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Monday, July 31, 2006

Deadline Passes, Giants Left Without a Direction

July 31'st has been one of my favorite times of the year over the past decade. All the way up until the 2003 season, it was almost a given that the Giants where going to improve themselves in some way shape or form at the trade deadline. For some reason, after the 2002 trade for Kenny Lofton, the deal that ultimately put the Giants ahead of the rest of the National League, Brian Sabean has had trouble finding the right piece of the puzzle. Not just through trades, but through free agency as well. On July 31'st 2003, Sabean aquired Sidney Ponson from the Baltimore Orioles and it seems like the Giants have gone downhill since. That to me marked the second phase of the Brian Sabean era. Since then, he has made some moves that have not transpired to much. It seems like Sabean has been making moves just to make them, rather than really trying to address weaknesses or shape for the future. This July was a perfect example of what I'm saying. It was obvious the Giants needed at least a first basemen and a few relievers if they where going to continue to give Giant fans hope of a playoff run. Yes, Sabean made a deal for a decent hitting first basemen, but he didn't do enough to put the Giants in a favorable position to win the division or make any noise in the playoffs. Giants' fans have witnessed Armondo Benitez wilter in July, coughing up save after save. I don't remember any team that has won the world series with such a question mark at closer. So basically Sabean has given the Giants some more offense for a couple months, while giving up a very bright young arm that was probably the best closer on the roster at this point. The thing that gets me most about this is that the Giants will likely have nothing to show for this deal next season. Hillenbrand is a free agent after the season, and I highly doubt the Giants will give him the 7+ million dollar a year contract he'll likely be seeking. What Sabean has done is subtract from the teams future without giving them much of a shot at doing anything this year. Jeremy Accardo was the teams most impressive young bullpen arm, at least he could have brought in a player who is locked up for a few years instead of a 2 month rental. I had a different view of this deal a week ago when I thought that Sabean would follow it up by adding a legit late reliever/closer, but the deadline has passed and the Giants' prize bullpen acquisition is the ancient Mike Stanton. I know my outlook has a little to do with the 8 game losing streak they are currently in the middle of in which they were swept by two last place teams consecutively, but even before this stretch, this team has been average (.500) at best. Sabean should have went after another reliever and starter, or he should have listened to offers for Jason Schmidt and Ray Durham.

In what was the quietest MLB trade deadline I've seen in years, the Los Angeles Dodgers where the team that was most active Monday as they acquired Julio Lugo from the Devil Rays and Greg Maddux from the Cubs. I am a little surprised they added another infielder after they got Wilson Betimet from the Braves. This is telling us that Jeff Kent is not too close to returning to action. The Dodgers improved though and if Kent and Garciapara can come back healthy soon, they may be the divisons dark horse over the final 2 months. The Padres added Todd Walker to help them out at 3rd base. If Walker can handle it defensivley, he will give that line-up a nice boost. If I had to make a pick with who takes this division after the deadline has come and gone, I'd have to stick with the team that has the position now and that's the San Diego Padres. It's only a matter of time before Jake Peavey gets his era out of the 5's, and once that happens, the Padres will be that much better. They have the most balanced team in the division, plus they can run like nobody else in the NL.
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