Friday, July 29, 2011
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Carlos Beltran joins Giants after trade from Mets

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[July 29, 2011]  PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Carlos Beltran landed a huge contract after one memorable October. He's hoping another big postseason will get him a ring.

Beltran joined the San Francisco Giants on Thursday after the defending World Series champions completed a trade to acquire the All-Star outfielder and cash from the New York Mets.

He was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in San Francisco's 4-1 win over the major league-leading Phillies. Beltran batted third and played right field, making a sliding catch to rob Jimmy Rollins of a hit in the fifth inning. His streak of reaching base safely was snapped at 32 games.

"These guys have been there before, and everyone knows their role," Beltran said. "They did a great job last year. They did everything right to win the World Series. They pitched well, they played good defense, they contributed offensively when they needed it most. I'm just coming here to be a part of what they already have and am looking forward to that."

Adding Beltran upgrades San Francisco's inconsistent offense, and could help the Giants make another championship run. Beltran first had to approve the deal to the NL West leaders, who parted with top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler.

Beltran had an incredible postseason with Houston in 2004, batting .435 (20 for 46) with eight homers and 14 RBIs. The Astros lost to St. Louis in seven games in the NLCS.

Beltran's reward was a $119 million, seven-year deal with the Mets.

"I'm not thinking about '04. I already got paid for '04," Beltran said. "I'm thinking about 2011, and I feel this year I'm healthy, and I'm just looking for a way to be a contributor to the lineup that they already have. I'm just looking forward to jumping in and doing the best I can to help this team continue to win ballgames offensively and defensively."

Beltran only made it back to the playoffs once with New York, which lost to St. Louis in the 2006 NLCS. He struck out looking with the bases loaded and the Mets down 3-1 to end Game 7 against the Cardinals.

The Giants are counting on him to bolster a sagging offense hurt by injuries to Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez. San Francisco was batting .241 with 66 homers and 373 runs, all numbers that ranked toward the bottom of the NL. No player on the roster had more than nine homers. Aubrey Huff was leading the team with 47 RBIs.

The 34-year-old Beltran, who can become a free agent after the season, leads the National League with 30 doubles and is batting .289 with 15 homers and 66 RBIs.

"We lost two really good hitters in the heart of our order, and to have one of the elite players in the game, it just makes sense for us," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's a great fit."

New York's prize in return is Wheeler, who is 7-5 with a 3.99 ERA in 16 starts for San Francisco's high Class-A affiliate in San Jose. The Giants selected the right-hander with the No. 6 pick in the 2009 draft.

"We were looking for big upside," Mets GM Sandy Alderson said. "We could have gotten a package of three players from a number of clubs, but the overall potential of those players would not have equaled Zack's potential."

To make room for Beltran, the Giants sent utilityman Emmanuel Burriss to Triple-A Fresno. Beltran will wear No. 15, which belonged to Bochy. The skipper switched to No. 16.

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"I made a joke with him, saying if he wants a watch with diamonds or without diamonds," Beltran said. "I'm still waiting for him at this point. He hasn't responded yet."

Giants general manager Brian Sabean made a handful of risky moves last summer and late in the 2010 season that paid off in a big way. This is another huge splash for baseball's longest-tenured GM.

"When you're defending world champions, you do have to try to defend that title any way you can," Sabean said. "We're in first place. Hopefully we show we mean business. ... Simply put, we're thrilled with bringing Carlos on board. We really felt the organization needed a shot in the arm and more so our lineup."

Last year, the Giants won their first NL West title since 2003, ended a six-year playoff drought and went on to capture an improbable championship -- the franchise's first since moving West in 1958.

"We're at an interesting place in time. We're trying to get back to the playoffs by winning the division, and much like last year taking our chances," Sabean said. "It's timely. Our fans deserve this as well as the team."

Beltran was plagued by knee injuries the past two seasons, but has been healthy this year and is enjoying a strong comeback season.

Once the teams agreed to terms, Beltran had 24 hours to decide whether to waive his no-trade clause. Shortly before New York's 8-2 win at Cincinnati on Wednesday night, he arrived in the clubhouse and told his teammates he was on his way to Philadelphia to join the Giants.

While parting with Wheeler was a tough call, Sabean and his staff weighed dealing a pitcher or a top position player. Wheeler wasn't going to be in the mix at the major league level for a while.

"Carlos is the player that we coveted all along," Sabean said. "As we knew what the price of doing business was there, it became apparent no matter where we turned we were going to take a hit on our prospect list."

That worked out for New York, which has overcome some key injuries to hover around .500 for weeks. But the Mets, who began the day 7 1/2 games out in the NL wild-card race, are looking toward the future.

"Zack was the guy that we focused on," Alderson said. "This is the kind of deal that we had hoped to be able to make at the outset, and when it materialized we didn't have any problem pulling the trigger."

[Associated Press; By ROB MAADDI]

AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco and AP Sports Writer Mike Fitzpatrick in New York contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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