The last few weeks of July always brings it's own special kind of storm, made up entirely of trade winds. Teams are figuring out who's in, who's out, and who might be jumping ships in the midseason shuffle.
It's a week until the end of July, and the Giants have some major upgrading to do if they are to be serious contenders for and in the playoffs. So we here at the dugout are going to rundown the rumors that have been floating around all of baseball and all the major media outlets right here for you. So get ready for the storm.
First thing to consider is who the Giants are willing to trade. GM Brian Sabean has said, several times, he's not trading top prospects Matt Cain and Merkin Valdez. Which, of course, means that there's not a soul who believes him. But before you get all jaded and believe everything is a lie, it's entirely possible that Sabean won't deal either of them. The Giants have an awesome opportunity to have a Cub-like rotation when Barry leaves, meaning no rebuilding phase, but keeping both of these potential aces is key to that happening. Unfortunately, the rest of the league seems unimpressed with the rest of the Giants farm system, but most everyone also believes that Sabean and Ned Colletti will sell some poor fool on the next Ryan Vogelsong, and the Giants will make some sort of a move. Just expect Cain and Valdez to still be a part of that awesome Nor-pitch (AA Norwich Navigators) rotation.
Let's start off with one of the big names that every Giants fan was talking about a while ago and still would love to get: Carlos Beltran. Well, it's not going to happen. Despite the fact the Astros are a mere two games out of last place in the Central, and have 8 teams ahead of them in the Wild Card standings, It's unlikely the Astros are going to deal him. It's a point of pride, and Houston owner Drayton McLane knows that Beltran can still give Houston fans a thrill, even if in a losing season, just to see one of the game's next top players in their uniform for a few years. It's a Houston specialty. I mean, really, does anyone other than Houston fans remember what Randy Johnson looked like in an Astros uniform? I thought not.
And speaking of Randy Johnson, well, that's not happening for the Giants either. Despite some delusions discussed by Giants fans, the only place Johnson is going, if anywhere, is the Yankees. And that's not too likely in itself. Right now, RJ is to Arizona what Barry is to San Francisco, a sure fire hall of famer who'll bring the fans in any city to the stands. That's money Arizona is desperately trying to recoup. But there is another Diamondback who is making some major waves….
Steve Finley is quickly becoming the most actually discussed Diamondback in trade talks. And the Giants are one of the teams talking about him. Sabean covets him (considering how well Finley always does against the Giants, it's no wonder), but he's not the only one. Division rivals Los Angeles (as long as Beltran's not available) and San Diego are also making serious inquiries into Finley. Right now, the D-Backs are not very interested in trading him within the division, which gives the edge to Philadelphia and Florida. However, that might change in the next few days, and if Diamondbacks open negotiations to the NL West, the bidding war for Finley may become as hard fought between the three NL West contenders as the race will be.
The messages out of Montreal are becoming mixed but interesting. The Expos, with a sale pending to either the DC ownership group or the Las Vegas one, aren't interested in dealing away too many young pitchers (in other words, Zach Day isn't going anywhere), but they apparently aren't interested in dealing Livan Hernandez (an expensive free agent to be) either. Who is available from the soon to be ex-Canadian team? Shortstop Orlando Cabrera and pitcher Tony Armas Jr. Cabrera is an outside possibility for the Giants, but is unlikely to end up in San Francisco unless all other offensive options are gone. According to the rumors, the Giants are looking to add pitching or outfield help. Armas, on the other hand, may become the high-risk, high-reward man of the trade season. His arm is good, and he's a solid pitcher, but he's had a lot of injuries and hasn't thrown a full season's worth of games but once in his 6 year career, in 2001. He won't this year, either, but he might be help to a desperate team.
Speaking of high risk, high reward, there's Kris Benson, who has become the non-Randy Johnson darling of this year's pitching market. And though Kris Benson's past could indicate he'll be the next Jason Schmidt, it's just as likely he'll be the next Sidney Ponson. Whoever he becomes, it's likely he won't become it until very near the deadline. Pittsburgh GM Dave Littlefield is expected to try and hype the bidding as much as possible. It's unknown how much the Giants fit into this trade: some reports have Sabean offering Feliz and Littlefield hanging up on him, and some reports having Littlefield asking for Feliz, and Sabean hanging up on him, so no one is sure what to believe. The longer the wait goes, though, the more unlikely it is that the Giants will deal for Benson. If there's any Pirate Sabean wants, it's….
Jose Mesa. Obviously, the Giants need a closer, and Mesa is one of the best ones available. Pittsburgh seems increasingly interested in trading him, but the competition is getting a little thicker. The St. Louis Cardinals are also particularly interested in him, as are the Philadelphia Phillies. Both of those teams are in the hunt for any bullpen piece the Giants may be after, though they both may settle for set-up men while the Giants are the team in real need of a closer.
Speaking of the relievers, there's always Eddie Guardado. Unfortunately, it appears that Seattle is becoming increasingly uninterested in trading him. That may change, after all, what good is a closer if your team never wins, but the Giants are apparently focusing their energies elsewhere. However, the Mariners do seem to be open to trading some of their other lefties, and the Phillies are looking at Ron Villone, as are other teams. But not the Giants. Why?
There are currently four teams looking for lefty relievers: the Phillies, the Braves, the Padres, and the Angels. In fact, neither the Padres or the Angels have any lefties in their ‘pens. This is of interest because the Giants may become sellers: the Giants have 4 lefty relievers to play with. Scott Eyre is probably untouchable, but Jason Christenson is coming to the end of his contract and the Giants may push him to a team that needs a lefty, and Wayne Franklin seems to only meltdown when put in for long relief stretches. Franklin's .218 BAA vs. lefties is superb, and may make him desirable to teams looking for a lefty specialist. Then there Chad Zerbe, who has been in the doghouse for some reason, but is doing well at Fresno and Anaheim has certainly seen what he can do (he got a win against them in the 2002 World Series). Obviously, none of these guys are headed to San Diego, but with 3 other teams looking for lefties, the Giants would be amiss to not take an opportunity to become sellers, smooth out a bullpen with one too many players for spots available, and pick up something cheap.
A very untalked about reliever that may be available is the Brewer's Luis Vizcaino. He has no experience as a closer, but has shown talent. The Cardinals are already calling about him, though, so there's competition.
Then there's Ugeth Urbina. He appears to be the fallback option for the teams looking for power relievers or closers; most teams seem to be focusing on Mesa.
Frank Catalanotto's name was brought up a while ago in connection with the Giants, but the Toronto Blue Jays have apparently changed their minds and won't be dealing him. Same story with Matt Stairs out of Kansas City. Neither will likely be moved.
Finally, the least talked about name, therefore the one to look out for with the Giants: Paul Wilson. Should the Reds become sellers, don't be surprised to be surprised by him.
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