With the benefit of hindsight, it’s all so clear now. The question: how can the Giants improve a wretched offense? They went into the trade deadline with fistfuls of promising minor leaguers and a wild-eyed look. Gimme whatever offense you got, and I don’t care what it takes!
The answer wasn’t Freddy Sanchez. Moving from Manny Burriss to Sanchez within a season is like moving from Babe Danzig to Babe Ruth, but it didn’t really help. Sanchez didn’t play because of a shoulder injury, which is frustrating because team doctors gave his knee a clean bill of health. Sanchez didn’t play, Juan Uribe did and doubled the team home run total (at least, that’s what it felt like). For this, the Giants gave up their #2 pitching prospect. But Sanchez wasn’t the answer.
The answer wasn’t Ryan Garko, who would probably be the best first base option for the Giants since J.T. Snow’s fluky-good 2004 if Garko actually, you know, played. He’s a limited player, with most of his value coming as a southpaw-masher, but he made the mistake of struggling in the handful of at-bats that Bruce Bochy remembers now. That’s a big no-no. Randy Winn knew better. He hit against the Padres when he came to the National League, so he’s still playing. Edgar Renteria was a World Series hero, and I’m pretty sure Bochy watched that on TV, so Renteria still gets to play. That’s how it works. So the answer wasn’t Ryan Garko. The guy can't even outhit Renteria from the bench, fer crying out loud.
The answer is actually a two-parter. There’s an answer for the crazy, risk-taking fools whose derring-do told them that the answer was for the Giants to go all-in. Throw whatever prospect to the wall you want; if the Giants got an impact player, by gum, it was worth it. That answer is Matt Holliday. Would a Tim Alderson/Scott Barnes package have bested the Cardinals’ offer of Brett Wallace? Maybe not, but let’s put it another way: Would you go back in time, trade Ryan Garko, Freddy Sanchez, and another prospect for Holliday? Uh…yes. Dang it. As long as I could have held onto John Bowker….
The answer for the protect-the-farm crowd, the folks who still foam at the mouth when they hear Alderson’s name, was simple: a right-handed reserve outfielder with pop.
This is all revisionist history, of course. At no point did I write a 1,000 screed demanding a right-handed reserve outfielder. I didn’t know, though, that Andres Torres would go down to injury on July 31. We didn’t know that Eugenio Velez would play over his head for a month and become a Bochy-approved starter. Velez has been a contributor over the last couple of months, but he never stopped being an awful option against left-handed pitchers (.241/.288/.353…in his minor-league career!) And we didn’t know that if Bochy didn’t play Winn every day, even against left-handers, the bus would explode and Sandra Bullock would die.
The answer was Ben Francisco, whom the Phillies got as a throw-in to the Cliff Lee deal. The answer was Jonny Gomes, who’s done well for the Reds filling in for various injured outfielders. The answer was a right-handed hitting outfielder with a little pop.
I’m not pointing fingers. Just saying. Dang it.