As the All Star Game and unofficial midway point of the 2008 Major League Baseball season draws near, the Giants are in a bit of a bind. Unlike other teams, who know whether they are going to be buyers or sellers and the deadline, the Giants are at a crossroads.
It may seem like a contradiction, but the Giants are far enough that they should be sellers, but close enough that a couple small additions could make them a legitimate contender for the National League West Title.
Currently, the Giants sit seven games back of the NL West Leader Arizona Diamondbacks, who aren’t even over five-hundred on the season. It seems that one big winning streak or push could land any of the five teams in first place. That’s my argument for them to be buyers.
In a rebuilding season with Barry Bonds, the team has sorely missed his bat. In fact, if Bonds was on the team this season, I guarantee the team would be in first place. The point is moot however and the Giants have to rely on Aaron Rowand and Bengie Molina. Although good, hard working players, they are not players a team should build around, they are more like complimentary players who need to surround a big bat in the lineup.
If the Giants are within six games of first place at the deadline, they should be buyers, because they definitely have the pitching to sustain themselves for the rest of the season, especially with Zito pitching well of late.
Now to the other side of the argument: Even if the Giants close in on first place, and even if they were to make the playoffs, how far would they go? I think it’s safe to say that the team wouldn’t last more then a series against an opponent like the Cubs, the team the NL West victor would most likely play.
So after all this explaining, all this back and forth, I’m going to say that the Giants are going to and should be sellers. For a team that was predicted to finish in dead last, they’re holding their own at third place, but with some aging veterans, they should be dealt at the deadline.
Although a fan favorite, Rich Aurilia could be a nice little piece for a playoff team. He’s having a comeback season and for a guy that can play almost any infield position, he could be quite valuable. He would still have to hit some more home runs though.
Next to be dealt is Ray Durham. After having a career year in home runs and RBI’s in 2006, he has disappointed immensely with back to back sub par seasons. The only thing he’s got going for him is .284 batting average, which is respectable. He has also swiped a few bases and can play a decent second base.
Now to the player most likely to be dealt; Randy Winn. He’s one of my favorite players who can hit for power, average, and even steal a few bases. He’s having a very good season and would be an excellent addition to a Tampa Bay Rays team looking to improve even more at the deadline. I’ll be sad to see him leave, but I feel it’s imminent, especially with Dave Roberts returning sometime after the break.
You know the saying, “You have to give some to get some”? Well that comes into play at this year’s deadline. The Giants don’t have anyone huge that they can deal, but they have some pieces that could fit on a playoff team’s roster. For that reason, they won’t get anyone big back in return, but for a rebuilding franchise, prospects (preferably offensive ones) will be welcome as the team continues to get younger.
A competitive team may be years away but the Giants are developing players with the likes of John Bowker, Emmanuel Burriss, Eugenio Velez, Travis Denker, Brian Horwitz, and Fred Lewis who has already developed into a solid leadoff hitter.
With the development of these players this season, plus additions next season and years to come, combined with the pitching staff, the team will be a contender. The fans just need patience.
San Francisco Giants Offensive Leaders (As of July 10th)
Batting Average: Aaron Rowand (.296)
Homeruns: John Bowker (9)
Runs Batted In: Bengie Molina (53)
Hits: Rowand/Winn (94)
Stolen Bases: Randy Winn (18)
Wins: Tim Lincecum (10)
Earned Run Average: Tim Lincecum (2.66)
Innings Pitched: Tim Lincecum (121.2)
Strikeouts: Tim Lincecum (126)
Saves: Brian Wilson (24)
Before I close the article, I want to tip my cap to Giants' shortstop Omar Vizquel.
The Venezuelan and future Hall of Famer is currently having a dreadful season while batting .156. Because of his bad play he approached manager Bruce Bochy and told him that it would be okay with him if he wanted to play Burriss more instead of him in order to further develop the youngster’s skills.
This means a lot to me because it’s a true sign of professionalism, something that I thought was dead in baseball.