June 1st. The Day of Pretend Reckoning. The possible cratering of Edgardo Alfonzo's nice season is the only time-sensitive consideration with the decision to become buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. As long as Alfonzo is hitting .300 or above he should be tradeable, and might even fetch some decent value in return. If the Giants wait until late July, Alfonzo might slump. He could, however, maintain the average and become even more valuable to a team in contention. It's an appropriate risk to wait and see, if only because the Giants still have enough time before they officially gave.
The larger question is if the Giants are going to be buyers or sellers at the deadline. It's easy to freak out over a five-game losing streak, grow that untamed beard, and start moving the canned goods from the pantry to the shelter. And freak out we will. The 2000 Giants started off terribly, but that was a recognizably good team. They had talent from top to bottom, and it was less "if", more "when". That does not describe this assemblage of talent at all. Everyone is about where they should be, with the notable exceptions of Jason Schmidt and Noah Lowry. If a player is not where he was expected to be, he's probably surpassing projections (Lance Niekro, Jason Ellison, Mike Matheny, Kirk Rueter). That recipe for an 8-game surge is missing more than a few ingredients.
Barry Bonds isn't going to respond to a bat-signal in the sky, or bugle call coming over the glen, and come back to give the Giants a 21-4 record in July. But the Giants would be silly, most of us would agree, if they didn't hold out for the possibility. Keep the faith until July 31st, and give up only when they're forced to. All of the planning now, however, should be revolving around the needs of other teams, not the Michener-sized tome of the Giants needs. Who would want Alfonzo? If Brett Tomko continues his success from last year, he'll be valuable to some team. Is there a team that would take a chance on Ray Durham, if the Giants ate some salary? Could Pedro Feliz fetch something impressive from the right, desperate team? The questions can be replaced with happier ones if the Giants do vault back into contention, but that just isn't realistic at this point.
There are rumors that another left-handed bat might be on the way. Bonds? Great. Anyone else? Pass. What possible bat could make up the ground ceded during the month of May? The Giants are nine games back. The Pirates and Brewers are nine games back. The Indians are nine games back. This is the company we're keeping. Raul Ibanez isn't going to get us over the hump, and giving up minor-league depth for something similar is lunacy at this point. We're watching the same team as Sabean, but there is no indication as to how he'll react to his first trade deadline not in contention. He could accept it gracefully or he could be in Sunset Boulevard territory, still thinking he's the brightest movie star in Hollywood, and dealing accordingly.
This isn't the time to officially give up, but you might want to get a head start on the paperwork. Are there any contending teams with a gaping hole at third base?