Last year at this time the Los Angeles baseball community was still buzzing at the recent trades that had been made. There was much to be excited about whether you rooted for the Angels or the Dodgers. The Halos had just acquired Mark Teixeira, one of the best switch hitters and defensive first baseman in the game while the Dodgers more or less “gun and ski masked” one of the most productive bats of the last 15 years in outfielder Manny Ramirez.
Both teams had made impactful moves at the deadline giving their respective fans lots to be excited about. For the fans that were big on local bragging rights, the possibility of a Freeway Series in October was as real as ever. We all know how it eventually ended with the Angels losing to the Boston Red Sox in ALDS play while the Dodgers lost to the eventual World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS. Although each team came up short of baseball’s biggest prize, both Teixeira and Ramirez were huge factors in their teams success down the stretch a season ago.
Now lets fast forward to this year. Much like a season ago, both the Angels and Dodgers were rumored to be be looking for big named players at this years deadline. Both had been mentioned as participants in the sweepstakes for Toronto pitcher Roy Halladay and Cleveland pitcher Cliff Lee (since traded to Phiadelphia).
There were also reports that the Dodgers were interested in Cleveland catcher and first baseman Victor Martinez (since traded to Boston) and San Diego first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. The one common denominator that the Angels and Dodgers shared was that both were interested in bullpen help having been linked to trade rumors for San Diego closer Heath Bell.
After weeks of build up with numerous reports of trade rumors that had fans both in LA County and Orange County buzzing with anticipation of another blockbuster move that would catapult their team into October glory, the final result of several weeks of hype? Drumroll please…the Dodgers have acquired reliever George Sherrill from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for two minor leaguers. Meanwhile, the Angels were unsuccessful in pulling off a trade. That was the equivalent of hoping for Metallica and then eventually getting a local high school garage band.
While the move was a solid pick up for the Dodgers and one that I had correctly anticipated in a previous column on Bleacher Report, it’s not one that will have me buzzing for days afterwards and keep me glued to my seat like a Manny plate appearance or a Halladay start.
Bullpen help is very important for the stretch drive of the regular season and into October but lets face it, its just not exciting. No baseball fan will ever say to another, “Do you remember where you were when (insert name of middle reliever) came in and retired the only batter he faced before giving way to (insert name of second middle reliever)? Boy was that awesome or what?”
Meanwhile, Angels fans have to be disappointed that they didn’t at least leave the dance with some kind of door prize. Obviously their management felt that the price tag on what they were targeting was not worth the price they were willing to pay. By acquiring Teixeira a year ago, Angels General Manager Tony Reagins has already shown me more of a willingness to pull the trigger than his predecessor Bill Stoneman. I firmly believe that if the right deal could have been made then he would have done it.
Both Reagins and Dodgers GM Ned Colletti obviously know what they’re doing. Each has put together a strong roster of talent that should be able to contend for a minimum of a playoff berth for a few years to come. I know that some times in sports, its about the moves that you don’t make as opposed to the moves that you do. However, it still doesn’t take away from the fact that the trade deadline of 2009 was a great 30 day story but with a ho hum ending.