Change for the Better: Who Did It Best?

The San Francisco Giants needed to make a move. They had already picked up Jeff Keppinger to replace injured second baseman Freddy Sanchez, but a high contact second baseman does not a potent offense make.

But general manager Brian Sabean came right out and declared that the front office owed it to the city of San Francisco their best shot at a repeat. Despite being 14 games over .500, the need for an upgrade was very apparent.

The Giants needed a hitter. A real hitter. One that goes boom. One that could make a real difference in the postseason push. And there was a market.

It was going to be expensive. It was going to be risky. It was also going to involve a name that the Giants faithful have been getting excited about for the future being shipped off to another team. Zack Wheeler. Brandon Belt. Eric Surkamp. Gary Brown. Francisco Peguero. Dan Runzler.

But the Giants got this:

These are my boomsticks.
The Giants got a player that immediately was their leader in almost every offensive category. Granted, since being acquired, Beltran hasn't exactly lit up the screen, but the post-trade deadline "trying to hard" syndrome is one that can be cured.

The Giants INSTANTLY got better. And, if we go back a couple weeks, I believe that the additions of Jeff Keppinger at second, Orlando Cabrera at short, and Beltran in right have given the Giants enough offense to carry themselves to another postseason berth.

But San Francisco was not the only team making moves at the deadline. Pretty much any team that would be a possible playoff matchup in October made a significant upgrade.

    The D-Backs added some pitching. Some good pitching. Some good pitching that has playoff experience.

    Some good pitching that has playoff experience that owns an ERA under 3 (2.47), a WHIP under 1 (0.968), and has a 5-3 record (including a complete game shutout) against the Giants.

    This is the same Jason Marquis that made the playoffs every year for ten years (with four different teams) before ending his playoff streak in 2010. Now he's in the NL West.

    Add him to the non-dominant Ian Kennedy, Joe Saunders, and Barry Enright, and you have a staff to baffle the Giants for days. And then Brad Ziegler to finish it off. And Langerhans will cheer from the bench.

    I think the Diamondbacks are the only team that has a chance to catch the Giants in the West. Everyone else just traded away a key piece for prospects. I like my odds, but after last night, I don't like my odds as much. The Diamondbacks

      The Brewers have a Hairston on their team. Granted it's Jerry Hairston, Jr, and that they made a couple other moves, picking up Francisco Rodriguez and Felipe Lopez, but anyone named Hairston is not allowed. 

      The Giants needed a shortstop. The Cardinals acquired a shortstop in Rafael Furcal. The Giants needed another bat. The Cardinals gave up Colby Rasmus for Edwin Jackson. Albert Pujols is still having a sub-par year. Edwin Jackson threw a no-hitter that looked a lot more wild than Jonathan Sanchez's no-hitter, and has been traded 23 times in the last 18 months.

      Yet the Cardinals are still a scary team. They still have Jaime Garcia, Albert Pujols, and Matt Holliday. And now that they plugged a hole at short, they're better. Better than Carlos Beltran? We'll see. They need to make the playoffs first.


      Derrek Lee for Lyle Overbay? Ryan Ludwick taking over for Xavier Paul and Jose Tabata? Now That's What I Call Upgrades!

      The Pirates were in first place earlier this year, and it wasn't just the first week of the season. That was like two weeks ago. In July. So for the first time in forever, they didn't look to stockpile prospects by trading away what little talent they had on the team, but instead made some aggressive moves that might give them a chance at making a run at the two teams in front of them.

      This team still doesn't exactly scare me, but they did get better at the deadline.


      Somehow, the Giants took two of three from the Phillies back in Philadelphia. That was without Carlos Beltran. That was also before the Phillies got better.

      The Giants picked up Beltran. The Phillies had to keep pace, so they picked up Hunter Pence from the Astros. Hunter Pence is good. Observe:

      Pence is like Beltran, but younger. 25 HRs a year for the past three years. 85+ RBIs for the past three years. A career .290 hitter. Definitely an upgrade over Ross Gload, John Mayberry, and Ben Francisco. Domonic Brown is good, but still a couple years away.

      Hunter Pence is there already, and in the middle of a lineup that ALREADY features Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Shane Victorino, I am not enthused. The optimist in me says that he's just another batter shut down by the awesomeness of the Bearded Bullpen. The pessimist is asking why the Phillies are allowed to add people to their lineup.


      And since the Houston Astros were feeling so generous to their NL East friends, they also unloaded Michael Bourne to the wildcard-leading Braves. The Braves needed a leadoff hitter. The Astros were tired of Bourn, I guess. Too many hitters around .300 can make you sick.

      The Braves have had off-years from Jason Heyward and Martin Prado, but they're still good. They have just as much of a lock-down back end of their bullpen as the Giants do, and now they've got a legitimate leadoff man setting the table for Dan Uggla to hit bombs.


      So, at the deadline, the Giants are a better team than they were a couple weeks ago. A lot better. The team batting average went up, the power production went up, and the pressure on Pablo Sandoval went down (always a good thing). The decision to have Beltran replace Buster Posey's spot in the lineup was a big step for management to take, but it needed to be done.

      But every other team improved as well, adding a major piece to their puzzle. Now it's up to the Giants to make sure that their additions were better than everyone else's. Aubrey Huff, Andres Torres, Juan Uribe, and Pat Burrell are so 2010. Now it's time for Keppinger, Ross, Beltran, and Cabrera to make us remember 2011.

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