Lost in the radical makeover under way in the Bronx this winter is the similarly stark turnover taking place in San Francisco. No, the Giants haven't spent 10 times the Opening Day payroll of the Tampa Bay Rays on a handful of players, but they have added shortstop Edgar Renteria, pitcher Randy Johnson and relievers Jeremy Affeldt and Bobby Howry.
With Johnson, reigning Cy Young Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, they've got the starting rotation to win the NL West, but probably not the offensive firepower just yet.
In fact, the signing of Johnson might serve another purpose besides bolstering an already strong rotation, it might allow GM Brian Sabean to deal some of his pitching depth -- namely Jonathan Sanchez -- to give San Francisco's lineup more punch.
Having resisted offers of corner infielders for Jonathan Sanchez, general manager Brian Sabean hinted that he might at least listen to trade proposals involving the left-hander, now that Johnson's aboard. "We're going to have to be open-minded," Sabean said, although he repeated that he wouldn't obtain a player who's eligible for free agency after 2009.
There's hardly a more valuable commodity in baseball than cost-controlled starting pitching, but the Giants have that in spades, especially if you factor in high-upside prospects Madison Bumgarner and Tim Alderson.
What they don't have is much of any hitting. San Francisco has ranked 15th in the National League in runs each of the last two seasons. The Giants don't even have to be great offensively next year to make a serious run at the NL West -- not with such an imposing rotation -- they just have to be adequate, and the best way to get there might be to deal a pitcher.
I'm just not sure that pitcher should be Sanchez. He had a 5.01 ERA last year despite strong underlying indicators, meaning his trade value likely won't be high enough to fetch the type of big bat San Francisco couldn't freely acquire on the open market.
It might be a lot tougher to part with the younger and more established Cain, but he's far more likely to bring back the type of bat that could make a real difference for the Giants in 2009.
Giants Willing to Listen on Jonathan Sanchez originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Tue, 30 Dec 2008 04:10:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.