Beltran Links

I’ve been dropping these in the comments of the last post, but thought I’d compile all the links here. Several different takes on the Beltran trade…overall most agree it was a good, had-to-be-done move but the price was high.

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All In

(-SB) It is pretty much a done deal at this point: Carlos Beltran will be a Giant. There is a lot to say and process, and not nearly enough time, so I highly recommend reading this. I 99% agree with the author.

One issue that immediately pops up is the outfield logjam the Giants have. This may be curtains for Burrell. Some interesting moves still yet to happen with the roster.

Here’s the lineup I’d love to see the Giants use the rest of the way (with modifications obviously based on matchups):

  • CF Torres (Ross)
  • 1B Belt
  • LF Beltran
  • 3B Sandoval
  • RF Schierholtz
  • 2B Keppinger (Fontenot)
  • SS Crawford (Tejada if they have to)
  • C Whiteside (Stewart)
Last, here’s an article we were going to run today by Nick comparing Upton and Beltran:
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Note: It now appears that the Giants have traded Zach Wheeler and cash for Carlos Beltran, so this article is a bit late, but my point remains the same.

The trade deadline is usually one of the most exciting, and most overhyped, parts of the baseball season. Fans are always following mlbtraderumors.com or the ESPN insider page for any minute details involving their team and whether they are buyers, sellers or completely blowing up the team for prospects. This frenzy of knowledge also affects fans of the defending World Series Champions. (Note: The San Francisco Giants are the current World Champions.) This year the trade rumors with the Giants have been all about finding a bat, any bat, even a little leaguer who is able to hit a change-up down the middle. The Giants even called me to see if I wanted to be the new starting Left Fielder, although sadly I had to decline. The Giants currently have one hitter (ONE!) hitting over .300, and that’s new acquisition Jeff Keppinger at 2B. Pablo is hitting well, but honestly that’s about all we have at the moment and somehow the Giants remain in first. Obviously the need for a bat is huge and the two names the Giants have been tied to in the last few weeks are Mets OF Carlos Beltran, and Tampa Bay OF BJ Upton. Both have pluses, both have minuses, so which one would be a better fit?

Beltran: With Beltran you have an experienced hitter who, at one point in his career, was considered one of the best players in all of baseball. This season he’s currently hitting .289/.391/.513 with an OPS of .901 along with 15 HR’s and 66 RBI, not an amazing season but a solid one, however the amazing part is with those exact stats, Beltran would be first in HR’s (Huff and Pablo would be tied for second with 9 (!)), first in RBI, beating Huff who has 47 (!) and his 61 runs scored would beat out Andres Torres for the team lead, Torres having scored 39 times. Seriously, how are we in first place again? As far as defense goes, Beltran has a WAR of 3.6 (yes I hate sabermetrics, but for the benefit of this discussion, and for those of you who enjoy those stats, I’m throwing it in here). It’s not a great WAR, but a good one and it’s better than Pat Burrell (1.0), Andres Torres (1.1), Aaron Rowand (1.1), Cody Ross (0.9) and Nate Schierholtz (1.3), essentially making him our best hitter and our best fielder in one fell swoop. Downside? His speed (he had 42 SB’s not that long ago) is essentially gone, he’s a free agent after this season, and we’ll probably be unlikely/unable to sign him long-term, and he’s been injury prone since he went to the Mets, although maybe the holy waters of McCovey Cove will heal him of all ills.

Upton: BJ is a much more interesting choice, not as good or as famous as his brother Justin over in Arizona, BJ is currently hitting .227/.307/.395 with an OPS of .702. His power numbers look better with 15 HR’s and 53 RBI with 23 SB’s. So he has speed and about the same power as Beltran, along with 47 runs scored. The interesting thing about Upton is he’ll be under team control longer, and is considered the better defender, along with a much larger upside than Beltran. Lots of scouts feel that BJ needs to get free from Tampa, have a fresh start and the promise that he showed early in his career (such as 2007 where he hit .300 with 24 HR’s and 82 RBI.) Plus the appeal of holding onto him for a few years instead of Beltran just being a rental player makes you like him a bit more. Unfortunately his downside is his performance as a whole and his cost would probably be higher than Beltran, especially since reports now indicate the Mets have lowered their initial asking price for Carlos.

As far as compensation goes you’d have to think that the Mets are asking for Zach Wheeler or Gary Brown, two prospects I really wouldn’t want to trade at all. The Rays are probably asking the same, and maybe someone like Jonathan Sanchez or Thomas Neal, another Giants OF prospect. Honestly I started writing this article thinking BJ Upton would be a better solution, and for some teams, like the Braves or even the Brewers, he probably would be, but for a team like the Giants who need offense and need it now, the numbers don’t lie, Carlos Beltran is the way to go. I just hope it’s not for Brown or Wheeler.

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Week in Review (7/18-7/24)

Results:

4-2 (59-43, 4 game lead in NL West)

5-0 W vs. LAD; 5-3 W vs. LAD; 1-0 L vs. LAD; 4-2 L vs. Mil; 4-2 W vs. Mil; 2-1 W vs. Mil

Overall a very good week for the Giants. From my perspective I feel like the Giants have won the first two games of a lot of 3 game series and then failed to sweep in the last game. Anecdotal, for sure, and also a trend that you feel bad complaining about. I mean, they still won the series right, it feels kind of greedy to want a sweep all the time. But, excellent work (as always) by Baggs confirming that the Giants are now 18-4 in 3 game series (meaning they’ve won at least 2 of 3 in 18 of the 22 3 games series they’ve played). That is impressive and exactly what you want from a club, so I’m going to stop complaining about not being able to finish off sweeps (hopefully).

One more story then on the players of the week. My wife and I attended the Red Sox game yesterday and my parents were at AT&T yesterday as well. The results perfectly captured the essence of each team’s seasons. Tim Wakefield started for the Sox (because of injuries to their rotation) gave up 7 runs in 6 innings and still got the win and a standing ovation as he left the mound. The Red Sox pounded the Mariners in a 12-8 victory. The Giants came from behind to win 2-1 thanks to great pitching. Perfect games for describing how the season has gone for both of these teams.

Hitter of the Week:

This is my shameless plug for Brandon Belt. 4 for 12 (.333) with a home run and 3 RBI in his return. Also two games on the bench. This guy has to play! I don’t care who they trade for, how much they are paying Aubrey Huff, etc, the offense will get better by having him in the lineup! Somebody make that happen!!!

Pitcher of the Week:

Last week I gave this honor to Madison Bumgarner and I’m doing it again. I said last Monday the Giants need Bumgarner to step up and solidify himself at the #3 starter…well, he may actually be making a case to be #2 or even 1A at this rate. Here’s his line for the week: 2 starts, 2 wins, 15 and 2/3 IP, 15 K, 2.30 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, and 0 BB. In fact, you have to go back to July 6th to find his last walk issued. Baggs has some good stuff on the unprecedented nature of a 21-year-old with such great control and so does McCovey Chronicles, so I won’t elaborate much more but to say that this kid is impressive. Very impressive.

On to the White House, then the Phillies…can’t wait for this series to start…going to be an interesting week to say the least!

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Giant Trade

Giants made a trade today. Welcome Jeff Keppinger. When I outlined some possibilities a few weeks ago this is exactly what I had in mind: similar to last year, small but important moves that certainly improve the team. Don’t mind what Sabean gave up either. Well done.

Here are some thoughts from others:

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Week in Review (7/11-7/17)

Results:

6-2 W @ SD; 6-1 W @ SD; 11-3 L @ SD; 4-3 W @ SD

Short week due to the All-Star Break…four games against the Padres turned out to not be so bad (even with Zito laying an egg on Saturday). Couple of games that could have ended in typical Padre disaster turned out ok, thanks to Aubrey Huff and a suicide squeeze. This team comes out of the gate, post-break proving that walking the razor’s edge is just how it’s going to be in 2011.

Hitter of the Week:

Once again, props to Panda and Nate the Great for being lights in the midst of so much darkness. Hitter of the short week honors, though, go to Andres Torres who is showing signs of coming around. Over the last two weeks he is hitting .333 with 7 runs scored and 4 stolen bases. I’ve said this before, but the Giants can make any number of huge trades but an offensive resurgence has to begin with some players they already have getting it together and none of those players is more important as Torres. If he keeps this up the Giants have a pretty decent outfield (defensively as well as offensively) with Cody Ross, Nate, and Andres. It would also mean focusing on the middle infield in the trade market. Stay hot Andres!

Pitcher of the Week:

Madison Bumgarner. His line on Thursday wasn’t dominant (6 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 4 K), but it was really good and a big second half from MadBum will go a long way to not only helping the Giants win this division but solidify the rotation for the postseason as well. It’s pretty clear that now is the time for Madison to establish himself as the no-doubt #3 in the Giants rotation.

Looking Ahead:

The Giants enter an interesting stretch. 3 with the Dodgers (where they catch Billingsly and Kershaw, never an easy task), then lots of contenders: Brewers, Phillies, Reds, D-Backs, Phillies again, and the Pirates. All but six of those games are at home, which is extremely helpful. Nonetheless, this is an important time of the season. The Giants have the potential to put some distance between them and the rest of the division and it would be great to see them do it, although it would be entirely out of character with how they do everything else. For the time being, though, BEAT LA!

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Contenders vs. Pretenders, Pt. III

Here’s the final post of the series. We are looking at the contending teams in MLB this year to see which of them fit the championship profile we created this winter. Here’s the rest of the NL (we already looked at the Phillies, Braves, Pirates, and Giants).

NL EAST

  • 2010 Mets: 6.9 K/9, 3.70 ERA, 106 ERA+, 1.37 WHIP
  • 2011 Mets: 7.0, 3.92, 96, 1.32

I included the Mets because, well, there were no other teams in this division with a winning record, so at 47-47, they seemed perfectly average. They are. Enough said. Giants fans, this is what so many other baseball fans have to deal with. Be grateful!

NL CENTRAL

  • 2010 Reds: 7.0 K/9, 4.01 ERA, 103 ERA+, 1.33 WHIP
  • 2011 Reds: 6.9, 4.17, 94, 1.33
  • 2010 Cardinals: 6.8, 3.57, 108, 1.30
  • 2011 Cardinals: 6.5, 3.96, 92, 1.31
  • 2010 Brewers: 7.9, 4.58, 89, 1.44
  • 2011 Brewers: 8.0, 4.15, 96, 1.32

Based on the analysis so far, the edge in this division has to go to the Pirates. They have seen the most dramatic improvement out of these four teams. I worry about them because they are not a strikeout team and rely so heavily on defense, but the evidence is there. Out of these three teams, I still favor Milwaukee. Greinke is finally getting it together, Gallardo has been better lately, and Marcum has been a little banged up. I can seem them pushing their ERA+ over 100 before the season ends. I’m afraid the Reds have no chance, and the Cardinals always seem to beat the odds and the stats. None of these clubs, though, profile as a championship team.

NL WEST

  • 2010 Diamondbacks: 6.7 K/9, 4.81, 89 ERA+, 1.43
  • 2011 Diamondbacks: 6.9, 4.07, 97, 1.32
  • 2010 Rockies: 7.7, 4.14, 114, 1.34
  • 2011 Rockies: 6.9, 4.13, 110, 1.33

The D-Backs have definitely improved, but they still are not league average. Undoubtedly this speaks to the improvements the team has made in the bullpen and the fact that they have a couple of good starters. So, good for Arizona, they are making progress. But this is not really a contending team. The Rockies are really interesting. They are down a bit in their strikeout rate (due to losing De La Rosa and a poor season from Jimenez), but they are still pitching really well. Better than any team in NL Central. There are a lot of rumors swirling about trading Ubaldo but how foolish would that be? They have the pitching to contend, but, amazingly for Colorado, their offense is letting them down. This confirms my suspicion that the Giants are actually competing against the Rockies for this division.

So, there you go, a look at MLB through a narrow lens of pitching stats. Comment what you will. The reality is the Giants, Braves, and Phillies are going to do battle this postseason and whoever walks out of that will likely win the World Series. And to be quite specific, the road to the championship goes through Philly this year.

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Contenders vs Pretenders, Pt. II

Let’s continue what we started yesterday by looking at the rest of the contending teams.

AL EAST

  • 2010 Red Sox: 7.5 K/9, 4.20 ERA, 104 ERA+, 1.36 WHIP
  • 2011 Red Sox: 7.1, 3.98, 103, 1.27
  • 2010 Rays: 7.4, 3.78, 103, 1.26
  • 2011 Rays: 6.6, 3.61, 100, 1.21

Here’s where ERA+ is such a useful stat. It might appear that both of these teams are pitching better in 2011 than in 2010, but in reality they are just benefiting from a depressed run scoring environment. Runs are down throughout baseball and both of these teams, especially the 2011 Rays, are the definition of league average, despite a lower ERA and WHIP. Relative to the rest of baseball they have seen no improvement. As much as I like both of these teams, this analysis does not bode well for their Championship hopes.

AL CENTRAL

  • 2010 Indians: 6.1 K/9, 4.30 ERA, 93 ERA+, 1.43 WHIP
  • 2011 Indians: 6.3, 3.97, 97, 1.30
  • 2010 Tigers: 6.6, 4.30, 96, 1.37
  • 2011 Tigers: 6.9, 4.30, 89, 1.38
  • 2010 White Sox: 7.1, 4.09, 105, 1.36
  • 2011 White Sox: 7.0, 3.83, 105, 1.28
  • 2010 Twins: 6.5, 3.95, 107, 1.29
  • 2011 Twins: 6.0, 4.24, 95, 1.36

Only the Indians have seen improvement in this division. Everyone else is down or standing pat. Again, ERA+ is helpful in showing how, relative to the rest of baseball, none of these teams is particularly impressive. The White Sox are the only above average staff in the division. Most surprising, to me at least, is how bad the Tigers are. Verlander is having a season for the ages and they still are one of the worst six pitching staffs in all of baseball. It would behoove them to go get a top of the line starter as rumored here. This division could be decided by one big trade.

AL WEST

  • 2009 Rangers: 6.4 K/9, 4.38 ERA, 106 ERA+, 1.37 WHIP
  • 2010 Rangers: 7.3, 3.93, 112, 1.31
  • 2011 Rangers: 7.0, 3.84, 109, 1.28

First of all, what is incredible about this division is that two of the ten best teams, in terms of pitching, are here (the A’s and the Mariners) and yet, for the most part, they are not in any kind of contention. That’s amazing since the Angels and Rangers are not exactly the Red Sox and Yankees. Second, I included 2009 because the Rangers made it to the World Series last year and I wanted to check out their trajectory. For a team that has a reputation for being great offensively and suspect in terms of pitching they’ve been throwing quite for three years now. They were obviously helped by the addition of Colby Lewis, CJ Wilson, and Cliff Lee in 2010 but they have not suffered as badly as I, or others, would have thought this year. Nonetheless, not the kind of jump that befits a Championship profile.

Bottom line for the AL: The Yankees and Angels are the two teams that have shown the most improvement with their pitching. This is interesting to me because my gut doesn’t agree with this analysis, still thinking the Red Sox (and even the Rays or Rangers) are better suited to come out of the AL. Again, some of this will change with trades, slumps, and hot streaks, but right now I would have to say the Yankees are the AL favorite to go to the World Series with the Angels not far behind them.

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