The 2009 Giants had a team ERA+ of 123. The 2010 Giants have a team ERA+ of 123. So far, so good.
The 2009 Giants had a team OPS+ of 80. The 2010 Giants have a team OPS+ of 92. Progress! Why, with the pitching from last year combined with an improved offense, the Giants are surely World Series contenders, right? Right?
They're four games back, actually. And it's a hard four games back. The team has lost 748 of its 749 games against San Diego, Los Angeles, and Colorado so far this season, and consistently losing against division rivals has a way of messing with your mind. If the Giants had, say, won a game in which they allowed a single hit, or maybe if Barry Zito didn't walk Garret Anderson to get to Manny Ramirez, maybe the team would be a little closer to the division lead. Maybe that would make it easier to label them buyers.
As is, the team could be selling with a post-break losing streak. They'd have some sweet pieces to deal -- the one-year bargain deals of Aubrey Huff and Juan Uribe could bring back a good prospect or two, and Mark DeRosa might bring a solid return back from medical researchers at universities the world over.
Most likely, though, it's buy, buy, buy if they're within three or four games. Fifth starter Madison Bumgarner and virgin-birthed catcher Buster Posey are off limits, but everyone else in the farm system is likely available. If you don't go for broke in a season in which Aubrey Huff is hitting like Willie Stargell, then when do you go broke? The problem, though, is that the Giants don't have an obvious chasm of dark suck to fill. When the Giants' second basemen from the first half of 2009 hit like Kirk Rueter with gout, it was easy to clamor for Freddie Sanchez, even if he wasn't exactly an offensive juggernaut. This year's team has a solid starter almost everywhere in the lineup. With Bengie Molina gone and Aaron Rowand benched, the team can often field a lineup that doesn't make the opposing pitcher chortle. Progress!
If the team were to acquire a player, they'd most likely go for a corner outfielder or a reliever. David DeJesus would be a good fit at a fair price, though the Giants might go for a right-handed outfielder like Corey Hart or Josh Willingham if they aren't too worried about finding a good complement for Pat Burrell.
The most likely result of the Giants' trade deadline is that the team will acquire a middle reliever -- not too flashy, and not too expensive. With Guillermo Mota and Denny Bautista preventing runs with smoke and mirrors, and Jeremy Affeldt looking more like a mopup man than a setup man this season, the Giants might go after low-profile guys like Scott Downs, Clay Hensley, or Tyler Clippard. The bigger need is for offensive help, but it's possible that the Giants will hope that Pablo Sandoval's renaissance will qualify as the "big bat" for which the talk-radio set is begging.
The farm is mostly bare with Bumgarner and Posey up. Anyone else is fair game, but the Giants probably aren't going to empty the farm for just anyone. Are the Royals looking for a B-level prospect or two in exchange for David DeJesus? Great, fine, send him over. If not, the Giants will probably make do with what they have. They don't have obvious, Molina-sized holes up and down the lineup this year, which is quite a departure from previous years. It's probably a pretty confusing position for Brian Sabean to be in. Here's hoping he doesn't mess it up.
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