This past weekend, the San Francisco Giants faced their closest competitor for a playoff spot and looked awful. Well, that's not entirely fair. They won the first game, and the bullpen did a heck of a job keeping the third game close after the stopgap starter left in the third inning. But the offense looked like they have all season. Which isn't good. It was, uh, bad. There really isn't another way to describe it. Wait, let me try one...
Do you remember the Big Red Machine? Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, George Foster, Johnny Bench, and the like? The Giants were like that, but only after a few hits of the experimental government drug from Jacob's Ladder. A hallucinating Pete Rose disemboweling Johnny Bench with a serrated Louisville Slugger? Why, as a description of Randy Winn's at-bats this weekend, that'd be a good "Password" clue.
So now the team is at a crossroads. They've inhaled fumes since just before the All-Star Break, and they're breaking our hearts right now. And yet they're still -- still! -- within spitting distance of a playoff spot. They need hitting, but don't overlook the fact that they also need a big bat, a middle-of-the-order hitter, and some hitting. So when it comes to a trade deadline strategy, there are two points to consider:
- There is a right answer. Untouchable prospects will either flame out or reach their full potential. The Giants traded Kurt Ainsworth but held on to Tim Lincecum years later. They also traded Francisco Liriano while holding on to Erick Threets, which used to seem like a much bigger deal. Point is, we'll look back in five years and think, "Madison Bumgarner for Victor Martinez? Wow, that trade (would have devastated the franchise)/(sure looks a lot better now that we know that Bumgarner would never start a game in San Francisco)."
And consider the Joe Carter Theorem: a crazy-hot two months will make any trade look like a stroke of genius. Wait, maybe that should be the Brian Johnson Theorem. The Reverse Shea Hillenbrand Theorem? Regardless, there's a player who would come to the Giants, put up a BABIP of .450, and propel the Giants' offense into new orbits. And by "new orbits", I mean "almost average." But, hey, I'd take it.
- You don't know that right answer. I don't know that right answer. We can take educated guesses, sure. But Dan Uggla could come here, hit 20 home runs in the final two months, and all we could do is say something like, "Wow, uh, I really didn't expect that." Or he could come here and put up sub-Burriss numbers with cleat-handed defense as the Giants fall into 145th place in the wild-card standings. This all leads us to our conclusion:
Man, I really hope the Giants do the right thing. I'll have an opinion when it all goes down/all doesn't go down, for sure. If the Giants trade Buster Posey, Tim Alderson, Thomas Neal, and an expiring contract (Raef Lafrentz, maybe), for Roy Halladay, I'll curse until I throw up and/or pass out. But I'll secretly think, "Okay, Roy. Get us a damned ring, then." And if he does? Best trade of all time, even if every single prospect going to Toronto has a Hall-of-Fame career. This ringless crap gotta go.
If the Giants hold steady -- if they believe that this isn't a team that's going to seriously contend, and they hoard every one of their prospects like pieces of wartime coal -- I'll understand, but I'll secretly wonder in five years if blowing up the farm for Freddy Sanchez and Victor Martinez would have led to a parade down Market Street. The odds are that it wouldn't, but if a random backup catcher can hit two legendary September home runs less than 200 games before he's out of the league, maybe there's a magic combination for championship success this year.
Or maybe the Giants will never win a championship in my lifetime, and it doesn't matter if they trade every single prospect for a slip of paper with "007 373 5963" written on it.
Or maybe the magic combination is already here, mixing it up in the minors. Angel Villalona, Neal, and Posey could all develop into superstars at the same time, giving the Giants an offensive core reminiscent of the mid-to-late '90s Indians at the same time an entirely homegrown pitching staff is setting an all-time MLB record for team strikeouts.
Wow us, Giants brass. Wow us with your derring-do, or wow us with your prudence. I'm open minded. I just hope whatever you're thinking is so crazy, it just might work.