Who Stays, Who Goes, and the Dwindling Trade Market
The run up to the All-Star break sparked a good deal of discussion as to what exactly the missing pieces on this Giants team were. On some days, it seems as though all the pieces are in place. Buster Posey is hitting successfully out of the cleanup spot, Aubrey Huff is continuing to roll, and the stellar pitching staff is as effective as ever. Every once in awhile though, all hell seems to break loose. The starting pitchers can’t make it out of the 5th inning, the offense scrapes for runs, and there isn’t a dependable middle reliever to be found. This is when the bipolar nature of this team shines through, and when the Giants show an ability to rattle off some losing streaks of epic proportions.
This being so, trade discussions involving NL RBI leader Corey Hart came into play shortly before the All-Star break. Hart is in the midst of a career year, exceeding his averages in just about every category, leading many experts to believe that he’s due for a crash back down to Earth any day now. The asking price from the Brewers, per Henry Schulman, was one of either Jonathan Sanchez or Madison Bumgarner. Such a deal would likely result in mass hysteria in the streets of San Francisco. I’m talking seven horsemen of the apocalypse hysteria too here people. Hart plays abysmal defense and is putting up unsustainable numbers that inflate his value. Lucky for us, Brian Sabean wisely declined, and now we’re back to speculation.
So who would be a good fit? Given that there are approximately thirteen teams right now that consider themselves “out of contention,” the options have been limited. Rumor has it the Brewers are willing to listen on offers for Prince Fielder, but if Corey Hart would cost us Jonathan Sanchez or Bumgarner, I imagine the asking price for Fielder would be astronomical. Other than that, there haven’t been a ton of rumors around the water cooler.
All we know are a few things. Firstly, Brian Sabean has stated that if the Giants were to acquire a player, it wouldn’t be for a rental. Keep in mind that the rent-a-player trade deadline strategy has seen mixed results for the Giants. For every Andres Galarraga, there’s been a Ricky Ledee. For every Jason Schmidt, there’s a Shea Hillenbrand lurking in the shadows. The point here is that any movement at the trade deadline isn’t necessarily good movement.
I’m of the mind that on the right day, the Giants offense can be positively average. Pat Burrell has found a new home in San Francisco to the tune of a .286/.365/.484 line, Buster Posey is the reincarnated human form of Thor himself, and Aubrey Huff/Andres Torres are putting together career years. Grant over at McCovey Chronicles made a good point in that the biggest addition to the offense in the second half the Giants can make is Pablo Sandoval. Mired in a season-long slump, all the statistical indicators right now point to some bad luck for our portly corner infielder. Last season after the break, the Panda hit .327/.389/.530 in the midst of a breakout season. Now if he can even approach a line like that in the next two and a half months, the offense may well be able to compete with the likes of the Padres, Dodgers, and Rockies.
If by some miracle the Giants acquire a big hitter in a multi-player deal that doesn’t end in complete disaster and misery, then of course I’d be on board with a trade. Hell, even last year’s Freddy Sanchez/Tim Alderson deal isn’t looking so bad right now, given that Alderson was recently demoted back to high-A after struggling in AA. The problem here is that it’s difficult to envision a trade that wouldn’t seriously hinder the pitching staff, or cost the Giants a major piece of their future. Any club we approach with a trade offer is going to automatically inquire into Sanchez and Bumgarner, two guys we can’t afford to lose at this point. It would be wise to avoid the “any trade is a good trade” mentality, and so far it appears as though we’ve been a success in that department, given the recent overtures from the Milwaukee Brewers.
The next few weeks of wheeling and dealing may very well decide the fate of the National League West. At this point, it’s a question of who’s available for the right price in the right deal. If somehow the Giants can fenegle Lance Berkman out of the Astros for Thomas Neal and a couple other prospects, you can color me interested.