Giants, A's Trade Possibilities
by Glenn Dickey
Jul 18, 2007

BOTH GIANTS and A’s fans are anticipating big changes in their teams the rest of the season, because both teams are well out of contention, but the change will probably be much less than they expect – or want, in the case of Giants fans.

The Giants problem is two-fold: 1) Their own attitude; and 2) The lack of choice trading chips.

From the first day of the season, it has been obvious that the Giants would not be in the postseason mix, but they’ve had a hard time adjusting to that reality. After every loss, it seems manager Bruce Bochy says, “We’re better than this.” Well, actually, Bruce, you’re not. But don’t put all the blame on Bochy. The organizational mantra seems to be, “We’ve got guys hiting 50-70 points below their career averages, so we should get better.” Again, an objective look at the Giants would conclude that the depressed averages are the result of their age. Players not named Barry Bonds decline in their 30s.

If the Giants do decide to trade, who could they move? Certainly, not one of their young pitchers; Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are untouchables, as they should be. Other clubs would be interested in Noah Lowry because he’s signed through 2009 with a club option for 2010 before he becomes a free agent. But that is also a compelling reason for the Giants to keep him because they need a low-priced pitcher to help balance their budget because of that ridiculous contract they gave to Barry Zito.

Matt Morris might have some value to a team which needs a No. 3 starter to strengthen their rotation for a playoff berth, but the Giants should trade Morris (who has a year left on his contract) only if they can get a young position player in return.

And, that’s the problem for the Giants. Other teams are holding on to young prospects. The best example: the name of young Mets outfielder Lastings Milledge has come up repeatedly in proposed trades, but the Mets still have him. Clubs need those young players coming in at minimum salaries to balance the budget.

And who would the Giants trade to get young players, anyway. Their only veteran with value is Bengie Molina, because good catchers are so scarce. But that’s also the reason the Giants couldn’t trade him. They have nobody in their farm system to replace him, as has been painfully obvious as they’ve brought up two career minor leaguers the past two seasons. Good personal stories because these guys are finally getting a shot, but there’s a reason they hadn’t been up before.

The Giants penchant for overpaying hurts them if they try to move a player like Dave Roberts or Ray Durham. There was no real market for players like Rich Aurilia and Ryan Klesko before the Giants signed them. Randy Winn is a good player, but not one worthy of yielding a top prospect. Omar Vizquel is certain to be in the Hall of Fame one day but this should be his last season; again, who would give up a young player of value for him?

What I hope is that this season will finally force the Giants to face reality and overhaul their farm system. There is no legitimate reason for their failure to develop position players.

But even if they do that, the Giants still face a down period – and this year will continue to be dismal, with no hope of significant change.

A’s general manager Billy Beane has already signaled a change in approach with his trade of veteran catcher Jason Kendall, making room for rookie Kurt Suzuki to catch on a regular basis. That move was foreshadowed when Suzuki was brought up earlier because the A’s, unlike the Giants, do not bring young players up to sit.

Mike Piazza will be traded to an American League club which can use him as a DH. Before he was hurt, Piazza had hit only one homer in 102 at-bats, but he’s a consistent hitter who probably has more power left than that. He can helps an AL club which needs more punch to get over the hump, but with the A’s out of the race, it’s pointless to keep him in Oakland.

As I’ve written earlier, the A’s have been shopping Dan Johnson for some time, without any takers. Johnson simply does not have the power a team wants in either a first baseman or a DH; he’s really just a slightly better Scott Hatteberg. The A’s have Daric Barton, a good percentage hitter though not a power threat, either, in Sacramento. Barton started as a catcher but didn’t show enough defensive skills to be kept there, and he’s not an outfielder, either. That leaves only first base or DH.

There’s little reason for a big overhaul of the A’s. This is a young club whose main problem this season has been all the injuries. When they get Huston Street back as their closer and Esteban Loaiza in the rotation (Rich Harden is a dream), they’ll be respectable, though not contenders.

SPORTS LINGO: The latest catch phrase among media types: “So-and-so has electric stuff.” Electric? Does that mean he might short out? I put this with the basketball people who talk about a player’s “length”. That used to be height, but I guess it’s like saying velocity instead of speed in describing a pitcher’s fast ball.

TEAM NICKNAMES: When San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom said he would want the city to hang on to the 49ers nickname if the team moved to Santa Clara, it go me thinking of teams which retained geographically appropriate nicknames even after leaving the area.

The two leading examples are from the NBA: The Los Angeles Lakers, nee Minneapolis (lots of lakes in the L. A. basin, right?) and Utah Jazz nee New Orleans.

But there was another near-miss in pro football. When Lamar Hunt moved his fledgling AFL team from Dallas to Kansas City in 1961, he wanted to retain the “Texans” nickname. Kansas City Texans? Really has a ring to it. Fortunately, Hunt was convinced that wasn’t wise so the team became the Kansas City Chiefs.

SPORTS, CONCERT TICKETS: Tickets for the 49ers and Raiders and other NFL games are available on the TICKETS! TICKETS! TICKETS! link at the bottom of my Home Page, as are tickets for Cal and Stanford football and major league baseball games. Tickets are also available for the Johnny Mathis concert in San Francisco and for the various appearances of Norah Jones and Diana Krall –as well as tickets for hot summer concert tours featuring The Police, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Gwen Stefani. among others. Click on the Bay Area or national links below and the whole list will come up.

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