Setting the Market 

As I mentioned yesterday, the Giants' ability to acquire a big bat for the pennant race will hinge on their willingness to trade pitching. Yesterday, the baseline was set for the current market value of a back-of-the-rotation starter when the Cardinals nabbed Jeff Weaver from the Angels.

Getting Weaver is no coup. He was pitching so poorly, his kid brother Jered bumped him not just from the rotation but all the way off the team. If they couldn't trade him, the Angels were set to release him.

"I did expect to be able to trade him. I didn't know we'd get a guy as much as we like Evans," said Angels GM Bill Stoneman.

"Evans" is 24-year-old AA prospect Terry Evans, who was hitting .311 with seven homers and 20 RBIs in 21 games with the Cards' Springfield affiliate. He began the year in Class A Palm Beach and was promoted after hitting 15 homers in 60 games.

Before this year, though, he spent three years in A-ball without ever cracking a .700 OPS. Not a top prospect by any stretch of the imagination. What does that mean for the Giants' trade possibilities? Assuming Jamey Wright is the player the Giants would most like to trade, let's compare:

This year, Weaver has been a lot worse than Wright. His most grevious sin is giving up hits: 114 in 88 IP, 18 of them home runs. As we all know, Wright this year has run hot and cold. In about half his starts, he's been very good; otherwise he's been an easy mark. His last four starts and five of his last six have been ugly. Can the Giants sell the April/May version, or will teams assume the June/July version is the goods they're going to get?

Given Weaver's contract ($8 M plus), of which apparently the Angels ate a portion, I still think Wright could fetch more than Weaver. Perhaps that balances out when career stats are factored in. Weaver is thoroughly mediocre, but Wright's control is enough to make a manager pull his hair out.

It now seems possible that either Brad Hennessey or Kevin Correia could fetch at least fringe major-league talent. The only thing Jeff Weaver has that they don't have is a track record of pitching lots of innings, and a certain "veteran-ness" that winning teams may want to lean on down the stretch. You know, someone who's been in a pennant race before.

Fringe major-league talent isn't going to make any difference to the Giants. They'll still have to offer a package of players for an impact bat, but at least the Giants can thank the Cards for taking an alternative to Wright off the market so early. With luck, the price tag on mediocre pitching will rise as we near the trading deadline, and the Giants will be able to get the bat they need without flushing the next two years down the sewer.


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