Giants focus on relief help as Deadline nears
Thursday, July 29
SAN FRANCISCO — As Saturday’s 1 p.m. non-waiver Trade Deadline crept closer, indications grew that the Giants were almost exclusively concentrating on acquiring bullpen help and had abandoned their pursuit of a hitter.
Sources familiar with the Giants’ trade talks said team officials constantly found that the “prices” for competent hitters, in terms of players San Francisco would have to part with, were far too costly. Giants general manager Brian Sabean has stated his unwillingness to trade left-handers Jonathan Sanchez or Madison Bumgarner, who routinely appear on other teams’ most-wanted lists.
San Francisco’s most immediate division rivals have fortified themselves. The Los Angeles Dodgers traded for outfielder Scott Podsednik while the San Diego Padres got slugging infielder Miguel Tejada.
But the Giants believe they aren’t so desperate offensively that they must overpay for a proven hitter. Despite Thursday’s 5-0 loss to Florida, they lead the National League with 141 runs scored in July. They’re 18-8 this month. As a result, they’re willing to stand pat.
“I like this club, I do,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “If it’s the right fit, I’m sure something would happen, but this is a good team with a lot of moveable parts. …”
This enables the Giants to throw even more energy into obtaining a reliever — preferably a left-hander, since injuries have sidelined southpaws Jeremy Affeldt and Dan Runzler.
“You know the obvious. We lost two left-handers,” Bochy said. “There’s been a lot of talks. I’ll leave it at that.”
San Francisco reportedly has expressed interest in Toronto lefty Scott Downs, who has limited left-handed hitters to a .182 batting average. Downs also has been effective against righties, who have batted .232 off him.
By contrast, another lefty who captures the Giants’ fancy, Baltimore’s Will Ohman, is the quintessential situational reliever. Left-handers own a .207 batting average against him, compared to .340 for righties.
A handful of right-handers also intrigue the Giants, including Florida’s Leo Nunez, who has a .210 opponents’ batting average against lefties. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Giants are eyeing Seattle’s Brandon League, against whom lefties are batting .235.
— Chris Haft, Cash Kruth