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How the Other Half Lives: Jake Peavy Trade Rumors

The Giants would like to make a trade for a good hitter. But then they'd have to trade something good to get back something good. Hey, you know who's good? Matt Cain! I wonder what we can trade Matt Cain for. Maybe they could replenish the farm system. Maybe they could trade Matt Cain for three prospects. And then, when those prospects turn into good major leaguers like Cain, the Giants could trade those three prospects for a total of nine prospects. Assuming a three-year lag between prospectdom and major league success, here's how the plan would work.

2009: three prospects
2012: nine prospects
2015: 27 prospects
2018: 81 prospects
2021: 243 prospects
2024: 729 prospects

If the Giants trade Matt Cain for three prospects right now and continue to trade each prospect as they become major leaguers, then they will control every player in Major League Baseball by 2024. If the Giants did this 15 years ago, they'd have Evan Longoria as a backup for David Wright. This isn't just idle speculation. I've shown my math above. This plan can't miss. Put the slide rule back in the pocket protector, Gilbert, and bow to my math skills.

Until now, exactly what Cain would bring back in trade has been a mystery. Some reports have Prince Fielder and J.J. Hardy coming back, which seems insane. Other goofs have tossed out names like Hideki Matsui, which is equally insane, but for a different reason. And the equation for any premium player's trade value according to a fan of the opposite team is something like this:

Extremely valuable player = [3rd-best prospect + Old "prospect" with superficial AAA numbers + Bench player + (Pitching prospect x injury history + misleadingly low ERA)]

So no one knows what Cain's trade value is. He's a good pitcher with the potential to be great, and he's under control for three more years for a total of $13.5M, which is a steal compared to what he'd command on the open market.

The whole point of this protracted introduction was to compare Cain to Jake Peavy. Now I'm realizing that it's an awful comparison. Peavy is the better pitcher. But Cain hasn't had any arm problems, while Peavy has had some elbow issues. Cain will cost $13.5M over the next three years; Peavy will cost $60M over the next five, or $78M over the next six if his option is picked up. Stupid comparison. Apples to rhinosceroses. And now I have all of these pretty words on the subject that I don't want to just delete.

The entire point of this post was to ask if anyone else is as underwhelmed with the rumored offers for Jake Peavy as I am. The rumored offer from the Braves is something like Jordan Schafer, Yunel Escobar, and either Jo-Jo Reyes or Charlie Morton. The Braves are reportedly not going to give up Jason Heyward or Tommy Hanson. The rumored offer from the Cubs is something like Jeff Samarzdfazzaza, Ronny Cedeno, and Calvin Murray Felix Pie. There's a lot of talent there. Schafer's a danged good prospect --mystery HGH-related suspension aside -- and Pie's has been highly regarded for a while, but, yeeesh.

The Padres would be giving up one of the ten best pitchers in baseball, who is locked up for five or six years for about $40M below market value. He's a homegrown player, and he's extremely popular. If you're making that trade, Schafer or Pie would have to become stars. They can't just turn into nice, glad-to-have-ya players. Not when you're giving up a fan favorite who left a lot of money on the table for your franchise. In order to satisfy the fanbase, at least one of the acquired prospects would have to come up and be instant superstars like Tim Lincecum or David Wright were. They can't just keep teasing the Padres with their potential -- like B.J. Upton or Chris "Diamondbacks Player" Young are doing to their franchises -- as they inch towards arbitration.

It would be a huge gamble to trade Peavy for a handful of prospects who aren't once-in-every-five-draft-class type prospects, and I'm glad the Giants aren't dealing with similar offers for Matt Cain. I don't get what the Padres are doing.