For months leading into the trade deadline, I made jokes about the Giants making awful moves. The Giants were going to trade Gary Brown. The Giants were going to trade Brandon Belt. The Giants were going to trade Gary Brown for Brandon Belt and then package them both in a six-way deal for Jonathan Broxton. It was funny until you thought about the actual possibilities, and then it wasn't funny.
Was that fear deserved, though? In retrospect, I didn't hate the Zack Wheeler/Carlos Beltran trade enough. But I didn't rail on it at the time. The price was steep for a rental, but I was still foolish enough to think the trade gave the Giants a leg up on re-signing Beltran to an extension. I was scared of a trade I'd hate right away -- not a Wheeler/Beltran, yeah-they-probably-shouldn't-have trade.
Like the John Bowker/Javier Lopez trade. Now that was a trade I hated. Five years of a cost-controllable outfielder with power and potential for a reliever? A specialized reliever, at that? Man, I hated that trade. And it turned out to be one of the best trades in franchise history. I hated the Tim Alderson/Freddy Sanchez deal, too. So we've established that I'm okay with the horrible trades, and I rage at the great trades. You probably have a similar track record over the last few years.
For the purposes of this discussion, I will pretend Jose Guillen and Orlando Cabrera don't exist. This is how I get through a typical day, so nothing should change.
But I was legitimately terrified about the reliever that was going to come back at the trade deadline. There were two options: a minor trade for a player who wasn't very good, like Broxton or Francisco Rodriguez, or a major trade for a reliever with another year of team control, like Rafael Betancourt or Chris Perez. Neither option was palatable when you thought of the players going the other way for the talent that was coming back.
Instead, the Giants got Jose Mijares.
I like to picture waivers as something like a sushi restaurant, where all of the little rolls float by you on teeny tiny boats. A decent left-handed reliever drifted by. Sabean said, oooh, that looks good. And that was the big relief trade I was dreading.
Mijares, for one:
He has Javier Lopez-like splits, so he isn't a guy the Giants should leave in the game for an entire seventh or eighth inning of a one-run game, but he's a good reliever. He's been even better than that 162-game average this year.
Twinkie Town ran down some of the questionable parts of Mijares' history a couple of years ago. The Royals didn't feel like paying him below-market rates next year, and this is probably one of the reasons why.
Santiago Casilla swinging a bat.
But it's a good move. And it cost nothing. Nothing. All of that worrying, all of that fretting. The Giants just absconded with a guy that no one else wants, and he'll likely push Shane Loux or Brad Penny out of a spot, which is almost certainly a way to make a bullpen deeper. George Kontos might get higher-leverage innings, even.
And the best part is that Jeremy Affeldt will start closing some games. It's not like Affeldt is a true shutdown reliever, but looking for in-house options was always the most palatable thing for the Giants to do at the deadline. Trust Kontos. Use Affeldt in high-leverage innings. Get someone of value for the back of the bullpen to push everyone up a slot. It was all a success.
Except it all might be a failure. Mijares could be terrible. Affeldt could blow more saves than Casilla. Right now, Dave Righetti might be like this pilot, thinking everything's going to be normal and expected moments before learning it will certainly not be like that.
The alternative, though, was to overpay for someone who would have thrown 20 innings for the rest of the season. I'll take my chances that Mijares can become the next Scott Eyre, and that the rest of the bullpen can absorb those innings well.
There are a few things I really trust Brian Sabean to do. One of them is find free relievers. I didn't think any were available, but it turns out one of them was. It he came available just a week after the Giants exhibited great restraint and refrained from trading away a chunk of the farm for a minor upgrade.
Good work, Giants. Sorry about all of the stupid jokes. I mean, not all of them. Some of them. One or two. Good work.