The San Francisco Giants ate their fourth loss in five games on Wednesday and, much more ominously, dropped a second consecutive start by Tim Lincecum. All of this is sure to twist the dial on all the clamoring for an extra bat or two.
There is some merit to the idea of swapping the appropriate young talent for a bigger bat to slide into the middle of the order—but not as much as is on the contrarian side.
I want to attack it from a different angle—consider who is out there and what they mean.
The most notable offensive asset you see floated these days is Matt Holliday, who is currently solar-hot at the plate. While the former Colorado Rockie's allure is considerable, the stench thrown by his agent—the noisome Scott Boras—in a contract year should (hopefully) be too much for the organization to stomach.
From there, the cupboard of serious difference makers gets bare, toot sweet.
Guys like Nick Johnson, Aubrey Huff, Ty Wigginton, Hank Blalock, Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson, Jonny Gomes, Scott Rolen, Garrett Atkins, and Adam LaRoche (gone now to the Boston Red Sox) aren't going to make the kind of difference we so lustily crave.
Every name on that list is a fine hitter and would undoubtedly help the Gents, maybe even substantially.
But what does that really mean?
There is an enormous gap between the current San Francisco offensive output and a level that would make it a serious threat to win the World Series. We're talking a chasm well beyond the scope of what any of the aforementioned names bring to a lineup.
For that job, you'd need to grab a Holliday or an Adrian Gonzalez or a Victor Martinez. Even then, it'd be a doozy of an uphill battle to emerge triumphantly from the postseason.
Facing such a likelihood of ultimate failure, only the 27-year-old, all-around stud San Diego Padre would make sense since he could assimilate easily into any team's long-term plan and offset the prospect blood-letting he'd cost.
The truth of the situation is the 2009 San Francisco Giants are going as far as their pitching staff will carry them—we knew that from Jump Street, and we're seeing now exactly what we saw at the beginning of the year.
If the pitching is excellent, the Giants will be good—maybe even good enough to make the playoffs, and then, who knows? If the pitching isn't excellent, the fellas will usually lose.
Adding Nick Johnson or Freddy Sanchez won't change any of that. Such an addition would certainly massage the probabilities by increasing the margin for error, but not to any satisfactory degree, and at what cost?
As Danny pointed out, none of these players will come on the cheap. While Madison Bumgarner, Tim Alderson, and Buster Posey seem to be safely off-limits, there are other very promising kids who could develop into valuable Major League pieces. Why burn them to rent a good-not-great bat for a couple months?
Even an asset like Jonathan Sanchez—an explosive talent with only consistency standing between him and domination, but who looks expendable due to the rich farm system—is far too valuable to flip for a rental.
Think of the prospects the young southpaw could extract from a pitching-depleted goliath over the winter.
Trading now means trading without leverage or possibly with it staring at you from across the negotiating table. After all, the urgency is on the team trying to win NOW, not on the team waving the white flag.
Leverage is an asset like any other—one that must be matched in any bargain.
Trading now means replacing that leverage with talent. For organizations sitting one piece from the Promised Land, the concession makes sense because of the potential benefit, but the San Francisco Giants are not one piece away in 2009.
Consequently, I hope they don't scatter any talent to the wind trading for it.