Ratto: Giants' focus shifts from Reyes to Beltran

July 9, 2011, 6:16 am
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July 8, 2011


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This will end up being Al Michaels fault, ultimately. His, and Bob Costas too. They're not the usual bartenders here, and the locals are very resistant to changes in the routine. They like their drinks watered down just so.

But there is always an up-side for Giants fans, and Fridays 5-2 loss to New York brings this: The fantasizing about trading Jonathan Sanchez and money for Jose Reyes is over, and that for Carlos Beltran is now in full flower.

RECAP: Wilson takes loss; Giants implode in ninth

Thats how these things work. The Giants lost because their bullpen pulled one of its infrequent charlies, Beltran was an integral part of why, and now, like Yankees or Red Sox fans, the audience turns its covetous eyes to one of the perpetrators.

Sort of like solving the murder in Clue, then trying to hire Colonel Mustard to run the police force.

The problem of the moment for you micromanagers is the whereabouts of Brian Wilson, who was called in to start the ninth in a tie game (made sense) after New York manager Terry Collins sent out pinch-hitter Scott Hairston to bat for pitcher Pedro Beato (also made sense). Hairston ground out a full count before jacking a slider up and hittable into the left field seats.

It was Wilsons fifth consecutive non-orderly outing, which relievers are occasionally wont to do when they are, well, relieving, but on a team like this, panic is never too far away from euphoria, and with Arizona only a game back in the NL West and four games behind wild carder Atlanta, why not panic about the closer?

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But once youve gotten that out of your systems, lets get back to Beltran, whose leadoff double in the fourth, two-out single in the fifth and RBI single in the ninth provided much of the powder in the Mets attack. The big moments, Hairstons homer and an earlier one from Angel Pagan, will be more memorable, but nobody wants to trade for either of them.

No, Beltran is the new prix du jour, even though he neither catches, plays second or short. He is the most highly sought-after Met, especially now that Reyes is off the board, but he carries a high tag (8 million) that is going higher (prospects, too).

The Giants might be able to handle the money in fact, they can handle the money. The question is how much future they want to mortgage to go along with the money, and when the big spenders start to descend, will they want to be part of a bidding war?

Put another way, wouldnt Sandy Alderson much rather send Beltran to Boston if the Red Sox can pump their deal so as to (a) get Beltran out of the National League and (b) hose the Yankees while hes at it?

That doesnt change the central fact that Beltran is now the 26th most popular player in San Francisco, with a bullet. Since this is not normally the way Giant fans behave which is to say, like Yankee, Red Sox, Phillie, Laker, Patriot, Red Wing or Flyer fans, who want what they want when they want it and cant understand when they dont get it this will take some adjustment.

But that adjustment is being made. As the days go forth, the Giants need for a cleanup hitter will far outstrip their catching and infield needs because, as we saw yet again Friday night, they are a bad situational hitting team with an apparently incurable on-base percentage issue. Beltran will give them more strength in the one place where they at least have sufficient bodies, and as the days go on and the Giants keep scoring those twos and fews, he will become the source of the fan bases monomania.

In the meantime, the base will need to blame someone for this unusual bullpen meltdown (36 pitches, four hits plus an error by Andres Torres, three runs). And that will be those two practiced interlopers, the crack vaudeville team of Costas and Michaels. Their crime: not being Kuiper and Krukow, of course.

Thats a one-day story, though, Beltrans has 23 more days to run, including the All-Star break. It may not have a satisfying ending for the locals, but it will kill a few weeks in a season that seems like it may last forever.

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