Common sense tells you the once-mighty San Francisco Giants will make bailout trades before the July 31 deadline and begin their long overdue rebuild.
Despite winning six of their last seven games -- including two of three from the Cardinals going into the break -- the Giants are still seven games under .500 and 17½ games back of the powerful Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West.
Reliever Will Smith will be a person of interest for contenders. So will starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner and relievers Reyes Moronta, Tony Watson and Sam Dyson.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins are just two of the teams poised to bid on the Giants pitchers. The Cardinals could use a Bumgarner, too, but they appear to have less to offer.
For the record, the Giants remain coy about their plans. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi is in his first season at the helm of the Giants baseball operation. He is still mapping his course.
"The one thing that I've preached internally as we've talked to ownership, as we've talked through things in the clubhouse and with our baseball operations group is, we don't feel like we have to do anything, or there are X numbers of things we have to accomplish by July 31," Zaidi told the San Francisco Chronicle.
"When you put yourself in that position you create unnecessary pressure and panic to do something that is not in your long-term interest. Like every other team out there we're in an evaluation period."
Zaidi even insisted the Giants could become buyers to support manager Bruce Bochy in his farewell season.
"I still think there could be opportunities for us to trade away younger players for guys who can help us now," Zaidi said. "I wouldn't rule that out. I think the most important thing for us in this period is to maintain flexibility and our own open-mindedness over what makes the most sense as we get close to that July 31 Deadline."
Yeah, well, the Giants have zero chance of winning the division and a very limited shot at getting into the wild card play-in game, so sell they must.
Here is what folks are writing about Our National Pastime:
R.J. Anderson, CBSSports.com: "The Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers, and St. Louis Cardinals don't seem likely to sell. The San Diego Padres could in theory move closer Kirby Yates, but who knows. That leaves the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, and Pittsburgh Pirates. Of those three, the Pirates seem likeliest -- outfielder Corey Dickerson, starter Jordan Lyles, and reliever Francisco Liriano are each impending free agents who could appeal to contenders."
Michael Baumann, The Ringer: "Because Manager of the Year is an award for perceived overachievers, it’d be unusual if the skipper of the two-time defending league champions won it, particularly since (Dave) Roberts already won in 2016 and finished second the next year. Turning a losing team into a winning team is the most obvious way for a manager to distinguish himself. All Roberts has done is take the helm of the best roster in the National League and not screw anything up. Turns out, in this year’s National League, that’s a bigger accomplishment than one might think. Roberts’s low-drama Dodgers stand in contrast to the disappointing Brewers and Cardinals, the malaise surrounding the Phillies and Cubs, and the total societal collapse of the Mets. The next-best manager this year is probably Atlanta’s Brian Snitker, who won the award last year for earning a division title as a second-year skipper; any argument against Roberts on the basis of novelty would also apply to Snitker. Besides, Roberts is far from a silent push-button caretaker; he’s an adept tactician and is skilled at navigating one of the biggest media circuses in the sport. Keeping everyone happy on a star-studded team in a high-pressure market is not easy, and Roberts has always done that job well."
Bradford Doolittle, ESPN.com: "The addition of Craig Kimbrel has done little to clear up the general malaise surrounding the Cubs. Kimbrel will hopefully continue to ramp up from his late start, but his stuff hasn't been Kimbrel-like so far. According to Statcast, his working four-seamer velocity is down two full clicks over his career norms and batters have taken advantage: He's allowing an average 94.8 mph in exit velocity. Opponents have barreled 36.4 percent of Kimbrel's offerings -- six times the big league average. There's nowhere to go but up for the decade's best reliever."
Bob Nightengale, USA Today:"They were traded for each other 11 years ago to the day Monday, and for the first time, New York Yankees veteran starter CC Sabathia and Houston Astros outfielder Michael Brantley actually met. It was surreal for each of them bumping into each other in the lobby of their hotel in the city where they became All-Stars and never wanted to leave, only for economics to get in the way of their dream of spending their entire careers with the Cleveland Indians . . . Sabathia, traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in a package of four players highlighted by Brantley, went onto to win a World Series ring with the Yankees. His final destination will almost certainly be Cooperstown, N.Y. and the Baseball Hall of Fame . . . Brantley didn’t want to leave either, but Cleveland slashed payroll during the winter, never offered him a contract, and he wound up with a two-year, $32 million contract with the Astros . . . if (the Indians) had kept Sabathia all those years ago, he would have been the difference in losing that the 2016 World Series to the Chicago Cubs. And if the Indians still had Brantley, they wouldn’t be facing a 5 ½-game deficit in the AL Central, though picked up six games over the last five weeks by going 21-8 since June 4. And, you can’t help but wonder if the Indians will ever learn their lesson and try to keep All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor from walking away when he’s eligible for free agency after the 2021 season."
"Each of us has our flaws, but there's a deep level of talent in this division, and you have five teams that their ambition is to make the postseason. That's not the case in some of the other divisions. That's not criticism. Teams cycle in and cycle out. It's part of the industry. It's part of the game. It's been part of the game for decades."
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington, on the state of the National League Central.