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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Quick-Hits: McNabb’s feelings hurt, the Giants’ steep price for Beltran & Jets loading up

Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb watches game action from the sideline during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on November 15, 2010. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

In Wednesday’s Quick-Hits, I rant about Donovan McNabb’s feelings, the steep price that the Giants are willing to pay for Carlos Beltran, the Jets’ desire to build the best cornerback duo in the history of mankind, and much more.

– I’ll have more once the deal becomes official, but I’m rather surprised by the reports that the Giants are willing to give up top prospect Zack Wheeler in order to acquire Carlos Beltran. Yes the Giants need offense and yes Beltran provides said offense. But if Beltran walks at the end of the year when he becomes a free agent, then the Giants just gave away one of the top pitching prospects in baseball for a rental (albeit a very good rental, but a rental nonetheless). I guess it all comes down to philosophy. I wouldn’t give up a top prospect for a rental unless I had a good feeling that the rental would re-sign with me at the end of the year. And at this point, the Giants can’t possibly know if they can re-sign Beltran. Granted, if he helps them win another World Series then it was worth the price of Wheeler. A lot of people didn’t like the Tim Alderson-for-Freddy Sanchez trade a couple of years ago, or the deal that netted Javier Lopez from the Pirates last July. But without Sanchez or Lopez, the Giants wouldn’t have won last year, so maybe this is what GM Brian Sabean had to do in order to take another shot at a World Series title. (And really, isn’t that the point?) But assuming this deal comes to fruition, I like it a lot better from the Mets’ point of view. They didn’t care about Beltran’s contract – they wanted a prospect, and got one. The Giants seemingly didn’t want to give up a good prospect…so they gave up their best one. Beltran better have been worth it.

– Apparently Donovan McNabb had his feelings hurt when he learned that the Vikings tried pursuing Tyler Thigpen before calling the Redskins about a trade for him. If this is true, somebody should remind McNabb that he’s about to be traded for a sixth round pick and, perhaps more importantly, was a team’s backup plan when they couldn’t acquire Tyler freaking Thigpen. If that doesn’t paint a clear picture of your worth as a quarterback, nothing will. Considering he gets to stay in a West Coast Offense and will have Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin (and Sidney Rice?) to play with, McNabb has nothing to sulk about.

– NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi is reporting that the Jets are prepared to pay free agent Nnamdi Asomugha $12 million per year. Could you imagine being an opposing quarterback playing the Jets next year? I would check to a run or dump the ball off to my tight end damn near every play. Offensive Coordinator: “What happened on that audible, Anthony? That’s the 17th time you checked off to a run.” Me: “Ha! You want me to take a trip to Revis Island while flying Asomugha Airlines? Go f&$k yourself. I’ll be over here if you need me – I’d keep our running backs fresh if I were you.”

– If you got sick of hearing about Rex Ryan and the Jets last year then grab a brown paper bag and some TUMS because it’s only going to get worse this season. Re-signing Santonio Holmes was huge for Mark Sanchez and the offense, but wait until they sign Asomugha and Randy Moss. All of Bristol, Connecticut will explode due to ESPN trying to figure out how to cram one hour of Yankees and Red Sox highlights and Jets training camp coverage into SportsCenter.

-Depending on what the compensation winds up being, I think the Dolphins are about to make the most underrated move of free agency when they acquire Kyle Orton from the Broncos. Orton will never win a Super Bowl by himself a la Tom Brady (who had little marquee offensive talent around him when he won his three rings), but he’s a smart, competitive quarterback who can prosper if he has enough talent around him. Reuniting him with Brandon Marshall is incredibly smart on Miami’s part.

– Speaking of Orton, how pissed were the Eagles when they found out the Broncos made him available? The Eagles know they have a suitor for Kevin Kolb in the Cardinals, but the Broncos essentially just gave Arizona another option at quarterback. The Cardinals can now say to Philadelphia, ‘Why should we give up a first round pick for Kolb when we could have Orton, another guy we like, for less?’ Granted, it looks like Orton is a slam-dunk to land in Miami and Kolb is still a shoe-in for Arizona, but Philadelphia couldn’t have been too pleased when the quarterback market became more crowded.

– I’m not wild about the Colby Rasmus trade for the Cardinals. Edwin Jackson should pitch well under Dave Duncan in St. Louis this season, but he’s a free agent at the end of the year. If he doesn’t re-sign with the Cardinals, they essentially traded Rasmus (plus Brian Tallett and P.J. Walters) for Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepcynzki and Corey Patterson. I know the Cardinals had grown tired of Rasmus (and possibly his too-involved father), but that’s not enough compensation for a 24-year-old outfielder that is under team control through 2014. It’s not like Rasmus has cashed in on his potential yet, but St. Louis could have done better than this, right? What am I missing here?

Will the Brewers trade Prince Fielder at the trade deadline?

Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder eyes a pitch against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on June 18, 2010 in Denver. Colorado beat Milwaukee 2-0.         UPI/Gary C. Caskey Photo via Newscom

The Brewers seemingly have two options when it comes to Prince Fielder: trade him now, or trade him later. Either way, they’re going to have to trade him at some point because Scott Boras is going to make sure that in a year and a half, Fielder is richer than Bill Gates’ personnel chef.

Fielder signed a two-year, $18 million contract extension with the Brewers in January of last year. Only $4.34 million remains on that contract through the end of the season and then Fielder becomes arbitration-eligible for the 2011 season. After making another $15-16 million in arbitration next year, Boras will ensure that the slugger makes $100 million once he hits free agency in 2012.

A bidding war over a home run commodity like Fielder isn’t something the small market Brewers are prepared for. They could break the bank in hopes of re-signing the slugger, but the more likely scenario is that GM Doug Melvin will seek a top-pitching prospect in a trade for Fielder now or in the offseason.

If Melvin waits, he’ll probably have more suitors interested in the first baseman. But if he trades him at the deadline this year, he might find a desperate general manager who is willing to give up a top arm in order to acquire a slugger for the stretch run.

There are several teams that could be interested in Fielder’s services, although you could make an argument for and against every one of them. The Brewers scouted White Sox pitcher Daniel Hudson on Monday night, but it’s doubtful that he could be the centerpiece in a deal for Fielder. At least not when the Rays (Jeremy Hellickson and Wade Davis) and Giants (Madison Bumgarner and Zach Wheeler) have more highly touted arms and could be interested in Fielder as well.

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