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On a Matt Cain trade idea from nine years ago ...

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In other news, Cain has been in the organization for a decade. Goodness ...

Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

I respect the absolute heck out of Peter Gammons. Even when I disagree with him, even when he's writing a column or reporting a rumor that makes me want to throw my computer out the window, I'll always appreciate him. He's one of the most influential baseball writers of the last few decades, and he's one of my favorites. He's on the $20 for a reason, people.

But one of my fascinations is trade rumors from seasons past. Remember the Lincecum-for-Rios rumors? What about the Chris-Davis-for-Matt-Cain rumors? Those both look a wee bit different now. The Angels could have had Miguel Cabrera for Brandon Wood and Casey Kotchman. The Dodgers could have traded Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp for Barry Zito. Nothing fascinates me like 20/20 hindsight.

And because of this fascination, I've stumbled on one of my favorite mock-trades ever. This isn't a rumor; Gammons was just riffing on trades he thought would work. Hell, I'm guilty of that.

It's still one of my favorite finds, though. Here is the link. Here is the quote:

San Francisco trades right-handed pitcher Matt Cain and infielder Lance Niekro to Detroit for closer Ugueth Urbina and starting pitcher Mike Maroth. For the Giants, the future is now. For the Tigers, two years from now to have Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, Kyle Sleeth and Cain for the rotation will get them a lot closer to where they want to be rather than shooting for .500 in 2004.

If you're really in the mood, note that the first part of the article details how the Dodgers don't want to give up Guillermo Mota for Carlos Beltran. That's ... my word, that's a glimpse of heaven.

But think about what that trade idea would have done to the Giants. Decimation. Bitterness. If you think that Giants fans are unbearable now, rest of the world, imagine us without Matt Cain and two championships. So, so bitter. Poisonous, even.

This comes up now because it's funny in retrospect. But it also comes up because the trade deadline is looming. There are going to be rumors and mock trades, and you'll hate some of them and love the others. Just today, I mentioned Nick Castellanos in a trade-related post. In nine years, that will look like mentioning Miguel Cabrera in a trade post back in 2004. Or maybe it'll look like a Fernando Martinez trade rumor does now.

Everything will seem pretty clear with hindsight. But nine years ago, a great baseball writer suggested a trade that would have ruined everything. That's how most of these mock trades and trade rumors work. You just don't know which franchise you're ruining until a decade or so goes by.

(Matt Cain.)