Aaron Rowand

Time to play GM

There are different ways to write/blog about the rosterbatory practice of obsessing over the trade deadline:

1. Read and respond to every trade rumor, now matter how nonsensical or the source involved. “Oh snap! Chris Rose just said the Giants are interested in Albert Pujols. I might even give up Madison Bumgarner for him!”

2. Read every rumor and debunk it through the power of logic. “Why would the Giants be interested in David DeJesus? He isn’t anywhere near old enough for Sabez. Plus I predict that in a week he’ll run into a wall and hurt his hand going after a Derek Jeter flyball. I CAN TELL THE FUTURE!”

3. Predict the Giants will do nothing major, which has been what I’ve been doing for a while now. “Let’s see, the Giants just played a Thursday day game against the Marlins in front of a sell-out crowd. I doubt there’s a real sense of urgency there.”

4. Play GM and explain what you’d do if you had Brian Sabean’s job.

Today on Twitter, I pretty much pulled a number 3 (although a lot of what I write on Twitter would probably be described as “number 2,” albeit in a different sense), and I got a couple people asking me, not in these exact words, “What would you do if you were the GM, tough guy?”

The short answer: in the next couple days, not a whole lot.

If the Giants can get a legitimate closer they can use as their 8th inning guy (or as Brian Wilson insurance in case the phrase “The Curse of the Orange Spikes” takes hold in the coming weeks), without giving up any of their starting pitchers or more than 50% of the decent prospects they have left, they should. Joakim Soria’s at the top of my pretend-GM list, followed by Carlos Marmol, Matt Lindstrom and Octavio Dotel. Problem is the Royals are probably asking for entire minor league teams for Soria, along with about $20M in hanging out money. The trade value of relievers seems to be really out of whack this season, even more than usual.

As for hitters, the price is even higher — too high for a group of guys who are either soon-to-be free agents, over the hill or both. These days 40-homer guys are pretty much extinct anyway, and the ones who come close to that kind of power would rather play in France than in San Francisco. The key is to go after the best all-around players in baseball, and overpay them enough to make them forget about the cost of living concerns young athletes have about moving to the Bay Area.

Regular readers of this site, you’ve heard this idea in about 50 different forms already: the Giants need to stand pat, build around their best young nucleus since the late 1950’s and back up the truck for Carl Crawford. Crawford is going to cost a lot. Everyone knows this. The Red Sox are moving toward more athletic players and it looks like they’re getting tired of Jacoby Ellsbury. The Devil Rays will want to keep Crawford, the best player in their short history (although Evan Longoria has an argument). The Yankees will want Crawford because they’re the Yankees.

But the Giants have money and have been kind of chilling out on the free agency sidelines since wildly overpaying Barry Zito and insanely overpaying Aaron Rowand. It’s time to jump back into the pool. I understand the idea that if you have starting pitching this good, you should go all in. It’s the Barry Bonds Corollary: if you have an otherworldly advantage, you should shoot for a championship and leave the future for our children and grandchildren to worry about (sort of like the environment J/K LOL).

I also understand why the Giants might not want to make 2010 the year they say “eff you” to the future, since besides Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson, none of their young core as at the peak of their powers. Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Dan Runzler; even Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Pablo Sandoval could all be described as players who will be better in future seasons. And “The Giants Way,” whatever it is, seems to mean building toward the future and avoiding the revolving door of veteran players that surrounded Bonds throughout the second half of his Giants career.

The Giants can’t afford a 6-year, $150M contract for Crawford? Why the hell not? How much money did that Paul McCartney concert provide the Giants’ investors? How about the Bowl Games, UFL, other assorted concerts and tractor pulls, dynamic pricing, bobble-head lines that go around the block and $9 Anchor Steams? How about the 3 million or so fans the team looks to draw this season, even after an off-season where the main additions were Aubrey Huff, Mark DeRosa, Freddy Sanchez and Juan Uribe?

Crawford is perfect for the Giants. He’s six days away from turning 29 and 1 stolen base away from 400 in his career. He’s an outstanding defensive left fielder (his UZR/150 this season is considered illegal in 15 states). He’s got enough pop to keep you honest, but not enough to think moving to AT&T Park would be career suicide (in fact, he’s probably good for at least 1-2 inside-the-park HRs on balls hit to “Triple’s Alley”). In actuality, he’s a National League player trapped in the AL East.

And since it wouldn’t be rosterbation to completion without a lineup, check this out:

1. Torres CF

2. Crawford LF

3. Posey C

4. Huff 1B

5. Uribe SS

6. Sandoval 3B

7. Sanchez 2B

8. Schierholtz RF (Hey, I’m the GM!)

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