Mike Leake makes the Giants better than they were yesterday. You can stop reading right there if you want. This is a team with a lineup built to win now. They have a fantastic #1 pitcher, with just enough depth behind him, but they needed more. They got more. The 25 players on the roster on Friday will be better than the 25 players on the roster on Wednesday.
We're still talking about Mike Leake, though, an a) undersized right-hander who b) doesn't miss a lot of bats and c) is under contract for just 8 to 12 more weeks. Since Leake has been in the league, he's had an ERA+ just a tick under Jake Peavy's. That's not an idle comparison; Leake pitches very much like a younger, post-Padres Peavy. In between 400-foot dingers, they generally know what they're doing. If you're happy with the way Peavy is pitching now, you'll love Leake.
Reminder to reread that first sentence again, though. The Giants are better. They're better today, and tomorrow, and the next day. When Keury Mella came up in 2017, he might have pitched in front of Eugenio Velez at short and Marlon Byrd in center. Like, we have no idea what the Giants are going to be like when he comes up, and that's if he comes up at all. Right now, though, there was a need, and the Giants filled it. They're better.
Adam Duvall falls into that category that Conor Gillaspie did a couple years ago. If another team gets use out of him and figures out the right role for him, good for that team. The Giants clearly weren't going to do it. They got a little value out of him, and hopefully he thrives with the Reds.
Mella, though, stings just a touch. He was handling the California League really well, and he was highly thought of. Here's a sanity check from a prospect hound, though:
If you're not dealing Crick, Mella or Beede, you're not making a deal for anyone of value. There's just not enough there.— Christopher Crawford (@CVCrawfordBP) July 31, 2015
The Giants don't have Cole Hamels because their #1 pitching prospect could have been Mella. He's impressive in comparison to the rest of the Giants' farm system, but he's probably in the middle or bottom of a top-10 in a good system. In other words, the kind of pitcher you might expect a team to give up in a lesser deal for a rental.
The Giants might make or miss the postseason by a game. Leake could be a game better than Tim Hudson for the next two months, easily. The worse sin was probably not doing anything, then. But the worst sin of all might have been accumulating the world's largest collection of I-guess-so starters in the offseason and calling it a plan. If Chris Heston didn't bail them out, it would have been a much bigger mess.
Of course, as long as you're playing the what-if game, if the Giants asked for Leake in the winter, maybe the Giants would have balked at the thought of Mella. Maybe they would have been okay with trading that utility infielder who jumped straight up from Double-A. You know, the one with the huge cat. Or maybe if the Giants pushed harder for Shields, they'd have a declining pitcher having an enigmatic and rocky season, with no money left for the roster this offseason.
Maybe the Giants could have figured something else out in the offseason to prevent being boxed into a corner like this, but for the last time, re-read that opening sentence. The Giants are better than they were. Just like you haven't checked on Edwin Escobar this year -- don't bother -- you probably won't remember much about Mella in a couple years. If the Giants make the postseason, though, you'll remember that. Leake should help.
I was skeptical about Jake Peavy. He was excellent. I was underwhelmed by Marco Scutaro and Freddy Sanchez. They were magnificent. I was really into the Carlos Beltran deal. It didn't help the Giants as much as they needed. I hated the Javier Lopez trade. He was a warlock for the rest of that season. I legitimately have no idea what you're still doing here. I'm awful at this.
That written, this is what happen when you want to improve a team with a player that other teams want, but you don't have bushels of prospects to do it with. You settle for a deal that makes you wince, and you hope everything works out. Keury Mella might have a bright future -- and it's possible he could have helped the Giants make a bigger move in the offseason -- but for now the Giants are better.
The Giants are better.
I can dig that and worry about the rest later.