With the news that the San Francisco Giants are finalizing a deal for Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran, the Bay Area now has something to cheer about to counteract the horrors of another year of the Alex Smith era for the 49ers.
With the addition of Beltran into the middle of the Giants lineup, San Francisco now solidifies themselves as one of the two leading contenders to represent the National League in the World Series, with the Phillies being the other.
After seeing their best offensive player, Buster Posey, go down with a season-ending injury, the Giants' move for Beltran gives them the offensive weapon that is desperately needed come October.
While they had to give up top pitching prospect Zach Wheeler in the trade, the Giants are blessed with a group of young arms any team would love to have. In fact, the Giants staff, headlined by Tim Lincecum (age 27), Matt Cain (26) and Madison Bumgarner (21) can compete with the Phillies rotation, hailed as the greatest group of pitchers assembled since the Braves' trio of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. The Giants staff is tied with Philly's in quality starts (67) and ERA (3.12), is first in opponent batting average (.229) and is just .03 points behind the Phillies in WHIP at 1.21.
But back to Beltran, whose offense will help the Giants match the Phillies' offensive numbers. Without that threat in the middle of the order, the Giants rank toward the bottom of the National League in most offensive categories.
As of now, the Giants rank second-to-last in runs scored in the NL, ahead of only the offensively-inept Padres. Adding Beltran's 61 runs to the Giants total would give them the eighth-most, just 10 behind Philadelphia. Digging further, Beltran's 2011 batting average (.289) is 48 points higher than the Giants' team average (.241), his on-base percentage is over 80 points better (.391 to .307), as is his slugging percentage (.513 to .360). As you may have guessed, his OPS (.904) dwarfs what the Giants produce (.636).
Beltran also gives the Giants their only source of power, joining the only team that features no one with double-digit home run totals this season (unless you count the Mets, who after this trade will have no one with more than nine bombs).
If you're one to argue that Beltran's best days are behind him, you might be right. But he's still joining a club that, before his arrival, featured a 55-year-old Miguel Tejada and 49-year-old Aubrey Huff (both numbers approximate) as its most feared offensive weapons.
The other interesting component here is an NL West team finally trying to capture the division going forward. With four of the five teams winning the division since 2006, and the fifth team, the Colorado Rockies, claiming the wild card two of those seasons, parity has been extremely prevalent out West. The Giants realize that with the Dodgers situation a mess, the Padres rebuilding and the Diamondbacks and Rockies a few pieces away from joining them as elite, they could gain a stranglehold out West.
One World Series is nice, but a second one would prove that the Giants could be a force to be reckoned with for quite some time. It's not for certain if Beltran fits into that future, but he sure fits well in the present.