Fans know the Giants have a pitching problem and the numbers don't lie. Through the first third of this season, the Giants' pitching staff is 10th ranked in the National League when measured by ERA. So let's be honest with each other, Mike Kickham is not the answer, nor is Shane Loux, Boof Bonser, Chris Heston, Yusmeiro Petit, or any other starting pitcher from AAA Fresno with an ERA over 4.00
Now there's a good chance that Heath Hembree will be called up for bullpen relief, but when it comes to the starting rotation, what you see is what you get. Do I wish we had the Tim Lincecum from a few years ago? Yes! Do I wish we had the Barry Zito from ten years ago? Absolutely! Do I wish we had the Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong from last year? Oh, praise the Lord!
But of the four starters mentioned above, I realistically only expect Cain to revert to peak performance, which leaves us with just two elite starters in the rotation (Madison Bumgarner being the other).
So you see where I'm going with this. The other day I referenced Bud Norris as a frugal trade candidate if Vogy can't get it together when he returns from the DL, but if I really wanted to play fantasy GM and go all out, I'd swing a trade for Philadelphia Phillies starter Cliff Lee.
In his four years with the Phillies, where's mostly pitched at the hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, he's posted a 2.79 ERA and 1.063 WHIP. Can you imagine those numbers at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park!?
Now I know I'm going to hear objections, which I'll try to resolve below:
Objection #1: He's too old!
Rebuttal #1: Well, he's still younger than Barry Zito or Ryan Vogelsong!
Objection #2: He costs too much!
Rebuttal #2: Sure, he's owed a lot of money, but with Zito's and Lincecum's mammoth contracts coming off the books after this year, that should free up more than enough money to take on Lee's deal.
Objection #3: The Giants will have to give up the farm!
Rebuttal #3: Not necessarily....the Philadelphia Phillies are an aging sub .500 team right now, and they were big sellers last year, dealing Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino to free up money. I could very well see them parting with Cliff Lee for marginal prospects just so they don't have to pick up his contract.
So now that you're all on board with seriously defending our World Series title, please get on the horn with Brian Sabean and yell, "I needs me some Cliff Lee!"