Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Inside Baseball By Bruce Grimes

Inside Baseball—6/13

Giants and Yankees Running on Empty

Two of the game’s premier franchises are mere shadows of their former selves. Both the Giants and Yankees have hitters who aren’t delivering in clutch situations; fielders whose range is poor; starters who consistently fail to get out of the sixth inning; and relievers who can’t throw strikes. Both teams have players with a lot of mileage and little in their respective farms systems that can offer immediate help.

Click below for more! One difference between the two clubs is the injury factor. The Giants have had two significant injuries—Barry Bonds and Armando Benitez, and the Yankees really none. There’s no comparing the loss of Bonds and Benitez to the loss of the Yankees fifth-starter, Jaret Wright. Chien-Ming Wang, who replaced Wright, has been arguably the Yankees most consistent starter of late. The rival Red Sox loss of Curt Schilling is more comparable to the loss of Bonds. Yet the Red Sox have at least been competitive.

Though management of both clubs profess they’re still going to compete in ‘05, Giants and Yankees management has handled losing differently. The extension of manager Felipe Alou’s contract demonstrates confidence in his leadership. Alou used the extension to be candid about his team’s chances. He reminded fans that even if and when Bonds returns, the club has serious deficiencies. Not surprisingly, George Steinbrenner’s approach has been the opposite of Peter Magowen and the Giants. This past weekend he issued the deadly “vote of confidence” in his manager, Joe Torre. That “vote” is usually the first sign that a manager is about to be fired. But since Torre has $10 million remaining on his contract, it’s more likely that some of his coaching staff and possibly even GM Brian Cashman will be let go.

What the Yankees really need to do is trade some of their high-priced players to rebuild their thin farm system. Cashman knows this and is at odds with Steinbrenner’s “win now” edict. They have the veteran pieces to deal, especially if they would absorb some of those ridiculous contracts. There’s no way Steinbrenner would move Alex Gonzalez, Derek Jeter, or Mariano Rivera. But others could go. What pennant contender wouldn’t want proven winners like Gary Sheffield, Mike Mussina, Jorge Posada, or Tino Martinez?

Giants Might Consider Moving Their Ace

Reliever Jason Christiansen is getting some attention from scouts and might be moved. Brett Tomko has only a one-year deal and would certainly be of interest to contenders. But the Giants need to be bold and consider moving someone who could command serious prospects—someone like Jason Schmidt. Sunday’s New York Post reported that the Giants have made it clear to some baseball executives that Schmidt’s available. Plenty of contenders will be looking for pitching in what is a seller’s market.

Last Saturday Schmidt showed signs of rebounding, but once again his location was poor. When he left after five innings, he had already thrown 106 pitches. Since his return from the disabled list, Schmidt’s ERA is over nine runs per game. Sadly his market value continues to diminish the more he pitches. But most pitching coaches believe they have solutions to fix a proven pitchers’ mechanics. They would love an opportunity to work with Schmidt. Plus, there’s little financial risk in acquiring him. If he didn’t bounce back, his new team could exercise his contract’s $3 million buyout clause.

You know Brian Sabean would rather deal Schmidt to the American League so the Giants wouldn’t have to face him. Baltimore’s a team Sabean has dealt with as recently as the 2003 stretch run. Then the Giant dealt young pitching for the veteran Sidney Ponson. This year it might work in reverse, with the Giants asking for left-hander Eric Bedard, but possibly settling on other young starters such as Hayden Penn and Daniel Cabrera along with outfielder Luis Matos or Larry Bigbie.

The White Sox might just deal pitching prospect Brandon McCarthy and a bat, but outfielder Brian Anderson is probably not going in a deal that would include McCarthy. The Twins won’t deal, since they’re salary conscious.

So, that leaves the Red Sox. Might Boston want him for the stretch run, especially if Schilling is less than 100%? You bet. His one-hitter against them last season certainly made a first-hand impression. Their top prospects are shortstop Hanley Ramirez, and pitchers Jon Papelbon and Anibal Sanchez. Tough as it is for Theo Epstein to consider trading any of the three, he knows it’s still a lot better to do that than disrupting the Red Sox 25-man roster. If Schilling’s healthy, and Schmidt returns to form, that’s one terrific one-two punch.

Zito Will Likely Stay Put

The A’s might field offers for Barry Zito, but it’s unlikely they would deal the former Cy Young Award winner—at least this season. Trading two of its best and most popular pitchers this off-season alienated some fans. Trading the last of “The Big Three” might be the final straw. Besides, when contenders look to acquire someone of the stature of Barry Zito, they attempt to trade prospects rather than someone from their roster. With the A’s excellent farm system, if Zito is traded it should be for established players. These kinds of deals are most often done in the off-season.

Bruce Grimes can be reached at


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