Here's what the trading deadline seemed like in the Bay Area:
Radio Personality #1: By trading for Carlos Beltran, the Giants kind of sent a message to the Phillies.
Radio Personaility #2: Agreed. It's the kind of thing that will make the Phillies overpay for Hunter Pence, to keep pace with the Giants, who really made themselves better. I mean, they're not the team to beat in the NL just because of one move, but they are the defending champs, and they did get a lot better.
Radio Personality #1: You know the Phillies hated that move. The don't want to face Beltran in the NLCS.
Guy calling in: Yeah, so what else is Sabean going to do? He should probably trade Aubrey Huff and a draft pick for Brian McCann because the Braves have a rookie at first base. The Phillies would hate to see McCann in the lineup after Beltran.
And, as a refresher, here are the standings:
NL West Standings
That "2" under "GB" means that the Diamondbacks are right behind the Giants. The people in and around San Francisco who think that the Giants automatically get a playoff berth as the defending champions need to stop before they anger the baseball gods. These are not loving gods. They're like Greek gods -- nasty, petty things that take pleasure in ruining your hopes and dreams. They can also shape-shift to sleep with your girlfriend or wife. If the doorbell rings and it's a rosin bag, CLOSE THE DOOR. You don't want to raise some bastard son of a baseball god.
The Diamondbacks and Giants start a series in San Francisco tonight, and if the Giants play as poorly as they did in Cincinnati, the Diamondbacks will leave San Francisco in first place. It's the most important series of the year for either team, and they're facing each other with their deadline acquisitions. The Giants went big, trading their top pitching prospect for two or three months of Carlos Beltran, who has two hits in his first 17 at-bats as a Giant, and trading a decent-enough prospect for two months of Orlando Cabrera. These next two months will represent 0.0000004% of his total professional career, but I'm sure he'll remember them with a certain fondness.
The Diamondbacks went small, sticking with minor reinforcements to bolster their young pitching staff. Jason Marquis isn't that exciting, but he isn't Zach Duke, Barry Enright, or Micah Owings, either. The bullpen got one of the best ROOGYs in the game in Brad Ziegler, giving up Brandon Allen. The young first baseman has a bit of an internet fan club, but with Paul Goldschmidt getting called up from AA and looking like a better prospect, there wasn't room for Allen.
The Giants' moves had a sense of urgency. The Diamondbacks' moves were more laid back. The aggressiveness of each team has to do with the preseason expectation of both teams. If the Giants don't make the playoffs, much less advance a round or three, there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Selling chunks of the future to get back to the postseason was somewhat necessary. If the Diamondbacks don't make the playoffs, they're a year or two ahead of schedule anyways, and holding on to their best prospects was a given.
Yet the Giants have just barely scored more runs than they've allowed. They hit like a team that is constantly facing a rotation of Cain, Lincecum, Bumgarner, and Vogelsong, which sort of negates a lot of the value of having those guys pitch for them. The Diamondbacks have the better run differential, and they've added a couple of pretty helpful pieces. So cram the preseason expectations -- these are two evenly matched teams. And while the talk-radio set might be looking past the Diamondbacks, the Giants shouldn't.