Barry Zito tried to throw cold water cold water on pretty much the whole last week, coming out of the gate and allowing two three run homers –to a team that had been struggling to even get a hit– before most Giants fans had even sat down. He allowed 9 earned runs and got 10 outs…. enough said.
The Giants head into the All Star break 10 games over .500, with the second-best record in the NL. They have posted an outstanding team ERA, they have thrown a world-best 13 shutouts, they have two 10-2 pitchers, and a 22-year old who is leading the team in batting average, home runs, RBI, and OPS. Sandoval has 15 home runs, 55 RBI and run out a .333/.385/.579 .964 OPS line. Wow. That's a hell of a first half, all things considered.
All things being….
Barry Zito is a complete washout. Randy Johnson, 8 wins notwithstanding, isn't one of the top forty starting pitchers in the NL. Edgar Renteria (.260/.317/.326 .643 OPS) as advertised, isn't worth $18 dollars, let alone $18 million dollars. The jury is still out on Travis Ishikawa (.269/.324/.430 .754 OPS), who may be able to hit just enough to be the next JT Snow. I know, I know, that's a horrible thought, but still, he's not the problem right now, and that's saying something.
Randy Winn, Fred Lewis and pretty much any outfielder other than Aaron Rowand would be the problem. With a combined total of 10 home runs, our entire offensive weakness can be attributed to the lack of power being demonstrated by that group.
Joe Sheehan got me thinking:
…. What if a team offered the Blue Jays not its very best prospects (for Roy Halladay), but offered it the kind of payroll relief that would pay off for years to come? What if a team took Vernon Wells off of its hands?
When the Blue Jays signed Vernon Wells after the 2006 season, it was very clearly a case of buying high. The center fielder was coming off his age-27 season, his fifth as a full-time player, and just his second of those with an OBP above .340
. Wells’ core skills showed him to be a good-not-great player, whose value was buoyed by excellent defense in center field, but lacking the on-base skills to be a true middle-of-the-order anchor, and with speed that was more perceived than actual (he was at 53/15 SB/CS to that point in his career). The contract was doomed the moment it was signed, massively backloaded to make it affordable to the team, but ensuring that Wells would eventually be an albatross. Here’s what’s left on it after this year:
2010: $12.5 million + $8.5 million share of signing bonus
2011: $23 million
2012: $21 million
2013: $21 million
2014: $21 million
That’s five years and $107 million, or about $11 million less than what’s left on Johan Santana’s contract. It’s just a bit less than what Sabathia will make in those years. It’s more than what’s left on the laughingstock contracts signed by Alfonso Soriano and Barry Zito.
Even as bad as Wells has been over the last year and a half, he would immediately be the best hitter in our outfield. We're talking blockbuster here –BLOCKBUSTER– but we're also talking about a team that has the best pitching in baseball, right now, and more importantly, we're talking about a team that has never, NEVER won a championship. It's a deal that would instantly alter the dynamics in the National League.
If the Giants were able to swing a deal like that, a deal that landed the All Star starter for the AL, a deal that would preclude giving up any of our true blue-chip prospects, they would transform themselves into a championship contender instantly.
Will Bowker hit enough to keep the Giants in contention? Will the Giants get enough pitching from the 3rd, 4th and 5th starters? Can Cain and Lincecum repeat their success? Can this team make the playoffs? All of these questions fall to the wayside after a deal like this. The only question that needs to be asked is whether Bill Neukom will take on another albatross contract. And, not for nothing, we seem to pretty much lead the league in albatross contracts.