How 2013 MLB Trade Deadline Has Changed Postseason Landscape
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Despite the light amount of activity leading up to the 2013 MLB Trade Deadline, it's clear that some teams have separated themselves from the pack in the postseason landscape. While some teams such as the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers came away as winners, others such as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers are decidedly losers.
In acquiring both Jose Veras and Jose Iglesias, the reigning American League champion Tigers addressed their two biggest needs—pitching and shortstop.
Veras, who sports a 2.86 ERA, immediately shores up the back end of a bullpen that has had its fair share of struggles in 2013. The 32-year-old reliever joins Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit, making the Tigers look much more formidable in the late innings.
Thanks to the imminent suspension of Jhonny Peralta due to the Biogenesis records, the acquisition of Iglesias is a move that should pay benefits in the present and the future. The Boston Globe described him as "[a] shortstop with the magician's hands and a questionable bat" and others have likened him to Omar Vizquel.
That's some seriously high praise.
Check out this highlight video to see what they're talking about (Warning: Mute the video if you don't care for Spanish music):
Meanwhile, in the AL East, the Red Sox had to be the biggest winners. The Tampa Bay Rays acquired Jesse Crain, and the Baltimore Orioles picked up Francisco Rodriguez and Bud Norris, but it's the trade for Jake Peavy that made the most noise.
For a team that doesn't know when Clay Bucholz will return, adding the wily veteran is huge. Unlike the other AL East trades, this one could also be a big difference-maker in the postseason.
According to Buster Olney, Sox fans may see the right-hander at work very soon:
Red Sox source says Jake Peavy's first start for them could happen Saturday.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 31, 2013
In the National League, there wasn't a ton of action, but I would say the Dodgers came out on top.
Because the team has been on such a tear recently, there was no need to shake things up too much. Instead, they added a solid No. 4 starter in Ricky Nolasco weeks ago, made a low-risk trade for Carlos Marmol, signed Brian Wilson for the remainder of the year and added Drew Butera as insurance at catcher.
In reality, the latter three of those moves could turn out to be nothing. That's OK.
The Dodgers gave up practically nothing to acquire all four of these guys and could possibly strike gold with Marmol or Wilson. There was no need for a shakeup in Chavez Ravine.
While some teams increased their chances of making the postseason and having success in it, there were others that failed to do so.
The Diamondbacks come to mind as big losers. Sure, they got Joe Thatcher, a solid left-handed reliever with a 2.10 ERA. But still, they traded Ian Kennedy.
Yes, the Ian Kennedy who won 36 games in the past two seasons
His departure may not significantly hurt the team too much, but I think they unjustifiably gave up on him. As Jim Bowden points out, though, not all people share my opinion:
Diamondbacks have both McCarthy & Cahill returning with Bradley & Holmberg in minors...Kennedy was expendable....Thatcher important vs LAD— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) July 31, 2013
Ultimately, outside of the Kennedy trade, I just don't think the D-Backs did enough to stay in contention. With the Dodgers' division lead now at 3.5 games, I thought they needed to make a significant splash to get back into the race.
The Phillies were one of the teams that found themselves in limbo this year. At 11.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves, they certainly aren't going to make the playoffs. At the same time, they are 50-56, which is by no means a bad baseball team.
Still, GM Ruben Amaro blew it.
This roster is filled with old, overpaid players. Cliff Lee, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Michael Young and Roy Halladay are all 33 or older. This team is not going to make the playoffs as currently constructed.
So, why not make some trades for youth to compensate for years of trading away their prized prospects? Well, in perhaps his biggest mistake, Amaro failed to trade 34-year-old Cliff Lee due to a fixation on receiving shortstop prospect Xander Bogaerts from the Red Sox.
This tweet from Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer says it all:
The latest on Cliff Lee to Boston: Xander Bogaerts or bust. http://t.co/mAWkXimxh4— Matt Gelb (@magelb) July 30, 2013
Now, the Phillies have to wait until the offseason to retool for 2014. Otherwise, this team will be out of contention at the next trade deadline, too.
My final losers are the Rangers, a statement that might come as a surprise to some. Yes, I remember that they traded for Matt Garza, who might have been the gem of the 2013 Trade Deadline. I think they needed more.
As a team, the Rangers are batting a respectable .260, which ranks 10th in the majors. But when you couple that with their ranking of 23rd in quality starts, it seems like they could have used another bat since there weren't many arms available.
Then you remember that Nelson Cruz is probably going to be gone for the rest of the regular season courtesy of Biogenesis. So, ultimately, the Rangers are going to lose a bat and did nothing to compensate for it.
The Rangers are already 4.5 games behind the Oakland Athletics, who wisely stayed away from overpaying for average talent. But now, they may regress without Cruz and his team-leading 24 home runs and 72 RBI.
Today may have been a bore for those covering the deadline, but that doesn't mean the postseason landscape remained the same. We're in for an exciting end of the regular season, folks.
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