Well, this has become an internet thing now. Bad internet! Bad!
Dave Cameron started it with a piece titled "Can the Giants Improve by Trading Tim Lincecum?". That's an easy question. They sure could. Check out this baby I just whipped up:
To the Giants:
To the Rangers:
The Giants would improve in that trade, even if Napoli played center field. I say the Giants should go for it.
But while the point of that fake proposal was mostly to be silly because that was the only way I could get attention growing up, the hidden message is that there are ways the Giants could improve by trading Tim Lincecum. Don't stab the person who mentions the idea to you in polite conversation.
To the Giants:
Powers of a volcano god, distributed as the team sees fit
To the volcano god:
There are ways to make the team better by trading Lincecum. Cameron's suggestion of Jesus Montero, a young-Jose Vizcaino-sprayed-with-Yankees-perfume, and the agreement to take Aubrey Huff isn't quite as insane as you might think. The $30 million swing from a deal like that could allow the Giants to afford two or three players on the free-agent market this year and have a young first baseman of the future. I mean, if we're rosterbating, think what this could look like:
CF Coco Crisp
SS Jose Reyes
3B Pablo Sandoval
LF Carlos Beltran
C Buster Posey
RF Brandon Belt
1B Jesus Montero
2B Freddy Sanchez
Oh, man, mmmmmmmm, that's a nice roster, ohmanohman. That kind of lineup would give Lincecum all sorts of run support.
This assumes that Reyes and Beltran would even consider signing with the Giants, which they might not. And it involves all sorts of other hypotheticals, such as the Yankees even considering the deal, which trades their best prospect for what amounts to a two-year/$50M deal for Lincecum once you factor in Huff's salary.
There is no evidence that Lincecum is available on the trade market. And he shouldn’t be — yet. General manager Brian Sabean must see where the market goes for Fielder, Reyes, et al. If he can afford them, there’s no reason to shop Lincecum. But if Sabean can’t squeeze either into a payroll of roughly $120 million, he could move Lincecum for multiple players and the flexibility that would allow him to afford Fielder or Reyes.
And one more, from Mike Silva:
The Giants would have to decide if Montero can catch enough where they would be able to move Buster Posey to first base.
Well, that's enough of that.
The point, then, is that the Giants could take the $20M saved by not having a great pitcher, and distribute it around the free-agent market, trusting Sabean to get the right players. Show of hands who thinks that's a good idea. Put your hand down, Raul. Wasn't asking you.
So while if everything worked out just so -- if the Giants could convince Reyes and Beltran to get on board contingent upon a deal, maybe it would make a little baseball sense. You can add up the WARs and junk and get bigger WARs and junk if you shuffle enough pieces. I don't think it's worth a chance to see if Sabean can nail the exact permutation.
What's unspoken in all of this is that the Giants would have to choose between Lincecum and piles of free-agent treasure because they can't afford both. They can't afford both because they're going to pay Aubrey Huff, Aaron Rowand, and Barry Zito a combined $44M next season. Because of that, they have to make Lincecum's burdensome salary go away before they can get more really good players.
That makes me want to pepper-spray elderly people. How about instead of trading him to afford other good players, how about you just buy the other good players? In the short-term, it might put them overbudget, but when the wretched contracts come off the books in the next two years, the Giants will look for ways to spend that money. Spend it now while Lincecum's here, and hope that they're all still effective in the future when you have to stick to the budget.
Or don't. Subsist on the David DeJesuses and Coco Crispix of the world because of a self-imposed budget. Whatever. But don't trade Lincecum to chase after an extra win or two, especially if all it would take is money to get those wins. That's an easy way to make some disillusioned fans.