"It's a wild and wacky league," Sabean said. "This might be the year of the 86-to-88-win division winner. I couldn't even tell you what the record would be of the wild-card winner."
With parity rearing its ugly head onto the baseball scene, the majority of teams in MLB are in the playoff hunt, producing a seller's market, and thus, limiting Sabean's choices.
"There's not that many difference makers out there. Lord willing they're all going to the Red Sox or the Yankees anyway," San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean said.
Despite the east coast teams' penchant to steal the limelight, here's a look at who might be available at the trade deadline:
Randy Johnson, AZ – During a media session this past week, the Big Unit all but assured his desire to leave Arizona for a contender when he said:
"The only way I'd probably want to leave is if a trade would benefit the Diamondbacks by my leaving. And maybe the way to do that is if they wouldn't have to pay my salary and it could go to some other players that would help them -- and if I got to a situation that was going to work for me. That's pretty logical, right?"
Regardless of his statement, the D-Backs would have to be inclined to trade him and it remains questionable whether they would deal him to a division rival like the Giants.
Kris Benson, PIT - If Arizona elects to keep Johnson, Benson becomes the "cream of the crop" in an unusually thin collection of available starters. The Giants have been rumored to be interested, but since many teams are enamored with Benson, the price will reach its pinnacle come the end of July.
Ramon Ortiz, ANA – The R. Ortiz in Atlanta would be a better choice, but Ramon wouldn't be a bad alternative. The Angels right-hander has been rumored to be on the block due to being shuffled from the rotation, to the bullpen, and back. Ortiz has solid peripherals and has brought his dominance rate back up this season (7.31 K/9).
"Several teams, including San Francisco, Philadelphia, the New York Mets and Chicago White Sox, remain interested in unhappy pitcher Ramon Ortiz, but the Angels still don't seem to be in any hurry to trade him," The Los Angeles Times reported.
Eddie Guardado, SEA – "Everyday" Eddie hasn't been used as much on a losing team, but still has saved 15 games to go along with a 2.06 ERA and an opponent's batting average of .178. The Mariners have already jettisoned Freddy Garcia and all indications point to a purge in the roster prior to the trade deadline. Seattle has been long-rumored to be interested in Pedro Feliz.
Ugueth Urbina, DET – The Giants had the chance to sign Urbina in the offseason, but did not make an offer, perhaps because of his steep contract demands. A report in the Contra Costa Times noted that a source close to Sabean "discounted" the rumor, made popular by ESPN's Peter Gammons, that Giants were the "front-runner" in acquiring Urbina.
Jose Mesa, PIT – Mesa has been a pleasant surprise for the Bucs this season, having been picked from the scrap heap for a bargain price of $800K. The Pirates don't have another pitcher to replace Mesa as the closer and would have to be offered a deal they can't refuse to trade him, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"I like it (in Pittsburgh). I don't want to go anywhere," Mesa said.
Carlos Delgado, TOR – The slugger would only cost $6.17M for the remaining two months of the season, which the Blue Jays wouldn't mind consuming. "(General Manager J.P.) Ricciardi has a master plan that doesn't include Delgado," The Toronto Star reports.
Even then, the Giants seem reluctant to part with prospects for a rental like Delgado, although he would certainly fill the void behind Barry Bonds quite adequately.
Larry Walker/Preston Wilson, COL – Both Rockies outfielders have been mentioned in rumors as salary dumps, but not many cash-strapped teams can afford to take on such hefty salaries, including the Giants.
Steve Finley/Danny Bautista, AZ – Either outfielder would immediately improve a Giants outfield in dire need of a shot in the arm. The trouble is Finley will be approaching 40 soon, but still doesn't show signs of slowing down. He's already hit 21 homeruns, while posting a BA/OBP/SLG of .287/.348/.516.
Carlos Beltran, HOU – It's not out of the realm of possibility for the Astros to fall out of contention and deal Beltran for a second time this season. It is, however, unlikely that the Giants have a package suitable to lure a catch like Beltran from Houston.
"We've put so much into this year," Astros' GM Gerry Hunsicker says, "that trading guys like that only makes sense if A) we think we're out of the wild card, and B) we can get something back that makes sense."
Orlando Cabrera, MON – Cabrera is all but signed, sealed, and delivered to the Chicago Cubs. However, recent reports indicate a possible blockbuster involving Nomar Garciaparra and Randy Johnson. The Cubs would provide the necessary prospects required to pry RJ from the D-Backs.
"The expected pursuit of Randy Johnson has officially intensified with the Boston Red Sox contemplating a two-part deal in which they would send Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs to secure prospects and then use those young players as part of a package to acquire Johnson from the Arizona Diamondbacks," The New York Times reports.
More Likely to Happen
Listing all the wondrous possibilities for the Giants can serve as an act comparable to the daydreaming the New York sports media often exercises. For all intents and purposes, Giants fans need to maintain the philosophy employed by Sabean which, of course, is a practice in frugality.
More than likely, the Giants will target "role players" to complement All-Stars Barry Bonds and Jason Schmidt.
"I would be surprised if we don't do something," Principal Owner Peter Magowan said. "I just don't think it's going to be the kind of deal that causes a lot of excitement. I think what we might end up with won't be a sexy name but it will be an improvement to the team."
Some names to keep close to your search engines are Matt Stairs, KC; Frank Catalanotto, TOR; and Craig Counsell, MIL. All could help the bench while providing left-handed pinch-hitting and spot starts.
Also of the Brian Sabean "specialty" include middle relievers who garner less attention, but improve the pitching staff nonetheless. Some veterans who may be available include Dan Miceli, HOU, Terry Adams, TOR, Todd Jones, CIN; Trever Miller, TB; and Mike Myers/Ron Villone, SEA.
In like manner, what Giants' season would be complete without a late-season waiver pickup? Jose Jimenez, CLE, was recently designated for assignment by the Indians and cleared waivers. Cleveland then sent Jimenez outright to Triple-A Buffalo and it remains to be seen whether Jimenez will accept the assignment or opt for free agency.
"We have lot of things we can do to improve the team, but the question is what do you have to give up in terms of prospects?" said Magowan. "All these other clubs seem to ask for the same set of prospects. The problem is, if you try to do a deal today there are so few people who are out of [contention] and so many who think they are, there's a lot of buyers but no sellers -- so the price goes up."
Hopefully for the Giants and their fans, whatever price the Giants eventually pay proves to be beneficial in their push for the playoffs.
Phil Delacruz was a transplanted Giants fan, buried in the Southland. After four strenuous years in College, studying (read: partying), he's back in the beautiful "City by the Bay" – San Francisco. Do you think he should move back to LALA land? Or do you like him where he is now and appreciate the good reads? Either way, send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to air out your frustrations or, more likely, songs of praise.
The views expressed in the columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the site's publisher, writers, or other staff members. The content on this site may not be redistributed without the expressed consent of SFDugout.com.