Trade Season

Tomorrow is July 1 and that means 30 days until the non-waiver trade deadline passes. Today the Giants lost their second straight game they could have won if they had anything resembling a major league offense.

What this means is start paying attention to MLBTraderumors! It’s going to happen. Sabean always makes moves in July. The question is what will be the philosophy behind the moves that he makes.

The two schools of thought, as I see them are:

  1. Make a big move and cash in some chips for a player who can make a dramatic impact at a position of great need. Sabean and the Giants did this memorably in 1997 and 2003 (though there are other examples). In 1997 the team desperately needed pitching and they added Wilson Alvarez, Ramon Hernandez, and Danny Darwin. It was a significant deal. The 2003 trade for Sidney Ponson can easily be mocked in retrospect but he was the prize of the trade season that year and no one was complaining when the deal was made.
  2. Make a series of small moves and hope that enough of them work out. In other words win a war of attrition. This is the philosophy the team followed last year, adding Burrell in late May, calling up Posey, trading Molina, acquiring Fontenot, Ross, Ramirez, and Lopez.
Here is a very unthorough list of some names that have come up in conjunction with the Giants:
  1. Jose Reyes SS
  2. Alfonso Soriano OF
  3. A whole bunch of catchers including, most recently, Ramon Hernandez and Yorvit Torrealba
  4. Michael Cuddyer OF/1B (he also appeared at 2B this year for the injury plagued Twins)
  5. Carlos Pena 1B
  6. Carlos Beltran OF
  7. Juan Uribe SS/2B/3B
Here’s my opinion of each option:
  1. Jose Reyes fills a huge need in just about every way for the Giants. He is clearly the best example of the first philosophy. The cost will be exorbitant: a new ownership group in NY might think they can re-sign him and he’s having a career year. I’d love to have him but the package the Giants will have to put together to get him would cause us all to vomit and might not even be enough to do the deal anyway.
  2. Soriano is interesting because he represents a different deal than I described above and different from what Sabean typically does. I can’t, without doing some research, remember him engineering a bad contract for bad contract deal (Matt Morris doesn’t count). The only way to really get this done is to make it a Zito for Soriano swap. As evidenced this week, the Cubs could use some pitching help, but I just don’t have any confidence Sabean can get this kind of a deal done. I also don’t really like the trade period: Soriano doesn’t represent enough of an upgrade at this point in his career to carry his contract for 3 more years.
  3. Of the catchers I’ve read about Ramon Hernandez is the most interesting because of his bat. How do the Reds trade him while they are contending though?
  4. Cuddyer is a good player but is he really an improvement over Nate/Cody/Pat and Belt (when he comes back)? Probably not.
  5. Pena is super intriguing because he is a great fielder, he gets on base, and he hits home runs. He’s like the player Pat Burrell was last year but probably better. I also don’t know how the Giants could not afford to take on the rest of his salary considering it’s only for the remainder of the season. No idea what it would take to get him, but the most interesting on this list.
  6. Lefty Malo floated the idea of Beltran the other day. In some ways he’s a good example of a combination of the two philosophies. However, I think the Mets will want some players for him (and Rowand probably won’t be one of those players) and he will have the highest price tag over the remainder of the season.
  7. OOOOREEEEBAY. Sabean quickly shot this one down which actually makes me think there might be something to it. Makes a ton of sense for the Dodgers to get rid of him, and though he’s been super stinky this year, maybe coming back to the Giants would revitalize Juan. That said, the issue remains about his contract over the next two years. It was too much for the Giants at the beginning of the season and it still doesn’t make any sense now. If it was a rental for the rest of the year I’d say do it yesterday, but two years of a fat, terrible Uribe won’t be good for anyone.
This would be my plan for the rest of 2011:
  • Trade for Torrealba
  • Trade for Mike Aviles (he’s fallen out of favor in KC and they have plenty of younger prospects to sort out…we’ll take him) and cut Bill Hall
  • Get healthy: particularly Brandon Belt and Mike Fontenot…quality and depth
CF Torres
2B Aviles
3B Panda
LF Burrell/Belt
1B Huff
RF Cody/Nate
C Torrealba
SS Crawford/Tejada
It’s not perfect and it’s also probably not what will really happen, but I do think that Sabean will follow the plan from last year and make some smaller moves and try to use the teams depth to its advantage.

Get Miggy With It

I was thinking to myself the other week, “Whatever happened to Miguel Tejada?”  And then BAM, the Giants have a new shortstop.

Don’t get me wrong, Tejada can be a great player, but I have to wonder if his best days are behind him.  He made virtually no news in Houston or Baltimore so I sort of assumed he sucked and vanished. He is never on my fantasy baseball teams, which is the barometer by which all players should be judged, so basically I just didn’t care about him.

When I first heard the news the he was now on the beloved Giants, I was pissed.  I wanted some spry, young whippersnapper to take over shortstop, not some old washed up fart. But because I drank the Brian Sabian Kool-Aid many years ago, I thought I’d do my homework on this grandpa playing shortstop.

What I found was actually exciting.  Some of you may know the following, and if you do, stop reading now because I’m about to bore you.  For the rest of you, it is quite all right to keep thinking I’m a genius.  Miguel (we’re on a first name basis now) has averaged at least 158 games per season since 1999.  Okay wait, he played 133 games in 2007 when he broke his wrist. We will forgive him because he was hit by a pitch.  Gamer.

He actually holds the fifth longest consecutive game streak at 1,151.  Double gamer.

He also has a decent defensive game. I’d count him an average shortstop with a nice arm. He can be prone to errors so I predict he will break all our hearts about 15 times this year.

Hitting wise, he can still play also. In 2009, he led the majors with 46 doubles. Granted he was playing in a ballpark with a freaking hill in center field. Ridiculous. Most encouraging, last year when he was traded to the Padres he hit 10 home runs in 59 games at Petco. That’s impressive. He has a .287 lifetime batting average which is fine except that has started to slide in the last 2 years.

Another potential for heartbreak is his ability to hit into the dreaded double play. He has led the majors 5 times in this category. Nary a good stat to lead the league.

So let’s sum this up.  If I were to tell you that our shortstop would bat about .275, get 80 to 90 RBIs, hit 15 to 20 HRs, score about 80 to 90 runs, and play every day, would you take it?  I would.  And that is about what he has been averaging in the last 5 years.  Most importantly, who else is out there?  Bobby Crosby, Orlando Cabrera, Cristian Guzman, Julio Lugo or Nick Punto?  I’ll take our chances with Tejada.


What are the Giants Doing???

the four of us will unpack this a lot more over the next couple of months, but as we head in to christmas the question in giantsland is: has the team done enough this off-season?

in a world where the red sox are acquiring big name players every two days and even middling teams like the nationals are willing to drop 9 figure deals into the laps of hairy corner outfielders, the giants have been buried by the headlines.

what exactly have they done? among other things, they’ve brought back huff for almost 4 times what they paid him last year. resigned burrell for a song (best contract of the off-season?). extended arbitration to a whole lot of guys (including important ones like cody ross, javy lopez, and santiago casilla, and not so important ones like mike fontenot). and, of course, signed miguel tejada to a reasonable one year deal that spawned a bunch of sabean-loves-old-guys jokes around the internet world.

a huge snore with one major caveat: the Giants Won the World Series.

there will be a few more moves here and there. there is some rumbling about bringing back guillermo mota, and maybe edgar renteria (or some other old dude) will help provide depth at SS, but, let’s face it, that’s pretty much it (unless the Giants pull a Phillies-style undercover maneuver and sign Beltre to play third base………..)

two schools of thought emerge:

1) the giants don’t need to do much, they won it all last year with these guys, give em a shot to repeat. (usually this line of thinking is accompanied with some of these logics: the pitching will be better because it is more experienced now…we didn’t get full seasons in 2010 out of posey, ross, burrell, freddy sanchez which will help the offense…hey, we still have mark derosa!…no one in our division is markedly better…etc, etc).

2) the giants are in trouble because they caught lightening a bottle last year, they have a small margin for error with such a poor offense, and if they were ever going to open the vault and GO FOR IT, this was the off-season to do it!!! no one repeats by maintaining the status quo.

there are still about 13 weeks to go before pitchers and catchers report so we don’t have the full picture of what everyone will do this off-season, giants included, but here is my initial response:

no matter what the Giants do this off-season (short of a red sox-esque shopping spree) the absolute key to next season is this:


if pablo bounces back to anything like his 2009 season this Giants team will have re-acquired a beltre/werth type player by doing nothing. last year at this time people were so enamored by the panda (remember this line: .330/.387/.556) some were beginning to worry if the rubber chickens would make a reappearance at AT&T because of all the IBB he’d be getting. it remains one of life’s greatest mysteries that the 2010 Giants won the WS without pablo in the middle of the action.

2009 pablo means this will be a much, much more effective offense.

two more notes of lesser importance (but still important):

a) it will be interesting to see how the young pitchers rebound from the extra work. don’t freak out if they start slow, i think it is a definite possibility. seeing the big four come back strong and healthy next year is of significant import.

b) the wild card that is brandon belt. as i mentioned in my dynasty post, IF sandoval gets it together (and for the record i think he will have a good season), and IF belt is as good as advertised, then holy shoot the giants have a solid core to their lineup that is young and nasty, and every bit as good as what they could have gotten on the open market (and a whole lot cheaper, which, again brings up the question of value and that will be discussed at some point).

bottom line: no matter what you do in the off-season, you do some gambling. sometimes you bet on high priced vets, sometimes you bet on what got you there, and sometimes you keep an ace up your sleeve, which is what i’m hoping the giants have done with their young corner infielders.