Sniffing Youkilis 

There are eleven teams that have nearly zero chance of a playoff run: Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, the Cubs, Pittsburgh, and the entire NL East except the Mets.

These teams probably hold the key to the Giants playoff run. Parity seems to be this year's watchword. The AL and NL West divisions are tightly packed, the NL Central has four teams within 5 games of each other, the AL East is a three-team race, and Minnesota is good enough to give the White Sox and Tigers something to worry about in the Central. Only the Mets are running away and hiding.

Unless a couple divisions shake loose in the next week or so, the Giants will have limited trade partners from whom to steal a difference-making batter. They're also hemmed in by the obviousness of their need: a power-hitting first baseman. At every other position, they either can't upgrade too much or can't trade the incumbent.

For example: Ray Durham is heating up and healthy enough to make him semi-decent trade bait, but who would be an upgrade? No one in-house, that's for sure. And despite Ray-Ray's early-season struggles, he's currently one of the top 10 MLB second basemen on offense.

The other option to a first baseman is acquiring a third baseman and sliding Pedro Feliz across the diamond. But I'm sure the Giants are loathe to move him from his comfort zone.

The other other option for offense is to trade Moises Alou to an AL team that needs a DH (Twins? Angels?) and find an outfielder who can play every day to replace at least some of his O. With Mo disabled, Finley and Ellison are getting too many at-bats in the wrong situations. Finley shouldn't be starting against LHP, and Ellison shouldn't play against RHP.

In fact, after his dreadful defensive performance in Colorado the last two nights, I wouldn't be surprised if Ellison's Giant days soon come to a close. If you can't catch routine pop-ups, you can't hit the cut-off man, you're not a very good basestealer, and you're a pinch-running/defensive specialist...umm...hello?

But let's get back to pulling trade speculation out of my behind. The other measuring stick of how, when, why, and whom the Giants trade is what they have to offer: pitching. That is, who needs it desperately?

Boston: They just pulled Kyle Snyder and Jason Johnson off waivers and learned that Matt Clement and David Wells won't return any time soon.

The Yankees: The Unit looks like last decade's Cy Young lunchmeat.

Compared to the back of either of those team's rotations, Jamey Wright, Brad Hennessey, or Kevin Correia looks like an upgrade. A few other contenders qualify as well. Of course, if those fellows prove to be the extent of the Giants' willingness to deal, no single one of them would fetch the answer to all the team's offensive woes. But throwing in Brian Wilson might sweeten the deal enough to where, say, Boston would give up the resurgent (and expensive) Mike Lowell. Throwing in Kevin Frandsen as well might get the Giants within sniffing distance of Kevin Youkilis. Please provide your own mental picture.

As Brian Sabean's official blogosphere trade representative, I'm still open to offers of Matt Cain for Miguel Cabrera.


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