Giants go all in with Beltran – as they should have

New York Mets batter Carlos Beltran follows through on his swing as he hits a three-run home run against the San Francisco Giants in the first inning of their MLB National League baseball game in New York, May 3, 2011. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Zach Wheeler isn’t someone I would give up for a 34-year-old rental who probably won’t stick around for more than two months. But then again, when you have the opportunity to play in your second World Series in as many years, you do whatever it takes to get back there.

This Carlos Beltran trade has had me spinning. At first I was shocked when I heard the Giants were willing to part with Wheeler (their top prospect) for a potential rental like Beltran. Then I was downright furious when I got to thinking about how the Giants just gave up one of the best pitching prospects in baseball and only got Beltran in return. I even had a 700-word piece written on how Giants GM Brian Sabean once again overpaid in his pursuit for a veteran player.

But after sleeping on it, I’ve come to my senses. I still don’t like the fact that Sabean parted with his top prospect for someone who may not be around in two months. It’s too risky. If the Giants fail to make the postseason or get swept in the divisional round, then this trade was all for naught. The Mets wanted a top prospect for Beltran and they got one of the best in baseball. The Giants had money to burn and were (albeit seemingly) willing to pay most of Beltran’s contract in order to avoid giving up a good prospect. So instead they gave up their best prospect. As I alluded to in the intro, I wouldn’t have parted with Wheeler for Beltran. I would have parted with Wheeler in a deal for B.J. Upton, who hasn’t hit his weight since 2008 but who is just 26 and a potential five-tool player. He’s also under team control for the next several years, unlike Beltran, who becomes a free agent this winter.

No, I wouldn’t have traded Wheeler for Beltran. But then again, let’s stop and look at the big picture here. The Giants already have three young guns in Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, who all figure to be around a while. And the club’s scouting department is so good that they’ll probably draft three Wheelers by the time they need arms again. What they needed now was offense – and bad.

Pre-Beltran, I don’t think anyone could look at San Francisco’s lineup and say it was good enough to beat Philadelphia or Atlanta in the postseason. But Beltran gives them the middle-of-the-order presence that they sorely needed. For as good as Pablo Sandoval is, he isn’t enough and for God’s sake, Bruce Bochy has been reduced to batting Mike Fontenot third at times this year. If there’s any team that needed a Carlos Beltran, it was the Giants – Zach Wheeler be damned.

And for once, let me give Sabean credit. Some criticized him for trading Tim Alderson for Freddy Sanchez (another potential rental) a couple of years ago, and for dealing John Bowker in the deal that netted LOOGY Javier Lopez. But without Sanchez (whom Sabean wound up re-signing) and Lopez (who was virtually un-hittable in the playoffs), the Giants would have never won last year. Sabean has some downright nasty acquisitions on his resume, but the guy has been pretty damn good over the past couple of years.

Before the 2010 season, the Giants hoped they would have a team ready to seriously contend by 2011 or 2012. As it turns out, destiny brought them a title last year and now they have a great opportunity to win again this year. But they needed a big bat. That’s why you part with a Zach Wheeler for Carlos Beltran, even though the latter might only be around for another two months. You part with a Zach Wheeler so you can win. And really, isn’t that the point here?

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