Now that Cole Hamels has been dealt to the Texas Rangers, the Giants must quickly find help for the starting rotation. (Kathy Willens/AP)

With Hamels off market, Giants on clock

On the day the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired acquired Mat Latos and Michael Morse, the Giants hosted their annual slumber party at AT&T Park. Balls isn’t sure whether there’s an omen there, but it does know this: The postseason is mostly about pitching, and that’s the one area where the Dodgers have an edge over the Giants right now.

And if the Dodgers acquire David Price before the trade deadline Friday, the gap will be wider yet.

After the Philadelphia Phillies dealt Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers for a bunch of prospects Wednesday night, Price represented the last chance for the Giants to land the legitimate No. 2 starter necessary to win another championship.

“I don’t want to go in to that,” manager Bruce Bochy said after the 5-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers earlier in the day. “I don’t want these pitchers to think we don’t have confidence in them, because we do. We have a lot of experience here, guys who have been through it. It comes down to, if something makes sense, I know Brian [Sabean] and Bobby [Evans] will do it. But right now, this is the club that we have and I’m concerned about, not what could happen.”

The Tigers hope to use Price to restock their depleted farm system. According to one report, they’re intrigued by what the Giants have to offer in that regard. Of course, you never know how much of the talk is real and how much is intended to drum up business.

The Giants aren’t deep in high-end prospects, but they do have Tyler Beede and Lucius Fox. However reluctantly, one of them may have to be part of the package. Beene projects to be a top-of-the-rotation starter, while big things are expected of Fox at either shortstop or center field. The name of Andrew Susac also has been heard more often the last few days.

Would the Giants give up a piece of the future for a chance to win in the present? The answer may tell us just how badly they want to become repeat champions.

WHAT ABOUT JAKE? Jake Peavy was at his 34-year-old best on Wednesday. He spit. He grunted. He tugged on body parts. He grinded. He made enough quality pitches to shut out a bad Brewers team for six innings.

Peavy has started five games since his return from the disabled list last month, a reasonable sample size. In that span, he has a 2.84 earned run average and allowed barely one baserunner per inning. Even more impressive has been his control — six walks in 31 2/3 innings.

But take a closer look at the numbers. Four of the five appearances were against cupcakes. In his most recent one, Peavy got by with low- to mid-80’s cutters and curveballs mostly. In his final inning, only three of 15 pitches cracked 89 miles per hour. He topped out at 90 three times.

Peavy concedes that he’s a work in progress. Earlier this season, the veteran lost some weight, and only recently was he back over 200 pounds again. The hope is that, because of his late start this season, he’ll have livelier movement in the final weeks of the season.

“It could play a significant role down the stretch just being fresher,” Peavy told Balls. “The last two seasons I pitched into November.

As frustrating as that was to sit out the first two months, I’m looking at it as a positive and giving my body a chance to rest and really get some things in line.”

Still, we’re talking about a finesse pitcher with recent back and hip issues who’s well into the back nine of his career.

Could the Jakemeister be trusted to make a contribution come playoff time? Sure. But anything more than a No. 4 starter, all bets are off.

FUTURE PERFECT: If the Giants stand pat, they’ll have nearly $34 million to reconfigure their starting rotation after the season, when the salaries of Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong come off the books.

The list of free agent pitchers will include Price, Johnny Cueto, Zack Greinke, Scott Kazmir, Jeff Samardzija and Jordan Zimmermann to name a few.
Oh, and Barry Zito, too.

RAJAI AND OUT? The Giants also might have interest in Price’s teammate, Rajai Davis, who had a sip of wine with them a few years ago. After the outfielder caused a small controversy earlier this week, they may want to think twice about any deal.

Known for his practical jokes, Davis decided to follow several St. Louis Cardinals players on Twitter, which triggered talk that he would join them in a trade. He also peeved off his manager and general manager, who had to snuff out the rumor.

“I don’t even remember what I did,” said Davis said with a sly grin. “I don’t know. It must’ve been another person. I don’t know what’s going on.”

SUSPICIOUS MINDS: That siren you hear is the sound of Alex Rodriguez and his 24 home runs, several of the tape-measure variety.

It’s hard to believe that an athlete who just turned 40 can be that good on his own, especially when he did squat the last two years. More so yet when the person is a me-first stats freak who will do anything to pass Babe Ruth on the career home run list.

So count Balls among the many doubters who believe that Rodriguez may up to no good again. Don’t blame us for the skepticism. Blame A-Fraud. The guy did it to himself when he tried everything from HGH to testosterone gummies and lied about it all those years.

MOVIN’ ON UP: It wasn’t long ago when Balls lobbied for Luke Walton to succeed Alvin Gentry as Warriors lead assistant coach. On Wednesday, the team made the move official.

Jarron Collins will take Walton’s former spot. He served as developmental coach last season.

Walton is familiar with the players, coaches and system, so the transition will be minimal if any. He knows coach Steve Kerr even longer — the two are Arizona products.

Meanwhile, Kerr underwent back surgery this week, which he would tell you tongue in cheek was result of having to carry the team for so long.
David PriceJake PeavyMat LatosMichael MorseMLB trade deadlineRajai DavisSan Francisco Giants

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