Hello everybody! Yes, ballplayr9 is back. Now, I haven't been on here in over a year, just under 18 months to be exact, so I would imagine 99.9% of the active users on FanNation don't even know who I am. If you remember me, a shout out to the old fogeys.
Now, enough about me. With the baseball season 55 games through, my beloved Giants now stand at 29-26, a game and a half behind the wild-card leading Cardinals. Unfortunately for the Giants, baseball's best team, the Dodgers, also reside in the NL West, 8 games ahead of the Giants. With the West perhaps out of reach, its time for Brian Sabean to make the decision: are the Giants buyers or sellers?
In my opinion, the Giants need to be buyers. They stand with one of the best pitching staffs in the league, the 3rd best team ERA in the league at 3.75, and the least runs against with 216. However, their offense can generously be described as anemic. The statistics tell the story: lowest in the MLB in runs scored, RBI, and home runs; second lowest in SLG and OPS, third lowest in OBP, and 17th in the league in batting average. When Randy Winn is batting 3rd in the order, you know a bat is needed.
With the addition of a big bat in the middle of the order, the Giants couldpotentially move over the hump and into serious contention for the wild card playoff spot. One name that has been regularly floated around the trade market is the Washington Nationals first baseman, Nick Johnson. With the Nationals leading, by default, the Stephen Strasburg sweepstakes, and with the phemon demanding up to a $50 million contract, the Nationals' management has to be looking to dump some money to clear space for Strasburg and, realistically, next year's number one as well, perhaps SI cover boy Bryce Harper.
Johnson is a left-handed first baseman, an ideal replacement for the struggling Travis Ishikawa. He's batting a career-high .325 this season, with his OBP and SLG both above his career averages as well. He's spent most of the last two seasons out with various injuries, but appears to have completely recovered from those issues this year. His .460 slugging percentage would rank 3rd on the team, behind only Aaron Rowand and Pablo Sandoval and nearly 120 points above Ishikawa. Having Johnson in San Fran would allow Sandoval to return to his more natural position of 3B, and would move starting third baseman Juan Uribe to the bench. It would also clear the Nationals of $5.5 million to make Strasburg's bank-breaking deal a bit more manageable.
But who would the Giants part with? Due to the Nationals' pitching woes, the would most likely demand a top-flight pitching prospect. With the youth and talent of the Giants strating five, and the talent at pitcher in the Giants' farm system, it seems only natural to use a few of the good young arms as trade bait. While top prospect Madison Bumgarner may be untouchable, as is number 2 prospect Tim Alderson, the Giants still have a lot of great pitching prospects that can be parted with. For example, why not offer Henry Sosa, Futures Game participant last year and the owner of a 4-0 record with a 2.12 ERA at Double-A Connecticut, and Craig Clark, who is 5-2 with a 3.21 ERA and 64 K's in 56 IPs? The Nationals would save money and recieve two top pitching prospects, and the Giants would get the pop in the middle of the order they need to seriously challenge for the wild card. Knowing Sabean's unwillingness to part with pitching prospects for anything but the most high-profile hitters, this deal would probably never happen, which is why the Giants, while close, will miss the playoffs again this year, but this is a deal that makes sense for all sides.