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Two San Francisco Giants Trades...

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...that you probably won't see this winter. Just using the latest social-media technologies to draw you closer to me! I promise I won't do it again, but please stop straining against the handcuffs. I paid a lot for them.  

If there's one thing Brian Sabean hates to do, it's trade valuable veterans. Other GMs in his spot -- two diamond-encrusted rings in three years, a threadbare farm system, and a looming need to pay Buster Posey mega-millions (perhaps Angel Pagan, too, as of this writing) -- might start mulling a trade or two, sending off expensive vets for a few good prospects or young major leaguers.

I'm thinking of two vets in particular: Pablo Sandoval and Tim Lincecum. I'm not saying I want to trade either or both; I'm just hot stovin' it, my friends.

Even if the suddenly A-Rod-less Yankees were making inquiries about Sandoval, and Sabes wanted to pull the trigger (I seriously doubt he does), there are problems. The Panda had a great post-season run and made Justin Verlander look like Jose Lima on the world's biggest baseball stage. But I'll bet there are executives out there who don't think he'll still be a third baseman at the end of 2014, when his current contract expires. And if Pablo becomes a fat 27-year-old 1B/DH, his value goes way down relative to his contract, which pays him about $14 M the next two years.

And Timmy, God bless him and God bless us all, but no one has any idea what's coming in 2013. A return to Cy form? Another drop in average fastball velocity and inexplicable control hiccups? Transition to the dominant super-reliever that he suddenly became in the playoffs? His spectacular run didn't rebuild his trade value, it just made everyone more confused. Confusion is not a good conversation starter when trying to convince a rival GM to send the Giants prospects and pay Lincecum's 2013 salary of $22 M. 

On top of those question marks lies the Giants' depth problem. If Sandoval were traded today and the Giants had to play tomorrow, his replacement would be Joaquin Arias. If Arias were busy with his Christmas shopping, the starter might be Conor Gillaspie or Nick Noonan.

To replace Lincecum every fifth day, it's Eric Surkamp, who missed last year with Tommy John surgery and might not even be ready; or Chris Heston, who has had two excellent years in a row in High A and Double A (he turns 25 in April); and the typical assortment of Triple-A vet / non-roster invite guys, from which a Vogelsong rises once every decade or two. If the Giants knew Tim Lincecum 2013 would post the same atrocious numbers as Lincecum 2012, a guy off the scrap heap might be an acceptable replacement risk. But Lincecum still has it, at least in short spurts, whatever "it" is, as his playoff work demonstrated. It's just a matter of making the right mechanical adjustments, or constructing the best off-season workout regimen, or calibrating the optimal bong-water PH level. Or something.

No doubt the Giants will make a trade or three this winter, but they'll likely be around the edges of the roster. To trade a big-name veteran, a lot of weird dominoes would have to fall -- not the least weird of which would be Sabean reversing his philosophical flow. Besides, 2013: The Search for Timmy's Mojo is a much more interesting script than Yusmeiro: Fifth Starter, Legendary Lover.


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