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NL West Report: What Was Brian Sabean Smoking?

Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler?  Hmmmmm....
Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler? Hmmmmm....

The National League West has not warranted many headlines as a division this season, but the trade deadline was different, with the best moved bat (Carlos Beltran) entering the division and best moved arm (Ubaldo Jimenez) leaving it.  If you ask some of the prospect writers (Law/Goldstein/Callis/Badler/etc), many suggest the best prospect moved in a deadline deal also involved an NL West team, but it wasn't Alex White or Drew Pomeranz.

No, it was Giants' starter Zack Wheeler, who was dealt one-for-one for Beltran.  This is the same Wheeler the Giants suffered through a 90-loss season for the right to draft 6th overall in 2009.  He was ranked 35th overall in Baseball America's mid-season top 50 prospects

The deal is confounding on many levels.  Beltran had a full no-trade clause and was capable of blocking a trade to any team, and indeed he did - to the Indians.  Beltran was vocal about desiring a trade to the Giants, so Brian Sabean had that in his favor, as well as a strong stable of prospects.  The Giants were the favorites from the get-go, so what is universally regarded as a huge overpay was not necessary.

"It's official: Mets got more for 34-year-old RF Carlos Beltran (Wheeler) than KC did for 27-year-old CF Beltran (Teahen, Buck, Wood)." - Rany Jazayerli

Adding to the confusion is that the Giants have a stranglehold on the NL West.  The Padres, Dodgers and Rockies have not shown any interest in contending for months, and while the Diamondbacks surged last week (after the trade), the Giants are still heavily favored to take teh division.  So Sabean just traded his top pitching prospect for one bat in 3 to 19 playoff games.

Don't think there's value there after the season either.  Beltran will be a free agent after the season and cannot be offered arbitration, meaning the Giants did not acquire potential compensation draft picks.  Sure they could re-sign him, but trading Wheeler doesn't give them much of a leg up over other suitors.  

So Brian Sabean just traded the Giants' best pitching prospect for a player who has no real affect on the rest of the divisional teams.  So why I am I not laughing like a hyena?

Well, I've seen this movie before.  Remember the mockery Sabean endured for dealing Tim Alderson for Freddy Sanchez?  That same deadline, Sabean dealt his 3rd best pitching prospect Scott Barnes for Ryan Garko.  In 2005, he dealt 24-year-old former top ten overall prospect in all of MLB Jesse Foppert with Yorvit Torrealba for...Randy Winn.  

The top pitching prospects Sabean has traded of late have not worked out - the ones he has kept have.  Perhaps it is luck, and Sabean's cockiness might catch up to him.  I just won't mock him for dealing pitching prospects until that happens.

Additionally, it might be worth noting that Sabean recognizes the Giants' prime contending window with Lincecum, Cain and Bumgarner together.  Thus, he pays a premium for wins in 2011 when those marginal wins matter, while he removes wins from that 2014-16 window when they won't be the best team in the division anyway.  I don't agree with the move from the Giants' standpoint - Sabean could have acquired Beltran for less - and it will prove to be a win of a deal for the rest of the NL West, but... it might not prove to be as foolish as it appears today.  Even today, it might not be the worst trade made by an NL West GM, and no, I'm not talking about the Ubaldo trade.

NL West Report

Arizona (61-50, 2nd, L1, 0.5 GB)

Last Week: 4-2.  2-1 @ Dodgers.  2-1 @ Giants.....   The Diamondbacks cited Jason Marquis' career success against the Giants as part of why they acquired him.  In his first start with Arizona, he gave up 8 runs on 10 hits in 4 innings and struck out the Giants.  I like to think it is karma for believing to much in team history splits. thought he would feed off of the strikeout pitch he threw to Calvin Murray in 2001?

You Should Know:  The Diamondbacks are the only team in the NL West that has outscored their opponents for the season, and they have done so by 26 runs, a run differential that is better than three of the six teams leading their divisions.

Divisional Change:  Gained 3.5 games on first place San Francisco, even tying them for the division lead Tuesday.

This Week:  3 game home series vs. Dodgers.  4 game home series vs. Astros.

News:  The Goldschmidt era is upon us.  Paul Goldschmidt hit 30 home runs for AA Mobile and remains the only minor leaguer with more dingers than the Rockies' Tim Wheeler.  His impressive season was enough for Kevin Towers to promote him from AA, making him the fourth 1B prospect in the division to debut, after Brandon Belt, Anthony Rizzo and Jerry Sands.

Paul Goldschmidt

#44 / First Base / Arizona Diamondbacks





Sep 10, 1987

2011 - Paul Goldschmidt 3 10 1 2 0 0 1 2 2 4 1 0 .200 .333 .500

That trio had runs of success but were ultimately deemed unready and sent back to the minors.  It's a valid warning with Goldschmidt, but after trading Brandon Allen, optioning Juan Miranda and releasing Russell Branyan, they appear to be going full steam ahead with Goldschmidt.  He did hit a monster home run off Tim Lincecum, so there is that.

Why are the Diamondbacks better this year?  Because of their pitching staff, writes Scott Miller.

Seattle signed Wily Mo Pena when Arizona released him, but they didn't have a spot for him in AAA.  So Kevin Towers cleaned that up for the Mariners by acquiring AAA outfielder Ryan Langerhans.

Tomorrow is Kirk Gibson bobblehead day at Chase Field.

Top pick in this year's draft Trevor Bauer provided a half hour audio interview, which can be found at AZ SnakePit.

Deadline Deals

  • 1B Brandon Allen and LHP Jordan Norberto to Oakland for RHP Brad Ziegler.   Towers elected to send two fringe MLB players instead of lower prospects with higher ceilings.  Once believed to be the 1B of the future (in much the way Chris Nelson has been in Colorado), Allen never got a full shot at grabbing hold of the position.  With Paul Goldschmidt's breakout, Allen was seen as expendable.  Norberto is a lefty bullpen piece with significant control problems.  Ziegler (who has allowed just 8 HR in 232.1 big league IP) will be a solid piece of the pen.
  • Class-A 3B Zach Walters to Washington for RHP Jason Marquis.  Walters was a 9th round pick last year at the shortstop position, and the Cheyenne native has started to turn heads.  For now, he's 21 in A-ball.  Marquis was a good get to bolster an inexperienced rotation, even though Arizona pays the rest of his $2.5million salary, and he carries no draft pick compensation as a free agent this winter.

Other Transactions:  Called up 1B Paul Goldschmidt from AA Mobile and optioned RHP Ryan Cook and RHP Sam Demel to AAA Reno (8/1).  Signed RHP Brian Stokes and assigned him to AAA Reno (7/31).  Transferred sS Stephen Drew from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL (7//30).  

Injuries:   Placed LHP Alberto Castillo on the 15-day DL (7/30).  RHP Juan Gutierrez is still shut down.

Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Juan Gutierrez trapezius 05/25/2011
Geoff Blum fingers 07/25/2011
Alberto Castillo shoulder 07/30/2011

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Stephen Drew ankle 07/21/2011


Los Angeles (50-60, 4th, L1, 11.0 GB)

Last Week: 3-3.  1-2 vs. Diamondbacks.  2-1 @ Padres.

You Should Know:  The team leader in July in both OBP and SLG was...Dioner Navarro.  h/t Eric Stephen

Divisional Change:  Gained 2.5 games on first place San Francisco.

This Week: 3 game road series @ Diamondbacks.  3 game home series vs. Phillies.

News:  A key witness in the Bryan Stow case died suddenly last week, apparently from a food allergy (nuts).  

James Loney wants to return to the Dodgers next season, but he will earn more than $5million in arbitration next season, and he's not exactly having a good season.  Or even a passable one.  He has been a prime nontender candidate from day one, and his Garrett Atkins-like decline has only pushed it further.

James Loney

#7 / First Base / Los Angeles Dodgers





May 07, 1984

2011 - James Loney 109 366 26 92 13 0 4 34 24 45 3 0 .251 .295 .320

Rubby de la Rosa suffered a partial UCL tear and needs Tommy John surgery, joining a "brotherhood" of sorts on the Dodgers staff with Hong-Chih Kuo and Javy Guerra undergoing the procedure in the past.  Speaking of brotherhood, Rubby is the second de la Rosa to need the surgery this year.

Clayton Kershaw won NL Pitcher of the Month and is quietly building a Cy Young resume.  He was the first Dodger to win the award in over five years.


Deadline Trades

  • AAA OF Trayvon Robinson to Seattle for AA C Tim Federowicz, AA RHP Stephen Fife and Low-A RHP Juan Rodriguez.   There is plenty of comedy potential here, but instead of falling short myself, check out Jonah Keri's take on the deal.    Just know Robinson was knocking on the big league door for a team with a poor MLB offense, was TrueBlueLA's #2 ranked prospect and Kevin Goldstein's #4 ranked prospect in the system before the season.  He was hitting .293/.375/.563 with 23 HR in 100 games in Albuquerque.  I guess Ned Colletti has been buying at the deadline for so long, he just didn't know how to make a deadline deal without giving up a legitimate prospect.  Rodriguez might hold value as a reliever some day, but that's about it.  Supposedly, the Dodgers liked Jerry Sands over Robinson, and with Ethier and Kemp in the outfield, Robinson wasn't going to start.  But James Loney shouldn't have a stranglehold at first, and just because you already have a Mazerati doesn't mean you trade your Jaguar for a couple of go-karts.  The Mariners are already going to call up Robinson today.  This was a dumb trade from any angle.
  • SS Rafael Furcal and cash to St. Louis for AA OF Alex Castellanos.  No, not that Castellanos.  This one is in AA and turned 25 yesterday.  He'll swing from his shoes and is unlikely to be a regular MLB contributor, but the Dodgers saved $1.4million by trading him, and his roster spot allows Dee Gordon more MLB time, so the deal is a win by deafult for the Dodgers.
  • Hiroki Kuroda and Jamey Carroll were not traded.

Other Transactions:  Recalled RHP John Ely from AAA Albuquerque (8/1).  Recalled SS Dee Gordon from AAA Albuquerque (7/31).  Recalled RHP Josh Lindblom from AA Chattanooga (7/29).

Injuries:  Placed RHP Rubby de la Rosa on the 15-day DL with a UCL tear (8/1).  Activated 3B Casey Blake from 15-day DL and placed 2B Juan Uribe on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 24 (7/30).   Placed RHP Kenley Jansen on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 27 (7/29).  The Dodgers pushed RHP Jonathan Broxton's throwing program back a week on Tuesday.

Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Jonathan Broxton elbow 05/04/2011
Kenley Jansen other-excused 07/27/2011
Rubby De La Rosa elbow 08/01/2011
Jon Garland shoulder 06/02/2011
Vicente Padilla neck 05/14/2011
Juan Uribe abdomen 07/24/2011


San Diego (48-64, 5th, W1, 14.0 GB)

Last Week: 2-4.  1-2 vs. Rockies.  1-2 vs. Dodgers. 

You Should Know: The Padres are on pace to finish with less than 70 wins, something they have done just once since 2003.

Divisional Change:   Gained 1.5 games on first place San Francisco

This Week:  3 game road series @ Pirates.  4 game road series @ Mets.

News:  Heath Bell was not traded at the deadline, but the Padres still have several options.  They could attempt a waiver trade, which Ken Rosenthal advocates.  They could do what Bell himself seems to prefer, to sign a longterm home-team discounted extension.  They could offer him arbitration, which Bell would gladly accept, and his salary would not fit in the Padres payroll.  Or, as Tom Krasovic suggests, they could offer him arbitration, go through the process, then just release him if he ends up too expensive.  None of them seem like great options, which is why many wonder why Jed Hoyer didn't deal him.  I wish they would have; endless Bell rumor coverage continues.

Heath Bell

#21 / Pitcher / San Diego Padres





Sep 29, 1977

2011 - Heath Bell 2-3 45 0 0 0 31 2 44.1 33 13 11 1 16 34 2.23 1.11
The Padres have offered Bell a 2-year $14million extension already, but while it is generous for a rebuilding team to spend that much on a closer, it is well below Bell's market value.

Deadline Deals

  • OF Ryan Ludwick to Pittsburgh for PTBNL or cash.  It is hard to judge a deal with such a murky return, so this move gets them an F for no apparent reason.
  • RHP Mike Adams to Texas for AA RHP Joseph Wieland and AA LHP Robert Erlin.  Jed Hoyer wanted two solid prospects for his setup man, and that is more or less what he got.  Erlin is a top 10 prospect in the system now who relies on very good control.  Pitching at PetCo Park will help him find success with less than extraordinary stuff.  Wieland actually threw a no-hitter Friday in his last start as a Rangers farmhand.  Neither are impact prospects, but both have a high likelihood of appearing at Petco in coming years.

Other Transactions:  Signed OF Drew Macias and assigned him to AAA Tucson (8/3).  Recalled OF Aaron Cunningham from AAA Tucson and OF Blake Tekotte from AA San Antonio(8/1).  Optioned LHP Wade LeBlanc to AAA Tucson (8/1).  Called up RHP Erik Hamren from AA San Antonio.  Optioned RHP Pat Neshek to AAA Tucson (7/29).

Injuries:  Activated RHP Ernesto Frieri from 15-day DL (7/29).  Placed RHP Dustin Moseley on 15-day DL with shoulder strain, retroactive to July 27 (7/31).  He had season-ending surgery Wednesday.  LHP Clayton Richard underwent season-ending surgery last Friday.  OF Chris Denorfia is day-to-day with a hamstring strain.  C Nick Hundley will start a rehab assignment very soon.

San Diego Padres Injuries


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Chris Denorfia hamstring 08/04/2011


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Brad Hawpe elbow 06/19/2011
Dustin Moseley shoulder 07/27/2011
Clayton Richard shoulder 07/05/2011
Nick Hundley elbow 07/06/2011

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Joe Thatcher shoulder 08/04/2011


San Francisco (62-50, 1st, L1)

Last Week: 1-6.  0-3 @ Reds.   1-2 vs. Diamondbacks.  0-1 vs. Phillies.  The Giants scored 4 runs in two separate innings on Wednesday, but they have still failed to record a 5-run inning at home.  They have done so eight times on the road. h/t Splashing Pumpkins

You Should Know:  Remember how ridiculous Rafael Betancourt was last year, when he finished with an 11.13 K/BB rate, 5th all-time?  Well, Sergio Romo is better than that, currently with a 13.00 K/BB.  If he keeps it there, he will be better than every season in MLB history except Dennis Eckersley's 1989 and 1990 campaigns....The Giants are back to having a negative run differential.

Divisional Change:  Saw their commanding four game lead in the division evaporate in one week, now clinging to a half game lead.

This Week:  Last 3 games of a 4 game home series vs. Phillies.  3 game home series vs. Pirates.

News:  Adam Berry writes that Carlos Beltran has already proven to be a positive addition to the team, but then again, that part was never in doubt.  Worth noting his OBP so far is lower than the team average.

Carlos Beltran

#15 / Right Field / San Francisco Giants





Apr 24, 1977

2011 - Carlos Beltran 8 34 3 9 1 2 0 2 1 7 0 0 .265 .286 .412
The Giants remain interested in Ramon Hernandez, though Brian Sabean shockingly did not acquire any catchers at the deadline.
Four different relievers are on pace for 74+ appearances.  For comparison, no Giant reached that number last season, and only Matt Belisle (76) did for Colorado in 2010.
Barry Zito is an average MLB pitcher and is not one of the top five starting pitchers on the Giants roster.  He also is owed  ~$32million through 2013.  Grant Brisbee examined this condundrum, correctly noting that the money paid to Zito would not change if he is released, so keeping an average pitcher on the roster isn't so bad.

Deadline Deals

  • High-A RHP Zack Wheeler to New York for Carlos Beltran.  An obvious upgrade to the line-up, but widely regarded a significant overpay.  Here is Zack Wheeler talking about the trade.
  • AAA OF Thomas Neal to Cleveland for IF Orlando Cabrera.  Sabean dealt a top ten organizational prospect for two months of O-Cab.  Hmm.  Maybe it makes more sense, considering the Giants have Cabrera batting fifth in their line-up.  Wait, none of this makes sense.
  • AA RHP Henry Sosa and AA RHP Jason Stoffel to Houston for IF Jeff Keppinger.  Good trade for the Giants.  Sosa was once a relief prospect but has fallen considerably, while Stoffel was a 2009 4th round relief pick who has struggled with consistency in AA.  Keppinger is one of those reliable middle infielders who has a decent enough bat and won't hurt you in the field.  He will be the Giants' second baseman with Freddy Sanchez out for the year.

Other Transactions:   Optioned 1B/OF Brandon Belt to AAA Fresno and designated LHP Alex Hinshaw for assignment (8/4).  UT Bill Hall passed through waivers and accepted a AAA assignment in Fresno (8/2).  

Injuries:  Activated UT Mark DeRosa from the 15-day DL (8/4).  Activated LHP Jonathan Sanchez from the 15-day DL and placed LHP Barry Zito on the 15-day DL with a conveniently timed foot sprain (8/1).  Optioned SS Brandon Crawford to AAA Fresno (7/31).  Freddy Sanchez underwent successful season-ending surgery on his shoulder Tuesday.

San Francisco Giants Injuries


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Barry Zito foot 08/01/2011
Pat Burrell foot 07/15/2011
Miguel Tejada abdomen 07/19/2011

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Buster Posey ankle 05/26/2011
Freddy Sanchez shoulder 06/11/2011
Mark DeRosa wrist 08/04/2011