Should Matt Cain Be Traded?
Two games into spring training, the San Francisco Giants are 1-1 with one tie at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers. Already, signs of life have spurred cautious optimism in the team’s possible performance. But with this increase in team performance in mind, another question arises: Who should the Giants acquire (or trade) to increase production?
My answer, quite simply, is nobody.
Sure, there are attractive free agents still on the market. As of this writing, that list includes players of the caliber of Roy Oswalt. But the stark reality is that, for better or for worse, the Giants are more or less “locked in” to their Opening Day lineup.
Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes the Giants made in 2011 was the “lineup shuffle.” Granted, I understand that Bruce Bochy’s job is to give the team every conceivable chance at winning. The economics of lineup shuffling, however, trade off new possibility for team chemistry and consistency.
These are the first spring training games, and already fans are clamoring for the Giants to make more “moves.” Unless these moves include deals for Pujols, Fielder, Braun or Bautista-type hitters (which they certainly will not, as no exceptional slugger is on the trading block or on the free-agent market), any “offensive upgrades” the Giants pursue at this juncture will yield marginal returns against a potentially devastating loss.
Carlos Beltran helped the Giants last season. Statistically, he was one of the most (if not the most) productive Giants hitter in the last two months of the season. Yet virtually all of the buzz and reporters would have had you believe that Beltran was actually the reason for the team’s free fall. While the team’s lapse from first place into deep second (and occasionally third place) late in the season might be attributable to their miserable run production, their production actually increased slightly with Beltran on the team.
At the very least, one could use the example above to suggest that perhaps getting the “better” player is not necessarily as important as having the best “group” of players. The Giants should know this. They won a World Series only two years ago not by having the best players. That honor went to the Philadelphia Phillies. They did, however, have the best group of players (even though they were “cast-offs and misfits”).
That is the formula for winning. Consistency. Be it on the diamond or in the clubhouse, consistency wins championships. I believe it is far too early to discuss trade talks for the Giants. But if someone gets injured (heaven forbid), things will change.