Inbox: Zoning in on trade possibilites

Inbox: Zoning in on trade possibilites

The only Trade Deadline deals I've applauded general manager Brian Sabean for have been when he dealt for Kenny Lofton in 2002 and most recently when he traded for Randy Winn. Do you think Sabean is brave enough to pull the trigger on a huge deal? Shouldn't this second half make or break Sabean's future with the Giants?
-- Justin D., Concord, Calif.

I get to cheat because I have a Giants media guide, which includes a list of Sabean's top trades. Anybody might agree that a few of his other pre-July 31 deals -- in which he obtained the likes of Kirk Rueter (1996), Ellis Burks (1998) and Jason Schmidt (2001) -- worked out fairly well. Of course Sabean is "brave enough" to engineer a big trade. Remember the Matt Williams deal? This half could influence managing general partner Bill Neukom's decision on whether to retain Sabean, but I doubt that it'll be the conclusive factor. Neukom also will consider Sabean's track record, the talent he has assembled in the Majors and Minors and the Giants' fortunes in drafting and developing players.

How is it that a player can focus at all when he knows if he has a slump or a bad start or two, he could get released? Do general managers look at other non-statistical factors before "firing" one of their players?
-- Joe D., San Jose, Calif.

Rarely does a player's job depend on his production in one game. Exceptions include exhibitions in late March when managers might be considering several candidates for the final roster spot or two, or a start for a struggling pitcher whose hold on a spot in the rotation is tenuous. Even the worst managers and GMs know how difficult this game is. So they typically avoid creating make-or-break situations for players. Besides, never underestimate a Major Leaguer's ability to ignore the pressure that surrounds him. In that respect, these guys aren't like most of us. As for the intangibles you mentioned, a player who's facing some personal adversity might receive a break if he endures a lousy game or two. Mostly, though, this is a performance-based business, as all professional sports are.

Should the Giants trade Jonathan Sanchez? He's only 3-8, the no-hitter increases his trade value and they could get a solid player for him. Maybe he and a top prospect could land Roy Halladay.
-- Tim R., Worcester, Mass.

Given the current state of the Giants' starting staff -- Ryan Sadowski's mostly unproven and Barry Zito and Sanchez have been erratic -- subtracting pitching is not a good idea, unless what somehow comes in return is a significant pitching upgrade. If you think a package of Sanchez plus name-your-prospect here will land Halladay, somebody has been slipping Jagermeister in your green tea.

With Buster Posey now in Triple-A, what are the chances of seeing him behind the plate on Opening Day 2010?
-- Jeremy C., San Luis Obispo, Calif.

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The guess here is that Posey has a 50-50 chance of beginning next season with San Francisco. How's that for going out on a limb? More crystal-ball gazing: I sense that Bengie Molina won't re-sign with San Francisco, because he'll want a multiyear contract and the Giants won't offer more than one year. The Giants will find a serviceable veteran to fill in until they believe Posey's ready for the Majors. But if Posey has an impressive Spring Training, he'll accelerate the timetable.

If Zito keeps pitching below .500 the rest of the year, how long can the top brass wait for him to turn it around? One gem every four or five starts shouldn't sugarcoat the main issue. If the Giants are anywhere close to the Dodgers in late August and arms in the farm system are ready, they will need to pull the plug and bring youth up. They will need to bite the bullet and release Zito unless an American League team would be willing to absorb some of his contract.
-- Efrain O., San Francisco

I'm writing this as Zito's completing one of those gems you cited. This time it was his solid seven-inning effort at Atlanta that interrupted the Giants' 1-6 skid. Granted, the combination of Zito's performance and his contract will continue to gall fans (and some people within the organization) for a long time. But if he were to pitch a little more consistently while the Giants scored more runs for him, he'd probably have an above-.500 record, which would silence much of the negativity.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.