Last season, the San Francisco Giants acquired Cody Ross, who became a spark plug for the team and helped them win the World Series. For the Giants to make it back to the World Series in 2011, they may need a similar spark.
The Giants have been relatively quiet since the All-Star break but could go after a bat to help bolster their lineup.
Here are five players San Francisco should trade for to help get it back into the playoffs.
The Tampa Bay Rays are in the difficult position of being stuck behind the Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East. The Rays are still in contention but are having a hard time separating themselves from the pack.
There has been speculation for a while now that Upton might be playing his last few games for the Rays as the trade deadline looms. Upton has not had a good season for the Rays, batting a mere .239, but he could be re-energized by switching teams.
Since the Rays are by no means out of the AL playoff chase, they will not be sellers at the deadline and will want good value for Upton right away. Upton has all of the physical tools to be an outstanding outfielder and would be a huge addition for the Giants, as he helps fill short- and long-term needs.
With the A's out of the race in the AL West, they are shopping Willingham among other players. Although Willingham isn't having a career year, he could see his production improve by moving back to the NL.
The Giants would welcome his bat in their batting order, as well as his presence in the clubhouse. Willingham is a good option for the Giants if they don't want to pay the big price to get someone like Carlos Beltran.
The Houston Astros have had a disappointing first half of the 2011 season and appear to be sellers this time of the year. With the future of their franchise uncertain, the Astros are likely to move some of their big-name players for prospects that can help them down the road.
One man who is expected to be on his way out is right fielder Hunter Pence.
Pence is having a great season at the plate, batting .323 and driving in 60 runs. His bat and range in the field would be welcome additions to the Giants, who are in need of both.
The Astros outfielder is currently in the prime of his career and would be excited by the chance to compete in the postseason. For the Giants to get him, however, they would need to give up one of their top prospects.
Of all of the hitters on the market, very few have better career numbers than Carlos Beltran. Although Beltran has not lived up to his monster contract, he is having a very good season in 2011.
New York is not going to contend this season and is definitely in selling mode and ready to move Beltran. With Francisco Rodriguez already gone, the Mets will likely have a very different roster by Opening Day next year.
The Giants aren't the only team bidding on Beltran, so it will likely take a top-flight prospect to pry him away from New York.
San Francisco Giants fans would love if Cody Ross could reprise his role as clutch hitter for the team as they make their 2011 playoff push.
When Ross joined the team late in 2010, he came out hot, batting .288. This season Ross's batting average is roughly 30 points lower, and his power numbers are also down.
The Giants would prefer not to have to give up talented prospects just to try to make it back to the playoffs.
If Ross and the rest of the team can individually step up and produce more runs down the stretch, the Giants should be able to win the NL West for the second consecutive year.