Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Stalemate

Yesterday I was talking to my friend Jeremy who happens to be quite the A's fan. I was jeering him about the shape the Giants are in comparison to the A's. Naturally he took the bait and decided to make a case that though the Giants may have more valuable pieces the A's have quite a bit of depth. I countered and reasoned that though the A's may have "quite a bit of depth" they lack in quality and the A's couldn't even muster a five player package straight up for Tim Lincecum. This made him appalled he gave me an offer of Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Brett Wallace, Chris Carter and Adrian Cardenas for Tim Lincecum. At first I was taken back to a degree by what I had just said but then I realized that all I had to argue was Lincecum's immediate value to the franchise now and in the future. He reasoned that the Giants aren't playing for this season necesiarily so it's best to build for the future right now. I countered and said the following. Tim Lincecum is under team control through 2012. He currently may be the most valuable commodity in baseball. He is a 25 year old starting pitcher who won a cy young award in his first full season, he's well on his way to arguably another cy young award. He will be a San Francisco Giant barring injury for at least the next three seasons. Due to his level of sustained dominance in his brief career,his youth and health you could argue he should net the biggest return out of any player in baseball. Jeremy is quite aware of Tim Lincecum's value and dominance he then countered with Dan Haren noting that Haren was dealt for a package of five players to of whom would be in the proposed deal. He said that Lincecum and Haren were "quite similar" at the time that Haren was dealt. 
Dan Haren and Tim Lincecum were horses of a different color at the same point in their respective careers. When Dan Haren was 25 he went 14-13 with a 4.12 era with 176 k's in 227 innings pitched. In the midst of his second full season at age 25 Lincecum in currently 12-3 with a 2.18 era he has 191 k's in 156 innings pitched. It was not until age 26 when Dan Haren was even able to be mentioned as a front of the rotation starter let alone a bonafide ace. At age 26 Haren went 15-9 with a 3.07 era he had 197 k's in 227 innings. Lincecum has six less strikeouts in 71 less innings pitched this season. At the time of the trade Dan Haren was under team control for two years whereas Lincecum was for three. During his time in Oakland Dan Haren averaged 7.2 k's/9ip. During his time in San Francisco Lincecum has averaged 10.3k's/9 ip. So no Dan Haren is in no way shape a form a good comparable to the package of talent Tim Lincecum would warrant. Tim Lincecum is a legitimate ace he has won a cy young award, he has made two all star teams in two full seasons. He was the superior pitcher to Dan Haren from a younger age. When Dan Haren was dealt he was dealt with a year less of team control. Dan Haren is now 28 and he has NEVER put up a season in which he is comparable let alone superior to Tim Lincecum. So Jeremy, I'll say this maybe Dan Haren should be a starting point, at best for Tim Lincecum 
"The Giants aren't necessarily going to win this season, they have been in the midst of rebuilding for sometime which is why they should do this trade" Ether. You presume that the Giants aren't going to contend this season or anytime soon. But let's take a look the Giants are tied for the wildcard lead as we speak. So they are clearly in contention. Let's also not pretend like this is a mirage the Giants are anchored by to aces ages 25,24 respectively in Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain and a 22 year old third baseman with a .938 ops  who happens to be the best case scenario for Brett Wallace. (Who is only 12 days younger than Sandoval by the way.) The Giants also happen to have two of the best five prospects in baseball half a season away so the Giants are not far away from competing at a high level for years to come at all. Let's hypothetically say the Giants do reach the playoffs which is not a big stretch whatsoever. They can throw Lincecum, Cain and Sanchez few if any team in baseball can match that combination this gives you as a legitimate shot as any to win the world series and makes you incredibly dangerous in the postseason. If the Giants were to trade away Lincecum it would set them back for years to come due to the fact that they would not be able to reach the postseason in the next two years possibly due to the fact that they would not be able to replace Lincecum's production for years to come. With Lincecum, Cain, Sandoval producing the way they are the Giants have built a trio of talent that will ensure the Giants the ability to compete year in and year out especially with comparable nearly ready to contribute at the major league level. Trading away the most valuable piece in Lincecum will only further stagnate our ability to compete and eventually win a world series in the coming years. The Giants clearly have a decent staple of young established major league talent at the major league level which is something the A's do not yet have. Which is why one franchise is pushing for the playoffs while the other is dwelling in last place. Not having Tim Lincecum's production this year abd instead having that of Brett Anderson And Trevor Cahill would have created a dramatic dropoff in wins. If your looking for eveidence on how dominant Lincecum has been this season let's put it this way. According to fangraphs so far this season Albert Pujols has been 5.6 wins above replacement for any batter. This figure is the third highest in baseball behind Zack Greinke with 6.4, Greinke trails only Lincecum who has been 6.6 wins above replacement this season the highest figure in baseball. Is Time Lincecum the most valuable player in baseball? Is he the most valuable player in baseball even without considering his contract?  
You cannot possibly accept Brett Anderson as the centerpiece to a starting pitcher that is under team control for nearly the same amount of time that Lincecum is. They were both drafted in 2006. Lincecum made his debut two years prior but if I'm right that means Anderson only has an extra year of being team controlled than Lincecum does. Brett Wallace is a questionable defender at third base and his best case scenario is likely Pablo Sandoval however Wallace is only two weeks younger than our Sandoval and while Sandoval has posted a .938 ops in the majors this season Sandoval, Wallace has posted a .777 ops in the EXTREMELY friendly confines of the pacific coast league. Pablo Sandoval makes Brett Wallace look like Neifi Perez there is no comparison to be made right now. Cardenas is a solid prospect in his own right who put up a good line in the Texas League before being promoted .326/.392/.446 at the same ever since his promotion to AAA he has a.......125/225/225 line thats right folks he has a .450 ops right now through 71 ab's in AAA yes it's a very small sample size at the same time when were trading the most dominant pitcher in baseball and perhaps the most valuable piece in baseball I want a top 5 prospect at least. But to be far, he's a very good prospect who I liken to Jose Vidro in his prime on the other hand. We just gave up a piece in Tim Alderson for a second baseman for the next year as well. This also obviously speaks volumes about the Giants intentions to compete for the next two seasons. If we were to make such a trade you would assume they would have no thought about trading Tim Lincecum correct? If your making this trade you are essentially banking that 3 out of the five players in this deal hit their absolute ceiling. Coming into the year most experts saw Anderson and Cahill as front of the line starters but not true aces like Lincecum. Neither have done anything to dispel these prior thoughts before the season. If you were to acquire Chris Carter and brett Wallace you would have a log jam due to the fact that you have Sandoval firmly entrenched at third base and no DH in the national league as a result these players would lose significant value to the Giants since for the time being only one of them could be in the lineup at once meaning you wouldn't be able to have Wallace and Carter in the lineup at the same time without sacrificing substantial defensive value by having one of them miscast in the outfield at the same time as the other. Besides Brett Anderson the most interesting or sought after piece to me would be Chris Carter due to the fact that he's an impact bat putting up very impressive numbers at first base in the hitting starved Texas league. 
In the end I think this is a slam dunk for the Giants. My point being if I'm Brian Sabean and Mr. Beane calls me and offers me this trade on July 31, 2009 I hide back the laughter and say to him on the phone "let me get back to you." I then run over to Larry Baer, John Barr and Bobby Evans and we start crying out with laughter. I think the point has been made clear however, the Giants clearly to plan to win this season the recent acquisitions of Ryan Garko and Freddy Sanchez prove that as does their standing in the National League Wild Card race. The team is already built for the future in mainstays such as Lincecum,Cain,Sandoval and Wilson at the major league level. There is also an influx of talent on the way. I also believe I have proven why it would be in the Giants best interests to politely decline this deal as their future isn't far away and in fact it may be in front of us. Trading Tim Lincecum at this moment would lead to a significant drop off in performance as well as putting contention on hold yet again. You could also reason many of the players in the deal are far from sure things and if you were to make such a deal you would want at least one established major leaguer in return. So no Tim Lincecum>Brett Anderson,Trevor Cahill,Chris Carter,Brett Wallace and Adrian Cardenas 

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