San Francisco Giants fans might want to think for a moment before they start crowing over the idea of slugger Corey Hart being acquired in trade to fill, once and for all, the right field spot.
Hart's a 28-year-old right-handed hitter who is under contract through 2011. So, the idea of acquiring the guy who already has 19 home runs and 61 RBI is incredibly appealing. He's hitting .288 for the Brewers and even has the speed to steal bases.
Giants beat writers who are reported things like, "I heard the Giants are interested in Hart" are guilty of understatement. The club likely covets Hart greatly. The Giants don't really have a need that Hart wouldn't do much to fill.
What beat writers and other rumor-mongers aren't providing Giants fans is information regarding what the Brewers would likely want in return for Hart. Milwaukee is 37-47 and won't find its way back into the playoff race this season. The Brewers will be sellers as the trade deadline nears.
What would Hart cost the Giants?
Left-hander Jonathan Sanchez is likely the first guy that San Francisco would have to offer up. Giants fans know that he has trouble throwing strikes, but that still hasn't kept the 27-year-old from a 7-6 record and impressive 3.15 ERA. He's a strikeout pitcher, which comes in handy after back-to-back walks.
San Francisco would have to provide quality minor league prospects—most likely two. They'd be getting an outfielder, so it figures the Brewers would ask for a top outfield prospect like Thomas Neal or Roger Kieschnick, who are coming on strong after slow starts at Double-A Richmond.
Hart fills a hole in the everyday lineup, and the Giants celebrate Madison Bumgarner's first win in the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation by beginning a search for a No. 5 starter after Sanchez is dealt and Bumgarner moves up to the No. 4 spot.
The Giants don't have a capable starting pitcher ready to jump from the minor leagues. So, they'd most likely have to fill that hole with right-hander Joe Martinez or some other stop-gap guy who has yet to prove he's ready for the big leagues.
As the Giants slowly rally from a near disastrous seven-game losing streak, fans might not get excited enough about the prospect of Hart batting third and playing right field to forget that Todd Wellemeyer's travails in the No. 5 spot in the rotation were very costly. Remember?
Before suffering an injury, Wellemeyer got 11 starts in the fifth slot. The Giants lost seven of those games. His inability to perform in the No. 5 spot radically slowed the Giants during their quick start.
A deal for Hart makes sense, but the club would need to have a companion move in mind to fill the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation before it becomes the type deal that sends fans out to buy tickets for a certain second-half rush toward the top of the NL West.
On the surface, it wouldn't seem difficult to fill the No. 5 spot. It took the Giants until the 20-year-old Bumgarner completely righted himself at Triple-A Fresno to do it, so make no assumptions that there's a veteran to be had in a steal of a deal.
Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Reach Ted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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