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The San Francisco Giants should trade Matt Cain.

Well, actually, the first thing the Giants need is to realize that they have no hope of winning anything this season and that this means they should be big-time sellers. I also think the Giants should be looking to deal Randy Winn, Bengie Molina, Ray Durham, Rich Aurellia, and any of their other aging veterans that they might be able to get something for.

But the Giants also need to consider dealing Cain. Now, somewhat understandably, the Giants and their fans are reluctant to part with Cain. After all, he was the ace of the team in ’06 and ’07 (before the rise of Tim Lincecum), is under contract for three more years, and is still only 23. In fact, “reluctant” is probably too weak a word – thus far reports are that Giants GM Brian Sabean has refused to even discuss the possibility of trading Cain.

But that is foolish. Because while it is true that Cain is under club control for three more years at bargain rates, and is a very good pitcher, it is unlikely that the Giants will really be in contention for any of those three years if they keep him.

The Giants’ farm system is completely barren, and they are in desperate need of young position players, because even if they don’t trade the aging vets, those vets are not going to be around for much longer either way.

Meanwhile, there are still numerous actual contenders still out there and still desperate for starting pitching. Given what the Indians got for a few months of C.C. Sabathia, what the A’s got for incredibly fragile Rich Harden, and what the A’s got for Dan Haren last fall, it seems clear that the Giants would be able to get at least 4-5 decent prospects for Cain.

The Giants are currently seven games back in the NL West, but with a terrible offense and a lousy bullpen, there is no way that they are going to leapfrog Diamondbacks, Dodgers, and Rockies to take the division, especially given that it seems likely that all three of those teams I just mentioned will play a bit better in the second half than they have thus far.

It is long past time that the Giants recognized that they need to be in rebuilding mode. And that rebuilding should be centered around a trade of Matt Cain. While Cain will probably be a good, cheap starter for the next three years, are the Giants at all likely to be in contention in the next three years if they keep going the way they are going?

But on the other hand, if they can get a bunch of really good prospects for Cain, especially position players which they can throw into the mix with Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez, Fred Lewis, and Aaron Rowand, then the Giants have a much better shot to jumpstart a rebuilding and be back in contention much sooner than if they keep soldiering on with Cain and spare parts for three more years.

UPDATE: Durham has been dealt for two minor leaguers, speedy outfielder Darren Ford (A) and struggling lefty hurler Steve Hammond (AAA).

- What They Need Index -

13 Responses to “What They Need – San Francisco Giants: Trade Matt Cain”

  1. Danny O says:

    In addition to more home games, how bout the Braves going after some speed and a willingness to play small ball? They keep losing the close ones, esp. on the road. If they had a guy with some wheels who could pinch hit/run and then steal late in the game, there are plenty of candidates in the lineup to knock him in.

    BTW, Chipper Jones got IBBed yesterday w/a runner on first when the Braves were up by only a run. Almost can’t blame Ned Yost, as Larry Wayne is having an unreal season. And then Teixiera made them pay w/a 3-run HR. It was awesome.

  2. Nick Kapur says:

    Coley, I’m not really sure what “clutchness” is. What is it, and why do you feel it’s the Braves’ most pressing need? Is there really any way Larry can be more clutch or something?

    Personally, I would have gone with “a centerfielder”, seeing as how Mark Kotsay went down with a back injury back on May 25 (surprise, surprise), and will probably be out for a while…

  3. Kirk Miller says:

    Makes sense to me. Which contenders do you think may be willing to part with some prospects for him?

  4. Coley Ward says:

    The Phillies would have traded for Cain in a heartbeat if he had been available last week. But now they’ve blown their load on Joe Blanton.

  5. Paul Moro says:

    Matt Cain hasn’t impressed me all that much yet in his career. Granted, I’ve only seen him pitch a few times, but just looking at his numbers, he walks too many guys. I think his reputation is better than his actual skill set.

    And Coley, I would LOVE to see Cain in a Phillies uniform. Walks Flyball Pitcher Citizen’s Bank Park = Happy Met Fan.

  6. I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one. Matt Cain is just too good to part with, and there is no way you can really say they won’t contend for 3 years. Why not? Their rookies are playing better than they are supposed to, and Matt Cain is the kind of guy you build a franchise around, with or without Lincecum.

    They guy they should really be trading is Brian Wilson. He’s got 25 saves and more than a K/IP. There are plenty of teams, especially talent-rich organizations like Tampa and the Red Sox, who really need another pitcher they can trust out of the bullpen in the 7th-8th inning. His ERA may not be pretty, but he’s proven he can get outs and has only given up more than 2 ER once.

    If you trade Cain this year, you’re throwing away about 500 great IP for what, speculative hope in 2011?

    Plus, his value will be just as high next year and almost as high the year after – like you said, look what the Brewers paid for 3 months of Sabathia! Why make a move now?

  7. Paul Moro says:

    and i remembered that plus signs don’t work in the comments section. dang.

  8. Nick Kapur says:

    Greg, I see where you are coming from, but I don’t see how you can say that “there is no way you can say the Giants won’t contend in the next three years” and then turn around and say that even if they traded Cain that would only give them a “speculative hope in 2011″.

    What I am saying is that with Matt Cain, there is definitely no way they contend in the next three years. Look at how many holes the Giants have. Right now they are lacking a first baseman, a second baseman, a shortstop, a third baseman, and a corner outfielder. Which rookies are playing well? I hope you are not thinking of John Bowker at first base.

    All I am saying is that if the Giants could trade Cain and get, say, two can’t miss positional prospects and some other pieces with a shot to be good, they would be a lot closer to contending than if they just keep Matt Cain.

    Because as Paul points out, the peripherals suggest that Matt Cain has pitched better than his actual level of ability thus far. While it’s true that he is still young and could improve his peripherals with experience, he is just as likely to come back down to earth or get injured or something. Why not trade him now when his perceived value is high?

  9. Nick,

    Show me a can’t miss prospect who worked out and I’ll show you 2 who didn’t.

    Obviously, any team would trade a top player for a can’t miss prospect. The problem is, there is no such thing. Why trade a guy who is succeeding at the major league level? Yes, he walks too many people, but he also gets left in to implode in the 8th inning becuase the Giants have no bullpen. I should know, I have him on 2 fantasy teams.

    I also agree to trade him when his value is high, but as you point out, it will be high next year too. I think with Cain-Lincecum, or any powerful 1-2 pitching lineup, you can never be that far from winning.

    My point was they could (probably won’t, but could) win in 2009 or 2010 with those 2 guys and a little minor leaguer luck (they have money for free agents – some at least). But once you give up your starting pitching, the only real strength you have, you’re worse off and those can’t miss prospects are your speculative hope.

    I just don’t think that it makes them a better organization as a whole. Right now they are trading old second basemen and keeping young, awesome pitchers. I say its the right move.

  10. Paul Moro says:

    Greg, even with the “powerful 1-2 pitching lineup”, the Giants are 19th in runs allowed at 4.73 runs per game. For them to be in the top 10 in the league (4.20), they would have to shave 56 runs over their current total. Over a full 162-game season, that’s 92 more earned runs that they’d need to shave.

    And then, there’s their offense. They’re currently scoring 4 runs per game, which is 27th among all teams. To get into the top 10 there, they would have had to score 80 more runs than they have so far. And again, extrapolate that over a full season, and that’s 133 more runs.

    So, in essence, in order for the Giants to be among the top 10 teams in baseball, they’d need to create a 225 run swing (133 on offense plus 92 on defense). To give you a sense for how hard that is to do, no team was able to do it between 2006-2007. Long story short, that’s ALOT of pieces a team has to assemble together to make up that much.

    On top of all this, in today’s market, free agency is not the place to go to for teams in SF’s situation. I mean, look at the guys who might be available this offseason and you’ll see that teams aren’t letting their most productive players go anymore. So what they should be doing is stockpiling cheap talent. Not just one guy like Cain.

    Besides, I’m not sure why you’re convinced that Cain (or any pitcher his age) is going to be effective either in three years time. There are a lot of pitchers in the past who have proven themselves early on but have plateaued really early and was ineffective by the time they hit their mid-late twenties.

  11. Paul Moro says:

    Wait, just noticed typo: “in order for the Giants to be among the top 10 teams in baseball” – I meant “top teams”. Not necessarily top-10. Didn’t figure that part out. That is all.

  12. Nick Kapur says:

    The other thing is, Matt Cain isn’t really part of a “1-2 punch” because he isn’t even the second best starting pitcher on the Giants now. Jonathan Sanchez is. This is likely to become even more clear as time goes on and Sanchez develops.

    Which is why I think the Giants ought to trade Cain now, while he still has the aura of having been the team’s ace.

  13. chris williams says:

    Eveyone who thinks that the giants should trade Matt Cain obviously dont anything about baseball, they only know stats. Matt Cain is definately the second best pitcher in the Giants organization, I mean if you dont know who is number one (Tim Lincecum) then you are not a giants fan. Cain should not be traded and neither should any of the farm system pitching right now. The Giants need to focus on signing Buster Posey and try and send are veterans through waivers: Winn, Molina, Roberts, and Vizquel. They need to trade away these players to clear up salary room and get any prospects we can. Also clear up roster space for Nate Schierholtz because he is tearing up Triple A. And even if we dont get rid of all the veterans even losing a couple of there salaries will clear up so salary so we can sign some free agents, maybe a Mark Texiara and possibly a Hank Blalock if he chooses to opt out of his contract. If we trade away Cain we will ruin our chances to make the playoffs in the upcoming years and for those who dont think we can make the playoffs your all a bunch of idiots who dont know anything about baseball. Great young pitchers are hard to come by and when you get them you better hold on to them. Hitters are much more easier to find. And for those who think we should trade Brian Wilson you are an idiot. He’s a young fireball throwing closer who could be the next Robb Nen. Wilson has already established himself as the top closer in the national league and if you look at his era and judge him then you dont actually watch the giants games. His era is high because he came into a couple games and pitched some innings when the giants werent even in the game. But when it comes down to it Wilson has been saving games like crazy and has really shown he deserves to be in the majors and playing for a team that needs some stability in the bullpen. So with this all said I have faith that the giants can make the playoffs every year and I always keep my expectations high. But its true that you must hit rock bottom before you can start to rebuild and I think that these past losing seasons have been the Giants rock bottom and all the Giants Fans can look foward to lots of playoff years soon. With a Cy young Canidate in Tim Lincecum the Giants will always have a chance at making the playoffs.

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