And There’s Your Ace

kershawshutsoutcards.jpg(Update: Okay, I wrote this as the Dodgers were in the process of blowing two saves. They’re currently in the 12th inning, tied 2-2. Depending on how this ends, this post might look really out of place. But you know what? Clayton Kershaw RULES, and nothing that happens in this game is going to change that.)

You want an ace? You’ve had a problem with recent weak outings from the rotation? Or with the fact that they don’t work deep into games? Well, how’s 8 shutout innings against a team with the best hitter alive strike you? Not only that, but in a one-run game on the heels of the first three-game losing streak of the entire season? I wasn’t kidding when I said I wouldn’t trade Clayton Kershaw for Roy Halladay straight up, because even though I hate the word, Kershaw’s been absolutely nothing if not ace-like. Now, it’s true that Jonathan Broxton just blew it for Kershaw in the 9th (reason #10830371 why wins are a terrible pitching metric!!), but while that’s a worthwhile conversation, it’s also a separate one – it takes nothing away from how good Kershaw was in this game.

Look, what Kershaw is doing right now is simply unbelievable, as his 2.76 ERA is good for 11th in all of baseball. Forget his age for a moment, because the performances we’re seeing are outstanding no matter what year his was born. In the 9 starts since his 2.2 inning struggle on June 10, Kershaw’s pitched 56 2/3 innings… and given up all of five earned runs. That’s an ERA of 0.80, which would be awesome if it didn’t make the blood rush to my head hard enough to make me think I’m going to pass out. Really, you think there’s anyone in baseball that’s going to improve on that? There’s a pretty solid case to be made that Clayton Kershaw has been the best pitcher in baseball for the last two months, and that’s even with Mark Buehrle doing nothing but throwing perfect games lately (he gave up 8 ER in 3.1 IP four starts ago).

Oh, and he’s 21, and still improving. So there’s that. I don’t think this was ever really going to be an issue, so I can’t even get too mad about it, but how’s about we stop with the idea that it’d be fun to trade him, okay? Yes, I’m looking at you, Steve Phillips. Yes, it’s my own fault for ever listening to a word Steve Phillips says.

As for trades that were made today, let’s all take a moment to laugh at the Giants for trading top prospect Tim Alderson for second baseman Freddy Sanchez. Granted, second base is a huge black hole for San Francisco, and Sanchez is indeed an upgrade – except that he just missed the entire Giants/Pirates series with a bad knee. But at this cost? Well, it’s always fun to look around the internet and see Giant fans freaking out…

El Lefty Malo:

That’s the
report
. I’m not disappointed the Giants have traded Alderson, but for a guy
who won’t hit with any power? Why? Why why why why why? Was it not possible to
put Alderson and a couple other prospects together for someone who can hit
cleanup? If Sanchez hits .330 / .380 / .460 down the stretch and the
Giants score five runs a game, I’ll be happy in a general sense. But I still
won’t be happy about this trade. Even worse, I’ll have to read for the next two
months the national punditry revving their LOLSABEAN engines yet again.
Sigh.

McCovey Chronicles:

But this was an awful, stupid, and unbelievably short-sighted move. Bengie Molina
is on pace to become one
of the worst cleanup hitters in the last 50 years
. Think about how special
that is. A lot of people have stunk in the last half-century, but we’re watching
one of the greatest stinks in the history of stink. As such, a
productive-for-his-position second baseman and a productive-for-his-new-team
first baseman isn’t the boiling water to our contending-flavored ramen. The
Giants needed someone who would have pushed Molina out of the cleanup spot.

And, just for fun, FanGraphs:

One of the most enjoyable parts of writing for a site like Fangraphs is
“hearing” the banter between writers behind the scenes. After news broke of the
Pittsburgh-San Francisco deal that saw second baseman Freddy Sanchez head from the Pirates to the Giants, these
comments were made from some of Fangraphs’ finest:

“What the hell?”

“The best pitching prospect of the day doesn’t get traded for Cliff
Lee
, but for Freddy Sanchez. Awesome. Nice job, Cleveland.”

“My lord, Sabean, what are you doing?”

Just when you thought it was safe to love San Francisco prospects again,
general manager Brian Sabean tossed away the club’s second best pitching
prospect for an injury-prone, veteran second baseman in his free agent year
(although he has an $8 million option that is way too high). Oh, and the Giants
organization just gave away its third best pitching prospect (Scott Barnes) to the Indians for a league-average first
baseman. Madison Bumgarner is suddenly very, very lonely.

If you want to imagine what it’d be like if the Dodgers traded Kershaw, take that vitriol and multiply it by the intensity of forty billion suns. Not to be hyperbolic or anything, but I’m pretty sure that it would be the worst thing in the history of the human race. 

The other big winner to come out of the Sanchez trade? Old friend Delwyn Young!

What the deal does is give Delwyn
Young
a chance to get regular at-bats as the Pirates’ second baseman. The
27-year-old has definite offensive potential and has been waiting for a chance
to play every day, and it appears he might finally get his opportunity as the
team evaluates if he can be an option there in 2010. Young’s defense at second
base is still a work in progress, and is likely going to be a negative in terms
of holding on to a starting job. However, he could be a quietly effective
producer in deep mixed leagues, hitting for batting average with a little pop if
he gets regular at-bats down the stretch.

If you’ve followed this blog at all, you know we’ve been huge Delwyn supporters, so it’s great to see him finally get a chance.

But it can’t all be good news, can it? Of course not, because despite my best efforts, Jason Schmidt is getting another shot to start on Friday. The question I can’t seem to answer is, why? He’s proven completely that he’s cooked, and even Joe Torre admitted that Schmidt’s bullpen session was just “okay”. Why not bring back Eric Stults? He’s pitched exactly 6 innings in each of his last 4 AAA starts, giving up 2, 3, 2, and 2 earned runs. It’s not great, but you’re not looking for “great”. You’re looking for “5th starter acceptable,” and that’s exactly what Eric Stults is. Either way, it’s much better than “busted old man who ruins the bullpen,” i.e., “the Jason Schmidt special.”  

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