So your favorite team just made a trade.
That's good news. Unless, it's not.
And if it's not—if your team made a bad trade—how can you tell?
With wheeling-and-dealing already happening and more sure to come with the trade deadline fast approaching, here's a checklist to determine if your team might've been better off not pulling the trigger.
Were Prospects Involved?
If so, you usually want your team to be the one doing the sending, not the receiving.
Sure prospects are promising, but they're also anything but a guarantee.
A study—by yours truly—of nearly 20 blockbusters in the five-year period from 2005-2009 in which top prospects were involved in trades for superstar players revealed that the vast majority of such swaps turned out very much in favor of the clubs who gave up future potential for current production from a big bat or stud pitcher.
Obviously, circumstances vary from team to team and trade to trade. In most cases, these trades make some sort of sense and can be justified from a business point of view even if your team is the one who just moved the superstar.
Like if said star is on a team that's out of it and building for next year (or three years down the line). Or if he's a free-agent-to-be (and unlikely to re-sign). Or even if he is (or is getting) expensive and it's a payroll dump for a small-market squad.
In other words, sometimes there's no real choice, like when the rebuilding Cleveland Indians traded CC Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers back in July 2008.
A free-agent-to-be, Sabathia was all but gone at season's end and the Indians were smart to get what they could while they could. But as promising as that trade looked for the Indians at the time, chances were something would go wrong with one or two (or more) of the prospects they netted.
When the key piece in that deal, top first base prospect Matt LaPorta, turned out to be a dud, it became fair to wonder whether Cleveland could have done better by sending Sabathia elsewhere. They certainly should have.
But that's the nature of prospects.
Has the Analysis Become Overwhelmingly Opinionated?
When your go-to sports site (like Bleacher Report), the analysts on MLB Network or ESPN and even your local newspapers—hey, they still exist—collectively pan the trade your favorite team just made, it's usually not good.
The best recent example of this is the Kansas City Royals' decision last offseason to give up the farm (almost literally) by sending top-of-the-line prospect Wil Myers and other intriguing, cost-controlled youngsters to the Tampa Bay Rays for right-handers James Shields and Wade Davis.
Yes, the Royals were dealing prospects for big leaguers—usually a smart move, if you were paying attention above—and yes those big leaguers were also under team control for more than just one season—also good—but the public sentiment and criticism was overwhelming anyway.
The Royals got hoodwinked.
There were a number of reasons why the baseball industry, pretty much as a whole, hated the move for Kansas City: questionable timing, surrendering an elite prospect, lack of long-term foresight. And here we are, only seven months later, and already it looks like the sub-.500 Royals might want a re-do.
Is the Player a Two-Month Rental?
And does your team have no shot at inking him to a long-term deal?
If yes to both of those, it might sting at some point in the future, especially if your team doesn't make the playoffs and go far. In some cases, winning it all is the only real justification.
In the recent Matt Garza trade, this applies to the Texas Rangers, who could very well lose the veteran right-hander after he makes about a dozen starts for them.
A free-agent-to-be, Garza is expected to test the market this offseason. If the Rangers don't earn a playoff berth or sign Garza to an extension, it will be several years of waiting and hoping that young third baseman Mike Olt or young righty C.J. Edwards don't develop into stars—or even above-average regulars—for the Chicago Cubs.
It was a gamble worth taking for the Rangers, who are in the mix for their franchise-record fifth straight postseason trip, but it was a Texas-sized gamble.
Is the Social Media Reaction Bordering on Insane?
Take a quick peek on Twitter or Facebook.
Go read a few of your usual message boards.
Take note of the comments section at the bottom of the news story reporting the trade.
Are fans writing tweets, status updates, posts or comments that have excessive punctuation, like this:
"What?!?!?! Stupid Mets!!! Why did they trade Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano????????????"
If so, that's probably bad.
And if you start seeing Internet curses where keyboard symbols take the place of letters to "disguise" the word than you know things are really bad.
You might even say your team just got [insert curse word here] hosed.