SAN DIEGO -– Giants GM Brian Sabean said on radio and TV this week that he "can't just click (his) heels” and make a trade.
Billy Beane must be wearing Ruby Slippers, then. The A’s GM made a pennant race-shaping deal on Friday, acquiring difference-making pitcher Jeff Samardzija and stable arm Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs for three players including top prospect Addison Russell.
Over the leaf blowers in an empty Petco Park, I can hear the cacophony of dissatisfaction of Giants fans. Why didn’t Sabean make this deal?
Why does he continue to sit on his hands as his team is leaking vital fluids? Why is nobody doing anything? And ... the A's? Really?
Well, here are three reasons for you. Consider it an explanation and not a defense:
1. The Giants don’t have an Addison Russell.
They have Gary Brown, and you know, if you dim the lights and put him in a nicely tailored jacket …
Russell is one of the top-10 prospects in baseball. The Giants don’t have anyone in the top 50, realistically. It would take a total housecleaning –- Kyle Crick, Andrew Susac, Clayton Blackburn, maybe a Dan Okert -– to even approach in quantity what the A’s offered in quality. And even then, the Cubs would’ve taken the A’s deal.
For the same reason, you should not expect David Price to be a Giant. He will be in higher demand than ever with Samardzija off the board, and other teams have more to offer than the Giants do. If Sabean does make any deals, he might scrape together the prospect capital to shop at Kmart, not Bergdorf Goodman.
2. The A’s don’t have the 2015 payroll obligations that the Giants do.
Getting Samardzija means more than parting with prospects. It also means folding him into next year’s budget. He’s going to be expensive, and the Giants already have $125 million committed while still needing to re-sign or replace starters at third base, left field, No.5 starter, closer and for all practical purposes, second base.
You think the Giants should be spending more?
Well, you have the right to that opinion as a paying customer and I won't ever tell you otherwise. They do plan on another incremental increase next year to their opening-day payroll that was roughly $150 million this season. But even a 10 percent increase wouldn't give them the ability to splurge when they have so few cheaper homegrown options ready to fill any of those five key positions.
3. Sorry, but this will be the hardest truth to swallow...
The Giants aren’t playing like they are a piece or two away. They are not playing like the A's, and they haven't for a solid month.
Sure, they are eight over .500 and right behind the Dodgers in the NL West standings. Those would be the same Dodgers who have the best rotation in baseball anchored by a two-time Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw, who is rolling along with 36 consecutive scoreless innings.
You do not punt on third down, and the Giants are not pondering a selloff. But scouts and club executives are paid to predict future performance. If you don’t think your group is a player or two away, why pillage the farm to make a deal?
Especially when you’ve just paid for that tailored jacket and all…