Under a week until the July 31 trade deadline, and the Giants are 7.5 back in the NL West. We all know they’re trending in the wrong direction, while the Dodgers are on an incredible roll at the moment. Mattingly’s club has won 22 of its last 28, and is the hottest team in baseball. Make no mistake, they won’t keep playing .785 baseball, but the Bums really do have the starting pitching and lineup to run away with the division, in my opinion. They’ve already acquired Ricky Nolasco, and I’m sure they’ll try to bolster their bullpen at some point too. The Giants, however, are in a completely different situation.
Here’s the funny thing about the next five days: Depending on how the Reds do in Los Angeles for their big time four-game series with the Dodgers, the Giants may have a chance to move within four games or so again. That is, if they can take care of the Cubs this weekend. The Cubs will enter AT&T Park on Friday only a half-game worse than the Giants, record-wise. Both teams are in 4th place. Tell me who would have predicted that to happen back in April. Both teams are 5-5 over their last 10, so it’ll probably be a pretty even series. But what if the Giants sweep? What if the Dodgers lose three of four to Cincy? Again, that’s not likely to happen either, but the Reds just showed us how good they are, so it’s not completely out of the question. Potentially, the Giants could hit the road next week with only a 4.5 – 6 game deficit in the division. If that happens, there certainly won’t be any Pence’s or Lincecum’s or Lopez’s being traded from San Francisco, although it doesn’t sound like the front office wants to part ways with those guys this year, anyway. If the Giants are still close in the standings, that’s all the justification Brian Sabean would need to hold onto his trade pieces.
Most likely, the Giants will head to Philadelphia next week 7-9 games back with only two games until the deadline. That’s when Sabean has some real decisions to make. If you haven’t seen the August schedule, it includes 20+ games outside the division, with nine games against the AL East alone. If you’re a realist, you have to look at this team and figure there’s no way in hell they’ll come out of August with anything close to a .500 record. They don’t win on the road, and they don’t win outside the division. That’s a bad combination.
Considering all of this, let me pose a question for you. If you’re running the Giants, do you use the trade deadline to rebuild? If you hold onto guys like Pence and Lincecum, do you plan to re-sign them? If they go elsewhere, especially Pence, can you replace them in free agency? If the Pirates call for Pence, do you pull the trigger? What if a team like the Yankees asks about Pablo? These are tough questions, and I truly don’t know all of the answers to them. I have my opinions, and I’ll try to get into them at some point in the upcoming days. But for now, the Giants are running out of time to improve the team, both for this season and down the road. What are they going to do to fix that?