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Last chance to use "Talkin' Schmidt"?

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Jason Schmidt

Free Agent Replacements

There's a whole bunch of them on that list, but there aren't going to be any bargains for the above-average pitchers.

In-house replacements

Is it really appropriate to list Brad Hennessey and Kevin Correia as straight-up replacements? The conventional wisdom has Matt Cain promoted to ace, with Jonathan Sanchez being promoted to Cain's '06 role of promising-yet-risky young pitcer. In the end, though, if there isn't another player acquired, the net result is that Schmidt is replaced with one of Correia, Hennessey, or even Tim Lincecum. I like Correia -- and Hennessey too, for that matter -- as relievers in the long-term. Signing a Jamey Wright-type eclair on top of the the wastebasket would allow them to continue in that role, though I'm still expecting Hennessey to be traded. It's too optimistic to count on Lincecum skipping two minor league levels out of Scottsdale, even if it could happen.

Would bring him back at....

Two years, at whatever price didn't discourage the Giants from paying for some real hitters. I don't care if that price is $5M or $45M per season. As long as it doesn't impact the Giants' efforts to build an offense, I would absolutely love to have Schmidt back.

Guess at actual salary, destination?

Four years, $40M -- Seattle. Less than other pitchers like Schmidt have received, but location seems to be more important than squeezing every last dollar out of a team.

First choice to replace them?

If Greg Maddux's price came down, he'd be a perfect placeholder. The Giants aren't going to get an ace to replace Schmidt, and it would be ridiculous to pay a guy like Suppan as if he were anything more than an average starter. The middle ground would be a guy like Maddux who is still going to have value, but won't require more than a one- or two-year deal. Maybe a short-term, incentive-based deal for a guy like Mark Mulder. But absolutely no goofs like Suppan, who is this year's Kris Benson, who was that year's Eric Milton, who was that year's Todd Stottlemyre, who was that year's....

Trade Options

Forget it. The best trade chit the Giants have are starters (Noah Lowry and Jonathan Sanchez), so unless the Astros are keen on an Oswalt/Jason Ellison deal straight up, there really isn't any way a trade makes sense. Everyone wants pitching, to the point where once-silly contracts like Benson's became extremely marketable last offseason. Even though there is none chance for Matt Morris to live up to his contract, it really would take an attractive offer for the Giants to trade him. He's competent, for the most part, and even that isn't something that comes up frequently on the market.

Conclusion

The Giants have a high-risk, high-reward proposition going on with their young rotation. If they keep the status quo, there is a serious potential for some or all of the young pitchers to fizzle. Young pitchers are like high school girlfriends; five years after you're introduced, there's maybe a 5% chance they'll continue to impact your life. But if the Giants can rely on three or four cheap and young pitchers to perform well for the next three to four years, it would free up some crazy money for offense. If the total rotation makes about $20M, the ability to concentrate the remaining $70M/80M into the offense and the bullpen almost allows the Giants to pretend as if they're the Red Sox with the remaining payroll.

That's if the young pitching works out. Which it probably won't. But it's worth the risk to try and focus on buying an offense, and it's hard to see where a big money deal to Schmidt works in that framework.