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Murph: I experienced a little trade deadline rage, was it premature?



© Lucas Peltier | 2022 Nov 9

Now let’s dive into the always-dangerous world of evaluating the Giants’ performance at the trade deadline.

How dangerous? Think back to 2012, when the Dodgers acquired All-Star Hanley Ramirez at the trade deadline, and the Giants answered with veteran utility man Marco Scutaro, on his sixth team.

The late, great Salty from Clovis — RIP, Baltimore Dave — called in to KNBR and howled to the heavens: “The Dodgers got Murderer’s Row, and all we got was Scutaro!” 

It was clever wordplay, and embodied what scientists call PTDR — Premature Trade Deadline Rage. Salty was later seen weeping with joy at a World Series parade.

I experienced a little PTDR during Wednesday’s show. I fully expected Farhan (The McCovey Cove Mensa) Zaidi to wave his magic trade deadline wand. You know the wand — the one that landed Kris Bryant in 2021; the one that shed Mark Melancon’s cumbersome deal in 2019; the one that turned Darin Ruf into JD Davis in 2022.

The 2023 Giants, thus far, have been surprisingly pleasant, utilizing an unexpected burst of rookie energy and a massive load of bulk-pens and “feature” pitchers to arrive at 59-49, only 2.5 games out in the NL West and owning the #1 NL wild card slot. Propers to Gabe (The Instagram Influencer) Kapler for pressing lots of correct buttons, and to Farhan for finding Blake Sabol in Rule 5, and aggressively promoting the likes of Patrick Bailey, Luis Matos, Ryan Walker, Casey Schmitt and Marco Luciano.

Which brings us to Tuesday’s trade deadline.

The Giants are not a team without needs.

The ongoing “Bulk-Pen/Feature Dude” pitching strategy, while cute, could get perilous in the next two months. Tax bills on arms will come due. Walking the high-wire of so many different arms in one game can get dicey. Pushing back against decades and decades of baseball orthodoxy can require profound belief in the Steve Jobs-ian nature of Farhan’s “Think Different” Giants.

A starting pitcher — even a No. 4 or a No. 5 — would seem a prudent pickup to mop up some problems on Aisle 3.

And the offense is wheezing. Perhaps the magical return of Their Estrada and Mitch Haniger would be the “that’s our trade pickup” answer from Farhan — but those two guys were on the team since Opening Day, and neither is knocking at the MVP door (with respect to Estrada’s fine campaign). Middle infield depth would seem an obvious need, given Brandon Crawford’s tentative 36-year-old knees.

A bat — someone like Paul DeJong or even slumping but proven Tim Anderson — would seem a prudent pickup to patch a hole or two in the infield.

Farhan did neither.

He traded for AJ Pollock, a 35-year-old outfielder hitting .173.

This is where the PTDR comes in.

Premature Trade Deadline Rage is an easy avenue to take here.

If the goal is to win a World Series — isn’t the goal? — then Farhan committed an error in not making this team better.

If the goal is to keep every single one of these wonderful prospects and play for 2024 — well, then, maybe Farhan should just tell us that.

Because that’s what it looks like.

And that’s not the worst crime in the history of humanity. 2024 looks bright. So does 2025 and 2026. By keeping everyone — including Kyle Harrison and Carson Whisenhunt and Mason Black and Keaton Winn — Farhan is banking that the homegrown love Giants fans feel for their prospects will pay major dividends in the last half of this decade.

But if the goal is to win a World Series this year, this was a swing-and-a-miss.

And while we have you, let’s be sure and study this “Opener” strategy in the next couple of months —and into October.

It is my Pleistocene Epoch-era belief that to win the Fall Classic, you need starting arms. But don’t believe me, believe the box scores of the 2020, 2021 and 2022 World Series, in which names like Tyler Glasnow, Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Ranger Suarez, Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers, Jr, Cristian Javier, Max Fried, Ian Anderson, Jose Urquidy and Zack Greinke dot the box scores.

These are things called “starting pitchers”. 

In fact, in the last 3 World Series, precisely one “opener” was used: Tucker Davidson for Atlanta in Game 4 of the 2021 Classic. He lasted 1/3 of an inning.

So color me a skeptic that the brazen use of openers for the Giants will result in a parade. I get that they are 14-5 in the use of openers, and that Alex Wood and Jakob Junis and Ross Stripling are starters disguised as relievers — I get it. But . . . color me skeptical. It’s going to take a Kyle Harrison-as-Madison Bumgarner-style turn for this to work out.

Now that would be fun, admittedly, and would quell any PTDR.

In the meantime, I’ll give a double chest-tap and sky-point to Salty up in the Great KNBR Phone Line in the Sky.