Tuesday, March 31, 2015

One domino down

The Giants deal for Carlos Beltran puts pressure on the Phillies and will change the complexion of the rest of the 2011 season. And postseason.

One domino down

Carlos Beltran reportedly will be traded to the San Francisco Giants. (Frank Franklin II/AP)
Carlos Beltran reportedly will be traded to the San Francisco Giants. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

If it goes through, this Carlos Beltran-to-the-Giants trade is going to change the complexion of the rest of the 2011 season and postseason.

Last week, you may recall, I wrote a column saying the Phillies should part with some of their future in order to obtain Beltran. That’s just what the defending champion Giants reportedly did, trading away 21-year-old pitching prospect Zack Wheeler. Wheeler is five days younger than the Phillies’ prized Jarred Cosart, as well as more highly rated by Baseball America. (Beltran has a no-trade clause but is expected to approve the deal.)

The trade raises the temperature on Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. to do something before Sunday’s deadline. It also blasts holes in two of the rationales that were floating around for the last week.

Many media types and readers argued the Phillies shouldn’t help the Mets for the long term by taking on free-agent-to-be Beltran as a three-month rental. Well, now the Mets have Wheeler, who has every bit as much chance as developing into a legitimate ace as Cosart. And the Giants – the team that eliminated the offensively challenged Phillies in the NLCS last October – would be a much more balanced team.

More coverage
The Phillies Zone: No Beltran or Pence? Now what?
Bob Brookover: Best deal for Phillies may not be big one
High Cheese: Beltran off the board
Trade rumors: Tough to separate fact from fiction
Should the Phillies trade Domonic Brown for a veteran righthanded hitter?

Last year, the Giants chose not to make a major move, adding only the released Cody Ross and a couple of middle relievers around the trade deadline. That has been used to support the idea the Phillies don’t really need to do much. Well, that logic looks a little wobbly now that those very same Giants, looking to repeat as World Series champs, have won the Beltran sweepstakes.

Everyone agrees the Phillies are good enough to reach the postseason for the fifth straight year. The issue is whether they’ve learned from two consecutive years of being eliminated because their always streaky lineup goes ice-cold against bigtime pitching. Standing pat now won’t cost the Phillies the NL East title. But it may haunt them in a series against the Giants or Braves or Red Sox or Yankees.

There’s no shame in losing the NLCS or the World Series. But it would be a shame not to address an easily predicted problem now, when there are some options.

If it’s Game 6 of the NLCS and Domonic Brown drives in the winning run while Beltran struggles against the Phillies’ pitching staff, then standing pat will look brilliant. But if Beltran is part of a mob of Giants celebrating on the field at the Bank this October, this is the week that made that possible.

Whatever happens, it makes for a fascinating storyline.

Of course, Amaro can still add to the cast of characters this week.

Phil Sheridan Inquirer Columnist
About this blog
Phil Sheridan has been covering pro and college sports in his hometown since 1985. He has been a columnist at the Inquirer since 2003, after a seven-year run as the paper's Eagles beat writer. Sheridan has covered eight Olympics, numerous Super Bowls and World Series, and has seen Guided By Voices and Wilco too many times to count. He lives, cooks and pursues the ultimate margarita blend in Langhorne. Reach Phil at psheridan@phillynews.com.

Phil Sheridan
Phil Sheridan Inquirer Columnist
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