Is it the right time to trade Jason Schmidt? After last night’s dominant performance, (8 innings, 5 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts) his trade value may never be higher to a franchise desperate to get younger and, more importantly, better. The best possible scenario for the Giants is to hope that Sabean looks across the diamond at the two young pitchers the D’backs have run out there against the Giants the last two nights (Vazquez and Halsey, obtained from the Yankees in the Randy Johnson deal) and wonders, “why not us?”
Last night’s performance was –far and away– Schmidt’s best since his groin injury. It’s the first time since the injury that he struck out 10, had a game score over 78 (80), and the first time he allowed fewer baserunners than innings pitched since his first two starts of the season.
The Giants either have to pay him $10 million to pitch next season, or $3.5 million to go away. He’s 32 years old, the age when most players are entering the decline phase of their careers, and Schmidt will be entering that phase looking to make his last big contract. Which means that even if he’s able to pitch this well for the rest of this season and next season, he’s still gonna leave. And Schmidt’s no Roger Clemens, for those of you wondering why he can’t follow in the Rocket’s footsteps and have another 8 or 10 years of dominance ahead of him.
Clemens (101 IP, 66 H, 30 BB, 97 SO, 17 ER .188 BA against), traded to Toronto at 33 years old after two straight mediocre, injury-plagued seasons, had already won 192 games, a couple of Cy Young awards, an MVP award, and had broken or set numerous AL, Red Sox and ML records. I know he had a major career revitalization after being traded to the Blue Jays, and I’m not saying Schmidt couldn’t haunt the Giants and do the same; but there’s really no comparison between the two pitchers. Schmidt (109-77 career record) has really only been at a Clemens-like level of dominance for one season, and only part of a season at that. He’s always had some injury problems, control issues, some might say he’s been a head case at times…. I mean, Clemens is better right now, at 42 years old, than Schmidt has ever been in his life.
And there’s a couple of other things to keep in mind. First, there is every chance the Giants have gotten everything they can from Schmidt already. And second, his struggles have been a complete mystery to the coaching staff, the medical staff, to his catcher, and to Schmidt. Is Sabean going to keep him around hoping he’s finally solved his problems? I sure hope not.
The time to trade him is now, there are a several teams who would be willing to give up the future for the present, (Yankees, Red Sox, Twins, Mets, Marlins). I’d love to see the Giants trade him for a pile of young hitters, but the reality for Sabean is that his offense isn’t the reason his team is 10 games under .500. As of this morning, the Giants don’t have one pitcher listed among the top 40 in the NL right now. Not one. There’s two ex-Giants listed in the top 40, but no actual Giants. Tomko and Schmidt are 42nd and 43rd in ERA this morning, and that, my friends, is horrifying.
There is no way this team will be able to make any noise come playoff time, (if by some miracle they were able to mount a comeback for the ages), unless they can stabilize both the rotation and the pen; meaning the 2005 season is lost. You wanna set up the team for one more Barry-led run in ’06? Fine. You gotta trade Schmidt. There are too many holes in the staff. The Giants don’t need one pitcher, they need four.
Schmidt, maybe Alfonzo (what the hell, anybody over the age of 30 should be available), could be enough to get a nice group of young, ready for prime time pitchers who, like Halsey or Wang with the Yankees, have too many big names in front of them where they are.
I heard Peter Gammons on Baseball Tonight saying that Sabean had recently been turned down by the Red Sox because he was asking too much for Schmidt. You think the Epstein might be giving him a call back?