This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.
Yesterday marked the first time the San Francisco Giants faced Zack Wheeler since the infamous Carlos Beltran trade, which occurred in 2011. Now two years later, many Giants fans are still showing bitterness over this trade, which is understandable given how much the Giants are struggling.
Giants fans are still frustrated over this trade for several reasons. First of all, some fans are still bitter that Brian Sabean traded Wheeler in the first place, given that he was the Giants’ top pitching prospect at the time. Many of these fans were even more upset that Sabean gave up Wheeler for an aging Beltran, who’s dealt with many injuries throughout his career.
This is a valid reason to be frustrated given how weak the Giants’ farm system is, in terms of starting pitching. However, Sabean didn’t really have another choice, given the circumstances.
The Giants acquired Beltran to not just help them make a playoff run, but also to block the Phillies or Braves from getting him. Sabean probably wouldn’t have been able to pull this off unless he traded away a highly-touted prospect like Wheeler.
Second, some fans continue to blame Beltran for the Giants not making the playoffs in 2011. However, this is an unfair and unjustified accusation.
Beltran’s main job when he came here was to provide that middle-of-the-order spark the Giants were missing after Buster Posey went down with his ankle injury. It took him time to adjust to a new team dynamic, a new setting/fan base, a new ballpark, and new teammates. In Beltran’s first 45 at-bats with the Giants, he had 11 hits, which equates to a .244 average (which was still better than 12 of the Giants’ regular players’ averages throughout the season).
A couple weeks after being signed, Beltran strained his right hand and wrist, so he was placed on the DL. Getting injured is not a player’s fault. He cannot be blamed for the team going 5-8 while he was injured and losing several series against non-playoff teams, including Pittsburgh, Florida, and Houston. The period that Beltran was injured proved to be one stretch that severely dampened the Giants’ playoff hopes.
After his initial adjustment period to the team and his injury, Beltran hit .352 with seven home runs and 16 RBI’s. He finished the year with a .300 average, 22 home runs, 84 RBI’s, a .385 OBP, a .525 SLG, and a .910 OPS. Those are all fantastic numbers.
He provided that surge of energy that the Giants were asking for and desperately needed from him. He did everything he could, but with no Posey and inconsitent hitting from Jeff Keppinger, Pablo Sandoval, Aubrey Huff, and Cody Ross, the Giants weren’t able to make the playoffs behind just Beltran’s production.
Third, some fans are frustrated now because, given the Giants’ recent struggles with pitching, the Giants really could’ve used Wheeler this season in their starting rotation.
This is a fair accusation, given how Wheeler’s first five starts have gone so far. In his first big-league start, Wheeler pitched six shutout innings and struck out seven, but, unfortunately, he gave up nine earned runs in his next two starts. However, in his next start, he only gave up one earned run.
“Possibly,” Wheeler said when asked if yesterday’s game was a good chance to show the Giants what they’re missing out on. “It would be nice to have a good outing there, let’s put it that way.”
He certainly did have a nice outing yesterday against the Giants. Wheeler pitched seven innings and allowed three hits and one earned run. He struck out five, walked three, and threw a total of 101 pitches (64 strikes).
The frustration from Giants fans over wishing Wheeler was pitching for the Giants right now shouldn’t be directed toward the Wheeler/Beltran trade though. It should be more general frustration that the Giants’ only legitimate starting pitching prospects are in Single-A San Jose.
If Clayton Blackburn or Kyle Crick, two of the Giants’ best pitching prospects right now, were major-league ready and in the Giants’ starting rotation right now, it doesn’t seem like Giants fans would even care how Wheeler was doing or wish he was still in the Giants organization.
Fans can’t start thinking “Where would the Giants be if Wheeler was pitching for them now?” because it’s irrelevant. That trade happened two years ago, and Giants fans need to move on.