Sunday, July 22, 2007
An Ill Trade Wind Blows
Now that we have that out of the way...
With the trade deadline coming up in a hurry, and the Giants in desperate need of an influx of younger players, it's very possible that we'll see some moves that cull some of the veterans from the roster and bring back something that will maybe make this team's future brighter. Unfortunately, the Giants may not have much to bargain with. Who's going to give up a young, strapping five-tool prospect for the sub-.300 OBP stylings of Dave Roberts, after all?
Matthew Pouliot of Rotoworld had some damning things to say about the Giants' trade leverage:
>The Giants and Red Sox continue to be linked, with Omar Vizquel, Randy Winn, Dave Roberts and, gulp, Matt Morris getting mentioned as possibilities for Boston. Still, I don't see how there can be much to it. Morris' trade value is gone. Winn is owed $16.25 million in 2008-09 and Roberts is due $13 million over the same timeframe, making them way too expensive to be carried as fourth outfielders. Vizquel has made it clear he doesn't want to be a utilityman.<
Ugh. Ugh and a half. Winn's contract-to-production ratio is poor enough to where he's basically trade poison, and if that weren't bad enough, he has a no-trade clause for this season, so rule him out completely. Roberts might have had some value if he weren't due, as the article above said, $13 million over the next two seasons. No one wants to pay that kind of money for a rapidly declining fourth outfielder-type (except the Giants apparently...grrrr). As for Morris...gulp indeed. He's been horrendous for over a month and any GM who trades for him should probably be fired on the spot. Although that's not to say I don't hope and pray that there's a GM out there dumb enough to actually do it.
Ryan Klesko might bring something back because he's still productive and dirt cheap, but don't expect Billy Butler or anything. Ray Durham also might have trade value, because he has a reasonable contract (I still say bringing back Durham was a decent gambit, even though he's sucked this year), and production at second base is hard to find. Would the Mets give up Lastings Milledge (weird baggage and all) for Durham? Here's a fun little debate about it.
In all, I think the Giants' most valuable trading chip is clearly Noah Lowry (well, it would be Cain or Lincecum but...you know). Lowry is young, he's cheap, and he has proven he can go out and give you 200 innings a year. Those are some traits that would make a lot of teams salivate. There are fringe contenders all over in need of pitching, namely the Yankees and Phillies, but there are also young teams like the Devil Rays who have more young outfielders than they know what to do with and might be a perfect trading match. There were rumors this past winter that Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford was on the block (who knows why, but this is the Devil Rays, after all). If the Giants could possibly swing Lowry and Jonathan Sanchez for Crawford, it's something they should do in a heartbeat. That's probably an LSD-trip scenario, but there should be something close that the Giants could work out.
Many fans are squeamish about gutting the Giants' stable of young pitching, and rightfully so. However, I'm not convinced Lowry is a player who should be regarded as an untouchable. Giants Cove beat me to the punch on this one, but I'll reiterate the argument, because it's a good one.
Like I said earlier, Lowry has proven he can go out and throw a lot of innings, but with his poor K/BB ratios (in decline since his terrific 2005) there's every indication that he's going to fall off, maybe not this year, but soon. You see, if a pitcher has the kind of average strikeout rates that Lowry does, without great control, like Lowry, it's a recipe for disaster. We've learned over the years from those pesky BABIP and DIPS nerds that the more balls that are put into play, the higher the likelihood that some are going to just fall in for lucky hits. It's a bitch, but that's the way the world turns. If a pitcher puts a lot of runners on base to go along with those balls being put in play, and he can't miss bats, he's walking a tightrope. One unlucky inning and his day is ruined.
This is Lowry's problem. If everything falls right, he could be an even better Kirk Rueter. There's nothing, nothing, wrong with that. However, what he isn't is some indispensible asset. If his home run rate ticks even a smidge northward (he's given up an absurd six homers in 119 innings; he gave up 21 in both '05 and '06), his ERA is going to skyrocket.
The market for pitching right now is, I'd say, irrational (take a look at the Jeff Suppan and Jason Marquis contracts, after all). The market for young pitching is downright zany. I'm not saying the Giants should trade Lowry just for the hell of it. I'm saying they should dangle him out there and see what kind of offers bite back. If they get lowballed, keep him. He's a good pitcher. If the team can get a real, solid young player for him, though, a player who can serve as a building block to get this offense to a point of respectability, jump on it. He's the Giants' best bet for getting good value in a trade at the deadline.