San Francisco Giants Trade Rumors: Why B.J. Upton Makes Sense for the Giants
While the general consensus is that the Giants' top target is Mets right fielder Carlos Beltran, SI's Jon Heyman reports that the Giants have a "strong interest" in Tampa Bay Rays center fielder B.J. Upton.
One may argue that the Giants' interest in Upton is only a smokescreen in order to make the Mets bring down their asking price for Beltran. It looks like that ploy has worked, since Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Mets are no longer asking for top prospects in return for Beltran.
While Upton hasn't fully lived up to the hype, he is still a young player who has a world of untapped potential waiting to surface.
While I still believe that Beltran would be the better fit for the Giants (at least in the short term), Upton would still be a tremendous upgrade for the Giants both in the short and long term.
Here is a list of reasons why the Giants should strongly consider adding Upton to their team.
The Amount of Potential Is Overwhelming
It is not a secret that Upton could potentially become a star in this league. He has all of the physical attributes and the makeup of a potential 40/40 guy who plays a nasty center field.
The Rays organization has always been very high on Upton, which is evident since they have given him chance after chance to prove why he was such a highly coveted prospect.
Upton was drafted second overall in the 2002 MLB draft and was thought by many to be the next true five-tool player. He was also rated the second overall prospect in the minors in 2004.
Upton has shown glimpses of what he is truly capable of, but he has never been able to put together for an entire season except for 2007, when he batted .300 with 24 HR and 82 RBI.
Upton is notoriously known for being lazy, which would lead one to believe that it's the reason he has yet to consistently put up All-Star numbers.
Upton is still 26 and has yet to enter his prime. He could emerge as one of the league's elite if he ever finds out how to put it all together.
Upgrade over the Struggling Torres
It's time for Giants fans to wake up and smell the coffee: Andres Torres isn't the same player he was in 2010.
He has, however, been swinging the bat a little better as of late, but it is nowhere near what the Giants' inept offense needs at the leadoff position.
Despite Torres's offensive numbers this season (.236/.326/.366), it is his consistent play on defense and ability to track down balls in the wide open outfield in AT&T Park that make it hard to keep Torres out of the lineup.
I'm sure Upton wouldn't mind chasing down fly balls that are hit into triples alley. Next to the Tigers' Austin Jackson, Upton arguably has the best range out of all major league center fielders.
Torres's and Upton's fielding percentages are virtually identical, but Upton also has a cannon for an arm that he is slowly learning how to control.
Excellent Base Stealer
Once Andres Torres gets on base, he is virtually the only base stealing threat the Giants have.
But therein lies the problem; Torres doesn't get on base enough to steal the amount of bases he should.
Even though Upton doesn't get on base as frequently as Torres does, he takes full advantage of the opportunities he has and wreaks absolute havoc on the base paths.
Upton already has 23 stolen bases this season, which is only three shy of Torres' total amount last year.
He has also averaged over 40 stolen bases in each of the last three seasons.
Since the Giants can't hit the long ball like they did last season, they need to manufacture runs any way possible.
A legitimate base stealing threat at the top of the lineup would be just what the doctor ordered.
Hits with Some Pop
Like I mentioned in the previous slide, the Giants don't have the same pop in their bats as they did in 2010.
B.J. Upton would also help the team in that category, considering he has 15 home runs to go along with 53 runs batted in so far in 2011. Both of those stats would be enough to lead the team if Upton was traded to the Giants today.
Upton also smashed 24 home runs in 2007, so we know he is capable of posting some more 20/40 seasons for years to come.
Moreover, besides Buster Posey, the Giants don't have a right-handed power bat in their lineup. Since Posey is out for the rest of 2011, that leaves virtually no right-handers to combat the lefty pitchers.
Who else is tired of seeing Aaron Rowand start every time the Giants face a lefty pitcher?
I know I am.
Upton Is Not a Rental Player
While adding Carlos Beltran would be nice, it would be a shame to see the Giants trade prospects for a three-month rental player.
If the Giants did trade for Beltran this trade deadline, it is not a sure thing that Beltran would test free agency and leave after the season. However, it is unlikely that the Giants will have enough money to out-bid the other teams that would be willing to spend big bucks for a big bat.
Upton is being paid just under $5 million this season and has one more year of arbitration eligibility during the 2012 season.
After 2012, the expiring contracts of Aaron Rowand and Aubrey Huff would free up nearly $24 million in cap space, which would make it financially possible to re-sign the team's core players.
Would a Change of Scenery Motivate Upton?
While I might sound like a broken record talking about Upton's potential, it might be the most important aspect of this deal.
Upton was supposed to be the next big thing in the MLB, and it feels weird saying "was" considering he is still only 26 years old and has proven that he can play at the major league level.
When people say that Upton is unmotivated or doesn't try hard enough, it is important to understand why this is may be the case.
Upton was in the spotlight as he climbed the ranks in the minor leagues. He was the top prospect who everyone was talking about and was expected to be the next big thing in the major leagues.
Playing in Tampa Bay, virtually no one goes to the games to watch Rays. Tropicana has the third-worst attendance in the MLB, averaging under 20,000 a game.
Additionally, the Rays have rarely been a factor in the national spectrum besides their World Series run in 2008. Heck, it's hard to get any attention at all when you're only the third-best team in your own division next to the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.
If Upton were to come to San Francisco and play for a first-place team in front of a sellout crowd every night, that would certainly motivate him.
Upton would instantly become a new fan favorite, and I can only imagine the ovation he would receive in his first at-bat in AT&T Park.
Ever since Evan Longoria emerged on the scene in Tampa Bay, Upton was no longer the future of the franchise. For the most part, he turned into the forgotten one who failed to live up to all the hype.
Giants fans would be more than willing to give Upton that fresh start that he needs.
Plus, B.J. is the older brother to Justin Upton on the Arizona Diamondbacks, and there is no way in hell that B.J. would lose at anything to his little brother.
Why Upton Wouldn't Be a Good Idea
It is no secret that the Giants need help scoring runs.
It is a valid argument to say that B.J. Upton isn't the middle-of-the-lineup bat that the Giants really need.
Pablo Sandoval currently stands as the Giants' only serious threat in the lineup, and he has no one hitting behind him to give him "protection."
Another thing to worry about is Upton's knack for striking out frequently. Upton has had four straight 130+ strikeout seasons and is only two more away from 100 on the season.
That is very uncharacteristic of a leadoff hitter, and it is definitely something to be concerned about.
Another thing to consider is that since Upton is being so highly valued solely on his potential, there is always the possibility that he will never untap it.
He has been widely ridiculed for being unmotivated, which is a huge red flag when acquiring a player based on potential.
While I still believe that Beltran would be the best possibility for the Giants this year, I would give the nod to Upton if the Giants are more concerned with winning in the long-term.