Yesterday, we touched on the deals that Giant opposition made and to say I was short of impressed with nearly all the deals was an understatement. With that said, I think the Giants did fantastic at the deadline as well – so let’s take a look at the individual deals.
*edit – this was written prior to the news of Freddy Sanchez undergoing season ending surgery*
Giants acquire Jeff Keppinger from the Houston Astros in exchange for Henry Sosa & Jason Stoffel:
In all honesty, I think this move was nearly as important as the Carlos Beltran trade, especially given the current situation revolving around the injured Freddy Sanchez. Keppinger fills a variety of holes for the Giants, starting with his ability and desire to hit out of the number two spot in the lineup, something they’ve lacked without Sanchez. His career .283 average (.307 in Houston this year, .288 last) is a fantastic boost and his solid glove work gives the Giants not only an option at second but at shortstop, if need be. He wont be harnessing a batting title or a Gold Glove on his mantle but Kepp is a very, very, very solid every day player and really helps the Giants maintain with the Sanchez injury. One of the additional pluses with the Keppinger trade is that he’ll be under Giant control for next season as well for an extremely reasonable price tag and it cost the Giants little of nothing in the prospect department to get him. A fantastic deal for the Giants when all is said and done.
Giants acquire Carlos Beltran from New York Mets in exchange for Zack Wheeler:
I really didn’t believe the Giants would move any of their top prospects for Beltran, but if you’d have asked which of them between Belt, Brown or Wheeler would have went – Wheeler would have been my answer every time. Am I fan of the move? I’d venture to say yes – nobody likes to trade away their highly touted prospects, but as I’ve said before, prospects are just prospects and for all the good that Wheeler possesses, he’s not Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain nor would he have ever approached either of their levels. I think Wheeler has the ability to turn into a fine pitcher at the major league level but he still has a long way to go and as we’ve seen with many traded Giant pitching prospects before, it’s no given they live up to their lofty projections. Along with that, Brian Sabean and his merry band of scouts (especially Dick Tidrow, VP of Personal) have a fantastic track record of selling high on pitchers within the Giants farm system so you almost have to give them the benefit of the doubt. The Giants may not have a lot of current high level minor pitchers who could make the leap to the big leagues right now, but the lower levels of the Giants farm system is stocked with pitching talent. Losing Wheeler sucks, but he’s replaceable.
Now onto Beltran who is an obvious upgrade for the Giants. As I touched on before, statistically, he’s one of the most historic players to ever be traded mid-season. Yes, he’s had a poor start to his Giants tenure but he’ll be fine. Even though Bourne might prove to be a thorn in the side of the Giants come the postseason – and while Hunter Pence is a very talented (and younger) player, neither of them match Beltran punch for punch. The Giants traded for the best player available and while many consider Wheeler an expensive piece to part with for a rental, you have to consider the price tag Philadelphia paid in exchange for Pence (essentially Wheeler and Brandon Belt or Gary Brown and another solid piece). I’ve also seen a lot of people assuming it’s a foregone conclusion that Beltran wont return to San Francisco at season end which I find silly. Yes, his agent is Scott Boras and yes, he’ll ask for some absurd contract but that doesn’t mean he’s getting it. Beltran wants a ring – he wants a contender. You aren’t finding many other squads who can compete with the Giants in terms of giving Beltran what he wants. Given all the circumstances, it’s hard to hate on the Beltran trade in its current time and form. We can revisit the move in 2015 when Wheeler is a bit more advanced, for good or bad.
Giants acquire Orlando Cabrera from the Indians in exchange for Thomas Neal:
This one burnt quite a few fans – some because it’s A) Cabrera, others B) Because they traded Neal but mostly, C) It’s Orlando F’ing Cabrera for Thomas Neal! First, we look at Neal – a solid minor leaguer no doubt, but nothing special. Maybe a fourth outfielder in the MLB on a good day when he reaches his peak? Not that being a bench MLB’er is bad or doesn’t hold value, it’s just trading him for Cabrera seems, well, iffy. You’d like to assume the Giants could have traded a lesser talent simply to rid the Indians of Cabrera. Let’s not forget, this is a team that traded quite a bit of minor league talent in the last few days with hopes to win the AL Central this year – they were buyers, so selling on O-Cab for a minor leaguer says a lot.
With that said though, I understand Sabean’s desire to bring him in. Clearly, Tejada wasn’t working and wasn’t going to work in the coming months. Add into that the Freddy Sanchez injury and what appears to be a lack of confidence that Sanchez can return this season, he needed a better player at the SS position along with infield depth. Yes, he’s older, but he’s not a stone on the defensive end and despite whatever defensive shortcomings many might feel he has, he’s still a two time Gold Glove winner. Offensively, he brings little to the table but given the importance of postseason runs, you can’t be running out a shortstop with nearly zero range. Tejada and Cabrera aren’t much different with the stick, but there is a significant difference defensively. Some might say why not run with Brandon Crawford, but if he’s not starting, his time at the MLB level is worthless and offensively he’s worse than both Tejada and Cabrera in their current forms. It’s far from a popular move and Cabrera will damn sure do his darnedest to piss off Giant fans a few times, but it’s a valuable trade even if we don’t want to believe it right now.
As for trades that weren’t made – two come into play, the first being losing out on the Micheal Borune sweepstakes and the other being a lack of catcher.
Whatever the case is, and we’ll probably never know, the ‘Stros seemed to prefer the Braves package more than the Giants. We don’t know what the Giants were offering exactly, but at least to me, the Braves package was pretty poor. I think the addition of Bourne would have been huge, not only keeping him away from the Braves, but his near Gold Glove defense, ability to be a pure leadoff hitter and VROOOOOOOOOOOOOM on the basepaths would have been a perfect upgrade. I know many say the Giants already have that in Andres Torres, but no, no they don’t. I love Andres as much as the next guy but Andres Torres isn’t Bourne.
The last remaining hole was catcher and it’s hard to blame Sabean for not grabbing one. Listen, I’m far from a Sabean apologist but the market wasn’t there. Teams knew they had the Giants back against the wall in regard to trading for a catcher and unless you were on the Pudge train, most all other “available” catchers were on potential playoff foes such as Cincinnati or Milwaukee, two teams with little reason to help improve the Giants. Soto out of Chicago was also a possibility, but I can’t imagine the Giants ever came close to the price the Cubs would have requested.
If there is one plus to the Giants trailing the Braves and Phillies in the overall standings currently (from a home field point of view), it’s that neither will be able to block the Giants attempt to grab a catcher if one was to hit the waiver wire as the Giants currently own priority over both. If the Reds fall out of contention, which is very possible, Ramon Hernandez becomes pretty invaluable to them since he’s a free agent at season end so the Giants might be able to improve via the waiver deadline – I’d say it’s more possible than probable at this point, but we’ll see in the coming weeks.
Overall, the Giants did what they had to do – they’re an improved team all around and they did fill some weak spots, despite many of our gripes. The price? Essentially, it’s Zack Wheeler and we can’t honestly judge that until 2015 or beyond. For now, the Giants kept pace with the other National League powers (and potential playoff squads) and go into the stretch drive with a team who is better than it was just a week ago.