? RF

I throw this in here to show how the outfield is still a mess. The hot rumor now is that Jay Bruce is next. I would be for creatively packaging Pence for Andrew McCutchen in addition to Bruce. Imagine this:

  • Panik 2B
  • Posey C
  • McCutchen LF
  • Bruce RF
  • Longoria 3B
  • Belt 1B
  • Crawford SS
  • Duggar CF

While that is mildly exciting, it does seem like the Giants are going to have gamble at least one OF position on a young guy. Maybe its Duggar time. Maybe it’s Austin Slater. Maybe it’s Chris Shaw. I don’t know, I just don’t see another way around it.

One other thought here. I know the Giants like to act fast, but this market is going very slowly. I would love to see them lay low for a bit, and maybe catch some deals in the new year.


Our final topic for the day: could the Giants actually be good in 2018?

This has been the question floating around in response to today’s trade. Most writers and commentators seem to think it is totally out of the question for the Giants to think they could be good next year, and so this is a stupid move.

In a sense I agree. 2017 was about as all-encompassing a systematic failure as a franchise can have. I can’t think of a good comparison.

By all accounts the Giants were a decent bullpen, maybe even a decent closer away from beating the Cubs in 2016. They went from that to the second worst team in baseball in a year (and only because of a walk-off home run by Pablo Sandoval on the last day of the season. Again, what a world.)

A realist, I suppose, looks at all this and says there’s no way this team is anywhere close to contending.

But, I point to the pot commitment I mentioned in the last section, and to the, perhaps foolish, belief that last year was a kind of fluke.

Grant Brisbee breaks down this question in this article (I’d recommend looking at the WAR charts as a shortcut).

I do not think that what he proposes there is totally out of the realm of possibility (in terms of the improvement).

There is a long list of “well, if”s that need to happen.

Well, if: Belt stay healthy…Bumgarner bounces back…Cueto is good again…the defense improves…the bullpen gets sorted out…several players have a bounce-back year…etc, etc etc.

But, there’s also a ludicrously long list of things that had to go wrong last year to produce a 98 loss season. And THEY ALL HAPPENED.

The Giants still have moves to make, and we’re still months away from really getting to into predictions for 2018, but at least things got a little more interesting today.

That’s all I’m asking for at this point.

So Long Matt Moore…

we hardly knew you!

Count me among those who liked trading Matt Duffy for Matt Moore. Or at least understood it.

I will never forget Moore nearly no-hitting the Dodgers. And I will never forget him beating the Cubs in Game 4 of the NLDS (if you only count the 8 inning he actually pitched).

I am disappointed about trading Moore away for a couple of reasons. (1) The Duffy lovers are going to cry “Aha, we knew it,” even though Duffy has done NOTHING since being traded from the Giants. (2) I really, really thought Matt Moore was going to be good.

When the Giants acquired Moore it felt like the kind of move smart teams make. The Giants traded a young overperforming, controllable infielder who was never a top prospect for a young, cheap start pitcher who was always supposed to be a stud. Turning a Matt Duffy super utility guy into a potential Cy Young candidate is what winning teams do.

I went into 2017 fully expecting Moore to have a very good season, potentially pushing himself into the “second best starter on the team” conversation. It didn’t happen.

Which brings me to why I begrudgingly like this trade. A part of me was excited to watch the Matt Moore 2018 resurgence, but the facts support the reality that that wasn’t likely to happen. The Dave Righetti special sauce never really panned out for Moore. It also seems unlikely the Matt Moore resurrgence will happen in Texas (not in the ballpark and not in the division!). We’ll never know if he could have turned it around and that makes me a little sad.

What does not make me sad: creating room to sign a hitter. And creating room in the starting rotation for Chris Stratton. Barring a real surprise/spring training injury, Stratton now projects as the 4th starter.

Chris Stratton is another one of those guys who has the “smart-team” smell on him. The Stratton curveball is a weapon the Astros/Dodgers/Pirates/Rays/Cubs would turn into gold. My hope is the Giants can figure it out for themselves and reap the reward.

And while we don’t know who this magical hitter is just yet, creating more space to sign someone truly helpful is very encouraging!

Unless some other moves come down this weekend, my hope is to get some ideas out about this hitter Monday. Stay tuned.

One More Christmas Wish

Ok, well, at least Giancarlo Stanton is not going to the Dodgers =)

This is a good news, bad news situation for the Giants, and allows for a part 2 to yesterday’s post.

The good news is that Stanton is not going to LA, and, in fact, is leaving the National League all together. Meanwhile the Yankees are creating a juggernaut similar to the one they had in the early to mid-2000’s (a version of Yankees juggernaut that never won a World Series, for the record).

The bad news is that Giants did not get Stanton, and in addition, the stakes for the 2018 offseason just got a bit higher. The Dodgers and the Cubs now become the early leaders for Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

It is the official position of this website that the Giants should be ALL IN on Manny Machado from this day forth. While Bryce Harper is the only left-handed hitter in the game who would not be intimidated by playing at AT&T, Machado makes more sense for a couple of reasons:

  1. He plays a position of greater need, 3B. We are living in a golden age of third basemen, and somehow the Giants have completely whiffed here. I would argue, positionally, Machado would be more valuable. Plus, he hits right-handed and balances their Panik/Crawford middle infield.
  2. He will be expensive, but not as expensive as Harper.
  3. He has a personality. So does Harper. Both are fiery guys who have rubbed opposing players (and their own teammates) the wrong way. I am totally ok with this. The Giants, long known for a great clubhouse culture, need someone to bring the life and energy and edge back.
  4. He is Latino. San Francisco is one of the most diverse areas in the entire world, and the Giants have a proliferation of guys from Georgia and North Carolina. How do the Giants not have a star level player from outside the US? (My apologies to Johnny Cueto and Pablo Sandoval who are past their star primes at this point). This is the franchise of Willie Mays, Millie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Kevin Mitchel, Barry Bonds, Dusty Baker, Ellis Burks, the Alous, Omar Vizquel, and so many others, but that stream has dried up recently. Bring me Jackie Bradley Jr and Manny Machado!

I laid out some ideas yesterday that could help improve the team in 2018 and open up the possibility of a run at Harper/Machado next winter, but I want to add one more.

I would love to be surprised. The Giants, especially since 1997 under Brian Sabean, have been known to surprise. The big moment was trading Matt Williams for Jeff Kent. But there have been other surprising moves, trades for guys who we weren’t super excited about but ended up being awesome. A couple of my favorites: Javy Lopes, Freddy Sanchez, and Angel Pagan.

The Giants have unearthed endless gems in many different ways, from Cody Ross to Connor Gillespe, from Jason Schmidt to Ryan Vogelsong.

I’m excited for the new gems. Who might they be?

One final thought. If you are afraid of the Yankees right now there’s good reason to feel that way. But, I would point out that they did this before and the A-Rod era produced one title, and it’s arguable how important A-Rod was to that team.

The Yankees went and spent a ton of money before 2009 and that produced a title, but then the Giants and Cardinals started their runs. The Giants took down the unbeatable Phillies and Rangers and Reds and Nationals and Cardinals and Tigers and Royals. Every era has had some incredible teams.

This era has some really incredible teams, probably some of the best in the last 20 years. The Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, Astros, Nationals, and Indians are all stacked. The Rockies, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Cardinals, and Angels are very good too. Look out for the Mariners and the Twins and probably a few other teams that come out of nowhere to be good.

Things look very bleak for the Giants right now. They did 10 years ago too, and we all know how that turned out.

What Now?

Today Shohei Ohtani signed with the Angels. Giancarlo Stanton is not going to the Cardinals and he is probably not coming to San Francisco either.

What this all means, along with the Winter Meetings starting next week, is that players are going to start moving soon. In the spirit of Christmas, here’s my list of moves I think the Giants should make (again, given Stanton not arriving on a white horse over the weekend).

  1. Trade Brandon Belt to the Red Sox for Jackie Bradley Jr. This is a long shot and Grant Brisbee digs into the layers in this post, but my thinking goes thusly: JD Martinez signs with Arizona, and the Red Sox don’t like Eric Hosmer and/or his price tag. Trading Bradley allows the Red Sox to shuffle some parts in a good way, doesn’t cost a ton, and doesn’t hurt their defense in the OF too badly. The Giants lose some power here, but get WAY better in CF, and cut some costs.
  2. Sign Jay Bruce. I am not a huge fan of Jay Bruce, but it sounds like he may go for 3 years and less than $40 million. This is exactly the kind of move the Giants need to make. Trade for young, controllable players, and sign older guys to shorter deals. This is essentially the middle road: the team does not get dramatically better, but this is also not a full rebuild. Essentially, the Giants should not make a move that takes them out of the Manny Machado/Bryce Haper/Josh Donaldson 2018 sweepstakes.
  3. Let Christian Arroyo play 3B all year. This will help clarify some things. Either Arroyo won’t cut it, making Machado/Donaldson all the more obvious, or he will cut it and maybe the Giants can go in a different direction (trading Joe Panik, pursuing Bryce Harper, etc). The Giants need to find out what they have here.
  4. Sign one more cheap veteran to help at 1B. Matt Adams? Mitch Moreland? Adam Lind? I don’t know, it could be any of those guys. Best case scenario: Aubrey Huff in 2010. Worst case scenario, you have a one year lame duck who opens up an opportunity for Chris Shaw.
  5. Dump Denard Span. My money is on the Twins or the Royals =)
  6. Spend any extra money on the bullpen. In particular, I’m looking at 1-2 year deals. Jake McGee? Trevor Rosenthal? Brandon Morrow? I don’t know, there’s a TON of these guys out there, let’s bring in a few and bolster that bullpen.

Here we go:

  • Bradley Jr. CF
  • Panik 2B
  • Posey C
  • Bruce LF
  • Pence RF
  • Crawford SS
  • Arroyo 3B
  • Moreland 1B

But, hey, let’s be honest, it’s going to cost too much, but Andrew McCutchen will look good in Orange and Black.

The Thing About Giancarlo Santon

After a long hibernation, a season of solitude and silence, it is time for baseballmonk to speak.

First, props to Houston for beating the Dodgers. That was awesome and your contributions to making 2017 a slightly brighter place are deeply appreciated.

Second, man the Giants were bad. When last we spoke, it was early September and I started previewing the roster through the lens of what was, at that time, the biggest question/mystery of the Giants future: would Jonny Cueto opt out? September was a bleak time.

Third, the Giants brass, to their credit has (a) realized this was a bad year, (b) realized that some trends in the game have passed them by, and (c) seem hell-bent on at least shooting for the moon in pursuing Giancarlo Stanton.

And so, I have thoughts.


First, a philosophical thought. I have NO REGRETS about the Barry Bonds era. Bonds essentially saved the franchise from moving to Tampa Bay, got a new stadium built, provided endless highlights, and darn near won a World Series along the way.

During the Bonds era the Giants philosophy of roster building was centered on two core ideas: (1) Bring in enough veterans to keep Bonds happy, (b) pay Barry a bunch of money and spread whatever was left over around.

After Bonds “retired” the Giants went in a totally different direction, a much more strategic direction (pitching and defense) and won three titles.

Now, a couple of differences between now and then. During the early Pac Bell Park days the Giants scrimped on some money because they were paying down the park. They are no longer in stadium debt which is sort of like getting a couple “free” players back every year.

Another significant difference: also in the early years of Pac Bell (I know it’s AT&T now fools) they were learning the dynamics of the park and they discovered that basically only Barry Bonds and a couple good right-handed hitters could make the place remotely resemble a “hitters park.”

So, the pitching and defense (and develop and sign) philosophy made a lot of sense and paid off handsomely.

And part of the payoff has been the increased ability to spend money. This a major change for fans who have followed the team for 3 decades. For many years the Giants were a “mid-market” team, but the TV deals and the #3Rings propelled them to the upper echelons of MLB. They are a big market team now, no questions about it.

All of that to say, I get wanting Giancarlo Stanton, I really do. And if he comes to the Bay I will be happy to watch him take aim at the Coke Bottle for the next decade. Totally cool with that. But, are we cool with a return to an approach that didn’t work as well as the one that produced an unprecedented championship run?


Second, a more practical thought.

The Giants front office spoke a lot at the end of the season about getting more athletic, improving the defense (especially in CF), bolstering the pitching depth, and adding power. In particular (note #3 in this article), the Giants identified needs at 3B, CF, and the bullpen.

Again, I will LOVE Stanton in a Giant’s uniform. But he does not play 3B or CF, nor does he pitch out of the bullpen. Yet. Just kidding.

Yes, he is a good athlete, and HECK YES he would bring the power, but Stanton is not the final piece to any puzzle that makes a picture of a good 2018 Giants team.

Let’s walk through a couple of scenarios. And let’s make a couple of assumptions. It’s clear that if Denard Span is on the 2018 Giants he will play in left field. There’s a good chance he and Hunter Pence would form some sort of platoon over there. Let’s also assume that while the Giants are bringing back Pablo Sandoval for “free” they do not want him to be their everyday third basemen. Ok, let’s go.

First, let’s say the Giants and Marlins swing a deal where essentially the Giants take Stanton’s contract. No other players change hands. (This would never happen, obviously, but hang with me).

Here’s your 2018 SF Giants:

  • Span/Pence LF
  • Panik 2B
  • Posey C
  • Stanton RF
  • Belt 1B
  • Crawford SS
  • Arroyo 3B
  • Steven Dugger/Hernandez/Parker CF

Even without giving a single player the Giants would enter 2018 with a question about Arroyo at 3B (something I’d be all for, for the record), and a bit of a mess in CF.

Second, let’s examine the most rumored package for Stanton: Joe Panik, Tyler Beede (SP), and Chris Shaw (1B/OF). Let me just say that while I love Joe Panik, if the Giants get Giancarlo Stanton the baseball gods have looked favorably upon them. There’s no way in the world the Dodgers and/or Cardinals could not easily beat this deal, maybe even several times over. What this would mean is that either the Dodgers/Cardinals were not really serious, did not want that contract, or Stanton, for some reason, did not want to go there (he has a full no-trade clause).

Anyway, here’s your team:

  • Span/Pence LF
  • Arroyo 3B
  • Posey C
  • Stanton RF
  • Belt 1B
  • Crawford SS
  • Kelby Tomlinson 2B
  • Somebody CF

We can argue the optimal order of this lineup until the cows come home, but that’s not the point. The point is, you’ve now thrust Arroyo into a major role, and have a gaping hole at 2B, not to mention the CF problem.

This is why you are seeing this deal rumored as well: Third, the Giants send Panik/Beede/Shaw and Denard Span for Stanton, the contract, and 2B Dee Gordon. 

Ok, this is interesting:

  • Gordon 2B
  • Arroyo 3B
  • Posey C
  • Standton RF
  • Belt 1B
  • Pence LF
  • Crawford SS
  • Somebody CF

Somethings I like about this. Dee Gordon, though not my favorite player by a long shot, could be a good leadoff hitter for this team. He also plays a more than decent 2B. He might get 30 triples playing in AT&T. This also allows Hunter Pence to be the everyday LF, something I think he can do for a year. AND (I am so passionate about this), it breaks up the glut of left-handed hitters in the bottom half of the lineup.

I also, for the record, am not opposed to Steven Duggar getting a real shot at CF next year. But, I don’t think they will do that.

Which means: something else is going to happen. #HotTake.

There is no way the Giants go into 2018 with a both Christian Arroyo and Steven Duggar as key cogs in their every day lineup. If they do this I would be shocked (pleasantly surprised too, but also shocked).

What will this other move be? Do the Giants move Brandon Belt for a CF? Perhaps the Red Sox lose out on a couple of guys (like Eric Hosmer and JD Martinez) and get deperate for more power so they go after Brandon Belt (who would be great in Fenway if he can deal with the fans). Imagine this lineup for a moment:

  • Gordon 2B
  • Arroyo 3B
  • Posey C
  • Stanton RF
  • Pence LF
  • Crawford SS
  • Somebody 1B
  • Jackie Bradley Jr CF

That is a much more athletic and much better defensive team than what we’ve seen in a while. But, now there is a hole at 1B.

Which brings me, finally, to my thesis: Giancarlo Stanton would look so good in a Giants uniform. No doubt. But, he is not the silver bullet. He is not the answer to everything. The Giants are a couple moves away from really getting to a good place.

(Also, none of this addresses the pitching/bullpen issues.)

So, hope and pray for Giancarlo, but know that he will not solve all of our problems.