SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants general manager Brian Sabean wasn't surprised to see a National League West team already engage in significant trade activity in hopes of strengthening its roster.
"That's the nature of our division," Sabean said Sunday, one day after the Arizona Diamondbacks obtained right-hander reliever Heath Bell from Miami and shortstop Cliff Pennington from Oakland in separate deals. "Our division's very competitive, very underrated."Sabean cited the division's balance of power. Since 2006, each NL West club has reached the postseason, and all but the Colorado Rockies have won at least one division title in that span. "I say it every year: Every year's a shotgun start, and it'll be the same next spring," Sabean said. "Very few times does it play out for the club that's favored." Though Bell endured a rough year, posting a 5.09 ERA in 73 appearances, he could improve in a non-closing role, which will likely be the case with Arizona. Sabean said that obtaining Bell made sense for the D-backs.
"A lot of tight games are played in this division," he said.
Scutaro hoping for first Fall Classic appearance
SAN FRANCISCO -- Since the teams involved in this National League Championship Series have claimed the last two World Series titles, it figures that most of the principals have experienced baseball's ultimate showcase in the Fall Classic.One who has not is Marco Scutaro, who with 1,259 big league games under his belt also happens to be the most veteran San Francisco player other than Aubrey Huff, who did bite the World Series apple in 2010. So if you're looking for the reason Scutaro wouldn't let a potentially devastating takeout slide by Matt Holliday in Game 1 knock him out, for the reason he appears to be playing these days with uncommon emotion -- look no further. "Scutaro has played for a long time, and he's never been to a World Series -- and you can tell," said Hunter Pence, the Giants right fielder who has had an up-close look at the second baseman's frequent defensive brilliance. "I think everybody is hungry at this point but, man, the way he's going about it, a lot of the things he does, it's really inspiring." No one knows better than Scutaro that the opportunity to be two games removed from a World Series does not come along often; he has never been that close, suffering a four-game sweep along with the other Oakland A's to Detroit in his only other LCS shot, in 2006. But just to make sure he and other newbies among them relish the moment, Giants manager Bruce Bochy and his veterans have made it a point to sermonize about it. "That's been brought up, sure," Bochy said prior to Game 6. "It's not easy to get where we're at right now. And you realize that it could be a while before that happens. And that's why you should enjoy and have fun with this. It's intense out there, but you also have to appreciate where you're at and how hard you've worked to get here and how hard it is and difficult it is to get to this point."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.