MLB Trades 2011: 5 Deals That Directly Impact San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants made a couple of trades leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline; so did some of their competition. Some of the moves will impact them this season as they attempt to repeat, while others may affect them several years down the road.
Here is a list of trades that could have the greatest impact on the Giants this season and for seasons to come.
Orlando Cabrera Traded from the Cleveland Indians to the San Francisco Giants
The Giants had been rumored to be in contention to sign Orlando Cabrera as a free agent this past offseason. It was obvious that Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy liked him, and the Giants had been linked to him in trade rumors for weeks.
The impact of this trade is pretty significant. Reports have had Miguel Tejada ready to come off the disabled list as early as this week of late. The acquisition of Cabrera immediately brought into question Tejada's role on the team. They seem like pretty similar players except that Cabrera still has good range as a shortstop and Tejada has declined significantly defensively.
Now it appears that Tejada is a couple of weeks away from being able to come off the DL. A lot can happen in a couple of weeks, but I suspect that his spot on the roster is in jeopardy.
The impact of Cabrera on this team can only be positive in my opinion. He has that classic reputation as a veteran who is a fantastic clubhouse presence, and his postseason experience is one of those intangibles that you just can't measure, unless you look at Edgar Renteria's 2010 season from spring training through Game 5 of the World Series.
The price that the Giants paid, AAA outfielder Thomas Neal, seemed steep to me at first. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that my concerns may have been more about my own desire to see him succeed as a Giant than the organization's view of him and their future.
Sabean has showed more often than not that his team has a pretty good grasp on the abilities of its prospects and the role those prospects have with the future of the team. I wish Neal all the luck in the world. He has significant power, is young and can play a couple of different positions. He has fought the injury bug his entire professional career, though, and that may be the reason the Giants were willing to part with him.
Hunter Pence Traded from the Houston Astros to the Philadelphia Phillies
Hunter Pence was no lock to get traded even though the Houston Astros had to cut significant payroll. When the San Francisco Giants landed the top player on the trading block in Carlos Beltran, the Phillies obviously felt the need to respond.
Pence was a special case, as the Phillies were not willing to part with the players that they eventually traded to the Astros to get Pence in order to get Beltran. The difference is that Pence is much younger, is under team control for a couple of more seasons and is a better player that Beltran right now.
The Phillies got a very dynamic baseball player who will help them roll to the playoffs, which they were going to do with or without Pence. The question now is will Hunter Pence give the Phillies a better chance of getting through the NL playoffs and into the World Series? The answer lies in who the team faces.
The Phillies already have the best offensive team of all the NL contenders. The Phillies also have arguably the best starting pitching of all the NL contenders.
I am of the belief that good pitching always beats good hitting, so the postseason will most likely come down to which team owns the best overall pitching staff, not just the starters, especially in the NL.
The significance of this trade for the Giants is that the Phillies now have one more dangerous bat for the Giants to prepare for. If the Giants are fortunate enough to meet the Phillies again in the postseason this year, I think they are well equipped to handle not only Hunter Pence, but all of the Phillies hitters, if their pitching is firing on all cylinders.
Mike Adams Traded from the San Diego Padres to the Texas Rangers
Mike Adams is a very good pitcher. He has been a key element of the San Diego Padres' pitching success for a couple of years. Adams had been setting up for All-Star closer Heath Bell and had been very good at it.
The Giants face the Padres eight more times this season and will not have to get through Mike Adams in any of those games. With the way that the Giants continue to play torturous baseball, that is significant.
The Giants routinely go late into games either winning by one or losing by one, and outs become very precious. The Padres were successful last year by having three regular relievers at the end of games to pitch the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. It was a gauntlet that, more often than not, teams were not successful at running.
For the remainder of 2011, for eight games, the Giants will not have to face an extremely talented pitcher in Mike Adams when trying to beat the Padres. That is a significant development given that the Giants have to scratch and claw for every run they score.
Jason Marquis Traded from the Washington Nationals to the Arizona Diamondbacks
Jason Marquis has never been considered one of the game's elite pitchers. He is certainly a good pitcher, but not one of the game's best. Don't tell that to the San Francisco Giants or their fans, though; Marquis has seemed like the second coming of Cy Young to the Giants.
Marquis has already thrown a complete-game shutout against the Giants this year as a member of the Washington Nationals and has befuddled Giants hitters seemingly every time he has faced them.
The Diamondbacks traded for a good, sometimes great pitcher as they continue their improbable run at the NL West crown. Perhaps more importantly, they landed a proven Giants killer. The dividends will begin to show this week, as the Diamondbacks play the first three of nine remaining games against San Francisco, and Marquis is scheduled to pitch in the series.
Carlos Beltran Traded from the New York Mets to the San Francisco Giants
This is a no-brainer. This is the big trade, the biggest for the Giants franchise since perhaps the trade for Steve Bedrosian.
Carlos Beltran immediately fills a gaping hole in the Giants lineup. Bruce Bochy has him situated perfectly in the No. 3 slot, in front of Pablo Sandoval, who is the only hitter in the Giants lineup that can protect a hitter like Beltran.
Beltran has started out slow—too slow. Giants fans will give him a few games to get himself on track, but he needs to start hitting, and he needs to start now. Beltran can't get runners on base in front of him or drive himself in when he gets on base, but his presence in the lineup allows the others to bat in spots that are best suited for them.
Sandoval has been on fire since Beltran's arrival, but as has been the case all year, the other bats have been snoozing. Bochy has to find the right combination of hitters game to game, and with a little luck, the Giants may score a half run more per game because of Beltran's bat in the lineup. He will hit, and the Giants will be a significantly better team because he is in the lineup.
The Giants gave up Zack Wheeler to get Beltran. Wheeler was the consensus top prospect in the Giants organization, and by all accounts, the Mets did well to secure his services. While it isn't easy for any team to part with its top-rated prospect, the Giants were in a unique position that allowed them to make this trade without significantly weakening their team going forward.
The Giants strength is their pitching, both starters and relievers. The staff is relatively young and somewhat controllable, at least for a year or two still. Wheeler was most likely two or three seasons away from impacting the big league team, and even then there may not have been room for him.
In two or three years, the Giants will have to make some difficult, big-money decisions about the core of their championship team: the pitching staff. Having the ability to let someone walk as a free agent because Wheeler was ready and waiting in the wings would have been a great luxury to have, but a lot can happen in two or three years. Obviously there is no guarantee that Wheeler will ever even make to the big leagues, and Beltran is a proven, veteran hitter.
The Giants have an opportunity to do something extremely special: repeat as World Series champions. Zack Wheeler doesn't help them do that this year, but Carlos Beltran does, which is why Brian Sabean made the deal.