Monday, July 27, 2009

If It Meant Getting Victor Martinez, the Giants Should Part Ways with One of Their Top Prospects

After Matt Holliday was traded to St. Louis, I thought all the real impact players were off the market come the July 31 Trade Deadline.

Now though, it looks like there may be someone else who could be huge for the Giants. The only problem? Chances are, one of our top prospects will probably be lost to acquire this high-impact player by the Trade Deadline.

Look I love our prospects as much as the next Giants fan. I love Madison Bumgarner and the potential he could bring to the rotation next season. I really like Buster Posey, and was really impressed with what he did at Florida State last season. I am even fond of Tim Alderson, who isn't as good as Bumgarner in my mind, but still a very good prospect that could make the rotation nightmarish with Lincecum, Cain and Sanchez (potentially).

Yet when it comes down to it, I would trade any of them for a big-name, relatively young bat in a second. And according to San Francisco Chronicle Giants beat writer Henry Schulman, the Giants could acquire that kind of player in Victor Martinez.

According to Schulman's article today, the Indians have scouted the Giants farm system, which could be the first step in a possible deal for Martinez and perhaps even first baseman Ryan Garko. Garko is batting .285 with 11 home runs and 39 RBI ins 78 games, and would be a solid upgrade or platoon player with current Giants first baseman Travis Ishikawa.

However, the real gem of the deal is Martinez who is currently hitting .287 with 14 home runs, 64 RBI and a .833 OPS. Martinez immediately would be the cleanup threat the Giants have desperately missed all season, and he is still a relatively young player as well. He's only 30-years old, and his contract would hardly be a burden on this team (he currently makes $5.9 million this season, $2.1 million less than Edgar Renteria).

Furthermore, with Bengie Molina in the last year of his contract, the Giants would have an excellent upgrade at catcher next season. Catcher-of-the future Buster Posey would not have to be rushed up, and the Giants would still be contenders with the team revolving around a great rotation in Lincecum and Cain, and an excellent 3-4 hitting duo in Pablo Sandoval and Martinez.

Granted, that would be considering we don't have to give up Posey in the deal. With the Indians giving away a catcher in Martinez, it would make sense if they asked for a catcher in return, and Posey certainly would generate Indians GM Mark Shapiro's interest. However, considering the high draft pick the Giants used on Posey in last year's draft, I can't see Sabean immediately parting with him. After all, Martinez really has only one left year in his contract, and should Martinez walk after next season (that is if he has another solid year next year), the Giants would have no backup plan at catcher.

So to see the Giants throw in Posey on this deal would be ridiculous from Sabean's perspective. Who should the Giants give up then to acquire Martinez? As crazy as this sounds, I would be open to give up Alderson or even Bumgarner. I know what you're saying, "Bumgarner? Are you freaking nuts? You should throw yourself off a cliff for bringing up such an idea!"

Just hear me out though. Minor league arms are unpredictable. You never know what is going to happen with them, especially with a young guy out of high school like Bumgarner who is only 19. If Bumgarner was some guy out of college with three years of college dominance down his belt, I would say "Hey, the guy is only a step away from the majors." Yet in all honesty, even though he's dominated in Double-A this season, he's still probably a year away from making any real impact. I would want to see how he fares in Triple-A first before we let him make the jump to San Francisco, and even then, that jump probably won't come until midway next season at the soonest.

In my mind, the only reason to keep a hotshot prospect is if he would have the kind of immediate impact in the future that would make him impossible to deal. He needs to be a guy that if traded away, the team would be crippled in the future. With Lincecum and Cain, he would be the third best starter at-best for the Giants in the next couple of years. If Bumgarner was in line to be the No. 1 ace for the Giants next year or two years down the road, I would say "We got too much riding on this guy to trade him away." Yet we really don't. At best, Bumgarner would be a great third option, but the little-realized fact is there are always arms out there. You can certainly get a decent third or fourth starter on the market for a lot less than you think, and you can always build pitchers through the draft.

To put a positive spin on this situation for all those who don't want to give up antyhing, I doubt Sabean would give up both Alderson and Bumgarner. So if worse comes to worse, we would still have one good prospect left, which could be Alderson. That's the beauty of stacking prospects through the draft like the Giants have the past few years: The Giants can afford to give one away because they have other effective options that can make up the difference if one guys leaves.

Guys like Martinez though aren't as easy to come by. Either they don't turn out as good as advertised, or you are forced to grossly overpay for them. Martinez would give us one-and-a-half solid seasons with his bat at a relatively inexpensive price. Then, if he asks for too much money and leaves San Francisco, we could ease in Posey, who can gain valuable experience learning from a younger veteran like Martinez, who has been in this league for quite a while now.

In addition, Martinez is a great chemistry guy, which would benefit this Giants team, which already has great chemistry to begin with. Can you imagine the impact Martinez would have on the younger stars like Sandoval? Can you imagine him chopping it up with Uribe on the bench? He not only would make the Giants better with his offensive skills, but he would keep this Giants team at ease, especially now where it seems the pressure of the second-half has seemed to have its effect on this relatively young team.

In my mind, there are no minuses with getting Martinez, even if it comes at the expense of somebody as prized as Bumgarner. The Giants getting Martinez would be like Maggie Gyllenhal replacing Katie Holmes in The Dark Knight. Katie Holmes is more attractive, but Gyllenhal is the more proven actress, and she still is relatively comparable with Holmes in a lot of physical categories other than the fact Gyllenhall's face makes her look like she hasn't slept in three weeks (Holmes is still more attractive in the end, but even then, that is starting to go away as Tom Cruise sucks the life out of her).

Bumgarner is like Holmes. The upside is there, but Bumgarner hasn't proven it at the next level yet. He has only thrived against weaker competition, much like Holmes thrived with lesser actors , actresses and directors in films like Disturbing Behavior and The Gift. Granted, I love Bumgarner and think he could be a great pitcher, but there are no guarantees with him. He could be the next Lincecum, be he could also be the next Kurt Ainsworth as well.

It's not like we're getting an old guy past his prime like Nick Johnson or Jermaine Dye. If that was the case, I would be knocking my head against a wall knowing that we just gave up a guy two years away from perhaps hitting it big for a guy who could be out of the league in the same time span. Martinez is a player that is just hitting his groove, and would be more than just a rent-a-player as well like Holliday would have been this season.

If this deal has any clout, the Giants should go for it, regardless of how much they "value" Bumgarner or Alderson.

After all, you can't put a value on a guy who can create different handshakes for every individual player on the roster.

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