The San Francisco Giants need a big bat to make a big run at a National League playoff berth.
They don't need to trade starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez (who still has a 75 percent chance of being a productive big-league winner) to get outfielder Corey Hart (who'd come with 50-50 odds that his offensive numbers would diminish in the move from Milwaukee's cavernous Miller Park to San Francisco's cavernous AT&T Park).
Odds are far better than 50-50 that Pablo Sandoval will find himself at the plate. So, even while fans foolishly suggest the 23-year-old third baseman be sent to the minor leagues—there's a 70 percent chance that Sandoval will bump his power numbers up and move his batting average well past the .260 mark he's hovering around now.
There's a 50 percent chance Hart would go bust in San Francisco. There's a 70 percent chance that the real Sandoval is a guy who'll produce more than he did in the first half and less frequently than he did in 2009.
So the Giants will get the extra run production they need from Sandoval without trading Sanchez. And, the guys smoking dope in the Brewers front office who said they'd take Madison Bumgarner can go back to their bong. Trade Bumgarner? Yeah, sure.
The Giants would be risking losing a productive pitcher in Sanchez and create a hole in the rotation to get Hart, who would come with a 50 percent chance his production would drop. Too much risk. No deal.
Sandoval's hit his entire career. He doesn't need to have MVP numbers to help produce more runs. He's only 23 years old. Why risk a disastrous trade for Hart if the Giants can wait for Sandoval? (Fans who want Pablo traded or demoted are in the Giants Fans Hall of Shame—along with those who booed Tim Lincecum when he struggled.)
Here's a look at the odds the Giants will get what they need most from the players they have:
The starting rotation has to be strong. It's absurd to expect all five starters to be lights out at the same time. There's a 100 percent chance that the Bumgarner we've seen will be the lefty we see through September. Barry Zito's traditionally pitched better in the second half, so there's a 75 percent chance that he'll bounce back to his early season form. Sanchez, in San Francisco, remains a question mark that the Giants can afford to carry. Give the guy 10 starts and he'll pitch well in more than six of them—so figure there's a 60 percent chance Sanchez will carry the load.
That leaves it to Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain to make sure that one or the other is the slump-buster: the guy the opposition knows is going to hand them an almost certain loss. There's a 95 percent chance that one or the other will be pitching like a big-time ace from now until September. However, there's a 30 percent chance that one or the other will struggle.
The key for the Giants rotation will get ace-like efforts from Cain or Lincecum—consistently.
The bullpen is one area the club has to bolster in trade. The Giants need a left-hander and they'll get one for, oh, a can't-miss prospect like righthander Tim Alderson. You remember Alderson? Yeah, the guy that the Pittsburgh Pirates demoted to the Class A Florida State League on Tuesday.
Brian Wilson's a sure bet to carry his load as the closer. He'll drive the Giants nuts making things too close for comfort, but there are 95-5 odds he'll do the job every time.
The rest of the bullpen? There's a 70 percent chance that it will be the reason that the Giants fall short of the playoffs. Keep in mind, though, that set-up men like Jeremy Affeldt get it together as quickly as they lose it. Something indicates that the veteran will pitch better down the stretch than he has so far—give Affeldt a 72 percent chance of regaining his 2010 form.
Buster Posey's provided the big-time bat the Giants needed. He is who we thought he would be. There's no chance he'll hit an extended slump and, surprise, he's hitting for the power all the nabobs who spend too much time reading minor league scouting reports said he would never display.
Aubrey Huff's a pro—even if he produces 80 percent of the offense he produced in the first half, he'll bump up the offense because Juan Uribe is back and healthy and he'll make Huff more productive.
Travis Ishikawa has found his swing and could, mercifully, be a mid-20s talent who came up through the system. Based on how he's swinging, and his professional attitude, there's an 80 percent chance that Ishikawa will significantly help produce more runs.
No new hitters needed.
The chance that Uribe and Edgar Renteria both flop with the sticks in the stretch? Oh, 10 percent chance? Anything's possible. Freddy Sanchez is a professional hitter who is certain to hit through the season like he's hit his entire career—no chance he'll fail to produce.
Pat Burrell's going to be key. He's doing for the Giants what he did for the Philadelphia Phillies—hitting the longball and striking out a lot. Like it or not, though, the odds that Burrell could revert to the guy who couldn't make contact for Tampa Bay are higher than fans want to admit. Figure there's a 60 percent chance Burrell keeps doing the job.
The offense actually might live or die with Sandoval's resurgence and leadoff hitter Andres Torres. There is about, oh, a 66 percent chance that Torres will keep hitting around .275, with some pop and flashing stolen base speed. If the 34 percent odds pay off and he flounders—Aaron Rowand will be the Giants hope.
The odds Rowand gets Giants fans off his back? (Don't laugh...the guy works at his game.) 60-40...maybe 70-30. Keep in mind, it won't take much for Rowand to improve his output.
The defense is good enough to win.
There's a 100 percent chance the Giants won't trade a current starting pitcher, so that means there's 95 percent chance they won't trade for big-time hitter.
That's not terribly bad news, though. Fans have been calling for the club to develop talent and—the 2010 playoff hopes rest on Sandoval, Posey, Lincecum, Cain, Wilson, Jonathan Sanchez, and Bumgarner.
Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Reach Ted at firstname.lastname@example.org