Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Trade Deadline Verdict

The MLB trade deadline officially came to a close today, marking the end of a frenzied period of wheeling and dealing that took over baseball for the last week and a half. And it's time to determine which NL West rival, Giants or Dodgers, made the better moves.

The Dodgers certainly made the bigger splash, acquiring 3B/SS Hanley Ramirez, OF Shane Victorino, and P Brandon League. League is an excellent addition to their bullpen, an area that has been mediocre as far as the Dodgers games that I've seen. Hanley is an excellent upgrade for the left side of the infield, where the Dodgers had not been getting much production out of. And Victorino is a good outfielder, although he's past his prime.

The Giants did not make as big a splash but they did acquire OF Hunter Pence and INF Marco Scutaro. Scutaro represents a nice substitute for Sandoval during Panda's current DL stint. And then, when Pablo returns, Scutaro and Crawford can alternate depending on whether the pitcher is a righty or lefty. Furthermore, Scutaro could be the answer in the leadoff spot, where Blanco and Pagan have struggled to get on base.

Pence is the more expensive addition. He is a good hitter that should certainly complement Melky, Buster, and Panda in the lineup. Pence has had good career numbers at AT&T park, albeit with a smaller sample size than many would like. His bat should not be a problem, as he should definitely provide some support to a lineup that has been struggling lately. However, it is yet to be seen where he will play in the outfield. AT&T Park's right field is notorious for being difficult for fielders, and right field is where Pence has played for most of his career. Nate Schierholtz, one of the players traded in the Pence deal, used to specialize in defending the right field side; however, he is obviously gone, so the Giants will have to decide how to organize their outfield. Perhaps Pence could move to center field, where he spent some time during his rookie season.

But the real question is, how do the Giants' moves compare to those of the Dodgers? Answer: It's not even close. The Dodgers hands down won this chess match, acquiring a promising young infielder in Hanley (as opposed to the aging Scutaro) and a relief pitcher, something the Giants were not able to acquire despite a shaky bullpen as of late. Pence and the Flyin' Hawaiian are essentially equal. They're both batting around .265, with Pence a little higher than Victorino.

The Dodgers' acquisitions certainly match up to the Giants better, but what you have to remember is that the Giants were the better team before the deadline and they probably still are, although their acquisitions were not as splashy. The Giants still have the better starting pitching, which will be of paramount importance down the stretch. However, since the lineups and bullpen are very similar in strength, expect this race to go down to the wire.

Let's hope the Giants come out on top.

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