Yesterday, the Mets traded Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers in an attempt to shed necessary salary, while also adding depth to their farm system. Trading K-Rod was a prudent move, as retaining him would have severely crippled the Mets financially–to the point of making Jose Reyes unaffordable.
Rodriguez was not intrinsic to the Mets winning in 2011, however, that’s arguably not the same case for Carlos Beltran. Beltran has posted a .285/.377/.503 line with thirteen homeruns, fifty-eight RBI, fifty-two runs, and three stolen bases for the Mets in 2011. Considering the team has been without David Wright and Ike Davis for most of the season, Beltran has stepped-in, and helped save the Mets from being cellar-dwellers. Without Beltran it’s scary to think about the shape the Mets would be in, but on that same token, he also remains one of the team’s top trade chips.
Beltran has been linked to various teams, but none more than the San Francisco Giants. The Giants are looking for a veteran outfielder with a heavy bat. Beltran couldn’t fit that description better. Even though Beltran’s remaining salary and non-arbitration status prevent the Mets from acquiring a blue chip prospect, the Giants still might part with a few of their promising youngsters in exchange for a taste of the playoffs.
"Grade B: I admit some trepidation here. I love the speed, athleticism, and defense, but I admit I’m enough of a stathead to be concerned about the extremely low walk rate in college. I’ll project him as a regular with this rating, but the shape that regular status takes is still uncertain in my mind, if his offense will really be as good as people expect. We’ll see."
Brown only compiled fifty-four plate appearances last season, posting a .159/.296/.277 line, but that small sample size obviously doesn’t reflect the talent he is. The twenty-two year old outfielder has been enjoying his tenure at Advanced-A in 2011, owning a .316/.382/.472 line with seven homeruns, fifty-two RBI, sixty-eight runs, and thirty-seven stolen bases. His hit-fueled OBP legitimizes John Sickels’ “low walk rate” red flag, but that still shouldn’t diminish how exciting Brown projects to be.
"Grade B: Not a great season, but the strikeouts and grounders are promising and I’ll cut him some grade slack for another year."
Besides Brandon Belt, Zach Wheeler is one of the Giants most talked-about prospects. Last season, the right-handed pitcher posted a 3.99 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, and 1.84 K/BB. The stats aren’t too impressive looking, but his 10.7 K/9 illustrates why scouts like him. Wheeler has posted a seemingly improved 3.76 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, and 1.96 K/BB in 2011, but his career 5.5 BB/9 appears to be a big hurdle to any future success. Given the Giants stacked rotation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner, and Ryan Vogelsong/Barry Zito, they might be more willing to deal Wheeler in a “win now” trade than most people think.
"Grade B-: No professional data. Very toolsy outfielder with some questions about his bat."
Gary Brown is certainly more flashy, but Jarrett Parker is too a very exciting prospect. 2011 is Brown’s first season, and he already hasn’t wasted any time. The left-handed outfielder has posted a .270/.381/.434 line with nine homeruns, forty-five RBI, fifty-nine runs, and fifteen stolen bases in 367 plate appearances. Parker appears to have a touch more plate patience than Brown, so he could possibly be a more attractive target for Sandy Alderson.
"Grade C+: Intriguing finesse lefty, but can’t rank higher until we see how Double-A goes."
After a mostly rough 2008 (5.71 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 4.60 K/BB), Eric Surkamp has honed his abilities over the past three seasons. Since his debut season, Surkamp has posted a combined 2.79 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 4.29 K/BB. His good control (2.49 BB/9) and impressive strikeout rate (10.7 K/9) during that tenure reinforces his three-year success. The twenty-three year old Surkamp doesn’t nearly have the same prestige as former first rounder Zach Wheeler, but few will doubt Surkamp isn’t more polished.
"Grade C+; borderline C: Power-armed reliever threw strikes in rookie ball but needs to prove out at higher levels."
It would be almost impossible to have a better relief season than the one Heath Hembree had in 2010. Hembree, fresh out of the draft, posted a sensational 0.82 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, twenty-two strikeouts, and zero walks. That’s right, we’re talking about a 18.0 K/9 and zero walks to go along with that. The righty has regressed a bit, but then again, he jumped to Double-A. The twenty-two year old has posted a combined 1.15 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 3.29 K/BB. It’s important to note that Hembree’s BB/9 jumped from nothing to 4.9 this season (and a whopping 6.8 BB/9 in 6.6 Double-A innings). The guy is obviously a very dominating pitcher, but to be successful, he can’t recklessly go for the strikeout at the cost of a ton of free passes.
(Rankings and quoted analysis from John Sickels)