Now’s the time to think young

The Giants should trade Jason Schmidt and start working on a future that is not built around 40-year-olds.

In their first week back after the All-Star Game, playing two below-.500 teams, the Giants looked like a team going nowhere. Schmidt’s contract will be up at the end of the season. Though Schmidt has said he’d prefer to stay with the Giants, they apparently have made no move to try to re-sign him before the end of the season.

There’s reason for caution. Schmidt is 33 and had two stints on the disabled list last season. This year, he tied a franchise record with 16 strikeouts in a game, but hasn’t had his best stuff since. That has led to speculation — which he denies — that he’s having arm problems again. Signing pitchers to long-term contracts is a risky business, as the Giants learned after paying Robb Nen for two seasons in which he didn’t throw a pitch. If they re-sign Schmidt, they could end up with an expensive .500 pitcher who’s on and off the DL.

But his value is very high now, as teams in the playoff hunt seek to beef up their rosters.

One trade possibility that’s been rumored is the Chicago White Sox trading 23-year-old pitcher Brandon McCarthy and 24-year-old outfielder Brian Anderson.

This would make sense for both teams. Schmidt would give a boost to the White Sox’s rotation as they seek to catch the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central, while McCarthy and Anderson would give the Giants a much-needed infusion of youth.

Both players are on the White Sox’s roster. McCarthy is3-4 with a 4.11 ERA, pitching almost entirely in relief. He’s given up just 46 hits in 50¹/³ innings. Anderson has been struggling, with a .212 average in 198 at-bats, but he hit well in the minors and was listed by Baseball America as the White Sox’s No. 2 prospect (behind closer Bobby Jenks) in its preseason evaluations.

The Giants’ rotation for the rest of the season would suffer without Schmidt, but they have to start preparing for the post-Barry Bonds era.

Their farm system has produced some good young arms, but McCarthy would be a good addition, most likely in the mix for the rotation. There will be room in the outfield for Anderson next year because Bonds will be gone and Steve Finley and Moises Alou may be, too.

Schmidt is the only real trading chip for the Giants. Other teams covet their young pitchers, particularly starter Matt Cain and relievers Jonathan Sanchez and Jeremy Accardo, but the Giants won’t trade them.

Nobody would trade for Bonds with his potential legal problems. Ray Durham is on a hot streak now, but he’s always one step away from the DL, as is Alou.

The question is whether Giants general manager Brian Sabean and owner Peter Magowan, the guiding force behind the team’s moves, can be realistic about their team.

With the Giants just one of five NL teams over .500 going into Thursday’s games, they may feel they have a shot at the wild card. But as the long season saps the strength of their old, old players, that will slip away, too.

The Giants will have to rebuild around younger players. Trading Schmidt now would be a good start.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Catch him on “The Last Honest Sports Show” on KBHK (Ch. 44) Saturday at 6:30 p.m. You can e-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.

SF Examiner
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