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We knew the Giants were going to miss Zack Wheeler when they pulled the trigger on the deal to acquire Carlos Beltran. Brian Sabean was sacrificing a piece at the future for the sake of the present. Many of us thought the pain would at least be dulled by a postseason appearance and a shot at defending their 2010 championship. It’s OK, though. We all make mistakes. Myself included:

The Giants’ addition of Beltran should put the NL West title squarely in the bank for San Francisco, as they already hold a three-game lead over a flawed Arizona team. Beltran will replace Nate Schierholtz in right field. The 27-year-old right fielder has been serviceable so far, posting a 109 wRC+, but Beltran has been worth nearly three more wins this season and could be an upgrade of as much as two wins over the next 50 games and change remaining.


Fast forward to September. The Giants have dropped 11.5 games in the standings and, depending on your source, have between a 0.2% and 0.3% chance of winning the National League West. Beltran’s play hasn’t quite been what the Giants were hoping for — the 34-year-old has a .296/.333/.463, good, but not superstar-level — and he’s spent much of his time in San Francisco injured and on the pine, missing 14 games and only playing in 28.

It’s exceedingly easy to win in the court of public opinion when a prospect is traded for help to win now. This trade was the perfect situation: the Giants’ offense was easily the worst in the National League at the time, and Beltran was having one of his best seasons in recent memory. Sure, Wheeler looked good in the minors, but he was still in the low minors and years away from impacting the major league team. With the memories of 2010 fresh in the brain, the mental gymnastics necessary for a fan to justify the move were hardly Olympic-level rings. Maybe more like rhythmic floor exercise.

At the time, it seemed like the Giants’ acquisition of Beltran didn’t make much sense because their position was too good to trade away such a prized prospect as Wheeler. Beltran’s fate since joining the Giants’ shows yet another reason the risk for the Giants was too great. At 34, his susceptibility to injury made his production in San Francisco far from a guarantee.

Hindsight remains 20-20, and as such, my original vision of the Beltran trade sits somewhere around 20-200. Now, the Giants 8.5 games out of the NL West lead and Zack Wheeler just finished posting a 2.00 ERA and 1.68 FIP for the Mets High-A squad in his last six starts of the minor league season. Although these risks are often acknowledged when these moves are made — particularly by teams in great positions to make the playoffs — rarely are they ever realized so swiftly and so harshly. Perhaps this trade will serve as a reminder both for the Giants and for the rest of the league, of how the veteran-prospect swap can backfire, and backfire horribly.

Jack Moore's work can be seen at VICE Sports and anywhere else you're willing to pay him to write. Buy his e-book.

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10 years ago

“Beltran was having one of his best seasons in recent memory…”

I know the dude is getting old, but has he really played in any season that lies outside the limits of our collective memory? That seems a little harsh.

John R.
10 years ago
Reply to  whataburger

Speak for yourself. I’m a precocious six-year-old.

10 years ago
Reply to  whataburger

I honestly can’t remember him doing anything since using his skull to take out Mike Cameron’s face.

10 years ago
Reply to  joser

If you honestly can’t remember anything after that, then that’s a shame because he spent the next 3 1/2 years as one of the best players in baseball.