MLB Trade Deadline: Grading San Francisco Giants Moves Thus Far
San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean made two moves before the trading deadline, and one waiver claim afterwards, to bolster the team's playoff chances.
The big splash was the acquisition of right fielder Hunter Pence from the Philadelphia Phillies. Pence had gotten off to a horrific start before Sunday, when he hit what proved to be a game-winning three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning off Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt.
Thus far, the acquisition of infielder Marco Scutaro from the Rockies has proven to be Sabean's shrewdest move.
In the long run, the waiver claim of reliever Jose Mijares could be the most important of Sabean's three moves, given the Giants' lack of depth in the bullpen. The Royals put Mijares on waivers, and when the Giants claimed him, the Royals let him go for nothing in return.
Two weeks after the trading deadline, let's put a grade on each of Sabean's moves thus far.
Marco Scutaro: A
The Giants acquired Scutaro from Colorado for minor leaguer Charlie Culberson on July 27th. Scutaro had struggled with Colorado, though some tough luck on line drives was a major culprit.
Since the Giants acquired him, he's gone 20-for-64 over 16 games with five extra base hits and 15 runs batted in. Scutaro is hitting .313/.361/.422 while filling in for the injured Pablo Sandoval at third base.
Giants' manager Bruce Bochy is going to have a hard time keeping Scutaro out of the lineup when Sandoval returns from the disabled list on Monday. The best option would be to replace the light-hitting Ryan Theriot (.268/.317/.318) at second base until Scutaro shows signs of cooling off.
No matter what Bochy decides to do with Scutaro, he has provided a huge lift while also getting the futile utility infielder Manny Burriss off of the roster. Scutaro provides the Giants with a veteran, patient, line-drive hitter for the stretch run.
The Giants had a desperate need for infield depth, and the acquisition of Scutaro filled that need for the low cost of a non-prospect and cash.
Hunter Pence: C-
Pence has struggled mightily over his first 12 games in the orange and black since being acquired for Nate Schierholtz, No. 2 prospect Tommy Joseph and a minor league pitcher at the deadline.
Pence has gone 8-for-52 with just one walk against 14 strikeouts, leading to a .154/.167/.288 batting line.
On the positive side, he's shown excellent range in right field, and on Sunday, he got perhaps the biggest hit of the season for the Giants. His game-winning three-run homer lit up AT&T Park and allowed the Giants to hold onto their one-game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West.
Once Pence starts staying in the strike zone more often, he will begin to hit closer to his career .288/.340/.477 batting line. He's never been a patient hitter, but he's also never been nearly as aggressive as he's been over the past two weeks.
The cost to acquire Pence was high, but the Giants did the right thing by adding more power to the middle of their lineup. They desperately need Pence to stop pressing and start providing another threat behind Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey.
Odds are high that this grade will be much higher by the end of the season.
Jose Mijares: A-
For the cost of only $300,000, the remainder of the $925,000 owed to Jose Mijares, Sabean picked up an excellent reliever off of waivers.
The Giants tried desperately to upgrade the bullpen at the trading deadline, but there were no great options available. Brandon League and Jonathan Broxton were the two most high profile relievers that were dealt, and neither guy has pitched well since being traded.
The Royals let Mijares go to the Giants for just the remainder of his rather small salary last week for no apparent reason. Perhaps they thought they owed the Giants another one after getting fleeced in the Jonathan Sanchez-for-Melky Cabrera trade.
Whatever the reason for the Royals letting Mijares go on waivers, the Giants got themselves a very good reliever for a bullpen that needed help. In only three appearances with the Giants, he's retired five of the seven batters he's faced, striking out two of them.
On the season, he has a 2.45 ERA while striking out nearly a batter per inning, and is holding lefties to a tepid .216 batting average.
The acquisition of Mijares gives the Giants another shutdown lefty in the middle innings, which allows Bochy to save Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt for the late innings. Bochy can now play matchups late in the game rather than relying on a set closer and eighth-inning setup man.
The acquisition of Mijares gives the Giants more depth for the cost of virtually nothing. For a team that plays a ton of close games, the bullpen is vastly important. Sabean's ability to find another reliever on the cheap may prove to be the ultimate difference in the NL West.