Preface: LaTroy Hawkins is a good pitcher. He makes the Giants a better team, and what few struggles he suffered were magnified by a tough fanbase. The blown saves category is the only statistical line of his that is ugly, and one that is easily explained away by bad luck and sample size. His hits allowed, walks allowed, and strikeout numbers tell us Hawkins is an excellent reliever. Trading David Aardsma for Hawkins would be a completely defensible move.
The other half of the deal, though, that's something else. Of all the players the Giants control, here are the players I would have preferred to keep over Jerome Williams, even considering his recent struggles: Matt Cain. Noah Lowry. End list. There is no Pedro Feliz, no Merkin Valdez, no Eddy Martinez-Esteve on that list. There are two players, and Lowry is more of a tossup than an absolute. The Giants basically kicked Jerome Williams off the team for a first offense of eating crackers in bed. His first professional struggles, and probably the first stretch of awful pitching in his life, last all of two months, and he's gone. Traded at his lowest value ever for a middle reliever; that's the fate of one of the most promising pitchers developed by the Giants since they moved to San Francisco.
The only way this comes close to making sense is if you walk into the Benefit of the Doubt Store, and just start stuffing your pants with whatever you can get your hands on. Sabean has seen this sort of mystery performance decline before, and it most always concludes with an awful injury. Williams is not injured, but was so uncoachable at both the major- and minor-league levels, his prospects for recovery were not good in the Giants organization. Sabean's castoffs never seem to pan out, with the exception of Keith Foulke, Joe Nathan, Scott Linebrink, and possibly Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser, so let's hold off on judging this move. Salient theories, all, but they can't make sense of trading Jerome Williams.
It's impossible to tell anyone with a straight face the Giants should not have traded for a good reliever, especially considering the bullpen meltdowns of the previous days. But what did they give up? Williams was a pitcher who was starting in the majors, and doing it effectively, at an age when most college players are drafted. That he was traded isn't the gravest of sins, what hurts the most is he was traded to help a fairly wretched team. The current Giants are a .500 mixture at best, and adding one guy who figures to pitch 50 innings or so isn't going to vault them into the World Series. This could easily turn into one of those scenes where some guy won't stop the chest compressions and CPR. Someone screams, "Jack! He's dead! Let it go!", and they slowly recoil from the body, wondering where they failed. At this point, it's August, the Giants are 54-68, and Noah Lowry is mysteriously on the Pirates with Jose Mesa warming up in our bullpen.
The positives of the move:
- This has to mean Bonds is progressing well. Without Bonds, this team is not a five-star meal, waiting for the last pinch of salt before being plated and served. Without Bonds, this move is like throwing the pinch of salt on the egg, right before Sabean sits down to try and figure out how to peel it.
- Hawkins will be a big improvement to this disaster of a bullpen.
- Maybe there's a family who lost their pet dachshund, Herr Wigglestein, after the dog choked on a string of puka shells. Now, my friends, you can watch Giants games without the fear of having those horrible memories recalled. Rejoice!
- The Giants traded what could be considered a major part of their future.
- They traded this player for a middle reliever.
- They included a pretty solid prospect.
- The Giants are now absolutely counting on more than one of Hennessey/Lowry/Foppert/Cain/Valdez to develop into a cheap, effective starting pitcher.
- We all kind of liked Williams, and he was traded for a player who would have a tough time getting a free drink in the town he's leaving.