Giants sign starter Brad Penny

After he went unclaimed at the 1:00 p.m. deadline on Monday, Brad Penny became a free agent and according to SI.com, has signed with the San Francisco Giants.

Initially, no one claimed Penny because a claiming team would have been responsible for the remainder of his contract. The Giants only have to pay him the pro-rated portion of the big-league minimum of $400,000, which will be less than $100,000.

Putting aside Penny’s numbers this season (7-8, 5.61 ERA), this is a quality signing by the Giants. He’s familiar with the NL West after pitching for the Dodgers for four and a half seasons and also offers an upgrade over Joe Martinez, who had been filling in for Randy Johnson after the Big Unit was placed on the DL with a shoulder injury in early July.

Pitching in the spacious AT&T Park should only help Penny’s performance, especially considering he had issues keeping the ball in the yard while playing in Boston this season. He should also be plenty motivated to join a contender, especially a contender whose rival is the team that Penny had a falling out with at the end of last season (the Dodgers).

Considering that Penny comes cheap, is still throwing in the mid 90s and will make an impact immediately, he’s a perfect fit for a Giants team that is coming off a sweep of the Rockies and is now tied for the NL Wild Card.

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Injuries cost Giants, Marlins their trade deadline players

The Giants and Marlins were hopeful that the acquisitions of second baseman Freddy Sanchez and first baseman Nick Johnson at the trade deadline would help propel them to a postseason berth. But due to injuries, those hopes are fading fast.

San Fran placed Sanchez on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain Tuesday, an injury that has kept him out of the Giants’ last six games. He’ll be eligible to return from the DL in eight days and should be ready to play by then, but there are no guarantees.

Also on Tuesday, Florida placed Johnson on the 15-day DL, retroactive to August 17, with a strained right hamstring. As with Sanchez, the Marlins hope Johnson can return sometime in early September and continue to give their lineup the boost that he was supplying before his injury.

The Giants and Marlins desperately need these players if they’re going to stay in the NL Wild Card hunt. Thanks to a heartbreaking series in Colorado in which they lost three of four games to the Wild Card-leading Rockies, San Fran is now four games back in the standings. The Marlins are currently 5.5 games back of the Rockies.

Before the injury, Sanchez supplied the Giants with a consistent, patient hitter at the top of their lineup. He gave San Fran’s offense a needed spark and since his absence, the team has gone back to their woeful offensive ways.

Johnson was highly productive too, hitting 12-for-39 before his injury. He provides more pop than Ross Gload and Gaby Sanchez, who will be his replacements while he’s on the DL.

Both of these clubs need these players back soon, or else the season will undoubtedly be lost over the course of the next month.

MLB Trade Rumors: Halladay, Wells and Rolen

– Anthony Riber of Newsday writes that if the Yankees really want ace Roy Halladay, they might have to take Vernon Wells too, who could fill their potential void in left field…

…however, Ken Davidoff of Newsday essentially contradicts his co-worker by writing that GM Brian Cashman prefers to improve his roster this year without taking a dive into the trade market. So in essence, the Bombers might be fine with staying pat around the trade deadline.

– Speaking of Halladay, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that the Brewers could have the ace in their sites, as GM Doug Melvin has already had a conversation with the Blue Jays regarding the “Doc.”

– The Giants are still in search of bats, but it’s unclear if GM Brian Sabean wants to pull the trigger or not on a bat like Matt Holliday or Jermaine Dye. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News threw out Blue Jays third baseman Scott Rolen as a possibility for San Fran as well.

– Bill Ladson of MLB.com is reporting that there isn’t much of a market for Nationals outfielder Austin Kearns, who has been delegated to back up duty in Washington.

Giants to trade Zito? Fat chance.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News is a little delusional.

Either that, or my man has been getting high on peyote, because in one of his recent articles he actually suggested that the Giants have to trade Barry Zito.

And the Giants have to very seriously consider trying to trade Zito to any suitable team that will take some of his money (Zito has a no-trade clause); or they have to think about releasing him in the off-season.

Of course, at the end of this season, Zito will still be owed a guaranteed $83 million. Which is a lot.

Releasing him in the offseason might be a viable (expensive, but viable) option with Madison Bumgarner and Tim Alderson tearing up the minor leagues and possibly being ready to join the big league club next year. But what team would be stupid enough to trade for Zito and take on some of his contract as Kawakami is suggesting? Even the win-at-all-cost, spend-at-all-cost Yankees wouldn’t touch Zito, especially with Roy Halladay on the market.

Truth be told, Zito hasn’t looked as bad this year as he has the previous two seasons. When he’s supplying souvenirs to the fans sitting in the left field bleachers, he can be serviceable as a fourth or fifth starter. Of course, he’ll still be the highest paid fourth or fifth starter in baseball history, but at least the Giants will be getting something back on their brutal investment.

Either way, nothing is going to happen this year. No team is going to trade for him and with Randy Johnson on the DL the Giants aren’t going to release Zito during the season, no matter how bad he pitches the rest of the way. They could potentially move him to the bullpen (which they tried to do for about a millisecond last year), but don’t forget that he’s typically a good second half pitcher and with the Giants in contention, they’d be better off rolling the dice and leaving him in the rotation.

Better yet while the Big Unit is on the DL, the Giants could pit Zito against Jonathan Sanchez and Ryan Sadowski for the last two spots in the rotation. Loser either goes to the bullpen (Zito/Sanchez) or Triple-A (Sadowski).

Could Lee be a trade option for Giants?

The Chicago Tribune is speculating that the Giants could make a push to acquire Cubs first baseball Derrek Lee. The paper notes that San Fran’s pitching is good enough to keep them in contention, but the team desperately needs a big bat and Lee could be a viable option given that Chicago has a couple of replacements for him in Micah Hoffpauir and Jake Fox.

While rumors are definitely fun to discuss, this one looks like it has no teeth. The Cubs haven’t given any indication that they want to deal Lee and even if they have considered it, he’d still have to waive his no-trade clause. (And why would he waive it to go to a team like the Giants?)

The Giants make an easy target in all of this because yes, they do need a bat. Aaron Rowand, Pablo Sandoval, Bengie Molina, Randy Winn and Juan Uribe don’t exactly strike the fear of God into opposing pitchers. But GM Brian Sabean has to be smart here and even though San Fran is playing well, it’s probably not worth it for the Giants to trade young arms (which they’ve got plenty of) so that they can put a band-aid on a deep gash.

Now, if a situation comes up and a club is willing to part with a young bat in order to get a couple of arms, then all bets are off. If the Giants can get a young, productive bat this season that could also add to their rebuilding process, then Sabean would be a fool not to jump on the opportunity. But how often do clubs make young bats available?

The Giants have already been linked to the Marlins’ Dan Uggla and the Nats’ Adam Dunn. Now Lee’s name has been throw into the mix and while it would be tempting for Sabean to add a bat to his weak lineup, none of the aforementioned names are going to help the Giants win a World Series this year so why bother? Why sacrifice the future for half a season?

We’ll see if this rumor grows any legs, but I hardly doubt it will.

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