Over the next few days, I’m going to look at the needs of some contenders as we approach the July 31 trade deadline.
San Francisco Giants
First-half record: 52-40
Standings: Leading Arizona by 3 games in NL West
Middle infield: The Giants are hoping to get Freddy Sanchez back from a dislocated shoulder at the end of the month, but season-ending surgery remains a possibility there, and the Giants have gotten a combined .229 average, one homer and six RBI in 140 at-bats from their other second basemen. They’ve also had a horrible go of it at shortstop, where Miguel Tejada and Brandon Crawford have contributed to an overall .221/.288/.324 line.
Catcher: Eli Whiteside has quietly hit .265 with two homers, 11 RBI and nine walks in 68 at-bats since the beginning of June, so Buster Posey’s absence hasn’t hurt as much as anticipated. Still, the Giants need help here. Whiteside, who was injury-prone in the minors, has never caught regularly in the majors and figures to wear down. Chris Stewart hasn’t hit at all as his backup.
Outfield: A healthy Carlos Beltran would look really good in the middle of the Giants lineup. However, the outfield is a lower priority for the team. Nate Schierholtz has been a great surprise with his .807 OPS in right field, and Cody Ross has been well above average at .789. While Andres Torres has been quite a disappointment in hitting just .226, he is walking and playing excellent defense, making him something close to an average regular in center field.
Jose Reyes (SS Mets): It just doesn’t get much more obvious than this. The Giants, more so than any other contender, would benefit from a big upgrade at shortstop, and Reyes is the best position player with a chance of changing teams at the deadline.
Reyes for 1B/OF Brandon Belt, RHP Zack Wheeler and RHP Mitch Lively
Is it enough? Belt isn’t an ideal fit in New York, and the Mets might prefer 2010 first-round pick Gary Brown instead. The speedy Brown would become the team’s center fielder of the future. Belt has outfield experience, but I don’t know that the Mets can afford to play him and Jason Bay in the corners at the same time.
I doubt the Giants would give up both Brown and Wheeler, their No. 1 pitching prospect, in the same deal. Perhaps they’d do Brown if the Mets were willing to take Jonathan Sanchez instead of Wheeler. Sanchez, though, isn’t as attractive of a trade possibility as he once was, as he’ll be eligible for free agency after 2012.