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Risk v. reward

My abbreviated offseason plan:

  • Keep Cain and Lincecum.
  • Trade Lowry and Sanchez for maximum value.
If the only thing Sanchez will bring back is a Rajai Davis kind of prospect, forget it. Likewise, if Lowry's worth has been grossly overestimated around these parts, he stays. It is pretty reasonable, though, to hope that Lowry and Sanchez will help the Giants acquire two corner infielders who would help the team for the present and future. If that's the case, Kevin Correia and Pat Misch would almost certainly have the final two rotation spots.

What if Misch cuts his thumb on a tube of Pringles? What if Barry Zito twirls too fast at a String Cheese concert, dislocating his shoulder? What if some billionaire super-villain creates a robotic exoskeleton and takes Congress hostage? The Giants surely would have to be without Cain or Lincecum while they save our democracy.

At first glance, a stray "Bartolo Colon to the Giants"-rumor might not make sense, but if the plan is to trade two potential starters, it wouldn't hurt to sign an end-of-the-rotation guy and keep either Misch or Correia in the bullpen. Colon is one possibility, though Matt Clement would be another. Heck, Kerry Wood would even be a consideration if he would consider starting again. I wish I had the HTML-fu to do a decision tree graphic, but here's my best attempt at cost/benefit analysis:

Hypothetical headline: Bartolo Colon or Matt Clement signs for two years, $6M, with incentives that could push him up to $15M

If he is hurt or ineffective:

That's a shame. The Giants could have spent that money on Sean Casey.

If he pitches well, and the Giants have the non-contending powerhouse most of us are expecting:

Helllloooooo, trade deadline magic. No one wants a multi-year risk in August, so a player of repute on the comeback trail would be valuable.

If he pitches well, and the Giants contend:

Uh, sure. If the Giants speed 'n' defense their way to contention, a healthy Colon or Clement would be a nice 4th starter down the stretch.

I'd put the odds at 75% for hurt or ineffective, 20% for deadline-flipping magic, and 5% for improbable contention. For that 25% chance of organizational help, I'd dish out $6M. Any more, and it's harder to be so dismissive of the cost. Even if there aren't any free agents of note this year, a wasted contract to Colon or Clement would still impact the budget at some point.

Texas outbid the rest of baseball to spend on a reclamation project, didn't contend, and were rewarded with a pretty nice package from Boston. I think I made this exact argument for Gagne last year, actually. Maybe next time I'll just post a link to the rumor and title the post "The Gagne Paradigm." Of course, then you'd think the post was going to be about classically stupid goatees.

Comment starter: Assuming the Giants trade Sanchez and Lowry, how much would you spend on a reclamation project?