SF Giants: 5 Waiver Deals the Giants Could Make to Duplicate Cody Ross
The Giants that went into the 2010 postseason, what manager Bruce Bochy called his "band of misfits and castoffs" and his "Dirty Dozen" hardly resembled the team that broke spring training in March 2010.
While some, like leadoff man Andres Torres, earned his starting job after years as a backup, others came as last-minute trades and key call-ups to fill gaping holes in the Giants' lineup.
Cody Ross was a complete accident.
The Marlins, who on Aug. 22 were in third place, 10.5 games back in their division, decided to cut ties with Ross and send him, along with what remained of his $4.45 million salary, to the Giants.
While he didn't get regular playing time until the postseason, anybody who watched the Giants last year knows what a key role Ross played in the playoff win.
As the Giants try to improve their team after the trade deadline, they enter the tricky waiver period. The waiver process allows teams to trade after the deadline, but only players that pass through waivers, giving priority to teams with lower winning percentages on the year.
While some teams may try to block the Giants' trades, the Giants could still make a key trade in the home stretch.
Here are five players the Giants could target to make an impact over the next couple of months.
Ramon Hernandez, Catcher, Cincinnati Reds
Though Ramon Hernandez was the target of many trade rumors before the trade deadline, the Giants could still conceivably pick him up in the closing stretch.
Despite their sub-.500 record this year, the Reds are just 7.5 games back in the NL Central and could still make a run for division title, making it unlikely they'd trade away a good player like Hernandez.
However, if the Reds fall far enough out of contention, it's conceivable that they'd look to trade Hernandez and what's left of his one-year, $3 million contract, particularly to make room for their younger and cheaper catcher, Ryan Hanigan.
Hernandez is having a great year at the plate, hitting an impressive .302/.362/.491 with 10 HR in 63 games. He's split time almost exactly with Hanigan thus far and would certainly be an upgrade offensively for the Giants in the catching position.
Given that the Diamondbacks are set in the catcher position with Miguel Montero, it's unlikely that they would block the Giants' acquisition of Hernandez and risk taking on additional salary, making Hernandez a possible pickup for the defending champs.
Josh Willingham, Outfielder, Oakland A's
While most of Josh Willingham's season was entirely unremarkable, his play in the month leading up to the trade deadline made his name pop up in many trade rumors.
Willingham's numbers on the year are still not stellar, just .252/.335/.457 with 15 HR, but in the month of July he was on fire, hitting .324/.429/.618 with five HR.
There's almost no chance that he'll maintain his July numbers through the rest of the year, but it's nice to see some life out of him after a disappointing first three months.
With the A's almost certainly out of contention in the AL West, it's likely that they'll be looking to dump some of Willingham's $6 million salary. His defense this year has been below average, and it's not quite obvious where he'd fit into the Giants lineup, considering their glut of outfielders as it is.
Still, if current slumps continue and the Giants get desperate for an offense-first player, Willingham could find himself crossing the Bay.
Matt Downs, Second Baseman, Houston Astros
Yes, that Matt Downs.
Though he never got regular playing time on the Giants, Downs could fill some holes in the infield for the Giants.
This year Downs has batted .227/.321/.454, which is not particularly overwhelming but shows good patience and a decent amount of pop.
Downs has always put up a good walk rate, over 10 percent this year and put up impressive stolen base rates in the minors, though that has not translated to the majors yet.
He doesn't have quite the same speed or flexibility as Emmanuel Burriss but could play a similar role in the event of another injury or demotion due to lack of performance.
The Astros continue to use Downs primarily as a backup and pinch hitter, and with rookie Jose Altuve starting every day at second base and putting up impressive numbers, it seems unlikely that Downs will find much playing time.
Given the fire sale currently going on in Houston, it's conceivable that the Giants could acquire Downs for a reasonable price.
Ryan Doumit, Catcher, Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates shocked the baseball world this year, reaching the All-Star break four games above .500 and just one game out of first place after 18 straight losing seasons.
Unfortunately their star has fallen a bit since then, after a six-game skid, and they find themselves hovering back around the .500 mark with an uphill battle ahead of them. If the Pirates continue to sink in the standings, they could become sellers by mid-August and would look to shed some salary.
Ryan Doumit, one of several catchers who have had the job behind the plate in Pittsburgh this year, would probably be the best target for the Giants.
He's batting .269/.333/.441 with four HR in 2011 through 34 games, and while his stats may not be overwhelming, his consistency with the bat is something that the Giants sorely need from the catcher position.
Doumit is in the last year of a three-year, $11 million contract, with a combined $15.5 million team option for 2012 and 2013.
Given Pittsbugh's tiny team budget ($52.4 million) and Chris Snyder coming back from surgery and resuming his role as the presumptive starting catcher next year, the Pirates might be interested in trading away Doumit and his contract in a hurry.
Yorvit Torrealba, Catcher, Texas Rangers
Matt Downs isn't the only former Giant who could make a splash on his old team.
With Mike Napoli healthy and crushing the ball in Texas, Yorvit Torrealba will see his playing time fall dramatically as the Rangers fight to stay atop the AL West and make the playoffs.
Torrealba, who originally came up through the Giants organization and held the backup catcher role for over three years, might come back home if the Giants can find a good enough trade package for the Rangers.
Torrealba is hitting .261/.295/.386 on the year with four HR but has hit 20 doubles in 289 PAs and could be a key RBI guy hitting low in the batting order for the Giants, which could play a key role in maintaining Giants rallies.
Prying Torrealba from the Rangers is another challenge. Given their spot in the race to the playoffs and their slim lead over the Angels, it's unlikely they'd unload Torrealba unless the Giants made it worth their while.