As we approach 100 comments and 1000 votes, there isn't what I would call a... wide variety of opinion. So, now is as good a time as any to post a response.
The fact that the "buy" vote is residing in Nader neighborhood isn't all that surprising . After all, the fans who are interested in this forum are generally passionate fans who have a solid overall understanding. It was interesting, however, to read through all of the comments, as there was a divide regarding certain players. Therefore, I wanted to offer some food for thought, though the following does not necessarily indicate the organizational approach over the next three weeks.
When teams talk about trading players at the deadline, potential free agents dominate the discussion. After all, teams want to get something for these players before losing them to free agency, which is the primary incentive to trade them. There were a number of comments regarding draft pick compensation, so that needs to be fully understood.
At the conclusion of the season every free agent will be ranked, and only the Type A and Type B free agents carry any kind of compensation with them. This is roughly the top 30% of players (overall, not just free agents) in terms of performance both on a one-year and multi-year look. For the Club to receive any compensation a few things have to happen:
1) The Club must offer the player arbitration (sometimes a risky proposition)
2) The Player must reject the offer of arbitration
3) The Player must sign a Major League contract with another organization
Furthermore, when a Type A free agent signs with another Club, the signing Club loses their first round pick (or second round pick if their first round pick is within the first 15 picks). So, if you have a Type A free agent, you had better be awfully sure that he's not going to accept arbitration and that some other team is going to be willing to sacrifice a top pick in order to sign him. Type B free agents do not "cost" the signing club anything in terms of a pick.
These rules are why there were just 16 compensation picks in between the first and second rounds of the 2008 draft despite the fact that there were over 100 free agents last winter. In short, it's not a foregone conclusion that you'll receive draft picks as compensation. There is no doubt, however, that the potential for draft picks (or lack thereof) weighs into the calculus at the deadline.
These players just don't get moved all that often at the deadline. Don't get me wrong - it happens - but just not with the same regularity as potential free agents. Clubs generally have no sense of urgency when it comes to trading a player whose rights they control going forward. When Clubs don't have to make a deal, they generally don't. This is true in the greater world outside of baseball as well. People need to have a reason to act now, which is why the bulk of activity often happens in the last 24 hours before a deadline, any deadline. How many times did anyone here actually turn in a term paper early?
So, as it pertains to our younger players, we would need to be compelled to move any of them. That could certainly happen, but it's not commonplace at the trading deadline for a club that is "selling" to move a bunch of players who could be with the team in future years. Even though some of our players have had a disappointing few months, we still believe many (if not all) of them can play important roles in our future as we try to return to where we've been the last few years and beyond. We will always entertain offers and actively pursue opportunities that we think can make us better, but we won't sell just to sell (or even because we're disappointed in recent performance).
The Volume Myth
I have to address this one, because we always joke about it internally. Overwhelming teams with volume is not a recipe for bringing back quality players. Every team out there is smart enough to know that four times zero is still zero: "But what if we add this 4A guy AND this marginal prospect? No? Well then... what if we were to add this long reliever as well?" :-) It takes quality, not quantity, to get quality.
Specific Free Agents
For the purposes of this conversation, let's stick to our healthy potential free agents: Greg Maddux, Randy Wolf, Tony Clark and Trevor Hoffman. The first three, realistically, will create the most buzz due to their contractual status.
Greg Maddux - The first thing to mention here is that Greg has a complete no-trade clause, so if he chooses to finish the year in San Diego, he will. There is no doubt, though, that the interest in Greg is strong. Regardless of his fastball velocity, Greg is still a very effective pitcher (3.90 ERA) who gives innings (at least 198 innings in 20 consecutive seasons - jaw-dropping), and provides a veteran playoff presence. In fact, the last time Greg was traded at the deadline to a contender, which was in 2006, he went 6-3 with a 3.30 ERA over 74 innings down the stretch. Previous to the trade he had posted a 4.69 ERA. He's Greg Maddux, he's a winner, and every team that he's on is better because he is there. There is no doubt that the rest of our pitchers have benefited from his counsel.
Randy Wolf - Randy has a limited no-trade provision in his contract, so there are a number of designated teams to which Randy does not have to accept an assignment. Randy is another guy who is on the collective radar of the buyers at this point and for good reason. After having a shoulder cleanup in the middle of last season, Randy has had a very good year to date. His average fastball velocity is the highest it has been in any of the past six years (which is the timeframe of the data set) and his strikeout rate is as high as it has been since 2001. His ERA currently stands at 4.38, though almost a full run of that is due to two starts in Colorado and Chicago during which he gave up 14 runs in eight innings. His collective line of 109 innings, 109 hits, 42 walks, and 100 k's is one of the better lines you'll find during this deadline, but his line of 101 innings, 95 hits, 33 walks, and 94 k's (3.48 ERA) without those two starts is even more indicative of the pitcher he has been. In fact, his 12 quality starts ranks 7th in the NL behind Haren, Lincecum, Hudson, Santana, Webb, and Volquez.
Tony Clark - Tony is the type of player that you'll often see moved at the deadline. He's a veteran player who has been very successful coming off the bench in recent years, can change the game with one swing of the bat from either side of the plate, and is known in the industry as one of the finest clubhouse leaders in the game. A player with all of those attributes can be hard to find, which is precisely why we signed Tony in the first place, but it's also why a contending club will look to add him to their mix. Though his power production has been down this year, his power is still there and he's still a threat every time he steps in the box. He can truly be a "finishing piece" on any good club.
OK, this post is much longer that I originally intended, and I still haven't covered everything I would have liked. I'm sure as the days and weeks of July pass I'll have more opportunities to post on this subject.
In conclusion, I'll say that Clubs are generally looking to add just a piece or two to finish their puzzle, so they'll really looking for winners, or as John Hart used to call them: "pile-jumpers". That is why the three guys I've mentioned above are already drawing interest from around the league. I don't know if we'll end up trading any of them, but I certainly understand the sentiment contained in the overwhelming majority of the comments. Thanks so much for your passion and participation.