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Chewing it over....

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A day to reflect was needed. After a trade that caught almost all of us by surprise, there was the potential to write the first thing that popped in all of our minds. That first thing was, roughly, "What the hell?" So we stepped back, caught our breath, and can now evaluate this on its own terms.

What the hell? This stepping back business just makes it all more confusing. It started as an enigmatic trade, and the more I look at it the more I feel like I'm studying an M.C. Escher print on PCP. The Giants, in the eyes of even the most doe-eyed optimist fan, slightly upgraded an outfield spot. There are termites audibly gnawing away at the foundation, and Brian Sabean took the time and effort to straighten a crooked picture frame.

Ways this trade doesn't make sense:

  1. The Giants didn't really need Randy Winn.
  2. The Giants don't really need to pay Randy Winn the $5M he is due to make next year.
  3. The Giants need starting pitching. If there is a 6% chance Jesse Foppert becomes a league-average starter in the next calendar year, which is about what I'd give him, that 6% gamble is worth more to the Giants at this point than the upgrade from Jason Ellison to Winn.
  4. The Giants don't really need Randy Winn.
  5. If Jesse Foppert and Yorvit had any trade value at all, they should have been traded for something of urgent need. Like, and I'm just going to write the first thing that pops in my head, oh, I don't know maybe...just maybe...pitching? Starting pitching?
Ways this trade does make sense:

1. The Giants really need Randy Winn. Wait, no. I was looking at the wrong notes. Apparently, the Giants don't really need Randy Winn.

To back up a bit, I like Winn as a player. He hasn't performed up to his standard of the last two seasons so far this year, but, if we can entertain the idea that's more of a slump than a trend, he is a fine outfielder to have. He hits for average, can take a walk or two, plays solid defense in left, and plays acceptable defense in center. A lot of his offensive value was obscured by the cavernous Safeco Field, and he can still run a bit. Ellison has displayed a knack for hitting left-handers so far in his young career, though that might be a sample-size blip, and Winn can allow Ellison to stay in the fifth-outfielder role he is best at.

The other note I can make is that I don't buy Ellison as a major league starter at all. He dipped and dunked his way to a ridiculously hot start, and has been sub-Calvin Murray since:

April - .457/.486/.714
May - .261/.301/.432
June - .262/.339/.320
July - .233/.290/.279
Yeah, that's two straight months of a higher on-base percentage than slugging percentage, where the on-base percentage was wretched to start. I can kind of see where Sabean was coming from, but....

It still doesn't make sense. The difference between Winn and Michael Tucker isn't large enough to justify the expense in capital and talent. With the Giants in need of starting pitching, preferably cheap starting pitching, they have traded away Jerome Williams and Jesse Foppert for luxuries like LaTroy Hawkins and Winn. And that's exactly how to describe them, as luxuries. In Fantasyland, you welcome such players to round off an already strong team. In reality, the players cost enough money to discourage other improvements, and rob the system of depth.

Comment starter: Man, I didn't realize how bad Ellison was looking. Does the spiral down into Kim Batistery make the Winn trade defensible, especially if the focus is 2006?