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For first time in years, Giants will look to trade for starting pitcher

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider

The Giants are never afraid to make a trade in July, and they have two World Series titles in the last three years to show for it. But it's been years since the Giants have needed to trade for a starting pitcher in July.

Ten years. Sidney Ponson, acquired in July 2003 from the Orioles, for Ryan Hannaman, Kurt Ainsworth and Damian Moss.

The names are hardly important. What's interesting is that the Giants have developed and otherwise found enough starting pitchers that they've gone a decade without feeling the need to make a big-league trade to acquire more.

Until now.

Baseball officials who speak regularly with Giants decision-makers say they're already looking hard at the trade market in search of a starter.

"Anybody that's trading pitching, they're on," one of the officials said. "They want somebody quality."

It's too early in the process to make a good guess on who the Giants will eventually go for, but Giants people have been asking about Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins and Bud Norris of the Astros, among others. It doesn't appear the Giants have begun in-depth conversations with either of those teams, however.

Quite a few starting pitchers could be available, including Cliff Lee (almost certainly too pricey for the Giants), Matt Garza and Josh Johnson. But Garza and Johnson would both need to prove they're healthy, and Giants general manager Brian Sabean has tended to shy away from players with health issues.

The Giants have won two of the last three World Series in large part because of their strong starting pitching, but it hasn't been nearly as much of a strength this year. Giants starters have allowed five or more earned runs in 19 of their 62 games, the most of any team in baseball.

Overall, the Giants rotation has a 4.75 ERA, which ranks 24th in MLB. The Giants haven't finished lower than sixth in rotation ERA since 2008.

Some Giants people think all the extra innings in October may be catching up with them. Ryan Vogelsong's injury and Tim Lincecum's regression has also hurt, and while Barry Zito has been brilliant (4-1, 1.94 ERA) in spacious AT&T Park, his 10.19 ERA on the road is the second-worst of any major leaguer with four starts (behind ex-teammate Jonathan Sanchez's 13.50).

Despite the pitching issues, the Giants have stayed in the National League West race. The Giants are just two games behind the first-place Diamondbacks, as they begin a challenging week on the road against the Pirates and Braves.

 
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