The latest rumors out of the Bay Area regarding pitchers on the block now refer to current Giants rather than Athletics.
We’ve been hearing the Harden / Haren / Blanton stories since this time last year. But now, the buzz across the bay is that San Francisco is willing to part with one of their young pitchers.
Said SF GM Brian Sabean (as quoted by the Sacramento Bee):
“When you finish in last place you’ve got to be open to change. We’re going to have to cross the bridge and trade some of our pitching to address our fielding needs.”
That second sentence has caused bloggers, sportswriters, and other pundits to go hog wild with the possibilities — some of them bordering on the insane.
For example, Tracy Ringolsby interpreted Sabean’s comment to mean that undersized phenom Tim Lincecum would be dealt away for a centerfielder. Huh? Naturally, that hair-brained idea set off the wild-eyed commenters at MetsBlog and other forums, thinking the Mets might be able to pry away the flamethrower for Lastings Milledge. Ain’t happenin’, folks.
Lincecum is only 5’10” and about 150 pounds, but throws in the triple digits via an unorthodox pitching delivery that some say is an injury waiting to happen while others claim is a more efficient means of overhand throwing. As a pitching coach, I’m still on the fence. His motion is definitely different, and I can see the benefits of his mechanics — particularly the timing of his weight shift and his remarkably long stride. However, I don’t like the way he over-rotates nor do I like his arm action — it looks like he’ll have shoulder and elbow problems down the road. Plus, his amazingly fast arm speed could be too fast and violent for his ligaments. His timing and coordination have to be absolutely perfect, otherwise the force of his arm speed could go against itself. But I could be wrong, and time will tell.
It doesn’t matter, anyway, because the Mets aren’t getting him. Lincecum has electric stuff — the kind that you don’t see often. Think: Felix Hernandez, Doc Gooden, Don Gullett. Teams don’t trade arms like this, even if they’re only 5’10”. OK, maybe they do sometimes … but you’d think the world would have learned from the Dodgers’ grave mistake regarding Pedro Martinez.
Cooler heads have suggested that Lincecum and Matt Cain are as close to untouchable as can be, and that Noah Lowry and/or Jonathan Sanchez are most likely to be used as bait for a bat. That makes sense, since Lowry is a solid if unspectacular lefty who may have plateaued, and Sanchez is an unproven commodity. Another far-out notion — from Paul Gutierrez at the Sac Bee — is that Barry Zito could be dealt, partly to bring in a bat but mostly to make room in the budget for Alex Rodriguez. A creative idea, but pure speculation — and doubtful.
In my opinion, if indeed the Giants are shopping Lowry or Sanchez, it would behoove the Mets to at least make an inquiry. Personally, I prefer Sanchez because of his upside. He’s a cocky SOB with a low 90s fastball that is paired with a legit changeup. Can you say Johan? Lowry would be the “safe” choice — he won 14 games last season — but it’s doubtful he’ll ever do better. Also, he averaged exactly six innings per start, tossing only 156 innings — and 160 in 2006. Not exactly the innings-eater the Mets are seeking. I’d much rather the Mets sign a Carlos Silva (have you heard this one enough?) and save their trading chips for someone else.
Lastings Milledge for Jonathan Sanchez smells like a good deal to me, for both teams. Each is a young stud seemingly on the cusp of greatness, yet neither has enough value to be traded straight-up for a proven Major Leaguer. The Mets can find an acceptable player to fill the corner outfield hole while waiting for Carlos Gomez or F-Mart to develop, and the Giants have an excess of young starting pitchers. Milledge can step in and start in centerfield for the Giants, and Sanchez would step right into the back end of the Mets’ rotation. For once, a trading partner with which the Mets have a match.