In a starting-pitching market devoid of juicy names, Schmidt has been the two-ton gorilla waiting to enter the room for weeks. Well, that room is now officially open. Clubs that made contact with the Mets on Sunday say they were talking to the Giants about a potential deal to bring Schmidt to New York. And the Giants were said to be listening. A trade like that would have been out of the question a week ago, when the Giants were actually considered a hot team. As a matter of fact, a week ago -- heck, a few days ago -- the Giants were still buyers. But is a club that just went winless on a six-game journey to Washington and Pittsburgh worth adding to? That's a question that Giants GM Brian Sabean is going to have to burn a whole lot of brain cells on between now and the deadline. And it's become an issue because the Mets have made one final pre-deadline run at Sabean's ace. Clubs that have been speaking to Sabean over the last few weeks say that in early July he was ready to start entertaining offers for Schmidt and some of his other veteran names. (Not the left fielder, of course.) But then a funny thing happened: The Giants ripped off five straight wins the week after the All-Star break -- including three in San Diego against the first-place Padres. And the next thing they knew, they were actually in first place. But then, just as they were about to sweep a four-gamer in Petco, Armando Benitez blew the Game 4 save, and they haven't won since. So while they're telling teams they still think they're in both the NL West and wild-card races (they're four games out in each), there are indications that the Mets have gotten their attention. It's believed the Rangers and Red Sox have also inquired about Schmidt. And there were conversations with the White Sox about him earlier in the month. So the Giants at least will have some interesting options. But they've made it clear that for someone to pull this off, it's going to be "expensive." They would want at least two players back -- either two top-tier young players they can rebuild around or one player like that and a young starting pitcher who could replace Schmidt in the rotation now and down the road. But the Mets are adamant that they aren't trading Lastings Milledge for a rent-a-pitcher. So an official of one team described this deal Sunday as "more unlikely than likely." But given the other pitching choices on the buffet table, even a Jason Schmidt rumor is sounding good at the moment.