CINCINNATI -- Prompted by Sunday's Trade Deadline, the Giants entered the regular season's final two months with three new everyday players.Think what they might have done if they weren't in first place. The Giants' intent to repeat as World Series champions became increasingly obvious during July as they added second baseman Jeff Keppinger, who insured against the likelihood that Freddy Sanchez is finished for the season; right fielder Carlos Beltran, perhaps the most formidable hitter available; and shortstop Orlando Cabrera, a steady veteran who has participated in six of the last seven postseasons. "We're very fortunate to have added these three veteran players and in our minds give up only one premium prospect," said Giants general manager Brian Sabean, who sent prized Minor League right-hander Zack Wheeler to the New York Mets for Beltran. "There was going to be some bloodletting somewhere."
And the Giants might not be done. They couldn't find a catcher or a leadoff hitter, two of their remaining perceived needs, as the 1 p.m. PT Deadline approached. But the Deadline often can be a mere formality. Last August, the Giants acquired outfielder Cody Ross, who ultimately was named Most Valuable Player of the National League Championship Series, and infielder Mike Fontenot, who contributed down the stretch and in the postseason.Now that the non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed, deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. In other words, the player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by one of the teams, he cannot be traded. The club that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player, or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to the player. The Giants were believed to be pursuing Houston Astros center fielder Michael Bourn, who went to the Atlanta Braves for four Minor Leaguers. Asked about his attempts to land a leadoff hitter -- San Francisco's .304 on-base percentage at the top of the order is the National League's second-worst -- Sabean said, "Some teams, or a team, had a better deal." A rumored proposal involving Oakland's Coco Crisp obviously did not reach fruition. Nor did the flotsam and jetsam of the catchers rumored to be potentially available (Chris Iannetta, Jose Molina, Geovany Soto, Ivan Rodriguez) arouse the Giants much.
"We couldn't find a definitive upgrade," Sabean said, adding that manager Bruce Bochy was "very protective" of Eli Whiteside and Chris Stewart, who have been regarded as assets for the pitching staff.Sabean pointed out that San Francisco has lowered its team ERA since catcher Buster Posey sustained his season-ending injury May 25. Sabean emphasized that bringing aboard a catcher at this juncture of the season is risky "unless you can see a definitive upgrade. It has to be both ways. Not only is it important to add somebody with more points on his batting average and perhaps the best chance to drive in a run but you also need to have somebody who you think is a slam dunk to be able to handle the staff. During this time, we've just not been able to find that type of catcher." Though the Giants' stockpiling of infielders might seem excessive, Sabean indicated that the uncertain timing of Miguel Tejada's abdominal injury and Sanchez's arduous recovery from a dislocated right shoulder necessitated Cabrera's acquisition for Triple-A outfielder Thomas Neal. Though Cabrera is expected to play primarily shortstop, he also can handle second base and third base. Sabean sounded particularly concerned by the status of Sanchez, who has been rehabilitating at the Giants' training complex in Arizona. "He hasn't been on the field in the timetable that was prescribed, so I figured that he's behind the eight ball," Sabean said. "With each passing day, that eats into next year. For me, personally, it doesn't look good."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.