A Change in Dynamics: AL Central Active at Trade Deadline
A weak division just got a whole lot stronger.
With a combined winning percentage of .470, the AL Central is not regarded as a power-house. The Wild Card will almost certainly come from another division and the national media will largely ignore this combination of Midwestern baseball teams.
But everyone was watching on Friday as the AL Central made the biggest headlines up until the Trade Deadline. Let's review each team that made a move and take a look at their chances as we near the stretch run of the baseball schedule.
The Tigers acquired left-handed starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Luke French and 20-year old minor-leaguer Mauricio Robles.
French is a five-year-younger carbon-copy of Washburn. Robles isn't a top prospect, but could develop into a solid middle of the rotation starter in three or four years.
Washburn has had some success against the AL Central in his career, holding opponents to a batting average of .250. He is under contract through the end of this season and could very possibly return to Seattle for the 2010 season.
In the end, the Tigers probably paid too much for a half-year rental. Washburn will make a handful of solid starts this August and September and could have a large impact if Detroit plays baseball this October.
The White Sox made an offer for San Diego Padres ace Jake Peavy back in May, but Peavy made use of his full no-trade clause and refused to be traded to Chicago. This time around, though, Peavy embraced the idea of pitching in the Windy City.
Peavy is currently on the disabled list and there are no guarantees that he will even pitch this year. Being under contract through 2012, though, the White Sox probably had the right to trade away quite a bit of minor-league talent.
Kenny Williams is considered by some to be the most aggressive GM in baseball and he rarely holds back when making deals. What the Padres received in compensation, however, could be considered highway robbery.
According to Baseball America, the White Sox gave up their second- and third-best prospects, along with two other decent minor-leaguers.
Normally stoic at the deadline, the Twins traded for shortstop Orlando Cabrera. While this could be seen as a publicity move to appease the three superstars who went on the record to express their desire for the Twins to make a move (Mauer, Morneau, and Nathan), Cabrera could prove to be an upgrade.
While the infield shuffle hasn't been determined yet, there is little doubt that Nick Punto will remain, despite the calls for his removal from all corners of Minnesota.
Cabrera could help solidify a normally-shaky bottom third of the order for the Twins, or he could slide into the two-hole. Wherever he fits into the batting order, though, he is sure to provide an offensive upgrade over Punto, Casilla, and Harris.
This trade isn't enough to put the Twins over the top in the AL Central, but when the PR aspect is considered, general manager Bill Smith made a great move.
Talk about a firesale. The Indians traded away their best hitter in Victor Martinez, their best pitcher in Cliff Lee, and a decent outfielder in Ben Francisco. They have given fans the clear sign that they have given up on the 2009 campaign, despite early projections that had them reaching the World Series.
Twelve games back in the AL Central, though, and it is evident that the Indians cannot overcome the three teams in front of them.
In return for the unloading of Martinez, the Indians received Nick Hagadone, ranked as the third best prospect in the Red Sox organization. Cleveland netted much more in return for Lee, ripping the Phillies' minor-leagues to shreds.
Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Jason Donald, and Jason Knapp will all report to a team in the Cleveland organization. These prospects are ranked as No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, and No. 10, by Baseball America, respectfully. Quite the load.
While the Indians threw in the white flag on 2009, they will return to the top of the AL Central very soon.
The most active division in baseball this Trade Deadline, the AL Central is gearing up for an incredibly competitive stretch run. Only time can tell how these trades will work out and who will end up on top.
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