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…. Cha-cha-cha-cha-changes, Part II

The revenge of the backtalkers.

Ten backtalkers in less than 24 hours makes the LaTroy Hawkins trade the hottest thing in Giantsville, so let’s hear from some of the boys who make OBM what it is.

…. Wow, John, I have a completely different take on the Hawkins trade. I am demoralized by this move, and while Brian Sabean claims the trade “sends a message” that the Giants are serious about winning, to me the message is that it’s time to change the name plate on the GM’s desk.

As I see it the Giants are a losing team that features the oldest lineup in history, and that has no promising position players in the minors. It is time to rebuild. In this endeavor, the only thing this organization has going for it is a passel of pitching prospects. If I were Sabean my priorities would be as follows:

1) Hold on to the young pitching, since this is the foundation for the next good Giants team.
2) If you do trade any pitching prospects be sure to get young position players in return, since we desperately need replacements for the aging veterans.
3) Unload the aging veterans for anything you can get.

If you asked me the question, “What is the worst possible move the Giants could make right now?”, my honest answer might well be “Trade multiple pitching prospects for a 32-year-old setup man.”

…. A quick response to the argument that “this trade doesn’t add much to the Giants payroll.” In fact Hawkins has a player option for over $4 million for 2006, which he will surely exercise. After that he becomes a free agent. So Sabean has “won” the right to pay Hawkins over $4 million for 2006, and if Hawkins is good in 2006 then it will surely cost at least another $4 million to keep him for 2007. And to acquire Hawkins Sabean surrendered two prospects who will be playing the next few years for $1 million or less.

…. Acquiring a veteran player is a bit like chowing down on a Big Mac and fries at McDonalds: it is tasty and pleasurable in the short run, and the resulting weight gain and high cholestoral don’t show up until later. And if you eat fast food in moderation, it will not necessarily affect your health.

My beef with Sabean is that his fetish for veterans has gotten completely out of hand. This off-season he signed Matheny, Alou, Benitez, and Vizquel, which is roughly equivalent to eating Big Macs for breakfast and lunch every day for a month. He has deliberately given away the Giants’ high draft picks, which amounts to refusing to eat your peas and carrots. And with his acquisition of Hawkins in exchange for two prospects, Sabean has made it official: he has commited the Giants to a diet of all Big Macs, all the time. He has Supersized the Giants, and I expect that this aging, losing team with a bloated payroll will be in intensive care for the next few years.

Jim Adams

…. I’ve tried to be consistent with my posts and I’m going to do the same here. A number of weeks ago I identified Hawkins as a good and underrated pitcher likely available to us in a trade. But damn (!), I didn’t know that Sabean was thinking the same thing. I don’t know (haven’t looked yet) about the specifics of this deal, but on the face of things, Williams and Aardsma and some $ for Hawkins is okay by me.

Yes, he’s 32, I know that. But he has decent numbers; he’s regularly had decent numbers in his career; he’s durable; he pitches a hell of a lot of innings; and I personally think that he’s underrated. Now, I’m not saying that I can predict how he’ll be in the future, but I’m okay with this move and I don’t know why a good middle reliever like Hawkins can’t be around for another 5-7 years and be productive at a reasonable price.

Kent

…. People complain that Alou “messed up” Jerome by having him pitch in relief and sending him to the minors. I say, if this messed him up, then he was too fragile in the first place.

An excellent pitcher needs mental toughness. Jerome collapsing because things didn’t go his way is a sign that he does not have this mental toughness. For crying out loud – he’s flailing in AAA.

I don’t know anything about Aardsma, except:
1. When he was called up to the majors, he was disappointing.
2. He’s moved from AAA to AA this year.

So if this Hawkins fellow strengthens the bullpen (and I think it’s pretty obvious that it needs strengthening), for whom we traded a Williams who is mentally broken, plus an Aardsma who’s progressing from the Bigs to the AAs – then….

There is a probability that the trade was a good one.

John P (not me!)

…. I hate this trade on so many levels. The Cubs were desperate to get Hawkins out of town, it was obvious, and yet Sabean still gave up two still highly regarded porspects. Whether they turn out to be stars is not the primary point, but to not get more in return is the question. I agree that these trading chits should have been used on an impact player such as Wells or Dunn ( who I can’t believe is rumoured to be available)..

The scary thing is with a complete inability to develop position players, no high draft picks, and a willingness to trade away prime pitching prospect for the same proven veterans, the future is getting bleaker and bleaker.

The only thing I can imagine is that Sabean knows that Bonds’ rehab is going better than officially indicated and the 2005 NL West is still a real possibility. And until Nathan and Foulke in 1997, Sabean has really not traded anyone of quality. But still those last 6 outs from 2002 WS continue to haunt this franchise and their GM. I find it hard to believe that this singular move will improve the team enough to make a real difference.

Chip

…. The real problem isn’t just a bad bullpen or inconsistent rotation – it’s that the Giants are old and not terribly productive at the plate. Even after this last homestand, the Giants are 10th in a 16-team league in runs scored, 9th in OPS, 12th in HR, 10th in slugging. They rank 6th in OBP, so they can still get on base OK, but it’s very hard to win a division if you’re consistently allowing more runs then you’re scoring, and the Giants are doing just that.

The worst-case scenario would see Sabean trading away most of his remaining young arms after Bonds returns, only to find that Barry can no longer match his earlier feats and is unable to keep the Giants from sinking to the lower end of the division. By that time, it will be too late to get good trades for the veteran players, and the inevitable result will be a complete cratering of the Giants system, one that will take a decade or more to repair. This next month is critical – if the Giants sink 5 – 10 games below .500 before the ASB, it’s time to accept the inevitable, clean house and start rebuilding.

Mark B.

Damn!

Well, let me comment on some of this. Regards Jim, I’ve already accepted that Sabean is all-in for the 2005 season. His complete disregard for the Giants farm system over the last four or five seasons demands that he put everything on the line to win with Bonds still playing (and right now, the Giants are doing as well as you could expect with all the injuries added on to Bonds’ absence). Once you accept that fact, and the fact that the 2005 season is still in play (and it is), this trade not only makes sense, it is a neccessary move, and that’s why I feel so unafraid of it.

You are correct in characterizing Sabean’s moves as Supersizing. I wish it were different, but since it’s not, trading marginal pitching prospects before they flame out is a good move, and a Sabean trademark.

Kent, there’s no way Hawkins is here for more than this year and possibly next. If he’s absolutely lights out, Sabean and Magowan may bite the bullet and keep him, but if he does resurrect his career, he will be too expensive to keep for very long.

Chip, you are dead on. 2002 will likely haunt Sabean for the rest of his career, unless he catches lightning in a bottle and the Giants win a title in the next year or two.

And finally, Mark, if the Giants hitters can perform at this level when Barry comes back (and by the way, when Bonds comes back, he will still be Bonds), and the Hawkins trade is the first step towards stabilizing the bullpen, I believe this team could (and should) contend to the final day of the season. And should they make the playoffs, with Bonds healthy, anything can happen.

Great work by all of you guys. I am still hoping that Sabean can land a quality starter somehow, and stabilize the rotation too. Right now, Woody’s doing alright, Schmidt (hopefully) is on the way back to form, Tomko could be too, Lowry’s last game was pretty damn good, it looks like Hennessey’s gonna be around a while……

Look, I know as well as anyone that Hope is a ship that sunk off the coast of Florida. But faith…. faith is another matter altogether.


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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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