This is the part where we're all supposed to have opinions. They'll be strong, passionate opinions. And there's a good chance that they'll look stupid in a year or two, just because opinions this strong age like avocados.
Deadline deals can win championships. Without Javier Lopez, the Giants probably don't win the NL West, and they certainly don't win the World Series. He came over and pitched like Mariano Rivera for three months. It was a trade that worked out like few others in baseball history. The thread here that announced the deal? Chaos. Brother against brother. The walls stained with internet blood. I was as guilty as anybody. I hated that trade like few others before it.
What the Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler deal is, then, is the Lopez trade, but 355% more so. It's a trade that unquestionably helps the current roster. It seems short-sighted, but what's in those short sights is something worth trying for. The player going the other way drives me up the wall. I'm excited about the player coming to the Giants. All of those, but 255% more. I feel like I drank too many rumors, and now I'm just spinning, spinning, spinning. Get me off this crazy thing.
I never bought that the Mets were backed into a corner, and that they'd just accept a smattering of B-listers.
Rangers: Eh, we'll give you this 26-year-old first baseman with defensive problems and power in AAA.
Pirates: Yeah, we have one of those. We'll do that and a LOOGY in double-A.
Braves: Okay, fine. We have this prospect that we were kind of saving for a special occasion. But, he's okay, I guess. Look, you can have him.
Phillies: We have something a little better than that. The Braves call that a prospect? I mean, our guy isn't a top-100 guy, but he's good.
Rangers: Wait, wait, wait. Did we say a 26-year-old first baseman? He's but a part of our overall package. We have a prospect too. He's good! One of our five best.
Braves: Our prospect is our fourth best.
Rangers: We'll include our third best.
Braves: Alright, I didn't want to do this, but ...
Phillies: We're out of here. Peace.
Pirates: Hello? I think I hit the mute button with my cheek. Hello?
Braves: Two prospects. Both in the top ten of our organization. There. We'll arrange the finer det...
Giants: Zack Wheeler.
the conference call is silent
Braves: Damn. We're out.
Everyone wanted Beltran. He's good. After him, there's the possibility of Michael Cuddyer. Maybe a huge overpay for Hunter Pence. Josh Willingham for airfare. It's not pretty. There was one player who could help several teams. Yeah, he was a free agent, but there were so, so many bidders who didn't have a great backup plan.
Wheeler is a 21-year-old with a live arm, a great fastball, a nifty curve, and a BB/9 of 5.2 over his career. There is the potential for great things. There is the potential for great shame. For he is a prospect.
But this is for the young-pitchers-never-pan-out crowd -- a list of the pitchers Jim Callis put in his top 50 prospects in the 2006 Baseball America Prospect Handbook, which just happened to be the first one I grabbed from my shelf:
There's crazy risk in trading a pitcher from the top of that list. Where Wheeler resides -- more in the bottom-half of a list like that -- there's still risk, though it's obviously not as great. Not saying that's a reason to hug all of your prospects tight and never let them out of your sight. But I can't stand the "it's only a prospect!" line. It's as annoying as the people who freak out over losing John Bowker. Ahem.
I trust the Giants' evaluation of young pitching, but I don't think this was a case of them not liking something about Wheeler, or thinking he was damaged goods. They just wanted Beltran more than other teams. And I don't really blame them. He makes the Giants better. So while I'm disappointed that they had to give Wheeler up, I'm excited for Beltran to make the Giants better. And it should be noted that I haven't looked up Kevin Pucetas's stats once since the Giants won the World Series. Success does a lot to make you forget about trades.
Hate this trade. Love this trade. Looking forward to reading this post with the knowledge that Beltran pulls a hamstring on August 4th, or that Wheeler has started two All-Star Games by his 25th birthday, or that the Giants repeat, or that Zack Wheeler becomes a middle reliever.
So welcome, Carlos. Hit, dammit, hit. Then hit some more. Go nuts. Please.