Who might the Giants get and how?

The key question is who, then, will we get and how will we get this lefty hitter. Linden has been already shot down as a candidate so he's not the answer, though left unsaid is whether he will be the trade bait the Giants will use to get said lefty hitter. In addition, which position are we looking for? CF is the only position currently open for this so we can probably narrow our search down to centerfielders who can hit right-handers.

Two CFs that come to mind as trade bait that I've seen in the press before are Mike Cameron and Ken Griffey Jr. Both teams had looked at trading them at one point or another though currently there is no talk floating around in the press. And both are with teams with more outfielders to play than they have spots in the field and could benefit from changing their excess of outfielders into other good players - the Mets have Victor Diaz who did well in Cameron's absence while he was on the DL. And both players could probably use a change in scenery, Cameron wants to play CF, Griffey might thrive again in a new situation, he might have worn out his welcome in his home town. In addition, Sabean often does these type of blockbuster trades when the team needs a boost, basically to shock the patient alive again.

Obviously, Cameron would seem the most desirable of the two in the viewpoint of the Giants management, solely because of Griffey's salary and remaining contract length. However, the Mets are probably not willing to eat Cameron's salary since they have been using him in RF OK, whereas the Reds could be desperate to get rid of Griffey because they are obviously rebuilding and his contract is a big albatross on the team's next 5-7 years (whatever his length of contract left). And they have great young outfielders spliting time, Austin Kearns, Adam Dunn, and Wily Mo Pena, plus Ryan Freel plays out there on occassion as well. They might be willing to eat part of the contract, mainly most of this year's salary and parts of future salary, a la the A's trade for Jason Kendall, where the Pirates got rid of their albatross contract by paying a lot of his future salary.

What can the Giants give in exchange? Well, one of their aging outfielders to help even out the salary the Giants take on, and I guess if they get a CF, either Tucker OR Grissom could go, so maybe it could be Grissom going after all, though I think the Giants will still try to keep him. And definitely prospects, though not Cain, but perhaps Hennessey might go if the Giants think one of their other starter prospects are ready to move up to the majors or, if not ready, ready enough to learn at the major league level (i.e. Cain or Valdez). I would assume that Ellison, Niekro, and Linden can be made available as well, depending on what the other team wants and how they structure the salary and contract of the CF. That's because we have a number of up and comers who could play those positions (Lewis, Ishikawa, and Ortmeier/Schierholtz/EME come to mind) as starters in 2-3 years when those positions need replacing.

Thinking more about it, Hennessey seems to be a good place to start. Hennessey has done OK in the time he has spent in the majors plus he's won a few games already. More importantly, he has pitched good this season in his three starts. In addition, Fassero had done well as a spot starter and Brower also did well in a starter's role. So perhaps the Giants trade Hennessey and then to replace him, one of these two keep the starter's seat warm for the first Giants pitching prospect to prove himself in the minors, whether Cain, Valdez, Misch, Foppert, or whoever (oddly enough, Cain does not show up on the Grizzlies stats page in MILB.COM, do they know something...).


Who's next? Tucker probably.

Sabean has openly said that they need to improve their hitting versus RHP and that he will try to address that. Too bad this thinking didn't come into place in the offseason when he let Pierzynski and Mohr go, both excellent hitters vs. RHP last season. But no use to cry over spilt milk.

To me, this is a shot across the bow for Tucker who is the Giants main threat against RHP besides Snow and Bonds, who were mentioned when discussing the problem vs. RHP. Not also mentioned was the fact that Alou, despite being a RHH, he has hit well vs. RHP over his career, this year not being much different with an OPS of .807, slightly down from his career but still considered good and Durham had been OK for his career as well but down for this season (he is Jeckyll and Hyde vs. RHP).

With Grissom also being a poor hitter vs. RHP but coming off the DL soon, the Giants will again have to make the choice between two vets, Grissom and Tucker, just like they did with Herges and Brower when Hawkins was added. I have to think they will go with Grissom who in his career killed LHP whereas Tucker's main value is the ability to hit RHP OK, which is much better than most RHH, and he hasn't been doing that this year, though admittedly neither has Grissom. But Grissom, like Brower, was doing it last season while Tucker and Herges wasn't doing it last season, though Tucker did hit about his career average last season. So to me Tucker is next.

Herges Designated for Assignment

Well the other shoe fell and Herges was the player dropped in order to bring LaTroy Hawkins onto the team. One of the media noted that Herges had a low ERA since some early blowouts but, really, Herges has not been what we were expecting when he signed with the team, has not even been close, unfortunately, 2003 appears to be a peak season for Herges. Sounds like the Giants are looking to trade him to another team and put him into a good situation, though I wonder if that is PR-speak for "to save on his salary for the rest of the season," since the other team would be taking on at least some of his salary if he were traded.

There appears to be a lot of consternation on the part of some Giants fans over the loss of Williams and Aardsma for another Fifi-F-Rod type, the sacrificing of the future in order to win this season, as in this season is not worth saving. Looking at Hawkins stats from last season, 2.63 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, what I see is a setup man par excellance that the Giants have not had during the Sabean era, except for Joe Nathan, in one of Sabean's rare huge gaffes of a trade.

He is what the Giants had envisioned in Joe Nathan, someone unable to take on the duties of closer but makes a hell of a setup man. Hawkins clarifies the 7/8 innings for us, simplifies it, he owns it. And we got him for at least until 2006 because there is no way he is getting $4.5M (or something close to that for his player option year) from another team if he is not going to be a closer, so it is not like we rented him for half a season for Williams and Aardsma. Plus, cost-wise, he will cost the Giants about $5.5M for a season and two-thirds, which works out to about $3.3M per year, which is not too bad for a proven, premier setup reliever. That's what we would have paid for Worrell had we kept him.

I'm tired of sabre-fans saying it is easy to get good, cheap relievers. I drank the kool-aid a couple of years ago but I don't see it happening. It is nice to say it is better to develop relievers internally and get cheap relievers instead of going out and paying for one. But I'm coming of the opinion that that is same as saying it is better to buy something cheaper but not tell you how to buy cheaper.

It is easier said than done to draft and develop premier relievers, A's amazing record notwithstanding. Many point to the successes of taking some inexperienced player and suddenly you have a cheap great reliever. However, that bypasses all the blown saves and terrible frog of a pitcher you have kiss in order to find that gem of a reliever. That is not something a contending team can withstand and still compete at the end of every season, as the Giants have in every year of Sabean's tenure as GM, for those who need a reminder of HIS excellence.

And relievers do not come cheap on the market either. You have to pay for consistency and the Giants are finding that to be true this season, where only Eyre is doing what we have been expecting. While there is sometimes a free lunch, the bill will eventually come due.

I don't like losing Williams either but you have to give quality to get quality. And frankly, Williams is damaged goods right now given how poorly he has pitched this season. We can wait for his value to rise again - we were offered Urbina for Williams last season according to one press account previously - but by then it could be too late. As good as Williams could potentially be, apparently from reports he has been unable or unwilling to change his pitching mechanics, which just beats up on his body, so what good is that potential if he just ends up blowing out his arm again? For those still crying over the Ponson trade, Ponson did more for the Giants in that half season than all three players traded combined in the MLB since the trade.

However, even getting swept, the Giants are still only 7.5 games out, big but not insurmountable. The Padres were scuffling along not too long ago and the D-gers were on top of the world, much like the Padres, as well. Fortunes can and do change.

I still think that if the Giants can stay around or above the .500 mark until Bonds return, they should be able to make a run at the pennant this season. They have played poorly overall because of poor performances and injuries and illnesses, a repeat of last season's start. If the team can just stabilize itself and play the way they are capable of playing, they can make a run at the top just as the D-gers, D-backs, and Padres have done this season.

Whether they will do it is, well, baseball's great truism: that's why you play the games.