Barry Bonds has walked twice as many times as any other Giant; no one but Bonds had over 45 free passes going into Sunday. So why on earth did the Giants barter for notorious free swinger Shea Hillenbrand? Not only does Hillenbrand struggle to get on base, but he's just a career .274 hitter and .422 slugger after the break. Pitchers figure out ways to get Hillenbrand out after a few months of watching him swing at everything. He may be an offensive upgrade over Lance Niekro, but the Giants were much better off with Mark Sweeney receiving the majority of the time at first. In fact, you would still be hard pressed to find a worse-hitting starting first baseman than Hillenbrand in all of the National League. In his first seven games with the Giants, he's hit .194 without a walk.
To make matters worse, the Giants got the raw end of the reliever swap. Jeremy Accardo has averaged about a strikeout an inning wherever he's pitched, and at age 24, he's only going to improve. Chulk is three years older and never had much upside to begin with.
The real embarrassing part for GM Brian Sabean is that the Blue Jays had almost no bargaining power. Hillenbrand was beyond a distraction in Toronto, and really served no purpose for the team once Alexis Rios returned from the DL anyway. If Sabean did see something in Hillenbrand that I don't, he shouldn't have needed to give up anything of value, and probably should have even gotten the Jays to pick up part of his salary. As it is, the Giants are paying approximately $2 million for a player with the bat of Pedro Feliz, the glove of Mark Sweeney, and the distraction potential of Barry Bonds. Yuck.
Giants Grade: F
Giants trade SP Shairon Martis to Washington for RP Mike Stanton
Sabean did just slightly better here. Shairon Martis is a stud. He threw a no-hitter for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic and has pitched brilliantly so far in the minors. At just 19 years of age, Martis has had his fastball clocked in the mid-90's.
But at least the Giants got some value in the deal. Mike Stanton was among the best left handed specialists in baseball when he was in his prime, and he's still got something left in the tank. His main asset is his playoff experience. Stanton has appeared in 53 postseason contests and posted a 2.18 ERA. Sabean loves his veterans, and has one in Stanton that he can rely on in a jam.
Giants' Grade: C
The Padres got away with one here. Not only do Jimenez and Santo have no clue as to where the strike zone is, but there have been concerns about the attitude and work ethic of both pitchers. Jose Canseco has a better chance of making a major league comeback than either of these guys has of ever cracking a big league roster.
In return, the Padres got a reliever with tremendous upside in Scott Williamson. Williamson has been inconsistent since returning from Tommy John Surgery around this time last year, but it generally takes about a year of pitching before a TJS pitcher returns to form. It really wasn't that long ago when Scott was one of the better power relievers in all of baseball. If hitters see his mid-90's fastball in the 7th inning, it will make Trevor Hoffman's outstanding changeup all the more baffling in the 9th.
Padres' Grade: A
With a new GM in Kansas City, the days of rival General Managers taking turns swindling the Royals franchise appear to be over. Odalis Perez didn't have much left to offer the Dodgers, but don't be too astounded if he doesn't become a solid starter with some fresh scenery, although certainly not the top10 starter he was in 2002. The money swap involved makes him a low-risk acquisition for the Royals.
Along with Perez, Ned Colleti gift-wrapped two intriguing prospects in this deal, Pimentel was signed out of the Dominican Republic three years ago. He's still just 20 and very raw, but his ability to strike batters out might translate into a productive career. Blake Johnson was actually a 2nd round pick for the Dodgers back in 2004. He's allowed more hits than you'd like to see this year, but has maintained an impressive K/BB ratio throughout his professional tenure.
What did the Dodgers receive for their generosity? A ho-hum middle reliever that the Dodgers had last year in Elmer Dessens. The pecuniary numbers on this deal are a little complex. Basically, the Dodgers are paying a whole lot more for a little over a year of Elmer Dessens (minus three players) than to have simply re-signed Dessens last offseason for two full years. This is a huge net loss.
Dodgers' Grade: D
This seemed like a good trade for both teams until it became apparent that the oblique strain Chipper Jones suffered on the day of the trade would land him on the DL. Now it looks like the Braves are in some trouble, since Betemit has a higher ceiling and is more advanced than Aybar. Betemit's prospect status has fallen over the past few years, not really because his performance was lacking, but because he was passed by fellow Braves infield prospects Marcus Giles, Rafael Furcal, and Andy Marte. His only knock is his plate discipline, but for a guy who can play any infield position very well, plate discipline is a luxury. Aybar increased his stock by hitting well in notoriously hitter-friendly Las Vegas, but he'll be exposed as an average player over the next couple of weeks.
It is, however, a little surprising that the Dodgers would trade one of their most effective relievers after giving up so much to get a mediocre one. The question is whether Baez has really solved his control issues or just had a good couple of months. The Dodgers either weakened an already suspect middle relief corps or traded an overrated reliever at his peak value. Only time will tell.
Dodger's Grade: B
Read more from Keith Glab at www.baseballevolution.com