With the minutes ticking away toward the 2010 Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline, fans saw the typically violent flurry of activity as general mangers hustled to smooth out the rough edges. Some of the moves look brilliant while others seem to stink of acquisition for acquisition's sake.
Take a gander at the maneuvering that started way back at the beginning of July and decide for yourself:
July 9th —Texas Rangers acquire RHP Cliff Lee from the Seattle Mariners for 1B Justin Smoak, RHP Blake Beavan, RHP Josh Leuke, and INF Matt Lawson.
July 14th —Atlanta Braves acquire SS Alex Gonzalez, LHP Tim Collins, and INF Tyler Pastronicky from the Toronto Blue Jays for SS Yunel Escobar and LHP Jo-Jo Reyes.
July 25th —Anaheim Angels (they can't even see Los Angeles, let alone play there) acquire RHP Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks for LHP Joe Saunders, RHP Rafael Rodriguez, LHP Patrick Corbin, and a player to be named later.
July 28th —Detroit Tigers acquire INF Jhonny Peralta from the Cleveland Indians for LHP Giovanni Soto.
July 29th —Minnesota Twins acquire RHP Matt Capps and cash from the Washington Nationals for C Wilson Ramos and LHP Joe Testa.
July 29th —San Diego Padres acquire SS/3B Miguel Tejada and cash from the Baltimore Orioles for RHP Wynn Pelzer.
July 29th —Philadelphia Phillies acquire RHP Roy Oswalt and cash from the Houston Astros for LHP J.A. Happ, OF Anthony Gose, and SS Jonathan Villar
July 29th —Los Angeles Dodgers acquire Scott Podsednik from the Kansas City Royals for RHP Elisaul Pimentel and C Luke May.
July 30th —Chicago White Sox acquire RHP Edwin Jackson from the Diamondbacks for RHP Daniel Hudson and LHP David Holmberg.
July 30th —Rangers acquire INF Jorge Cantu from the Florida Marlins for RHP Evan Reed and RHP Omar Poveda.
July 30th —Rangers acquire INF Cristian Guzman from the Nationals for RHP Ryan Tatusko and RHP Tanner Roark.
July 31st —Tampa Bay Rays acquire RHP Chad Qualls from the Diamondbacks for a player to be named later.
July 31st —New York Yankees acquire 1B Lance Berkman and cash from the Astros for RHP Mark Melancon and INF Jimmy Paredes.
July 31st —Yankees acquire OF Austin Kearns from the Indians for a player to be named later or cash.
July 31st —three team trade in which the Padres acquire OF Ryan Ludwick from the St. Louis Cardinals and cash from the Indians, the Cardinals acquire RHP Jake Westbrook and cash from the Indians plus LHP Nick Greenwood from the Padres, and the Indians acquire RHP Corey Kluber, also from the Padres.
July 31st —Pittsburgh Pirates acquire C Chris Snyder, SS Pedro Ciriaco, and cash from the Diamondbacks for SS Bobby Crosby, OF Ryan Church, and RHP D.J. Carrasco.
July 31st —Los Angeles Dodgers acquire LHP Ted Lilly and INF Ryan Theriot from the Chicago Cubs for INF Blake DeWitt, RHP Brett Wallach, and RHP Kyle Smit.
July 31st—Dodgers acquire RHP Octavio Dotel from the Pirates for RHP James McDonald and OF Andrew Lambo.
July 31st—Yankees acquire RHP Kerry Wood from the Indians for a player to be named later or cash.
July 31st—San Francisco Giants acquire LHP Javier Lopez from the Pirates for RHP Joe Martinez and OF John Bowker.
July 31st—Braves acquire OF Rick Ankiel, RHP Kyle Farnsworth, and cash from the Royals for LHP Tim Collins, RHP Jesse Chavez, and OF Gregor Blanco.
Phew, that's a lot of movement.
Yet noticeably absent from the list of substantial movers and shakers are our San Francisco Giants.
Despite an increasingly glaring need for help in the shaky bullpen—especially a capable southpaw—and another plus-piece of lumber, general manager Brian Sabean didn't pull any major triggers.
He did grab a reliever who throws from the southside in the Bucs' Lopez, but that's not exactly the magical elixer for which some die-hards had hoped. Luckily, the Giant GM only cut bait on a couple of "prospects" who'd worn out their welcome in the City.
Nevertheless, there were constant rumors about the club sniffing around various primetime targets, but the prices were either too high or the players were ultimately deemed an unsavory fit.
Regardless of the specific reason, I commend Sabes on his willingness to let the deadline come and go while resisting the pressure—created by the activity of other squads—to make an ill-advised, big splash maneuver.
The man at the helm was clearly running (probably jogging) down leads, but his posture made it clear that any such decision would be made on Orange and Black terms.
And fans should applaud that.
Everyone loves for his or her contender to make a deal and bring in new blood as the calendar turns to August, but that doesn't necessarily justify the decision.
There is something to be said for continuity and internal improvement; with Pablo Sandoval drastically under-performing and several injured pieces making their way back to the club, SF's cupboard of assistance isn't totally bare.
More importantly, as Giant fans will remember, the franchise was in a similar position last year and brought in the likes of Ryan Garko and Freddy Sanchez for a little extra playoff push.
Garko was incompetent and Sanchez was an injury disaster from the get-go; neither trade helped in 2009 and only the grace of the Baseball Gods has prevented the deals from going south badly.
Now, look back at that list of swaps.
The Lee, Haren, Oswalt, and Berkman developments are the only ones that appear to carry with them a significant power shift. The Ludwick trade gets honorable mention.
The rest are Garko deals—shots in the dark that could help, but seem more likely to be exercises in public relations while sacrificing potentially gifted prospects.
Guys like Jorge Cantu, Scott Podsednik, Miguel Tejada, etc. could rediscover their glory days (or keep them going in Pod's case), but I'd say the chances of such renaissances are less appealing than the odds that the dearly departed blossom.
Furthermore, the most reliable pieces available were front-line starting pitchers.
That is the one place los Gigantes are set—they need a contingency plan for the eventual shutdown of No. 5 starter Madison Bumgarner, but that doesn't merit leveraging the farm system for a guy like Haren/Lee/Oswalt.
Finally, dissect the action with an eye to San Francisco's biggest vulnerabilities—the 'pen and the big bat.
The thumper is easier to dispatch with because there simply weren't any to be had unless a GM was willing to be a voluntary participant in highway robbery.
Don't buy it?
Well, the only evidence anyone should need is the most neon name changing hands. Sir Lance-elot is still a threat, but check the splits .
Only a money-bloated franchise like the Bronx Bombers could part with two upper echelon prospects for what is essentially half of a platoon. No way San Francisco could do the same; not for a guy hitting below the Mendoza line against left-handers.
As for the relievers, only three major players changed hands.
Qualls had basically pitched himself out of any important innings for the Snakes, so forget him.
Dotel had been quite effective, but he cost the Bums two highly touted prospects. Neither McDonald nor Lambo have shown much at the Big League level (Lambo hasn't gotten a shot yet), but you don't have to search too hard to find glowing reviews of each.
Meanwhile, to grab Matt Capps—who can't be considered one of the Show's superstar closers—the Twinkies had to part with one of the most prized blue-chippers in all of baseball.
Granted, Joe Mauer made Ramos a redundant asset, but that doesn't change the fact that Minnesota just shipped out a dangerously offensive catcher (perhaps the rarest of all baseball assets) to get a relatively unproven stopper. As the last man standing for the Pirates and then the Nats, Capps has never locked down a meaningful game yet he demanded a premium price on the market.
So, yes, it would've been ideal to soundly plug the gaps in the bullpen and the batting order.
But, as the saying goes, you've got to give to get.
In 2010, it would appear the giving was better than the getting.
Which means the San Francisco Giants' relative inactivity could be very good news.