A history of left-handed relievers of the past decade: (Don't Stop Believin' starts to play in the background....)
Chad Zerbe ("Up and down the boulevaaaaaard....")
Mike Stanton (Streeeetlight people!)
Traded for: Jim Poole, Alvin Morman, Alan Embree, Wayne Franklin, Jason Christiansen, Steve Kline, Mike Stanton
Times the trade-for-a-lefty-specialist gag has worked: Once? Twice? (Embree and Kline. Too early to tell for Stanton....)
Times the gag turned into an absolutely brutal trade: No Morman, and the Giants might have made the playoffs in 1998, even though he was just a throw-in player to the Joe Carter trade. The Wayne Franklin trade is almost worse than the Pierzynski trade; sure, it isn't like Carlos Villanueva and Glenn Woolard are going to be All-Stars, but at least there was a good reason to think Pierzynski would help a team.
Number of players picked off the scrap heap who did just as well as the others: Most of them. Rodriguez, Eyre, and Fassero did just fine, for the most part.
Conclusion: Don't trade for lefty relievers unless it follows the Embree specs. Good stuff, past success, and a complete non-prospect going the other way. Actually, Dante Powell was only 24 when he was traded for Embree, so I guess he still could have rubbed it in our face. Before going to Powell's Baseball Reference page, I had no idea his full name was Le Jon Dante Powell. If I knew French for "the throw hits the mound, and caroms away!", I could have made a snarky joke there.
So, no trades for lefties. Bad. No.
They're out there, and they're all about 35. Arthur Rhodes, Tom Martin, Jamie Walker, Alan Embree....oh, yeah, I love the offseason.
Free agent replacements that would actually help the team:
If they prevent a big contract from keeping Steve Kline on the team for three expensive years, all of them. But most of these guys are interchangable.
I still have no idea why Taschner gets hit so hard in the majors, but he'd be one the first line of defense. Pat Misch probably isn't going to be a starter in this rotation for a while, so it might make sense to have him take over the Fassero role next year.
Would bring Kline/Stanton back at...
Kline, 1 year/$1M with a team option
Stanton, 1 year/$1M with a team option
That's not probably going to cut it for either, especially Kline, but that's what I'd pay if it meant adhering to a strict budget. If it's a loose budget that hand handle an extra $2M or $3M on top, it wouldn't offend to have either back at a higher price for the short term.
Guess at actual salary, destination
No idea as to destination, but the salaries could be in the range of 1 year/$2M for Stanton and 2-year/$6M for Kline.
First choice to replace them?
Anyone with a decent history and reasonable salary demands, including Kline and Stanton. There are fair gambles to be taken with guys like Frank Brooks or Ryan Meaux. They wouldn't cost anything more than the league minimum, but there is something to be said for cost certainty. Guys like Kline and Stanton stinking wouldn't raise the same questions that a Meaux or Wunsch would. Give me a year or two of Jamie Walker, clearly the class of the group. Hopefully the World Series appearance doesn't raise his profile too much. Anything close to Scott Erye money? Forget it. Then I'll take a side of Taschner to round out the bullpen. I still believe.
See above. Unless the reliever in question can get both righties and lefties out, trades are a waste of resources.
I like having both Kline and Stanton in the bullpen, but would rather see the Giants address other areas with their money. If I had to choose just one, I'd choose Stanton. He'll only require a one-year deal, and his breaking ball can still make people look stupid. He only made $1M last season, so maybe he'd come back for the same amount. It's pretty clear that the lefty specialist role is the last thing to worry about on the team.