What is the Biggest Trade of the Decade?
According to ESPN's Keith Law, David Ortiz was the biggest free agent acquisition of the decade, and arguing otherwise would be futile and ignorant.
However, Law also contends that the biggest trade of the decade occurred on Feb. 5, 2008 when Baltimore sent ace Eric Bedard to Seattle for outfielder Adam Jones, lefties George Sherrill and Tony Butler, and righties Chris Tillman and Kam Mickolio.
Clearly the Orioles virtually swindled the Mariners in this deal.
Bedard spent the lion's share of 2008 and 2009 on the Mariners' disabled list and finished his Seattle stint with a paltry 11-7 record over 164 well-intentioned innings. Bedard was solid, but fragile as a Faberge egg.
Back in Charm City, Adam Jones has done nothing less than make the 2009 All-Star team, drive in that game's winning run, and win a Gold Glove.
A 2008 All-Star selection, George Sherrill notched 51 saves for the Birds in 2008 and the first half of 2009 before being dealt to the Dodgers for infielder Josh Bell and righty Steve Johnson.
Among the prospects, Tillman and Mickolio demonstrate excellent potential, the first as a starter and the second as a top-of-the-line reliever.
Acknowledging the hindsight genius of this trade for the Baltimore front office, is it really the biggest of the decade?
I'm not so sure, but let's take a look at a few others and let you decide.
Nomar Garciaparra for Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mienkiewicz
At the 2004 trade deadline, the Boston Red Sox dealt five-time All-Star Nomar Garciaparra and outfield prospect Matt Murton for the Montreal Expos' Gold Glove shortstop Orlando Cabrera and the Minnesota Twins' Gold Glove first baseman Doug Mienkiewicz.
At first unthinkable to most die-hard Sox fans, the deal proved critical to Boston's World Series conquest. Nomar's diminishing defense had become a liability to the middle infield.
When October rolled around, Cabrera and Mienkiewicz knocked 'em down and dug 'em out in ways Nomar and his -15.8 UZR/150 simply couldn't.
During the remainder of 2004 and all 2005, Nomar drastically underperformed his salary and produced just 2.4 WAR for the Chicago Cubs.
Boston's haul helped nail down the franchise's first championship in 86 years.
Scott Kazmir and Jose Diaz for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato
In another 2004 trade deadline swap, the New York Mets packaged top pitching prospect Scott Kazmir and pitcher Jose Diaz for a pair of Tampa Bay pitchers, Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato.
Zambrano, who is best known for this trade, has since retired into obscurity. Fortunato, who was never really known even for this trade, now plays for the St. George Roadrunners of the Golden Baseball League.
Although Mr. Diaz has also disappeared after being designated for assignment by the Chicago White Sox in 2008, Kazmir plays on.
Despite his recent struggles and his subsequent trade to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Kazmir has posted a career 3.83 ERA and a 57-46 record over 870.1 innings.
A strikeout machine, Kazmir has a career 9.31 K/9, and his value has outstripped his salary by no less than $59.6 million.
Curt Schilling for Four Players, Including Vicente Padilla
Despite Curt Schilling's 953 strikeouts between 1996 and 1999, the Phillies decided to short-change Schill's future in 2000 for a haul that included Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa, Travis Lee, and Vicente Padilla.
Daal posted a 4.46 ERA for the Phillies during his one-year stint and now coaches his son's travel team.
Figueroa went 4-5 in 2001 but gave the Phillies a decent 3.94 ERA over 89 innings.
Lee produced his career-best line for the Phillies in 2001 when he hit the ball at a .258 clip and smacked in 90 runs on the heels of 20 homers.
However, by December 2002, the Phillies decided it was best to release Lee to free agency. His unremarkable career ended in 2007 when he lost his desire to play.
Padilla has produced more than any of the other chips in this deal, but he's a shadow of Schilling.
Schilling, of course, went on to build one of the most formidible post-season resumes out there: 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and a 0.97 WHIP. Oh, and he has two World Series rings, one of them with the team to which he was dealt, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore and Lee Stevens for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew
At the 2002 trade deadline the Montreal Expos shipped future Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, future Gold Glove slugger Brandon Phillips, future three-time All-Star Grady Sizemore and Lee Stevens to the Cleveland Indians for two-time All-Star and future Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew, who retired after fizzling out at the Major League level.
Colon. Lee. Phillips. Sizemore. Does it get any bigger?