2009 MLB Trade Deadline Report Cards
Now that the dust has settled, and the July 31, non-waiver trade deadline for Major League baseball has passed, it's a good time to grade each teams moves in order to see where they stand in the playoff hunt.
While it's true no deal, especially ones that include prospects, can be fairly judged until the end of the season at the earliest, a perceived good deal for a team can immediately put them into the forefront of any playoff discussion.
In the past there have been trades that prove fair for the short term and long term, while others can seem one sided, only to turn out fair in the long run (i.e. Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz). Then there are some trades that just stink from the get go, only to get worse as time passes (Victor Zambrano for Scott Kazmir? Are you kidding me?).
With all that in mind, here is the report card for the major players at the 2009 MLB trade deadline.
San Francisco Giants: A
The Giants have the pitching for a playoff run, but were sorely lacking offense. The Giants addressed their needs by adding Cleveland first baseman Ryan Garko (90 RBI in 2008), and Pittsburgh second baseman Freddy Sanchez (2006 NL batting champ). No big splashes, but quality offensive players, who are reasonably priced, and didn't cost the Giants the entire farm system, or any of the young pitchers currently on the Major League roster.
Philadelphia Phillies: A
The Phillies desperately needed pitching, and they got it. After reportedly being the front runners to land Roy Halladay, the Phillies acquired 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee from the Cleveland Indians along with outfielder Ben Fancisco for a group of prospects headlined by Carlos Carrasco. Landing Halladay would have been an A+, but the best thing about the Lee deal, is that the Phils didn't send any of the prospects the Jays wanted to Cleveland. So in essence, if they wanted to, Philly could have probably landed Halladay as well. Lee should be enough to clinch the division, and make the Phillies the favorites to return to the World Series.
Boston Red Sox: B+
The Sox have been fading fast of late, and were in desperate need of some help offensively, especially since Mike Lowell has had hip problems and David Ortiz is having a terrible season. Deciding not to get involved in the Roy Halladay sweepstakes, Boston decided to get in on the Cleveland fire sale, acquiring C/1B Victor Martinez for Justin Masterson and two other prospects. While this deal sures up Boston's offense, the best part of the deal is that they didn't have to part with Clay Buckholtz as originally reported.
The Red Sox were also able to rid themselves of Julio Lugo, who has been nothing short of disappointing since signing with Boston prior to the 2007 season.
Detroit Tigers: B+
Sure they didn't get a former Cy Young award winner like the Phillies or rival White Sox, but the Tigers were able to improve their starting pitching nonetheless by acquiring Jarrod Washburn from Seattle for two minor leaguers. While Washburn has not been good during his first three season with the Mariners, but he is having a great season in 2009, posting an 8-6 record and the second best ERA in the AL at 2.64 (including an ERA of 0.74 in his last five starts). The trade easily makes the division leading Tigers the favorites to remain in that spot the rest of the year, and may even give Detroit the best rotation in the division. Plus, unlike Jake Peavy, Washburn can help his new team immediately.
St. Louis Cardinals: B
The Cardinals have been trying to find a consistent bat to protect Albert Pujols in the line-up for a while now. They were able to get two in Indians super-utility man Mark DeRosa, and the A's and pride of the 2009 free agent class Matt Holliday. Derosa provides a good bat, and the versatility to play almost anywhere. Holliday, who was having a down year and Oakland, and is a free agent after the season, is an all-star caliber player who could benefit from being in the same line-up as Pujols. The Cardinals will need both guys to hold on to first place in the tough NL Central. If Holliday regains his form from his Colorado days, and re-signs with the Cards then the grade gets bumped to an A.
Chicago White Sox: B
The Chi-Sox were finally able to get they're man when they received Jake Peavy from the Padres for four prospects. After trying to land the former Cy Young award winner during the offseason, and again during the season this past May, Peavy finally agreed to the trade, obviously realizing that San Diego is going nowhere fast. The deal was made last minute, as Chicago came dangerously close to watching their two biggest division foes make moves without being able to improve. Peavy turned out to be the best pitcher moved at the deadline, and the only thing keeping this move from getting an A is the fact that Peavy is injured. If he can come back strong from injury this season, this grade goes way up.
Atlanta Braves: B-
The Braves were able to acquire one of the most talented young players in the game in Nate McLouth in June, although they did give up a few of their prime prospects.
Soon after, the Braves swapped struggling right fielders with the Mets obtaining Ryan Church for Jeff francouer. So far this trade has looked better for the Mets, but the jury is still out.
At the deadline, however, the Braves seemed poised to do nothing, until Boston got Victor Martinez, making Adam LaRoche, who the Sox had recently acquired fro the Pirates, available. The Braves sent Casey Kotchman to the Sox for their former first baseman LaRoche.
While both players are great defensively, LaRoche adds much more power to a Braves line-up that desperately needs it. He is also traditionally a terrific second half player.
Minnesota Twins: C+
The Twins have had issues with the left side of their infield all season, so they went out and got A's shortstop Orlando Cabrera for a low level minor league player. Cabrera has been decent in Oakland, and while the trade did help bolster a glaring weakness for the Twinkies, the move pales in comparison with what was done by the other teams contending for the AL Central crown. Still it's great to see a small market team being a buyer at the trade deadline, but remember Twins fans, this is not the same Orlando Cabrera who helped the Red Sox in 2004.
Florida Marlins: C+
Despite being up-and-down all season, the Marlins have remained in contention in the NL East and the NL Wild Card. The bane of the Marlins season, and the past few seasons frankly, has been their defense. Florida has been one of the worst defensive teams in the entire sport all year, and as any baseball fan can tell you, it's extremely difficult to win if you constantly give your opponents "extra outs." So the Marlins went out and got slick fielding first bagger Nick Johnson from the lowly Nationals for a low level minor leaguer. Johnson's bat will help too, as he is a terrific contact hitter with a good eye, who rarely strikeouts.
Still, with the Phillies playing great and adding Cliff Lee, even with this trade Florida looks to be playing for the wild card.
LA Dodgers: C
Anytime a team can take another teams closer and use him as a set-up man, it's a good deal (unless it's for JJ Putz). The Dodgers needed very little, they have the best record in the NL, an eight game lead in the division, and some of the best young talent in the entire sport.
Nobody would have blamed LA for standing pat, but they didn't. By adding Orioles closer George Sherrill, the Dodgers strengthened a very important part of any team, especially when the playoffs roll around, the bullpen (especially with the way Joe Torre has overworked his relievers in the past). It's a solid move, but may be a let down for fans of a team who was rumored to have a great shot at landing Roy Halladay.
Cincinnati Reds: C
The Reds made a minor deal with the Yankees, unloading utility man Jerry Hairston for Chase Weems, before making a bigger deal by acquiring Scott Rolen from the Blue Jays.
The Rolen deal is a good one. While the Reds have no shot this season, the team who most people thought could surprise in the NL Central (including yours truly), saw their chances diminished by extended DL stints of Edinson Volquez and Joey Votto. This deal ads a quality third baseman, who is proving in 2009 that he can still play (Rolen is quietly putting up numbers similar to the Mets David Wright), but most importantly, this deal brings veteran leadership to one of the youngest teams in baseball.
The only downside is Rolen's health. He has never been an iron horse, and as he's gotten older, he's missed more and more time. Rolen hasn't played 140 games in a season since 2006, the same year he helped the Cardinals win the World Series.
Chicago Cubs: C
While it's true the Cubs have been one of the most disappointing clubs this season, they've been playing much better of late and are now only a half game out first place, behind the Cardinals.
The Cubs mostly stood pat, with the exception of a minor deal with the Pirates, acquiring John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny for Jose Ascanio and Kevin Hart.
The deal shores up Chicago's bullpen by adding a quality reliever in Grabow. Gorzelanny, who after having a solid season for the Bucs in 2007 has fallen off the radar. He's pitched in only 30 games total the past two seasons, going 9-10 with an ERA over 5.00.
If Gorzelany can put it back together, this trade can help the Cubs in the future as well as this season.
Milwaukee Brewers: C
There was no CC Sabathia deal this year for Milwaukee, but they did make two solid deals.
The Brewers acquired relief pitcher Claudio Vargas from the Dodgers for Vinny Rottino. Vargas is nothing special, but at the very least he's another arm for the bullpen, an important part of any team in contention.
Next, the Brew-Crew also acquires Felipe Lopez from Arizona for two minor leaguers. The Lopez deal fills Milwaukee's void at second base since Rickie Weeks was placed on the 60-day DL, and allows Craig Counsellto return to his role as "super sub."
New York Yankees: C
The Yankees look like the best team in the AL, and they are currently leading their division. For the most part they stayed pat, with the exception of adding Jerry Haiston from the Reds.
Hairston can fill the void left when Brett Gardner went down with an injury. He can play all three outfield positions, as well as anywhere in the infield. The move great strengthens the Bombers' bench, which may have been their only weekness.
Plus, remember the last infielder the Yankees got from the Reds? Some guy named Aaron Boone.
Seattle Mariners: C-
The Mariners were buyers and sellers at the deadline.
First, the Mariners declared themselves playoff contenders by adding players, acquiring shortstop Jack Wilson and pitcher Ian Snell from the Pirtates. Wilson, who is getting older but is still a quality ball player, especially defensively, fills Seattle's need for a shortstop since they released under-performing Yuneisky Betancourt.
In Ian Snell, the Mariners got a quality starting pitcher, who has yet to turn 30. He's had some success in the past, but is having a terrible season so far in 2009. His acquisition arguably made the Mariners' starting staff the best in the division, until...
The Mariners then traded Jarrod Washburn to the Detroit Tigers. True that Washburn will become a free agent after the season, but for a team that thought it was in contention, trading your best pitcher is never a good idea. This deal makes the Wilson / Snell acquisition pointless.
Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates: Incomplete
I was originally going to give both of these teams grades of F, until I realized that the value Cleveland and Pittsburgh received simply can not be measured now.
While both teams got quality prospects for their players, (although the Lee deal looks like a fleecing), none of these players is major league ready. It will be interesting to see if any of these players end up in the Majors, let alone become building blocks to future playoff teams.
So there it is, the 2009 MLB trade deadline report cards. There were some deals that were huge, some that were minor, and some that were head scratchers. How did your team do? Whatever happens during the final two months of the season will be the measuring stick by which all these deals will be ultimately judged.
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