If Only They Didn't Hate Each Other: 10 Trades Between Baseball's Rivals
We all know that there are some teams that flat out don’t like one another: the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies; the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox; the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals; the Houston Astos and Cardinals; the Cubs and Chicago White Sox; the Cleveland Indians and White Sox.
But there isn’t a single team in the majors that couldn’t be a little bit better.
The Yankees look a little lost in the outfield as soon as a few injuries struck, the Tampa Bay Rays have question marks up the middle of their infield despite their league-best record, and you know that the Mets and the White Sox want to do something about their lack of production.
Rivals tend to trade with each other less frequently, if at all, than with teams from within their own division, but sometimes it just makes sense for both clubs to pull the trigger, regardless of the animosity.
I’m not talking about the Yankees sending Derek Jeter over to Citi Field, but surely a piece like Javier Vazquez couldn’t hurt the Mets' pitching staff, especially if the Yankees got some value in return.
Out on the West Coast, would it be so much of a sin if the San Francisco Giants traded away some of their ample pitching to the Los Angeles Dodgers, in exchange for a bat that could push them over the edge in the National League?
Here are 10 trades that teams could make to improve in 2010 and beyond—if only they didn’t hate each other.
Chicago Cubs-St. Louis Cardinals
The Cubs cannot trust Carlos Zambrano or John Grabow in their pen, and I’m worried about Aramis Ramirez and what has gone wrong with him this season. I have similar worries about Ryan Theriot, but that’s mainly because he’s rubbish.
As for the Cardinals, Skip Schumacher and Brendan Ryan are under-performing, and someone else needs to pick up the slack in the middle of the infield.
The Cards could send David Freese, Brad Penny, and Mitchell Boggs to Chicago, in exchange for Ramirez and Mike Fontenot, or Starlin Castro.
Freese is not equal to Ramirez, obviously, but he could hit 20 home runs, and drive in 100 runs while batting .300. He could be their third baseman for the next decade. They also get help both in either the rotation, or the pen.
The Cardinals then get an improved left-handed bat at short, an All-Star third baseman who has only just peaked, and a fantastic young 20-year-old shortstop who is probably the best rookie bat right now (and best overall NL rookie to Mike Leake.)
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim-Oakland A's
Has anyone else been surprised by how badly the Angels’ pitching has been this year?
Joel Pineiro has had some truly horrible starts sandwiched around his shutout of the A's, Scott Kazmir hasn’t even deserved his three wins, and sports an ERA over 6.00, and the bullpen combination of Brian Fuentes, Brian Stokes, and Matt Palmer has been anything but convincing.
Add to that the light-hitting infield duo of Erick Aybar and Brandon Wood, and it becomes easier to see why they’re sitting in third place in the AL West standings.
The A's aren’t flawless, of course, especially with Chad Gaudin’s struggles, but the pitching has been generally decent. If only Ben Sheets would ever pitch to his potential.
I’m sure the A’s have no intention dealing Andrew Bailey, but they could send Brad Ziegler and Kevin Kouzmanoff over to LA, in exchange for Juan Rivera and Fernando Rodney.
The A’s get help in left and an established setup guy, and the Angles get help at the hot corner, and a fantastic reliever with a rubber arm who is death to righties.
Tampa Bay Rays-Florida Marlins
Down in Florida, the Tampa Bay Rays certainly have the bragging rights over their in-state NL companions.
Each team’s hitting is above average, but the Rays have a massive edge in starting pitching. Florida’s pitching hasn’t been horrible, either, but all five of the Rays' starters have ERAs under 3.40 after eight or nine starts.
For Tampa, Jason Bartlett and Dioner Navarro have both been struggling, and they have relied quite heavily on their corner infielders to keep the lineup producing.
For Florida, it’s the middle infield pair of Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez who have been outstanding, with great contributions from Jorge Cantu at the hot corner.
It would be a nearing a "blockbuster" move, but how about sending Uggla, Anabel Sanchez, and Gaby Sanchez over to Tampa in exchange for James Shields, Carlos Pena, and youngster Reid Brignac.
Tampa get help up the middle, Florida get an established big bat, youth, and a star pitcher.
Chicago White Sox-Chicago Cubs
While the White Sox have better hitting than the Cleveland Indians, that's about the only team they have better hitting than. Their team batting average is the lowest in the AL, and you can count the teams with fewer runs, RBI, total bases, and walks on one hand.
The pitching on both sides is eerily similar, but there are players the White Sox could offer to tempt the Cubs to give up a bat.
Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano have started the season hot, and the corner outfield spots at US Cellular are filled with a injury liabilities in Carlos Quentin and rapidly-decreasing Juan Pierre.
Pierre’s only value is his speed, and his stolen base totals have been in a free-fall ever since the resurgence with the Cubs four years ago.
Soriano doesn’t have the wheels any more, either, but he does swing a power bat. He will drive in runs, and he could very a very big piece for the White Sox if they could get 130 games out of him for the next few years.
The problem is finding someone to send to the Cubs. A multi-player deal could involve Soriano, Ted Lilly, Geovany Soto, and Tyler Colvin for Mark Buehrle, A.J. Pierzinski, and Mark Kotsay.
The White Sox get a big in left field and a talented outfielder for the future, and the Cubs get a better catcher and an upgrade on the mound.
New York Yankees-New York Mets
The Yankees could do with a little help in the outfield and in relief, while the Mets, well, the Mets could do with a little help all over.
The Mets aren’t going to move guys like Jose Reyes and David Wright, which is pretty handy because the Bronx Bombers have a couple unknown guys called Jeter and A-Rod, but other than those two, they have several pieces they could trade.
How about Angel Pagan and Hisanori Takahashi for Javier Vazquez? This would give the Mets a second or third starter, and it would give the Yankees a fast, solid defensive presence in the outfield who could bat either at No. 8 or No. 9 in the lineup, or at the top of the order if Jeter or Gardner had a day off.
It’s going to be hard for the Mets to fit Pagan into their everyday plans when Beltran returns, and they always have Gary Matthews as a backup if things really go wrong.
The Yankees really shouldn’t be using Randy Winn, and I’m not sure how they plan on using Marcus Thames. They could trade Thames away to a team that needs a corner outfielder and then use Granderson, Gardner, Swisher, and Pagan.
Takahashi has been great out of the pen for the Mets, although he obviously holds more value right now with his ability to start games while the Mets get their rotation in order.
Should someone like Jenrry Mejia turn into a starter, Takahashi could be moved across town.
Cleveland Indians-Chicago White Sox
The Indians and White Sox are two teams with similar kinds of struggles. Neither has dominant pitching even though it’s not disastrous in the same way that the Milwaukee Brewers or Pittsburgh Pirates rotation is.
Cleveland’s hitting is in the bottom third in the league in most statistical categories, with the White Sox not too far behind.
Chicago’s saving grace is their power hitters and their speed, something Cleveland has neither of.
Say the White Sox decided to part with someone like Alex Rios, I wonder if they would be willing to take a chance on Grady Sizemore and Fausto Carmona.
The Indians could include someone like Matt LaPorta, and Chicago could add a veteran like Mark Kotsay, who could play in the left side of the outfield, at first base, give Hafner the occasional day off.
Sizemore, when healthy, is a 30-30 threat, but a poor 2009 was compounded with an early trip to the DL in 2010. Would anyone want to take a chance on him?
San Francisco Giants-Los Angeles Dodgers
The Giants are in a bit of a struggle offensively, while for the Dodgers the problems are on the mound, despite their 25 wins. You can chalk those up to the offense.
One solution would be to move Matt Cain for Matt Kemp. Again, it’s one of those deals that would never happen, but it could help both sides.
The Dodgers get a 25-year-old with the potential to win 18 games, and who could complement Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, while the Giants get the power bat that could replace Aaron Rowand.
The Giants got duped by Rowand’s performance with the Phillies in 2007, and he has not come close to reproducing the 27-home run, .310, 90-RBI form that San Francisco bought in to.
At 33 years old, don’t expect that to happen now.
New York Mets-Philadelphia Phillies
Jayson Werth said last week he has “played his entire career for this year,” of course referring to the type of deal he can get on the market as a free agent in 2011.
With Jeff Francoeur struggling, the Mets could certainly use a power-hitting right fielder, and you know they are not adverse to spending money. While the outfield isn’t going to be a priority for them, an upgrade at the right price might be tempting.
The Phillies will want to get something in return for the 31-year-old, so maybe Werth and Victorino for Beltran and Francoeur in a straight swap of center and right fielders.
If they want to look younger, the Mets could add either Jonathan Niese or Omar Santos to sweeten the pot. We all know the Mets don't seem to care about trading away prospects.
Houston Astros-St. Louis Cardinals
Houston and St. Louis have had a pretty decent rivalry over the years, and with Roy Oswalt looking to move to a team with some run support, the Cardinals could be a perfect choice—if only they didn’t both play in the NL Central, and despise each other.
The Astros would want some young pieces in return, and they would want players who could help them right away, so how about Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus, and Jamie Garcia, for Oswalt, Carlos Lee, talented young pitcher Sammy Gervacio and former third rounder Tommy Manzella. The Felipe Lopez the Cards currently have at short certainly isn't the 23-home-run Felipe Lopez from 2005.
Holliday and Lee would switch spots in left field which would obviously help Houston, Oswalt is a big upgrade for the Cardinals, and Rasmus adds power and a little speed to centerfield, and would add significant depth ahead of Michaels and Sullivan.
I realize Lee is aging and struggling, but it can’t last forever can it?
New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox
Sticking with the theme of the Yankees looking to strengthen their bullpen, New York could send Marcus Thames, Joba Chamberlain, and Kevin Russo to the Red Sox for Jeremy Hermida and Jonathan Papelbon.
You'd probably need another piece going Boston's way, but it would have to be either a draft pick, or a player to be named later.
The Yankees get a legitimate stud to eventually replace Mariano Rivera, and for the next year they get an absolute ace to shore up the bullpen.
All of a sudden it turns a nine-inning game into a seven-inning game. And who knows how much left Mo has in the tank?
For the Red Sox, they get help at the corner outfield spots in a guy who can also double up as a DH, a perfect short reliever who has experience starting, and a young and talented utility infielder.
It’s fair to say the Yanks are stacked for the foreseeable future, but Russo could knock off someone like 35-year-old Marco Scutaro in a few years.
Again, it's never going to happen, but wishful thinking, eh?