I really, really do. Ever since sports talk radio changed the way we talk, whine, yell and bitch about sports, criticism is the only real way to get your point across anymore. Ask anybody who’s making a good living in this crazy business. If you talk about how great everything is all the time, you’ll find yourself unemployed.
But I couldn’t bring myself to jump into the Bowkermania bandwagon before, and I’m not going to hold onto the bumper and get dragged down the road as it drives off to Pittsburgh. Sure, his Minor League numbers have been consistently incredible, but they don’t throw a lot of breaking balls for strikes in the Minors. And losing Bowker won’t hurt the team this year, since the Giants were never going to use him this year anyway.
They were never going to utilize Joe Martinez either (who along with Bowker went to Pittsburgh today for lefty reliever Javier Lopez), or Daniel Turpen, the Double-A player they sent to the Red Sox for Ramon Ramirez. Besides the Yankees, who traded for fading former stars who they’ll owe a ton of money, nobody else got a big name hitter either, unless Ryan Ludwick and his balky calf excite you.
The demands during this no-waiver trading season seemed to be more enormous than in years past. The Brewers asked for the moon for Corey Hart and/or Prince Fielder, didn’t get it, and were content to do nothing. The Washington Nationals and Adam Dunn refuse to break up, and they seem perfect for each other. Jose Guillen has a reputation for ripping his teammates, and he isn’t exactly the baseball equivalent of Terrell Owens in terms of skill level either (especially in the field).
So that’s fine. I don’t blame Sabean for holding onto Jonathan Sanchez. Are you ready for regular starts from Todd Wellemeyer? Stephen Strasburg’s year is done, and he’s older than Madison Bumgarner. If Sanchy No. 1 gets traded, not only does Freddy Sanchez immediately move into the primary Sanchy spot in Bruce Bochy’s nickname depth chart, it also means that you’re going to have to lean HEAVILY on Tim Lincecum (who was for the most part pretty bad last September), Barry Zito and Matt Cain.
July was crazy. Improving the roster may get easier in August.
Now that the crappy teams can’t hold the entire baseball world hostage until 11 months from now, the Giants are going to stand pat with this group, right? Maybe. If they stay hot, they’ll be content to cruise into the playoffs and see what happens (Once you get into the playoffs, it’s a crapshoot!).
However, the potential’s there for a rough August. 21 of the team’s 28 games are against playoff contenders. If the Giants struggle, and Sabean starts getting pressure from the fans and the investor group as this season threatens to be known as the “time Sabean screwed up Posey’s ROY season by making ineffectual moves for mediocre relievers,” the Giants might be tempted to take on a little salary — like the Chicago White Sox last season when they claimed Alex Rios off waivers.
But it probably won’t be for an outfielder like Guillen or Hart. The combination of Burrell’s power (on display this afternoon) and Schierholtz’s speed was enough to comfort Sabean this week; it’s the questionable focus of Pablo Sandoval and eroding hitting skills of Sanchy No. 2 that worried him. The rumors that seemed closest to happening without actually happening included Kelly Johnson (a second baseman) and Jose Bautista (a third baseman who leads the AL in homers even though before this season his slugging percentage has never been higher than .420….brah). I don’t think this means the Giants will go after some old fossil like Aramis Ramirez ($15M this season) or Brian Roberts ($12M), but I can see them claiming Dunn.
Wrapping things up…
– Maybe I’m getting soft, but I am hardly unhappy. Trading a top-15 lefty starter for a guy who’ll hit a half-dozen more homers than Aaron Rowand the rest of the way seems like a lateral move at best.
– And while the Giants make enough money to be the kind of team that should attempt to win a World Series every year, the thought of a Lincecum/Zito/Cain/Sanchez/Bumgarner rotation to start next season sounds pretty darn nice. As impatient as we all are, the future for this team seems to be even brighter than the present, and the present isn’t too shabby.
– Is it weird to be kind of giddy about the Giants securing a submariner? I always wished I could throw side-arm with any degree of accuracy, and practicing constantly as a kid led to at least a couple broken windows.
– Even though I know I’m in this not-criticizing-Sabean mood, but it would have sounded more like a Sabez deal if Bowker and Martinez were dealt for former Braves catcher Javy Lopez.
– OK, I lied. One criticism: the Giants seemed far more content to do nothing (unless you’re really excited by the addition of two relievers that are moderately better than Santiago Casilla) than their competition in the division. Not that the Giants needed a motivational kick in the pants, but the fans are going to remember this for a long time if the Giants lose out on the wild card by a game or two.
– It’s easy to see why the Giants are more interested in infield help. Sanchy No. 2 is looking feeble, Edgar Renteria gone after this season and they need to provide some competition for Sandoval if they have any hopes of motivating him to mix in a salad every now and then.
– Twitter blooper moment of the day: when a fan reported from AT&T Park that Sanchy No. 1 was hugging everyone in the dugout, meaning he had just been traded.
– Obviously that fan’s update was found out not to be true (might have been Martinez who was hugging his teammates), but before we found out I tried to calm everybody down by writing, “Don’t worry, the hugs don’t mean Jonathan Sanchez got traded. The #SFGiants are all just doing their best impressions of Amy G.”
Amy G. then replied, “it’s a tough act to follow.” Indeed.