The San Francisco Giants stood at 17 games over the .500 mark on July 28, 2011 when they acquired switch-hitting run producer Carlos Beltran from the New York Mets for top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler.
Entering play today, the last day of August 2011, the Giants are six games over .500 and six games behind the surging Arizona Diamondbacks. Is Carlos Beltran to blame for the Giants' fall from controlling the NL West to barely treading water as September approaches? Hardly.
When Brian Sabean traded for Carlos Beltran, many Giants fans were worried that he would get hurt or be ineffective and the Giants will have lost another rising pitching star for nothing. Brian Sabean made the move because it made sense.
The team was winning, but the margin for victory was so small that anyone could predict that it wasn't going to last forever. The offense was inconsistent at best and the team was winning solely on the backs of their vaunted pitching staff.
If and when the timely late-inning hits stopped falling or if and when the pitching staff came back to earth a bit, the Giants were going to be in trouble. Sabean did the logical thing, the thing that any other GM in baseball would have done if they were in his position; he traded for a veteran, proven run producer to help offset the fall, if and when it came.
The fall came, and Beltran was nowhere to be seen, nursing a wrist injury. Is that Beltran's fault? Certainly not, injuries are a part of baseball. Is that Sabean's fault? No, he made a decision that was a calculated risk and baseball reared its sometimes ugly head, landing Beltran on the DL.
Beltran has struggled to produce in many crucial at bats since his return from the DL. Is he ill-prepared and unconcerned with his performance in these situations? No, the game of baseball humbles even its greatest players and the timing of this humbling is simply cruel to the Giants and their fans.
So, who is to blame for the Giants August nose dive? Bruce Bochy? No. Orlando Cabrera? No. Miguel Tejada? Well...no. The game of baseball is to blame. The injuries finally caught up to this team and they are having a very hard time fighting out of a run of offensive ineptitude that is bordering on historically horrendous.
The Giants still have time to right their ship and show the fight and determination that won a World Series title just ten months ago. Whether fight and determination is enough to overcome the Arizona Diamondbacks' seemingly insurmountable lead in the NL West is out of their hands at this point. The Giants are going to have to start winning, a lot, and hope that Arizona starts losing, a lot.