Maybe it’s best to start with the lack of moves?
Okay, in all seriousness, the Giants made two trades deadline day – neither of which were the big names many were hoping for. Hell, they weren’t even average names. But, that doesn’t mean that both trades weren’t solid moves.
I know the general opinion is that the Giants struck out on the big hitter, such as Corey Hart, Prince Fielder, Adam Dunn, etc. And the second general opinion is that the Giants struck out on the big name reliever like Scott Downs, Justin Frasor, etc. And while I would have loved to had one or even two of those players wearing the orange and black, the Giants were stuck between a rock and a hard spot.
Down on the Giants farm, there aren’t a lot of prospects at the AAA and AA levels that are in MLB ready/near MLB ready form. That’s not to say the Giants don’t have a good amount of talent in their minor league system, they do. It’s just that the talent is a few years away or in other cases, too talented to let go for a rental player. And that’s exactly what many of the potential trade targets would have been. Or, in other instances, such as Corey Hart…they’d be arbitration eligible primed off a career year. That’s not something you really want to get stuck paying, especially with contracts such as Aaron Rowand, Edgar Renteria, etc still on the books. Not to mention, the asking price was Jonthan Sanchez/Madison Bumgarner which is silly in itself. And that brings me to another point. Teams knew what the Giants had to offer and how attractive those pieces were. They weren’t going to settle for another Tim Alderson type when they were salivating at the thought of getting Dirty or Madison. Teams played hardball with the Giants, because they could.
So let’s move onto the acquisitions.
- Trade #1 – San Francisco trades John Bowker and Joe Martinez to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Javier Lopez
Okay, at first glance, this trade set a lot of people off. Pretty sure they had to close down the Bay Bridge to prevent mass suicides. The trade was first reported as only Martinez for Lopez, a deal that most could handle. Then word began to leak that Bowker was involved and most San Francisco Giant blogs/message boards went batshit crazy. And I have to admit, at first word, I was a little shocked at Bowker being involved. Lopez wasn’t of much need to the annually rebuilding Pirates, so Martinez seemed like a nice enough return. But after calming myself a bit, I really wasn’t all that upset that Bowker was involved. He’s a nice guy. Has some terrific power. But at the end of the day, he’s a 28 year old, below average outfielder who can’t hit a breaking ball to save his life. Sure, maybe that can change – but playing time in San Francisco was limited – he was out of options, and well, as I said before – he’s a 28 year old, below average outfielder who can’t hit a breaking ball. A lot of people thought Bowker might become something, but, he didn’t. Yes, he was dicked around a bit by the Giants front office and coaching staff but he did have plenty of opportunity to prove himself and couldn’t. So, I wasn’t shedding crocodile tears over the including of Bowker. As for Martinez, again, another terrific guy much like Bowker, but just a borderline MLB pitcher. I think a lot of us will always have a small soft spot for Joe after watching him take a Mike Cameron line drive off his skull, but as for Joe the baseball player – a dime a dozen.
The return for the Giants was much needed in Javier Lopez. Many of you might remember Lopez as the “Bonds specialist” during Lopez’s time in Colorado. For those that don’t, he’s really nothing more than a left handed specialist – but one that the Giants desperately needed. Watching Jonathan Sanchez be trotted out the day before the deadline in the bottom of the 9th for relief duty, simply to get a lefty in the game, was gut wrenching. The Giants current left handers, Jeremy Affedlt and Dan Runzler both have some serious injury concern and neither has been the lights out product they gave us last year. So, bringing in another lefty was a smart move and one I’m giving Sabean some nice credit for. The price wasn’t absurd and it’s a great bit of insurance for Runzler and Affedlt, because who knows how they’ll finish out the season. Lopez wont be of much use in non left handed batting situations, but he’s proven to be deadly for opposing batters from the left side this year, keeping them to a .204/.323/.352 batting line.
- Trade #2 – San Francisco trades minor leaguer Daniel Turpen to the Boston Red Sox for Ramon Ramirez
Again, I don’t fault this move by Sabean one bit. And I’m far from a Sabean lover. In fact, I really don’t like him at all – but there is little to dislike about this move. Turpen is a long way out, if he ever does make it. He wasn’t ranked in the Giants top 30 prospects and I really question his ability to get to the Majors, let alone have any type of solid impact – so what the Giants gave up means little to me in this deal. What they received though is another solid relief pitcher, something the Giants need some consistency out of. For their nice ERA’s, Santiago Casilla and Denny Bautista have been downright scary with their control. At times, they’re lights out. And at others, they can walk the bases loaded – something they’ve both done this year. Ramirez isn’t going to be a set up man or even a 7th inning guy, but, he can come in and be an effective member of the pen. He’s struggled a bit this year pitching for the Sox (held a 4.46 ERA), but he’s proven to be effective in prior years, such as his stint in KC where he was continually in the mid 2’s, ERA wise. More importantly for the Giants, he has 16 walks in 40 plus innings – he can throw the ball over the plate, something the Giants need for that mild mop-up/get me to the 7th inning type.
Some may say the Giants could have found some pen help on the waiver wire. Others might say they could have dug a bit down in Fresno and found some patchwork guys to get them through. Both are valid opinions, but the Giants didn’t give away any future assets and came out with two very solid relievers, both of which were key missing pieces to the MASH unit of a pen the Giants currently have.
So while Adam Dunn, Prince Fielder, or Scott Downs aren’t wearing the orange and black – and as much as I’d like to have seen them model those new threads, the Giants still had a very solid trade deadline, IMO. When you get better and give away little to nothing, it’s hard to complain. And that’s exactly what the G-men did.