Let me tell you about the time I fell in love. The year was 2015, and I was watching the All-Star Game, and Aroldis Chapman made three All-Stars look like they wandered over from the celebrity softball game. Chapman isn't an unknown player. He's just available for the first time. So instead of "Wow, that guy's a freak" my thoughts morphed into "the Giants must have him." The exact thought was somewhere between a coherent trade idea and "imagen ardolis on the san fransico giants."
This, from earlier, added to the fire:
A Giants reliever, coming in and throwing hard, laying complete and utter waste to the other team. Yeah, yeah, that's what I want.
Chapman would cost prospects. A couple of them, probably the ones you wouldn't want to give up. Maybe even Andrew Susac, which seems awfully steep. He's still just a reliever, you know. Even if he's a four-time All-Star and one of the best relievers in the game, he's still going to pitch four innings a week, maybe. In those four innings, he'll be protecting a couple two- or three-run leads that even Jean Machi could protect most days.
And he's not magic, you know. He walks about four batters for every nine innings he pitches, and his mechanics can go cattywampus without warning.
So I can let go of that dream. If the Reds are just giving Chapman away, then sure. But if the Reds are just giving Chapman away, the line would be around the block, which would mean the Reds wouldn't have to just give Chapman away. It's a paroldix! And the Giants wouldn't want to mess with it.
They could probably get Jonathan Papelbon for cheaper if they were willing to eat money. Papelbon is like the lead in a Disney movie where a scientist turns his golden retriever into an English-speaking human, and he would be a lot of fun. He's also a very talented pitcher, though more on the Santiago Casilla side of the talent wheel. He would frustrate you occasionally, but his true value would be in allowing the other good pitchers to come in an inning earlier.
There are also middle relievers to consider. The Padres have a bunch of slider-throwing goofs, I'm sure. Maybe the Marlins would deal Carter Capps for a bushel of possible Carter Cappses. The Brewers and Indians have a guy or two who could help, and more teams will fall out of the race. There are all sorts of options. Sorry, Aroldis. It's not you, it's me.
Still, another reliever makes a lot of sense. Until you start examining just how in the heck it would work.
Assume eight relievers. That's a lot of relievers! But it's what the Giants have gone with all year, so they'll probably stick with it. Tim Hudson is coming back soon, and Bruce Bochy is saying he's going in the rotation. I'm not sure who's leaving, but the odds are good it's Vogelsong. Even if the plan is a creative six-not-six-man rotation that takes advantage of off days, that would still make Vogelsong a reliever for the purposes of this exercise.
The Giants have:
That's for eight spots. To add a reliever, you need to jettison four of them.
Osich down, okay, that's an easy one. Machi gone? Sure, that's a little callous, but he's been extraordinarily bad for a while, and it's not like the Giants trusted him at all in the postseason, either.
You still have one more.
Strickland? Well, the odds are long that you'll find a better reliever on the market, and I don't think the team is better with Lincecum or Vogelsong getting his innings. This seems very unlikely and unwise.
Petit? He's been awful, and his strikeout rate has dropped precipitously, but I still like him as a security blanket for next year, considering he'll still be relatively cheap. He's out of options, too. Of all the pitchers above, though, he's the only one who is especially well-suited for long relief and spot starting. Considering that he's probably just bored ...
oh, great, another 8-2 game, ok, yusmeiro gets it. yusmeiro will pitch some innings for you.
... I'll give him a pass on his lackluster 2015 for now. Of the 11 pitchers up there, he makes the Giants better than at least three or four of them.
Lincecum? Vogelsong? Do you really think the Giants are going to ditch a postseason hero/fan favorite? I'm not asking you if they should. I'm asking if you think they will, just to add another reliever. Neither one is a great bet to succeed in sixth- or seventh-inning work. Going on a straight evaluation of talent, the headline of this article could very well be "The Giants should trade for two relievers at the deadline."
The real answer is that an injury will come along. Sergio Romo's ERA might be sample size, or it might be something indicating his elbow needs a little rest. Jeremy Affeldt and/or Lincecum taking until September to mend would be another possibility. The expanded rosters could make it easy to fudge the rosters a little with some creative rest and rehab.
You see the problem with adding a reliever, though. Fan favorites and long-time Giants are in jeopardy, and those sorts of players are usually safe. It's one thing for Miguel Tejada or Casey McGehee to get cut mid-season, and it's one thing to part ways with Travis Ishikawa, even, but there really isn't precedent for the Giants cutting Vogelsong loose (he's been pretty okay since the rough start, remember). There certainly isn't precedent for cutting Lincecum loose, and I doubt they would even consider it for a second, even if he would have been gone in June if he were a non-roster invitee without the pedigree.
The Giants could use that extra reliever, though. Casilla is good, but he looks tired. Romo is terrifying right now, FIP be damned. Strickland is raw and imperfect, albeit much improved from the postseason. Kontos is having an excellent year, but I don't understand how, considering he's striking out people at Kirk Rueter-like rates. One more guy to bridge the late innings and help take pressure off the starters, that's all I'm asking.
If it's going to happen, though, the Giants will need to get creative.