Liotta: Is Rios really that exciting?

Hey, Giants fans, even if you’ve heard of Alex Rios, have you ever cared about Alex Rios? Ever rushed to the morning paper to check a box score to see how Alex Rios did?

Didn’t think so.

Apparently, Alex Rios is all the Giants can get for a young pitcher who has the potential to be a No. 1 starter and is dirt cheap. That doesn’t sound like the kind of trade a successful major-league franchise makes these days.

Don’t get me wrong. Alex Rios is a nice player, but a team shouldn’t have to give up a talent such as Tim Lincecum in order to get Alex Rios. Teams are starving for pitching talent. Talented, young pitching that’s cheap is even better.

Which makes Lincecum a piece of solid baseball gold and there’s probably not another team in baseball that would even think about trading him. That’s because the other 29 teams have developed at least one major-league hitter with their minor-league system this millennium. Unfortunately, the 30th team in that group is the Giants.

The fact that the Giants are even considering this deal is an indictment on how poorly their minor-league system has served them. Damon Minor, Cody Ransom, Todd Linden, Jason Ellison — need I go on?

So the Giants are desperate. And desperate ain’t where you want to be when you want to make a trade.

These Giants have a lineup of has-beens and nice players on the downside of their career. Not an ounce of hope among ’em. Apparently, while everybody was watching Barry Bonds hit all those home runs, the Giants’ cupboard of hitting talent was going bare.

Which leaves this team staring at wasting two or three years of great outings from Matt Cain and Lincecum. That’s why they’re forced to consider Alex Rios and a deal that could come back to haunt them for the next 15 years.

There’s another thing going on here, too. The Giants are treating Lincecum like he is found money and that’s a mistake. They never expected to be able to draft him, but there he was, available for the 10th pick of the 2006 draft.

They never expected that Lincecum — after less than two seasons of professional baseball, after being named the Giants’ No. 1 prospect going into the 2007 season, after making 24 starts at the ripe ol’ age of 23 — would be as good as he’s been.

But do you know what’s the worst thing about all this? Even if the Giants make this horrendous deal and add Alex Rios to their roster, what then?

The Giants would have Rios batting third in a crummy lineup that would lose 90 games, and that’s not reason enough to part with a young pitcher with a boatload of potential.

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner.

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