5 MLB GMs Who Were Way Too Passive During Trade Season
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With three weeks remaining in the 2012 MLB season, the postseason picture is becoming rather clear.
We have a pretty good idea of who the 10 playoff teams will be, though the wild-card race is close enough in both leagues to provide some late-season drama.
However, a handful of teams are fighting for their postseason lives at this point. Those clubs are arguably in that position because their general managers weren't aggressive enough at the trade deadline. Teams that needed starting pitching or a bat in their lineup may be regretting not addressing those holes at the trade deadline.
Here are five general managers who were too passive during baseball's trade season and whose teams could end up paying for that approach as the regular season comes to its end and playoff spots are determined.
(One GM not included on this list is the Detroit Tigers' Dave Dombrowski. Perhaps he should have tried harder to get a bat for left field or designated hitter, such as Alfonso Soriano. But Dombrowski did make one of the bigger moves of the trade deadline, acquiring Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez from the Miami Marlins.)
All statistics mentioned here are current as of Sept. 10.
Andrew Friedman, Tampa Bay Rays
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Making a big move at the trade deadline isn't really the way the Tampa Bay Rays and general manager Andrew Friedman do business.
But could the Rays front office have tried harder to get another bat to help out the lineup, either at first base or designated hitter? What about a shortstop to provide an offensive boost, if not defensive help, to the middle infield?
Perhaps Tampa Bay figured its big midseason addition would be the return of third baseman Evan Longoria, and that was hardly a bad decision. How many teams could add an MVP-caliber third baseman at the trade deadline?
Given that the Rays are only two games out of first place in the AL East as of Sept. 10 and one game back in the AL wild-card standings, standing pat is proving to be the correct move. But could a move to improve the team's offense have pushed the Rays over the top in the AL East or wild-card races?
Walt Jocketty, Cincinnati Reds
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With a 9.5-game lead in the NL Central—the biggest first-place margin among MLB's six divisions—the idea that the Cincinnati Reds should have made an addition at the trade deadline might be amusing to some.
However, the Reds aren't without some holes that could have been filled at midseason. The lineup still lacks a true leadoff hitter. Acquiring a player like Juan Pierre could have given the batting order an on-base threat and some additional speed to put in front of the team's big run producers.
Cincinnati has also been extremely fortunate to use the same five pitchers in its starting rotation all season. But just as general manager Walt Jocketty acquired reliever Jonathan Broxton from Kansas City to strengthen his bullpen, should he have also pursued another starting pitcher to provide his staff with some depth late in the year?
With Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos, the Reds have a strong top two to their rotation. Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake are three good arms at the back end of the starting five as well. But another arm could have provided an opportunity to give one or two of those pitchers some rest down the stretch.
Mike Rizzo, Washington Nationals
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Mike Rizzo appears to have put together the best team in the National League—if not all of MLB—at this point of the season.
But could the Nationals general manager have acquired one more starting pitcher to fill out his rotation when Stephen Strasburg was eventually shut down?
With John Lannan ready in Triple-A Syracuse, Rizzo didn't have to do anything drastic. However, one more solid arm could have provided depth and helped give younger pitchers like Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman some rest toward the end of the season.
Rizzo may also have considered picking up another outfielder for some depth. Bryce Harper appears to have fought through the rookie wall. But when he was faltering late in the season, it might have been helpful to have another player to provide fresh legs in the outfield and give his young phenom a break.
John Mozeliak, St. Louis Cardinals
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It's easy to say in hindsight, but with season-ending injuries to Rafael Furcal and Lance Berkman, should Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak have picked up some middle infield help or another bat to help his team out down the stretch?
With Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter on hand, perhaps Mozeliak didn't need to do anything to insure against Berkman not coming back. But picking up a reserve shortstop to fill in for the 34-year-old Furcal would not have been a bad idea.
How about picking up another starting pitcher? The Cards' starting rotation is solid, but could the staff have used one more starter, preferably a top-tier pitcher like Zack Greinke or Ryan Dempster?
Would another reliever, one better than Edward Mujica, have been a good move to give the bullpen a backup closer or top-notch setup man?
If the Cardinals end up losing out in the NL wild-card race, it's worth asking whether or not Mozeliak could have done more to keep his team competitive. Or perhaps St. Louis just needs the players already on hand to make more of a contribution.
Brian Cashman, New York Yankees
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Is Brian Cashman having second thoughts about not picking up a starting pitcher at the trade deadline?
The Yankees general manager lost out on Ryan Dempster, an arm who would look pretty good in the team's starting rotation right now.
Banking on the return of Andy Pettitte or the improvement of Phil Hughes or Ivan Nova looks like a rather significant risk right now.
Cashman couldn't have foreseen an injury to Mark Teixeira and already had depth at third base to cover for Alex Rodriguez's absence, so he shouldn't be criticized for not making deals to shore up those positions. And the Yankees did make a surprising deal for Ichiro Suzuki to help fill a hole in left field.
But if the Yankees end up losing the AL East or get eliminated early from the playoffs because of pitching, that's a problem that could have—and should have—been addressed at the trade deadline. The Yankees could regret not bringing in that extra arm, whether he was a top-of-the-rotation pitcher or back-end depth.
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