Welcome to our breathless, unhinged coverage of the 2016 trade deadline, where we’ll discuss every reliever in baseball until the Giants complete a trade for Tim Worrell’s spiritual successor. Today’s topic is "How to find a bargain in an extreme seller’s market." This seminar is $259, but you’ll get the next one for free.
Start with the presumption that even if the Giants wanted to trade Phil Bickford, Tyler Beede, Chris Shaw, Adalberto Mejia, Christian Arroyo, Derek Law, Mac Williamson, Jarrett Parker, and Aramis Garcia for Andrew Miller, the Yankees still might say, mnnnnyyyyyeeeeeeaaaaah, we’d prefer Joey Gallo, thanks. The Giants’ only hope is that Yankees GM Brian Cashman is a anti-vladimirist, like Brian Sabean used to be, preferring quantity over quality.
Again, that’s if the Giants wanted to make that trade, which they probably shouldn’t.
You keep coming back here, hoping I’ll say something different about Andrew Miller. Get out of here. Shoo.
At the same time, the Giants aren’t just going to get the next Cory Gearrin because he looks greener on the other side of the fence. If you’re ranking Sergio Romo, Hunter Strickland, Derek Law, and Jeremy Jeffress and have strong opinions about the exact rankings, you’re probably doing something wrong. They’re all roughly the same, with the difference being that Jeffress is the only one who hasn’t ruined your night before. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t when he got here.
So the Giants want an impact arm, the kind that can absolutely shut another team down. But there has to be a problem with him, something that would scare other contenders away and allow them to pay a reasonable price. It’s a fine line between clever and stupid.
Enter David Robertson, who used to be really, really good. He was so good, the White Sox gave him $46 million to pitch an inning every other day. He still has $25 million left after this season. He can still strike batters out. He might still be a viable closer and the closest the Giants can get to a shutdown reliever this deadline.
He’s also walking almost 13 percent of the batters he’s facing, which is well above the MLB average. He’s striking out 27 percent of his batters, which is above average, but well below what he’s done for most of his career. Considering that his swinging-strike rate isn’t a problem, this probably has to do with his command and control, which have been, again, miserable this year. His ERA and FIP are both the worst they’ve been since his rookie season.
Let me tell you a little about my favorite sweatshirt. It’s a hoodie that’s 75 percent silk, 10 percent cashmere, and 100 percent comfortable as hell. I would have had to sell my car to afford it ... if not for a pulled thread on one of the sleeves. You’ll never see the defect that put it on the clearance rack. I basically stole from the clothing store, ha ha, and they were powerless to stop me.
Robertson might be like that. Of course, the sweatshirt could have been on the clearance rack because the pull strings had a habit of wrapping themselves around the neck of the person wearing it, suffocating them in a grisly, tragic, completely preventable way. Robertson might be like that, too.
It’s possible that Robertson has struggled because the White Sox play in a hitter’s park, and they’ve struggled with their defense over the years. Why, that’s a theory that can’t possibly oversimplify things, and we should probably target every last White Sox pitcher, just in case. You never know until you try it! Twice!
Robertson has also blown saves this year that would make Santiago Casilla faint. He couldn’t protect a six-run lead with one out and no one here:
Well, pretend that’s an exciting baseball video and share it with some friends.
Point is, he’s imperfect. Very much so. If it doesn’t work out, it’s a financial burden at the cost of prospects. A double whammy.
If it works out, he’s exactly what the Giants need, but can’t otherwise get. So it looks like the Giants’ choices are:
- Doing nothing
- Getting a minor upgrade that you’ll hardly notice
- Hoping for Steven Spielberg to drop by and ask to see your screenplays because he’s out of ideas, then giving you a three-picture deal and complete creative control, because that’s what the Giants getting Andrew Miller would be like
- Empty the farm system for a less established, well-regarded reliever, like Alex Colome or Hector Neris
- Take a big risk and hope for a big reward with a reliever in the middle of a disappointing season
Of all of those, I’m voting for the last one, if only because it’s as close to the it’s-not-my-money that us spoiled fans can get. I’m not sure what the competition would be for Robertson, and if absorbing his contract would allow the Giants to get away with only a moderate overpay.
But I’m okay with the risk because the reward is high enough, and it would allow the Giants to keep at least a couple of their bolts for the next transaction jamboree. I can go for David Robertson and his 5.0 BB/9, crossing my fingers and hoping he cuts that in half.
Really, I’d go with the Giants’ scouts on this one. If he looks broken, the question doesn’t even come up. If he looks unlucky — he’s had three blow-up outings, four different one-run outings, and 30 outings of completely smooth sailing, after all — pounce. Andrew Miller has given up runs in six of his outings, just one fewer than Robertson. What’s just the real difference?
Still, this is the only way the Giants get a substantial upgrade, unless they really do plug their nose and get Aroldis Chapman. It’s just a matter of what the White Sox want, and what the other teams in the league are willing to give up.