San Francisco Giants: Breaking Down Why They Should Pursue Nate McLouth
The San Francisco Giants win with small ball, and that makes Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres great fits on the team.
However, the play of the two left fielders hasn't exactly helped the Giants this season.
Torres and Blanco haven't done too well in left field, and the Giants could definitely go after a potential replacement in left. The Giants offense is below-average in runs scored, and it hasn't been helped much by Blanco and Torres.
Blanco has continued to do great things with his glove, but Torres hasn't done too well in the field this year. He has already committed three errors, which is too many for an outfielder.
In 2010, Torres inspired the team with his glove and hustle. This season, Torres hasn't done that. With the 2013 MLB trade deadline rapidly approaching, it's time for general manager Brian Sabean and the front office to start pondering potential trades to bolster the outfield.
How could he help? Let's take a look.
How Much Would McLouth Help the Team?
You can sum up McLouth's impact in Baltimore in one word: monumental.
There are multiple ways in which McLouth has helped the Orioles. In the 2012 ALDS, McLouth helped his club win Game 4 and push the series to a deciding Game 5. McLouth powered the Orioles to the playoffs, and he helped them win three games in the postseason.
Would the Giants benefit from a spark at the leadoff spot?
While Blanco and Torres are fast, neither is a great base stealer. McLouth certainly knows how to swipe a base.
In just 54 games this season, McLouth has stolen an astonishing 21 bases. He has only attempted to steal 22 times, which makes his mark even more amazing. McLouth's career was revived in 2012 with the Orioles, and he's blossomed into a huge contributor.
McLouth hasn't just helped on the basepaths, either. He is hitting .287 with four home runs and 38 runs this year, and he has posted a tremendous .367 on-base percentage (OBP). McLouth isn't the most powerful player in the league, but he can also pick up extra-base hits.
The speedy outfielder has averaged about one extra-base hit every three games. His .783 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) shows that he's getting on base and is collecting meaningful hits.
McLouth would be a perfect spark at the bottom or at the top of the Giants' order. The injured Angel Pagan has struggled as the leadoff hitter, and while Marco Scutaro has been solid at the top of the order, he would also be a nice fit near the bottom of the order in the 6-hole.
Scutaro is hitting .324 this season, but he rarely registers extra-base hits. With McLouth getting on base and stealing his way into scoring position, Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey and Hunter Pence would have plentiful RBI opportunities.
If those guys got on base, Scutaro could drive them in with singles, which would help the Giants stay strong near the bottom of the order.
Pagan, who hit in the 5-hole for a good portion of the 2012 season, could also benefit from a switch. He doesn't put the ball in play as much as Scutaro, but his 13.4 percent strikeout rate is solid. He could also benefit from a change, as he has a miserable .314 OBP.
McLouth is going to be a free agent this offseason, and while he loves playing for Orioles manager Buck Showalter, he would be a perfect fit in AT&T Park with Giants manager Bruce Bochy.
Could Nate McLouth be a Scutaro-type pickup?
Bochy, like Showalter, believes in his players, and San Francisco, like Baltimore, embraces its baseball team. Spacious AT&T Park is a perfect fit for McLouth, who would be able to find the gaps and hit an abundance of doubles and triples.
McLouth would definitely want to re-sign with the Giants if he were traded, which would help the Giants long-term. Giants fans have bad memories of trading for a rental, as they lost a top prospect in Zack Wheeler in a trade for Carlos Beltran. However, this wouldn't be a rental.
The Giants traded for Scutaro last July, and he signed a three-year deal with the team last offseason. It's realistic to expect McLouth to do the same thing.
McLouth's all-around talent makes him a perfect fit at AT&T Park. Over his career, he has compiled a stellar .285 batting average and remarkable .407 OBP at AT&T Park, and he could continue to terrorize pitchers in the Giants' waterfront stadium.
Blanco and Torres are currently slugging a mere .357, which means they are averaging about five bases every 14 at-bats. McLouth would definitely help change that while keeping pitchers and catchers alert on the bases and playing flawless defense.
How Would the Giants Obtain Him?
The only problem with targeting McLouth is that he will be extremely hard to get.
McLouth's Orioles are 34-28, and they are primed to make another postseason run. To get McLouth, the Giants would likely have to give up an outfielder and a quality prospect.
San Francisco doesn't have many good hitting prospects, but Clayton Blackburn and Kyle Crick will both be quality starters in the majors. Martin Agosta, Chris Stratton, Ty Blach and Heath Hembree are also poised for major league success.
Even though Barry Zito, Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong are all going to be free agents this offseason, the Giants can afford to let go of one starter. San Francisco has plenty of good pitchers, and it has another capable starter in Michael Kickham.
What would be a fair deal?
If the Giants sent Torres, Blanco, Juan Perez or a minor league outfielder (such as Gary Brown), they could give the Orioles another good defensive player while adding a talented all-around player. Baltimore's rotation has struggled mightily this year, as its 4.80 ERA is 25th in the league.
While the Giants likely wouldn't give up Lincecum, Zito or Vogelsong (who might not be fully recovered from his hand injury), trading a minor league hurler wouldn't be a bad idea.
Kickham could potentially be trade bait, as he located his pitches well and showed flashes of potential in his lone MLB start. If he continues to throw the ball well in the minors, he would be a great option.
If Kickham stays in San Francisco, there's a good chance he will be called upon to make spot starts this year and that he will be in the rotation next year. Kickham fell apart in the third inning in his debut against the Oakland A's, but he faced a patient A's lineup that took a lot of close pitches.
The Orioles need a starter who can help them win games, and Kickham has a 2.61 ERA in his last six minor league starts. Lincecum and Zito are better options for the present, and if the Giants could find a quality fifth starter, they could trade one of their current starters.
However, both are going to be free agents this offseason. Freddy Garcia will be a free agent this offseason, and he's been bouncing around the league. Kickham (or another prospect) could stay in Baltimore long-term, which is what the Orioles need.
If the Giants offered Kickham and Torres, there's a good chance the Orioles would agree.
And if the Orioles rejected the offer, the Giants could offer another prospect or bench player. San Francisco lacks depth on the big league roster, but it has enough depth in the minors to throw another prospect in the mix.
Perez, who just got called up, is also an option. Perez is hitting .296 and slugging .507 in the minors, and he is extremely talented and versatile on defense.
Even though the Orioles are in the mix in the tough AL East, the chances of them making a World Series run aren't too high. Adding an above-average defensive outfielder and a solid starter (for the present and the future) wouldn't be a bad idea for the Orioles, and they could do that just by giving up one 31-year-old outfielder.
It could be hard to get the Orioles to agree, but it's definitely worth a shot. The Giants have trade bait on their team, and they have what the Orioles are looking for: starting pitching.
The Giants aren't getting enough production at left field, and McLouth is a perfect solution.
San Francisco has enough depth to make a trade happen, and it makes perfect sense. The Giants aren't known for their farm system, but they have prospects who they can give up for McLouth.
Because the Giants don't have a ton of power in their lineup, they need hitters who can keep the chain moving. Blanco and Torres aren't getting on base (neither has an OBP better than .325), which means they aren't keeping the chain moving.
McLouth has the potential to be a perfect solution to the problem, a Scutaro-type pickup and a perfect fit in the lineup. Every Giants fan knows that's a good thing.
The Giants would definitely benefit from a trade for McLouth, and they should call the Orioles' front office immediately and try to get a deal done.
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