Now that the dust has settled from the 2006 team -- the noxious, toxic dust that is currently sawing through the cilia in our lungs, and leeching carcinogens into our blood stream -- it wouldn't be a bad time to retroactively evaluate the Jeremy Accardo trade. The Giants obviously had a flaw or two or three or fourteen going into to the trade deadline, and not a heck of a lot of ammunition to trade. The two priorities were the lack of any production at first base, and patching a bullpen that specialized in making grown men cry.
While I believe players exist who consistently play better in the first or second half of the season, I also believe it's pretty much impossible to distinguish them from the rest of the baseball universe using stats. Shea Hillenbrand has never done well in the second half of a season, but I don't begrudge the Giants for ignoring that and picking him up. Lance Niekro wasn't the answer, unless the question was asked at one of those newfangled S&M/sports bars that are popping up everywhere. Trading for a first baseman was the right move. Borrowing from an already weak area of the team to do it was a questionable move. As it turned out, the main players involved in the trade stunk. Apparently the correct answer -- start Jason Ellison at first, and trade Jeremy Accardo for Vinnie Chulk straight up -- was a little counterintuitive.
I held out hope until the bitter end, hoping that Hillenbrand would start to remind us of Joe Carter. It never happened. Dude just stunk. And Accardo was one of my favorites for two reasons:
- He showed noticeable improvement on his secondary pitches from his rookie year.
- He was undrafted out of college.
"Dick, give me a letter."
"Way to make it easy on me...lessee...okay, we'll draft Xerxes McDallas from Albertson's College of Idaho."
"Uh, that's not the college. His scouting report is only one sentence long, and all it says is that he opens every carton of eggs that he rings up. You know, to check for broken ones."
"Oooh. That sounds like A+ makeup to me."
"Well, you drafted him. Should we call him up and sign him?"
Round 49 of the draft:
"Who's in the conference room next door?"
"Sue, from Marketing."
(picks up phone and dials)
"Sue, yeah, this is Brian. Listen, didn't you just have a son that graduated high school? No? But you left early on Friday to go to a gradu...oh, your nephew? Got it, what's his name? Randall Soot...good. And what high school did he go to? Carlmont High, great. I wanted to be the first to tell you this, Sue. Are you ready? Randall Soot is about to be...drafted by the San Francisco Giants! Yeah, that's right! In about two min...what? Oh. Really. A wheelchair. Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Right, no, I didn't know that. Hey, not to cut you off, but is anyone else in the room with you?"
It isn't possible to fully evaluate the trade, though. If the Giants don't sign Hillenbrand, they will certainly offer him arbitration. Having Hillenbrand back without the commitment of a multi-year deal is the best situation out there, especially if the Giants are sellers at the `07 trading deadline. If Hillenbrand declines arbitration, as he surely would, the Giants would receive a supplemental draft pick. That would leave the trade as Accardo for Chulk and a high draft pick in a draft that is reported to be deep.
Of course, this whole draft pick idea was also something I used to justify the Sidney Ponson trade, and the Giants declined to offer him arbitration. Maybe the odds of the Giants drafting Huston Street or Reid Brignac with that pick were slim, but it was still pointless to throw the offer of a draft pick away. However, I think the Giants are done with the punting of draft picks. Maybe that should read, "I hope". Whatever. The point is that the Hillenbrand trade might not turn out to be a disaster after all. Though it would have helped if he had, you know, done something.