Giants land Beltran

Earlier this month during Major League Baseball’s annual midsummer classic in Arizona, Carlos Beltran sat side-by-side with National League and San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, chatting about what the slugger’s role in the All-Star Game would entail.

Now, the relationship between Beltran and Bochy is dashing in a straight line toward October.

According to MLB.com, the New York Mets have dealt Beltran and a wad of cash to the Giants in exchange for right-handed pitcher Zack Wheeler Thursday.

“This is just a situation that everyone has anticipated, whether we liked it or not,” Mets skipper Terry Collins said, according to the article. “We knew it was going to happen.”

The struggling Mets, who are 12 1/2 games out of first place in the National League East division with a record of 53-51, were going to deal Beltran one way or another. The six-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner is in the final year of his seven-year $119 million contract, and the Mets most likely would’ve passed on re-signing him.

The deal went public Wednesday, but because Beltran had a 24-hour window to approve of the trade, it wasn’t finalized until Thursday.

Many may think the Mets got gypped. Think again. The Mets unloaded a bunch of payroll and will have more flexibility this winter by ridding Beltran, and in the process acquired the sixth overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, in Wheeler.

The 21-year old is 7-5 with a 3.99 ERA for San Francisco’s Class A Advanced San Jose affiliate this season, fanning 98 batters while walking 47 in 88 innings.

The heavily coveted youngster, with an explosive fastball, was 3-3 with an identical ERA in his professional debut with Class A Augusta last summer.

According to MLB.com’s rankings, Wheeler was the Giants’ No. 2 prospect and 33rd-best prospect in baseball.

The exchange ends a long, drawn out 6 1/2 seasons with the Mets, as Beltran looks to power the defending World Champions back into late October.

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Indians acquire Fukudome from Cubs

According to multiple MLB.com, the Cleveland Indians have acquired Chicago Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome.

The Cubs will exchange Fukudome for two Minor Leaguers Thursday, according to the report.

One source says that Fukudome is expected to waive his no-trade clause to approve the deal to the Indians.

Indians beat writer Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer, tweeted at approximately 10:30 a.m. Thursday morning that “the Indians are paying $775K of Fukudome’s remaining salary, which would leave about $3.9M for the Cubs.”

Fukudome, 34, has had a quite season with the Cubs, batting just .273 with three home runs, 15 doubles, two triples and 13 RBIs in 87 games, tallying an on-base percentage of .374.

The fourth-year Fukudome is owed about $4.7 million for the remainder of the season, and the Cubs are likely to eat most of his salary.

Fukudome departed Japan to sign with the Cubs in December 2007.

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Fukudome’s career statistics:

GP: 513

AB: 1651

R: 236

H: 432

2B: 98

3B: 12

HR: 37

RBI: 169

BB: 284

SO: 340

SB: 27

CS: 24

AVG: .262

OBP: .369

SLG: .403

OPS: .772

The most underrated closer in the game

When it comes to closers, the player who comes in to shut the door in the ninth inning, many think of Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees, or Brad Lidge of the Philadelphia Phillies.

But when it comes to unheard of closers, Pittsburgh’s Joel Hanrahan is by far the most underrated stopper in all of baseball. Hanrahan was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second round of the 2000 amateur draft. Following a standstill in LA, Hanrahan signed with the Washington Nationals in 2006, where he stumbled as a starter, compiling a combined record of 13-13. Three years later, Hanrahan was traded along with Lastings Milledge from Washington to the Steel City in exchange for Sean Burnett and Nyjer Morgan. Now, the 29-year old right-hander is a big reason why the Pirates are just four games out of first place in the National League Central Division.

Here’s my take on why Hanrahan is the most underrated closer in the game:

1) In 32 1/3 innings pitched, Hanrahan has allowed just six runs, five of which are earned. He’s given up just 25 hits, and has converted all 19 save opportunities for the Pirates.

2) His 29 strikeouts to just seven walks is astounding, and his 0.99 WHIP is remarkable. He simply gets the job done.

3) He owns a 1.39 ERA and opponents are hitting just .216 off him. The low batting average against along with his microscopic ERA makes him a dangerous weapon out of the Pirates bullpen.

Hanrahan is just one save behind league leaderĀ Brian Wilson of the World Champion San Francisco Giants. There’s no doubt in my mind that Hanrahan should be voted into the Mid-Summer Classic in Arizona come July. If he doesn’t, it’ll definitely be a head scratcher and will have many people thinking twice, including myself.

On the list of top closers in the game today, Hanrahan has emerged as one of the greats.