If baseball was a poker game, the Giants just pushed their chips into the center of the table. They got their guy. They gave up a good prospect. Now, after ceaseless questions on what move the team will make, who the untouchable prospects are, etc, the question is, how does this end?
- Carlos Beltran is a very good hitter, but you knew that already. He is instantly the best hitter on the Giants. He's a legitimate middle of the order bat who strikes fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers. He protects Pablo Sandoval. He drives in runs. He takes walks and doesn't strike out a huge amount (60 BB vs 61 K). He doesn't have any true weaknesses in his game. There is no question the Giants have a better offense with him in it. If, while the Giants have him, their runs per game average increases to 3.8 from 3.56, the Giants are in very good shape - they are 37-6 when they score at least 4 runs.
- The reason that, all things considered, I like this trade is because of the implications for the postseason. The Giants have a very good chance to make it - Baseball Prospectus has their chances to make the playoffs at 96.6%, and has us beating the D-backs by nearly 10 games in the division. This is true even without Beltran. However, before the trade, I didn't think we had much of a shot in the playoffs against the Braves or Phillies. Now? We have a chance - even a good chance. Also, Beltran has shown that he can turn it up in the playoffs - he has a 1.302 OPS in the playoffs, higher than any player in MLB history with 75 ABs or more.
- Not to mention that by getting Beltran, we kept the Braves or the Phillies from getting him. Last year, we got Cody Ross primarily to keep the Padres from getting him - that worked out, but for different reasons. If the Braves or Phillies got him, it would be very tough to beat them in the playoffs.
- The problem, though, is how much we gave up. Zach Wheeler is a very good pitcher, and has #1 or #2 type stuff. Not #1 or #2 for the Giants, but for many teams in the league, probably. That's a lot to give up for, in all likelihood, a 2 month rental. If the Giants end up winning the World Series? A good price to pay, whether Wheeler pans out or not. If the Giants don't win the Series, Beltran leaves, and Wheeler becomes an All Star, the price was too large (especially because when Beltran leaves, the Giants don't get compensation).
- There is always the possibility, though, that Wheeler doesn't pan out. I trust the Giants to evaluate young pitchers, both drafting and in their system. A few years ago, the Giants had two star pitching prospects - Madison Bumgarner and Tim Alderson. It was believed that the Giants should not trade either under any circumstances. They ended up trading Alderson for Freddy Sanchez and keeping Bumgarner. The reaction then was not enthusiastic. Bumgarner panned out. Alderson did not. If the Giants had thought Wheeler was a potential Madison Bumgarner, I can't see them making this trade. But what if he's a potential Tim Alderson?
- I am very glad that we didn't give up Gary Brown. I am in love with Brown (no, not in that way) - he's as fast as Darren Ford, and can hit. At worst - at WORST - he's a Ford-type pinch runner who can win ballgames from first. If he can hit, though (and his performance in the minors indicates that he can), he's our starting center fielder and leadoff hitter for the next 10 years. It's also nice that we didn't give up Eric Surkamp, Francisco Peguero, or Heath Hembree, though I'm not as high on them.
- The biggest problem I have with this trade is that it screws up our outfield. Beltran is going to play every day - that's a given. He can't play CF, so he needs to play RF or LF. Nate Schierholtz has been really good in RF this year and has earned his playing time. If Ross can play CF, our problem should be solved - start Beltran in left, Nate in right, and a platoon of Ross and Torres in center (and DFA Rowand already, jeez). However, with Bochy's insistence on playing
Mr. 4-3Aubrey Huff at 1B, Brandon Belt needs to have some games in the outfield, which screws that up, and Bochy is going to insist on playing Mr. Pop-up to 2nd with 1 out and runners onAaron Rowand, screwing it up further. I continue to fear we're heading for Beltran in right and a platoon of Nate and Cody in left, which would take time away from the Giants second-hottest hitter. In this scenario, the move doesn't even help the Giants that much - it helps, but not a ton. Replace Torres and Rowand with Beltran, and that helps a ton. Replace Nate and Ross with Beltran? Not so much.
- Overall, I like the trade. I think the trade will help the Giants make the playoffs and do well in the playoffs, and that's all that counts. Beltran is a great baseball player, and sounds like a decent guy in the clubhouse - certainly not a problem there.
- I wanted to save this for last because I don't think it's likely to happen, or if I even want it to happen. Beltran is going to leave after this season. He's a Scott Boras client, and Scott Boras gets his clients good contracts. He's having a career year, and if he plays like we want him to play and we win the World Series, his value will skyrocket. The Giants' big three starters are getting expensive, and we want to keep them above all else. Also, Beltran's 34, and the Giants have a bad history with signing aging outfielders to big contracts. But the Giants are making a ton of money - we're selling out every game, and if we win another WS, the value of the franchise will be way up. He's not making Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth money next year - after all, he's 34, and has had injury problems. So what if? What if we re-sign him?
- 1 CF Torres (or Brown) 2 2B Sanchez 3 LF Beltran 4 C Posey 5 3B Sandoval 6 1B Belt 7 RF Schierholtz 8 SS Crawford 9 Pitcher
- That's not only an average lineup. That's a GOOD lineup. A good lineup, with our staff? We'd win 110 games. But it won't happen. Of course.