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Beltran deal could kick start a busy weekend

Chris Ruddick,
MLB Editor


Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - While it won't be the frenzy that the National Football League is experiencing at the moment, Major League Baseball is set for its own turn on the transaction carousel this weekend with the league's non-waiver trade deadline on Sunday.

The winds have already begun blowing, as the defending world champion San Francisco Giants have taken perhaps the biggest name on the market off the board, acquiring outfielder Carlos Beltran and a boatload of cash from the New York Mets for prized pitching prospect Zack Wheeler.

So does Beltran help the Giants? In a quick answer, yes, of course he does. It was no secret that San Francisco needed a bat. With Buster Posey sidelined for most of the year recovering from his broken leg, the Giants rank near the bottom of the league with a .241 average, 373 runs scored and 66 home runs.

Beltran is expected to hit third in front of Pablo Sandoval in the Giants' lineup and already becomes the team leader in hits (102), home runs (15), RBI (66), runs scored (61), total bases (181), as well as doubles which he leads the National League with 30.

So, yeah he will help, but even with their offensive deficiencies the Giants were probably going to win the NL West. The Beltran move is one for October, specifically an NLCS rematch with the Philadelphia Phillies. Giants' general manager Brian Sabean expects the same type of production that he got from Buster Posey when San Francisco disposed of the Phillies in six games.

Carlos Beltran
Carlos Beltran is expected to hit third in front of Pablo Sandoval in the Giants' lineup.
But, then again, the Phils didn't have Cliff Lee in that series either.

Philadelphia had been in the same boat as the Giants were as of yesterday. Despite owning the best record in baseball, the Phils need a bat. Peripherally they were in on Beltran, but would not budge as it pertained to outfielder Domonic Brown. They are reportedly kicking the tires on Hunter Pence and B.J. Upton, but again, the asking price seems to be through the roof, especially in the case of Upton.

With that star-studded rotation, that should be even better in another week or so when Roy Oswalt returns, the Phils are probably good enough right now to win a World Series. Their best move for now and the long run might just be to stand pat.

There were also a couple of other moves on Wednesday, as St. Louis shipped uber talented, but underachieving outfielder Colby Rasmus to Toronto for a bevy of players including right-hander Edwin Jackson, who just a few hours earlier was sent to the Blue Jays from the Chicago White Sox.

Rasmus had fallen out of favor with St. Louis manager Tony La Russa for his inability to follow directions and just his overall immaturity. The two have since engaged in a war of words, further illustrating La Russa's point.

The 24-year-old, though, was once one of the top prospects in baseball and could thrive in Toronto now that he will be given a chance to play everyday.

By the way has anyone noticed the team that Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos is putting together north of the border. The 34-year-old wunderkind took his bows this offseason when he was able to rid himself of Vernon Wells' albatross of a deal, but now put together one of the more solid young nucleus' in the league.

Speaking of great GM's, kudos to the Mets' Sandy Alderson, who landed one of the top pitching prospects in the sport from San Francisco. The Mets agreed to pay $4 million of the more than $6 million remaining on the Beltran deal, but still, Wheeler? He was thought to be an untouchable amongst San Francisco people in the know.

Alderson said in a conference call on Thursday that he had deals on the table that would have sent three prospects in return for Beltran, but nobody being offered had the upside of Wheeler.

Now for anyone who thinks Beltran may agree to a deal with San Fran before the season is over, think again. He is a Scott Boras guy. You know what that means. Oh and for the people who think that the Giants can just recoup a couple of picks should Beltran leave as a free agent, again, not the case. As some sort of contract stipulation, he can't be offered arbitration.

Even with Beltran off the board, there figures to be a flurry of activity this weekend.

San Diego closer Heath Bell is expected to be moved and St. Louis is going hard after him. In fact Bell to the Cardinals could be the one difference- making trade made this weekend. The Giants were a playoff team with or without Beltran. The Cardinals have struggled in the pen all season. Yet they still find themselves right in the thick of the National League Central.

If the Cardinals can get Bell to finish games at Busch they automatically become the favorites to win that division, especially in the wake of the Rickie Weeks injury. Weeks suffered a nasty ankle injury on Wednesday. X-rays taken after the game were negative, but he has since been placed on the disabled list.

With Weeks out for the foreseeable future look for the Brewers to make a move for an infielder. Colorado's Mark Ellis could be an option.

If Bell goes, San Diego GM Jed Hoyer could just blow up his whole bullpen and put the highly coveted Mike Adams and Luke Gregorson on the market too.

The biggest name on the starting pitching market this weekend could be Colorado righty Ubaldo Jimenez. The New York Yankees are supposedly the leaders in the clubhouse on him, but the list of people who actually believe Colorado is shopping him is short.

New York needs another pitcher. Jimenez probably won't be the guy. Los Angeles' Hiroki Kuroda or Seattle's Erik Bedard are more likely targets. But then again with the Yankees one never knows.

Buckle in. It could be a wild couple of days.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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