San Francisco Giants May Have to Trade Vogelsong To Get Jose Reyes

Sean GalushaCorrespondent IIJune 24, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 22:  Ryan Vogelsong #32 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Minnesota Twins at AT&T Park on June 22, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

There was a time when baseball fans in San Francisco merely smiled at the possibility of seeing Jose Reyes in a Giants uniform.

Why wouldn’t they?

The dreadlocks look a little funny in the dugout next to the mopheads, the black beards, and the one or two pornstaches, but then again, so does the blazing speed between bases, the lighting fast swing and the sterling ability to spray balls into any gap in the outfield. 

Giants fans knew that Reyes’ reputation as the game’s best shortstop would make him an unlikely target for Brian Sabean. His age was also an issue—he turned 28 last week, which is about eight years younger than the average free agent the Giants usually sign during the offseason and before the trade deadline.

But despite these shortcomings, there’s just so much to love about the guy. He’s a five tool player just like Barry Bonds and his godfather—the golden centerfielder and San Francisco patriarch—Willie Mays. Reyes' arm and range at shortstop also reminds fans of Jose Uribe, another Giants favorite who coincidentally, is a fellow native of the Dominican Republic.

When the Giants predictably signed Miguel Tejada to a one year six million dollar contract, there wasn’t any head shaking or finger wagging. There were maybe a few groans, but it could have been worse.

Those groans have become much more audible as the season has progressed (they’re starting to sound more like sobs) and it’s something that can no longer be ignored by the front office. Something has to be done to improve this team and it’s going to cost a lot more than the bus fares the Giants pay to have their minor leaguers sent up from Fresno.

The Giants scored five runs in their weekend series against Oakland, which is two more than they needed to sweep a very bad Athletics team.

But their pitching “slumped” and gave up an absurd eight runs.  

Normally the Giants are used to winning games where they give their starters two, maybe three (when Bumgarner’s hitting) runs of support.  Since that hasn’t been working out to well, one of following things have to happen.

1)      Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum throw a no-hitter in every game.

2)      The offense starts hitting.

It’s hard to fathom which one would be more shocking, but after Tuesday night’s game against the Twins nothing comes as a surprise anymore.  The only thing people will remember from that game is Madison Bumgarner giving up eight runs and nine hits in just one third of an inning. Yes it was terrible thing to watch (or listen to if you still bother tuning into KNBR), but there was still eight and a half innings of baseball left to play.

Faced with the task of chipping away at a big lead, the Giants put on their usually display of offensive futility, lunging at pitches out of the strike zone and inexplicably failing to generate any kind of rally against the highly permeable Carlos Pavano.

The Twins may have scored nine runs, but they only needed one of them to win the game.

While Bumgardner wasn’t at his best, (who am I kidding, Baba Booey could have pitched a better game) Madison was long overdue for a bad outing. He hadn’t allowed more than three runs in his last 10 starts.  

The Giants have scored 10 runs in the games he’s lost this season.

They’re not in any kind of slump. This is how a team full of injuries and lousy hitters is expected to perform. It’s amazing that Bruce Bochy was able to keep the Giants in first place for this long, though part of it may be attributed to how bad the NL West is this year.

Last season, Brian Sabean recognized the status quo wasn’t enough and kept on shopping at garage sales until the Giants were good enough to win a little something called the World Series.

It’s a foregone conclusion Sabean will try to do the same thing before the trade deadline, but the difference is that the Giants won’t have some rookie phenom named Buster Posey kicking ass every night in the batter’s box and behind home plate.

The feeling this year is that the Giants need to make a blockbuster move if they want to give themselves a legitimate shot to repeat as world champs.

Jose Reyes is the name that keeps popping up, and there’s an explanation for that.

I keep talking about him.

Right now Reyes leads the league in hits (105), batting average (.335), and multi hit games (36). He’s second in the NL in steals and is on pace for 27 triples.

He’s the best solution for the Giants’ concerns both at shortstop and the leadoff spot. As much I love Andres Torres, he’s just not fearless enough on the base paths and he’s currently sporting a .312 on base percentage. I’m sure with Reyes hitting in front of him, he’ll drive in 100 runs and steal 20 bases before the season is over.

Having Jose in the lineup will also create better hitting opportunities for the middle hitters and takes some pressure off of players who feel they have to overachieve to compensate for all the injuries the Giants have suffered. These players I’m talking about are hitting a spectacular .240 for the year.

The biggest concern is where to stick Brandon Crawford if the Giants somehow acquire Reyes. The most logical move would be to move Brandon over to second base, a position he has already demonstrated that he is capable of playing in class A. I’m one of those guys who thinks that the Giants should play Reyes at SS, second and third so he can bat three times in every go around.

There’s a lot of people who are saying that a Jose Reyes deal is not going to happen.

My response?  We need to make it happen. The Brandon Crawford experiment isn’t working and Miguel Tejada is the worst everyday SS ever since the days Rich Aurilia was playing for social security. It’s time to dump this bum and shoot for the stars.

Who’s that you said? Alfonso Soriano? My mistake, not the stars, the f—king center of the universe.   

The Mets will be asking a lot for their star shortstop and fortunately, the Giants have a nice bargaining chip.

Ryan Vogelsong has been the best starter for the Giants this year and would make a positive addition to the Mets’ less than stellar starting corps. A lot of Giants fans have already vetoed the idea of trading him because they don’t want to see a rotation with five aces reduced to four. What these fans don’t realize is that losing 2-1 in every other game is going to really suck by the time September rolls around.

I’ve liked Ryan for a very long time. Even when he was a 24-year-old rookie getting torched in every game he played in. When I heard he was coming back from a fishing village in Thailand to replace Barry Zito in the rotation, I winced remembering all the walks, the opposite field hits, and the home runs that somehow ended up in the 20th row of the centerfield bleachers. But I also remembered the gutsy relief outings, the big hits he delivered in the batter’s box, and the genuine look of outrage whenever things weren’t going well for the team on the field or in the dugout. This was a guy who never stopped caring about the game and pitched every inning like it was the World Series.

He made his return debut in a relief appearance on April 18th and didn’t allow a run.  

Then he started his first game against his former team the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 3rd.

It hasn’t been the same ever since.   

He’s only had one bad start for the year (a four inning five run loss to the Mets) is second in the league with a 1.86 ERA, and in his last nine starts he’s given up seven runs, striking out 43 batters and walking 13.  

Last night he pitched seven innings without an earned run against the Twins and carried a perfect game through the first four.

He’s one of the hardest working pitchers (no wait, make that players) to ever put on a Giants uniform, traveling halfway around the globe to continue playing baseball and elevate his game. He came back from Japan with a new approach and better velocity, consistently throwing in the mid nineties with a splitter that’s confusing the hell out of hitters.  

If he continues banging out quality starts past the All-Star break, the Giants have the option of promoting him to the No. 4 spot in the rotation, or using him as leverage to win the Jose Reyes sweepstakes.  

Even if the Giants finally figure out how to hit a baseball again sometime in the next six weeks, it’s hard to figure out how they can win another World Series without bringing in some major offensive reinforcements. While a rotation consisting of five quality starters might win more games during the regular season, it won’t exploit much of an advantage in the playoffs where teams trot out their best starter two, sometimes even three times in a series.  

Teams use four starters in the postseason, not five. The Giants extra depth in their rotation will be useless to them when they run into chumps like Roy Halladay or Zack Greinke the second time around.

Some fans have suggested trading Jonathan Sanchez instead of Vogelsong, which doesn’t make much sense considering Sanchez is younger, left-handed, and has experience pitching in last year’s postseason. Slumps and hot streaks often lead to rash thinking, something that Brian Sabean is all too familiar with and must exploit before the trade deadline.

Vogelsong’s stock is steadily rising, and Bruce Bochy can bolster it even more by selecting him to the All Star Game. A trade wouldn’t hurt the Giants much as Barry Zito continues his rehab assignment in the minors and figures to be ready to rejoin the team early next month. Bochy would likely use him for the rest of the regular season and then leave him off the playoff roster just like he did last year. The Giants might even eat the rest of his contract in 2012 with the way Zach Wheeler is dominating in San Jose.  

I’d love to see the Giants acquire Jose Reyes without having to give up Vogelsong, but unless they can find someone with actual trade value that doesn’t make an absurd amount of money, I just don’t see it happening.

Besides the Phillies, the Giants seem to be hogging up all of the good pitchers in the National League. The most dangerous weapon in their artillery was freakishly unhittable today against the Twins. He struck out 12 batters in seven scoreless innings. The Giants won 2-1.

It’s scary to think how good the starters will be in the playoffs after the grind they’ve faced during the regular season. They won it all last year when their offense was “good enough.”

The Giants need to add a little speed, a lot of defense, and two more hits a game to be "good enough" again.

Fortunately, they only have to add one player.


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