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Checking In On The Tank

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tank.JPGOperation Draft Tank is in trouble. The Giants are 72-85, a .459 record. Eight teams have worse records, and three -- the Phils, Mets and Blue Jays -- are tied with the Giants.

Assuming the worst eight remain so, only two among the .459 teams will finish the season with a protected draft pick. If the Giants win most of the final five, they might not finish with a protected draft pick. This is important, people, pay attention!

Do you know why the Giants need to finish the season with a protected draft pick? So they won't have any qualms about signing Hiroki Kuroda this winter. And do you know where those qualms might come from? From the fact that the Yankees are no fools, and they'll slap a qualifying offer on Kuroda's forehead faster than Jay-Z sells out the Barclays Center. And that QO, baby, as they say in New York, will force any other team signing Kuroda to lose a first round draft pick. Unless that pick is among the top ten.

You probably knew all that stuff, but I just love typing "QO, baby."

If you think my Kuroda fetish is creepy, sorry. AJ Burnett is either retiring or staying in Pittsburgh, and all the other free agent starters will either want too many years, or are mid-rotation replacements. Fall-back options. Kuroda is a rare case. Even at 39 he's a premier pitcher, yet apparently happy to go year by year. Could the Giants persuade him to leave the Bronx, where he's pitched brilliantly for two years?


But I very much like a rotation fronted by Cain, Bumgarner and Kuroda. A well rested Vogelsong, Yusmeiro Petit and Chad Gaudin on the cheap could fight for the back end slots, with more competition from the usual non-roster/under-the-radar winter pickups the Giants excel at finding.

What, no Lincecum? If the Giants extend a QO -- they seem sure to do so -- and he accepts, then fine: Cain, Bum, Kuroda, Timmy, and a fifth. But he's likely to decline the offer and become a free agent. If the Giants are truly interested in his return, they should insist on something more creative. He's better than 2012, but he's still not very good. By Fangraph's WAR, Timmy has totalled 2.6 WAR the past two seasons. B-ref's WAR is far more critical (-2.4 WAR). On the free market, he'll be lucky to get $10 million next year.

But back to the tank. The Giants do extremely well with high first-round picks. When they get within the top ten, they don't mess around. If they don't crack the top ten this year, they'll almost surely be top 15; they won't want to lose that slot. I'll guess that if they wind up with, say, the 12th or 13th worst record, they'll avoid free agents attached to QOs. Their options will be more limited this winter.

I hate to say it, but the Giants need to lose most of these next five games. We'll probably see more Adrianza instead of Crawford, Abreu and Noonan instead of Scutaro, Perez instead of Blanco, Sanchez instead of Posey, but at this point with injuries and fatigue, those substitutions aren't necessarily downgrades. We all know Bruce Bochy would never deliberately, uh.... You don't say. Operation Draft Tank: Full steam ahead!

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