The final hours of Major League Baseball’s winter meetings gave me a shudder. I heard a rumor that Giants GM was thinking about trading a future No. 1 starter in Tim Lincecum for Toronto Blue Jays future OF superstar Alex Rios.
There was outcry.
Sure, the Giants need offensive help. But in the official first year of the post-Barry Bonds era, rebuilding takes courage, patience, and, most importantly, PITCHING. No team can succeed without pitching, well not unless you have mega-hitting, and Rios can’t do it all himself, especially when he would be surrounded by the double play-duo of Omar Vizquel and Ray Durham. It should be noted that I have been saying for a couple of years that Kevin Frandsen should be allowed to prove himself at 2B. And for the most part, he seems perfectly capable.
Ask the New York Yankees what they needed most in the 2007 A.L. Divisional Series.
Ask the New York Mets what they needed most in the 2007 season. That late season collapse was waiting to happen, and even if they did make the playoffs, they weren’t going to go far with Victor Zambrano on their rotation.
The team’s most attractive trade bait, of course, is SP Matt Cain and Lincecum. Who doesn’t like young pitching? There might be some health concerns regarding Lincecum’s delivery and body frame, but you don’t give up on pitching. Sabean should have learned his lesson with the Francisco Liriano debacle.
If you ever did trade young pitching, you’d only do it the way the Detroit Tigers did in trading Andrew Miller for megastud Miguel Cabrera, and certainly not so much for Rios. Trading away (who some say could both be future aces) Cain and Lincecum defeats the purpose of trying to rebuild. Young players need time to develop, and Sabean is paying for the mistakes of riding the Bonds train (as much as I did too) and not riding it well enough.
It would be a whole different story if the Giants got those final six outs in the 2002 World Series. But they didn’t, and now Sabean — if he wants to keep his job — needs to stop signing aging players and start developing talent. The farm system is in a shambles, and it’ll take at least — at the very least — three seasons of frustrated fans and upper level management before the team can again be successful in the long-term.
The sad part is that these efforts might be in vain considering how strong the other N.L. West teams are. The Colorado Rockies are next year’s division favorites. The Arizona Diamondbacks have loads of young talent. The San Diego Padres aren’t too far behind. The Los Angeles Dodgers could surprise everyone, now that they have Andruw Jones patrolling center field.
Sabean is definitely on the hot seat, and he’s just gonna have to gut it out until the team starts winning again or until he’s fired (whichever comes first). He just needs to pray that Cain and Lincecum can be the aces that everyone thinks they will be a lot sooner rather than later. That would buy Sabean a little more time.