The MLB trade deadline has come and gone, and the San Francisco Giant were one of the busiest teams in all the league. The Black and Orange landed three major players to help bolster their roster, none bigger of course than slugger Carlos Beltran. Lots of other teams were wheelin' and dealin' as well, but now that the dust has settled, what do all these trades mean? Who made panic moves? Who made savvy acquisitions? Let's take a closer look at the Giants' trades, as well as moves from around the league and how they might affect the Giants chances at winning back-to-back World Series titles.
Let's start with the NL West, and of course the defending champion San Francisco Giants:
Jeff Keppinger- INF
Kep was a relatively early addition to the Giants squad before the deadline, acquired on July 19 for right-handed prospects Henry Sosa and Jason Stoffel. The six year MLB veteran brings a .289 career average along with a .336 OBP to the Bay, not to mention his multi-faceted glove that can play just about anywhere in the infield if asked of him. Kep is hovering around a .300 BA this season, and will help out a lot with Freddy Sanchez out for the rest of the year, Miguel Tejada's struggling with injuries, and Mike Fontenot's sluggish performances at the plate.
Sosa and Stoffel were mid-level prospects in the Giants organization, just the kind of bait the Astros needed to give up Kep. They proved to be just the right amount of talent to not be sorely missed by San Francisco yet enticing enough to trade for. In my opinion, that was a good deal for both the Giants and Astros, and will go a long way towards pushing the Giants into the playoffs.
Carlos Beltran- OF
Undoubtedly one of the biggest moves made at the deadline was that of Carlos Beltran. The Giants had to pay the price though, giving up their top pitching prospect in Zack Wheeler to make the deal with the New York Mets. Carlos is currently hitting around .280 along with 15 dingers and 30 doubles, making him one of the best all-around hitters in the NL, and a serious threat in the middle of the Giants lineup.
Long-term this might not have been the best deal for San Francisco as Beltran's status for 2012 is up in the air, and he likely will ask for lots of money after his contract expires at the end of the season. But the Giants are pushing to win now, and on paper Carlos gives them a much better chance to do so. If the farm system can produce another Zack Wheeler along the way than this deal will be well worth it in my book, Carlos just needs to stay within himself and not try to hit 5-run homers all the time, do his thing out in right field, and lead the Black and Orange to the promise land.
Orlando Cabrera- INF
Just when you thought the Giants were done making moves, they added one more infielder before the deadline in 14 year veteran Orlando Cabrera. The former Cleveland Indian is seemingly always with a playoff team, and proves to be a nice addition to the squad as they continue to have infield woes.
He is currently about 30 points below his .273 career BA, and gave up fan-favorite single-A prospect Thomas Neal to get him, a move many a Giants fan wasn't too excited about. Nevertheless he is an upgrade to Miguel Tejada at the plate and in the field, and will likely be a staple at shortstop the rest of the season. Cabrera is not a long term fix by any stretch of the imagination, but he is a good guy to have when trying to make a playoff push.
The Arizona Diamondbacks made a few moves to try and keep up with the defending champs, adding some quality arms to their roster:
Jason Marquis- RHP
The D'backs don't need much help with their bats, but definitely did with their pitching; and they did just that by adding Marquis. Currently sporting a 8-5 record with a 3.95 ERA Marquis immediately improves Arizona's rotation, but had to give up a pretty good prospect in Zach Walters to get him.
Walters, a 21 year old infielder, had been putting up good numbers for single-A South Bend, sporting a .302/.377/.485 slash line with 42 walks and 96 strikeouts in 361 at-bats. He wasn't a top-shelf guy, but may have become one over time, and was a pretty low cost for the D'backs to give for Marquis. It definitely makes them that much harder to beat for the Giants, joining the talented Arizona battery alongside Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson.
Brad Ziegler- RHP
Arizona's bullpen was undoubtedly their Achilles heel so far in 2011, but did very well to shore it up by adding Ziegler. The Diamondbacks gave up 1B Brandon Allen and LHP Jordan Norberto in the deal, both considered C level prospects by Minor League Ball. Ziegler has allowed 38 hits in 37 and 2/3 innings of work, along with a 13/29 BB to K ratio. Although Ziegler isn't a top-level talent as of now, the side arm slinger will definitely help out J.J Putz and the rest of the bullpen down in the desert.
Padres: Traded reliever Mike Adams to Texas for minor league pitchers Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland, traded Ryan Ludwick to the Pirates for a player to be named later. I'll talk about Adams in a bit, but the Pads are definitely in a rebuilding stage right now, and are looking to add pieces that may lure other teams to trade away quality players for.
Dodgers: Traded Rafael Furcal to St. Louis for double-A outfielder Alex Castellanos and approximately $2.5 million. Obviously in the middle of bankruptcy the Dodgers need cash more than an aging shortstop. They have some good pieces already in Matt Kemp and Andre Either, but they need the money first before they rebuild.
Rockies: Traded Ublado Jimenez to Cleveland for Joe Gardner, Alex Whte, Matt McBride and a player to be named later. Many folks were left scratching their head on this deal, but Colorado traded Ubaldo at the peak of his value and got a number of good players in return. They too are gearing up for the future, not looking to win this year.
Here's a look at some of the Giants stiffest competition standing in their way of a repeat; the Phillies, Braves, and Rangers. All of these teams made crucial moves to add talent in places they were lacking, and all look poised to make serious charges towards October.
After they lost to the Giants in the 2010 NLCS the Philles knew they got beat by pitching, so what did they do? The mirrored the Giants blueprint and stocked up their pitching staff to the max with the addition of Cliff Lee. The Phillies are also really, really, good at the plate, but are also very, very left handed at the plate. So they went out and got themselves what they needed once again, a right-handed slugger:
Hunter Pence- OF
The former Houston Astro came to the City of Brotherly Love along with $2 million in cash for prospects Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid, Jarred Cosart and a player to be named later. The Astros were in full blown fire sale mode at almost 40 games under .500, and Philly couldn't help but jump at the chance of adding another all-Star to their squad. Pence is hitting .308/.357/.471 on the year, and makes the Phillies all but a shoe-in for the NL East title.
For whatever reason it is, the Giants have the Phillies number as of late, but the addition of Pence adds another dangerous bat to a lineup ripe with them. This team is the biggest danger to a Giants repeat in my opinion, especially on paper. But that's why they play the games, and we all know how it ended for Philly last year.
Some feel that Pence was a 'panic' pickup after the Giants banned Beltran, but he is a great fit in their lineup in my opinion.
Right behind the Phillies in the NL East are the Atlanta Braves, another team strapped with cannons along with some explosive bats. They got Wil Nieves from the Brewers for cash, basically a fill-in until Brian McCann in healthy, but what they needed is a legitimate leadoff hitter and a danger on the base paths, which they got by adding Michael Bourn.
Michael Bourn- OF
The Astros dealt another one of their best players in Bourn for center fielder Jordan Schafer, Double-A pitchers Brett Oberholtzer and Paul Clemens, and triple-A reliever Juan Abreu. This move played right into the hands of both teams as Houston needed to drop payroll and look to rebuild for later while the addition of Bourn to Atlanta's lineup gives them a lot of speed, a great center fielder, and another productive bat along with Jayson Heyward and Brian McCann. Bourn brings a .304/.363/.404 line down to Hot-lanta, along with a league leading 39 stolen bases.
The Braves biggest hindrance may be being in the NL East with the Phillies, but their rotation is very solid, their bullpen is second to none, and they have a number of great hitters now. This is another very scary team the Giants will likely have to go through in the playoffs, that is, is both of them make it there.
The Texas Rangers are looking to get back to the Fall Classic again this year as well, but would like to turn the tides on their opponent this time. The Rangers bolstered their bullpen big time in hopes of making a charge to the championship:
Mike Adams- RHP
Adams is one of the best relivers in baseball right now, and the Rangers got a steal of a deal to get him. The Padres received prospects Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin in return, both of which could eventually make the big league squad, but in the scheme of things wasn't much for a guy like Adams.
Adams is sporting a 1.29 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, along with a 10/50 BB to K ratio in 49 innings pitched so far this year. Like the D'backs, the Rangers really needed bullpen help, and boy did they get it.
Koji Uehara- RHP
Another incredibly talented reliever, Uehara came over from the Orioles along with $2 million in cash for prospects Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter. Uehara has quietly been sending batters back to the dugout out in Baltimore with his 1.69 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, and a ridiculous 8/64 BB to K ratio in 48 innings pitched. Along with Adams the Rangers bullpen is now stacked, setting up a nice 7th, 8th, 9th inning group along with Neftali Feliz. Many insiders felt the Rangers were the biggest winners at the trade deadline, and it's hard to argue with pickups like this.
The competition is stronger than ever as the Giants look to repeat, but should prove to be some excellent baseball down the stretch though. Can't wait to watch it all unfold.