Which Giants starter might Sabean swap?

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Which Giants starter might Sabean swap?

Giants general manager Brian Sabean was kind enough to take some time out of his busy offseason schedule -- he's in Arizona for a third round of organizational meetings -- on Wednesday to give CSNBayArea.com a one-on-one interview, and in typically understated Sabean style, he said a few things that beg a close look between the lines. The biggest bombshell seemed to come when Sabean, who has often mentioned that trying to find a way to keep his pitching staff intact would be an offseason priority, was offered an opportunity to take that vow a step further and rule out trading one of his starters.He did not jump at the offer. He did not rule out trading a starter.What does that mean, though?

Well, in conjunction with Sabean suggesting that adding a big-name hitter might not be financially feasible through free agency -- the Giants have 13 arbitration-eligible players and eight free agents, and though not all of them will return, those who do will get nice raises -- it means the only way to improve the offense could be by tapping into the rotation.But which member? Ooooh, the head spins with possibilities. If you're one who leans toward panic, you start thinking about the Matt Cain-to-the-Yankees "rumors" you've heard. Fine, but remember Cain's loyalty. He might be the easiest starter to sign to a long-term deal.If you're one who leans toward setting your hair on fire and stabbing your eyeballs with fireplace tools, you remember Tim Lincecum's plan to take things year-by-year until he's eligible for free agency after the 2013 season.Fine, but think about the likelihood of getting equal value for Lincecum in a trade. Is there such a thing? It'd be like the Cardinals trading Albert Pujols; you can't possibly get fair value for the man. Same deal with The Freak, and he's locked down for another two years. Plenty of time to make him want to stay longer.If you're one who leans toward pragmatism, you start thinking about Jonathan Sanchez. After all, he's been traded in your mind about 34,016 times already.Fine, but isn't it a year too late to deal Sanchez? Hasn't his value dipped considerably? Of course it has. No way he fetches much of an impact bat. But remember the nameBrett Pill. Might Sanchez and Pill fetch a legit stick? The call here is yes.(You think I'm crazy? You did when I threw out Thomas Neal's name last summer, too.)
If you're one who leans toward sitting in your basement, distractedly flipping through your shoebox of old baseball cards and wondering whatever happened to Russ Ortiz and Matt Morris, you think of Madison Bumgarner.Fine, but there's really not a lot of hope for someone like you, gravitating to the relative safety of going with salty vets because you just don't trust kids today. Good luck in that Strat-O-Matic league, champ. And finally, if you're one who leans toward sheer fantasy, you imagine a world in which Barry Zito is sent far, far away, with some bottomless-pockets owner happily picking up what's left on that contract and sending his best three players Sabean's way because his daughter thinks Z's dreamy and wants him to teach her how to play guitar and surf.Fine. Light some scented candles while you're at it. But it ain't gonna happen and we all know it.So who does that leave? Ryan Vogelsong?Come on. For one thing, you don't trade the reigning recipient of the Willie Mac award. For a second thing, you're not going to get much for a 34-year-old who just had his first good full season.Sanchez and Pill, people. Or Sanchez and someone.
It has to be that, no?

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

The National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez Wednesday. Here's what they and their peers are saying.

https://twitter.com/baseballhall/status/821855144681897988


Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

The Baseball Hall of Fame becomes yesterday’s news Friday, as it always does. Three months of buildup, one day to announce the names, one day to castigate the voters for their willfully negligent slights, and then nine months of hibernation.

So much for the concept of “joining the immortals.”

But at least Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez never have to go through this annual pageant of nonsense again.

Barry Bonds does, though, and so does Roger Clemens, and to a lesser extent, so does Curt Schilling. They are the new litmus strips for the Hall, and they will more than replace Raines (voter ignorance division) and Bagwell (presumption of guilt with evidence division) for self-involved debate.

And in that adjusted role from doomed outsiders to serious candidates, Bonds and Clemens – and to a lesser extent again, Schilling – have become invaluable to the Hall, and their eventual election and induction will reduce the Hall’s ability to inflame passions outside the seamhead community.

On a day when Bagwell and Raines finally cleared the 75 percent threshold and Bonds and Clemens moved from 45 percent to 53.8 and 54.1 percent, respectively, the Hall of Fame Debating And Chowder Society saw the end times for its power as a multi-month debate-churner.

The blatherers are dead, long live the blatherers.

An entire mini-industry of Hall watchers has been spawned, in part by the now-feted Ryan Thibodaux and his exit polling but also by the debates about what the Hall should be and who should get to decide it. It has made days like Wednesday event viewing when it hadn’t been for years. For that, the Hall owes Bonds and Clemens a debt that the powers inside Major League Baseball wishes it didn’t have to pay. But the day they are inducted is the day that PEDs die as a debating point. The answer will have been provided, and there will be no more need for discussion.

Worse yet, the BBWAA’S new voter transparency rules may unfortunately impact our pal Thibodaux, whose seminal work in this understudied area of social science undermined ballot secrecy. In short, if everyone has to fess up, the desperate need to know early returns may dry up.

Oh, there will always be the day of post mortem-ization, as those who didn’t clear the threshold are subject to a few rounds of the popular parlor game, “Who Got Snubbed, And The Tedious And Half-Informed Reasons Why.”

For instance, the big debating point from today’s results will not be about Raines and Guerrero getting in, but what happened to the Bonds and Clemens votes. People have already postulated that a lot of the jump in their respective votes can be directly linked to Bud Selig’s election from the Veterans Committee. Voters who had previously ridden the Hall-as-temple argument suddenly lost their raison d’etre and realized that the PED problem was an industry matter rather than a greedy players’ matter.

In short, they saw Selig getting in as tacit approval that the PED issue was no longer a moral one in baseball but a cynical one, a way to blame labor for management’s culpability. That is an irony whose existence Selig will almost surely deny, but it’s there anyway, and it represents one more non-glacial change in a system that has been nearly immovable for most of its existence.

The next change, of course, may be removing the vote from the BBWAA and turning it over to a more malleable panel of “experts” who may not skew as young and values-neutral as the BBWAA of the future seems to be heading. That course may be hastened if/when Bonds and Clemens are elected, because halls of fame in their more traditional role have been more about rewarding friends and punishing enemies, and a large and shifting electorate makes that harder to accomplish.

The argument against such a course, though, is that the current system of three months of fevered public debate about the same old stuff works for the Hall’s sense of its importance. I mean, MLB Network and its fetish for shrill argument only has so much reach.

By Friday, though, all of this will revert to its typically inert state. Bonds, Clemens (ATALE Schilling), PEDs, morality, practicality, secrecy, old voter/young voter – all of it will fade back into insignificance.

And in a year or two or maybe three, Bonds and Clemens will wipe it all out by being included in the one club that we once knew would never tolerate their presence, and the Hall Of Fame’s Golden Age Of Shrieking Argument will end.

In a weird and largely unpleasant way, it will be missed.