When Carlos Beltran was traded to the San Francisco Giants on July 27, one word came to mind for many Giants fans: repeat.
And who could blame them? The Giants had just beaten the mighty Philadelphia Phillies and were three games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West. The Giants were good enough to have the fifth-best record in the Major Leagues at the time, and fans were salivating about how good they would be after adding an elite hitter to their lineup.
So far, however, the Giants have actually played worse with Beltran in the lineup. They have only won three out of 12 games since the trade deadline and only twice in that span have they scored more than three runs in a game.
The boost Beltran was supposed to have added to the Giants offense hasn't been there, partly because he personally hasn't hit well (.244 BA, 0 HRs, 2 RBI) but also because of the effect he's had on his new teammates (I'm only speculating, but one has to wonder if the Giants' chemistry has been somewhat negatively affected since his addition).
I know it sounds like I'm overreacting to the Giants' recent slump, and I do believe they will eventually shake it off and win the division, but right now their lineup is too much of a liability to beat teams like the Phillies and Braves in a playoff series.
Someone might say that the Giants also had a poor lineup last season, but it was much better than this season's lineup. In fact, last year's lineup was probably the biggest reason the Giants won it all. The pitching gets most if not all of the credit, and they deserve it, but the 2010 lineup was the best San Francisco had assembled since Barry Bonds was still playing, and they got even better during September and October.
Andres Torres was the lead-off hitter they had been missing for years. Freddy Sanchez was a perfect number two hitter and catcher Buster Posey was a revelation. Aubrey Huff had a surprisingly great season, Pat Burrell and Juan Uribe were important contributors and Cody Ross and Edgar Renteria came up huge in the postseason.
This year, Torres has taken a step back, while Sanchez and Posey are out for the season. Huff has been nowhere near as good as he was last year, and Burrell has been inconsistent and hurt. Ross has been decent but nothing spectacular, and Uribe and Renteria are now playing elsewhere.
If the Giants didn't have so many injuries and were getting more production out of their healthy hitters, I wouldn't be writing this article. They have the pieces to win it all, but unfortunately they're not getting what they expected out of their most important pieces.
Unless the Giants' bats heat up like they did at the end of last season (which isn't out of the question), their pitching staff will not be able to carry them to a second straight title.