John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations for the Cardinals, grew up in Colorado and has spent nearly three decades in St. Louis working his way up the ladder, but somewhere along the line he apparently gained an affinity for Giants fans.
Two years after he took Paul Goldschmidt out of the NL West, Mozeliak has swung another blockbuster, reportedly acquiring Nolan Arenado from the Rockies. The deal includes prospects headed back to Colorado and potentially about $50 million heading to St. Louis, Ken Rosenthal reported, to help cover Arenado's huge deal, so it'll take a while before it's officially official.
But once you get to the Rosenthal-Passan portion of proceedings, you're pretty much all the way home, meaning Arenado is finally out of Colorado after years of trade rumors -- and the 2021 Giants are approximately six games better than they were this morning.
Okay, okay, we're kidding. Kind of.
Are the Giants going to make the playoffs because Arenado is out of the division? Well, no, probably not. But there's no doubt their pitchers will sleep a little easier tonight, and those six yearly series with the Rockies just got a whole lot easier.
Arenado is an eight-time Gold Glove Award winner and five-time All-Star who should make the Hall of Fame someday. He's also just an all-time Giant Killer. All-time. Like, the GOAT Giant Killer. For most of the last decade, it has seemed he was literally born to hit a homer off a Giants pitcher in a big spot, or snuff out a rally with a twisting grab at third.
Arenado has played 132 games against the Giants and has 31 homers and 104 RBI. He has slugged .556 against them with 39 doubles, and has scored 85 runs. The 2015 Giants had just four players hit double-digit homers, but their pitchers gave up 10 to Arenado. He drove in 24 runs in those 19 games. The next year, he hit five more homers and drove in 24 more runs.
The Giants have never quite figured Arenado out, but in 2020 it seemed like they had a better plan. He hit just .190 in six games against them -- but three of his four hits still left the yard, leading to a .911 OPS.
On the other side of the ball there's nobody better, and one of Arenado's career highlights came at Oracle Park. His catch of a pop-up on the tarp down the left field line will be replayed for years to come, and for me personally, that whole sequence -- the catch, the half-flip, the presence of mind, the throw that almost doubled up Angel Pagan at third -- was the second-most stunning defensive play I've seen in my time on the beat, trailing only Gregor Blanco's catch to save Matt Cain's perfect game.
The damage always seemed to come in a big spot, too. Arenado had no extra-base hits in his first eight games last year, but then the Giants showed up at Coors Field and he hit a rocket off Johnny Cueto to spark a comeback win. In June of 2017, he completed the cycle by hitting a walk-off against Mark Melancon.
Asked about his ongoing demolition of the Giants last summer, Arenado shrugged and said he wasn't sure what it was.
"I don't know, I really don't know. I think whenever you face the Giants -- I've always said this -- coming up when I was a rookie it was the Giants who were the team," he said. "They would go to the World Series and win every other year it seemed like. They were just in a different category. They were so good, so elite, you knew that they were always going to be there.
"San Francisco, when I first came up, it was daunting going there. I don't know what it is. There's always motivation. It's like going to L.A. now. You always get excited because of the energy in San Fran, the energy in L.A. It's always super fun to play against them."
This brings us to a sad part of this story. For years, Arenado was at the top of the future target list for some Giants executives. Behind the scenes, he told some team employees that he would love to have the chance to be a Giant one day. He's a California native who watched his younger brother, Jonah, get drafted by the Giants, and it seemed like a perfect fit if he ever hit the open market.
But Arenado signed a massive deal to stay in Colorado, where things quickly turned sour, and he's now a Cardinal, possibly for the next six seasons.
The Giants will still see Arenado but not 19 times a year, and that will help. Now, if Mozeliak could just trade for Wil Myers ...