It always seems that on July 31st, one baseball team makes at least one move that has a significant impact on the outcome of both the regular season and the playoffs. This year, with so many teams within reach of a playoff spot, the trade deadline came and went with a lot of familiar faces jumping into the final playoff push.
The regular crowd was involved, as the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies made important moves to their rosters. However, there were newcomers to the party as the Texas Rangers and the San Diego Padres upgraded their clubs for the stretch run.
While there was a lot of action on the July 31st deadline, some of the most important wheeling and dealing occurred during the week prior to the deadline. The Yankees were active, stealing Lance Berkman from the Astros, along with acquiring Kerry Wood and Austin Kearns from Cleveland in separate trades. Cliff Lee was traded for the second straight season, bringing his talents to Arlington. (Sorry Lebron it has to be done) He hopes to help the Texas Rangers get further into the postseason than they have in their 3 playoff appearances.
Over in the National League, another staff Ace was shipped to help his new team get into the playoffs. Houston Astros, who dismantled their past, present, and future, sent Roy Oswalt over to the Phillies for about 60 cents on the dollar. This gives Philadelphia all the ammunition in the arms race as Oswalt and Halladay will strike fear into the lineups on the NL East.
What was most interesting about this year’s deadline was the inactivity of teams in need of an upgrade. The Chicago White Sox were in discussions for a few big time players such as Adam Dunn, and only ended up pulling the trigger on Edwin Jackson. The Boston Red Sox, in dire need of some bullpen help, traded for a 3rd string catcher in Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The New York Mets stayed put with their roster, something you don’t normally see from a New York team on deadline day.
As the dog days of August approach, we will see how these deadline deals pan out and who the true winners and losers are. Until then, it is only fair to put these trades in perspective and decide who won and who lost when the clock struck 4 PM ET on July 31st.
Acquire SP Cliff Lee in exchange for 1B Justin Smoak and 3 prospects.
Acquire C Bengie Molina in exchange for RHP Chris Ray
Acquired SS Cristian Guzman and INF Jorge Cantu at deadline for prospects.
By trading for Lee, the Rangers have a legitimate ace of their pitching staff, someone who can take control of a playoff series. This is something they lacked in the 1990’s, which prevented them from moving forward in the playoffs.
Molina brings a veteran prescense to the clubhouse and still an above average bat from the cather position. These deals set the tone for the amount of movement that would occur at the trade deadline.
Cantu and Guzman bring some much needed depth to this infield with the hot and cold Elvis Andrus and the oft injured Ian Kinsler needing days off. Kinsler is injured now and needs to be fresh to help this offense out during the playoffs.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:
Acqure SP Dan Haren in exchange for SP Joe Saunders and 3 prospects.
This deal was an attempt to make a last push towards the playoffs for the Angels, who trail the Rangers in the AL West. Haren has struggled this year, but brings experience and boatloads of talent to this Angels rotation.
New York Yankees
San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers
Acquired: SP Roy Oswalt
Traded: SP J.A. Happ, 2 prospects.
The Phillies gained one of the most consistent starting pitchers in baseball over the last decade in Oswalt. While they gave up a middle of the rotation guy in Happ and a high-level prospect in OF Anthony Gose, Oswalt may be around beyond the season and will help the Phillies make a final push for the postseason. With a 1-2 punch of Halladay and Oswalt, the Phillies can go into any 3 game series with a ton of confidence. In addition, the Phillies do not have to guarantee Oswalt’s option for next year. The option has become a mutual option, as opposed to a team option, meaning both sides have to come to an agreement.
Acquired: OF/1B Lance Berkman, RP Kerry Wood, OF Austin Kearns
Traded: RP Mark Melancon, IF Jimmy Paredes, Future considerations
The Yankees added some needed depth with the acquisitions of Berkman and Kearns. With a struggling and aging Jorge Posada, Berkman and Kearns can help out at the DH spot on days when Posada catches. In addition, Kearns can play the OF against lefties, and Joe Girardi can sit Curtis Granderson, who is batting a pedestrian .214 against them while Kearns has hit a bit better.
Berkman has struggled this year but without much protection in the Houston lineup, he hasn’t seen many pitches to hit. In New York, he can bat anywhere from 2nd to 9th in the lineup and will be protected at any spot in the order. The Astros are also throwing 4 million dollars towards the Yankees in this deal, showing that even the big market teams will not eat up every penny of a player’s salary. The most interesting acquisition was perhaps Kerry Wood. Wood has struggled this year and ever since he came into the American League.
While RP Joba Chamberlain has struggled, Girardi is looking for a bridge to closer Mariano Rivera. He hopes Wood can give him that and can get back into the same form he was in when he played with Girardi’s hometown team the Chicago Cubs.
Acquired: Of Ryan Ludwick, INF Miguel Tejada
Traded: 2 Starting Pitching Prospects
What a steal for the 1st place Padres. The Cardinals already have a lot of players with big contracts and could not afford to give Ludwick one at the end of the season. The Padres get a solid, middle of the lineup, hitter to help protect Adrian Gonzalez. Whether he is a rental, or signs a longterm contract, Ludwick gives the Padres a great chance of going deep in the playoffs to go along with the league’s best pitching. Scouts call Ludwick a gaps hitter, which will benefit him greatly in the spacious Petco Park. While he will not put up significant home run numbers, Ludwick will put in good at bats and drive in runs when teams pitch around Gonzalez.
Tejada was also a solid pick up as he brings experience and decent bat to the Padres lineup. He will play both 3rd and shortstop and can get on base for Ludwick and Gonzalez, or even hit behind them in the order.
Grade- B +
Acquired: OF Scott Podsednik, SP Ted Lilly, INF Ryan Theriot, RP Octavio Dotel
Traded: 3B Blake Dewitt, RHP James Macdonald, Lower Level Prospects
GM Ned Coletti was very busy at the deadline this year. With so many distractions amongst the team’s ownership and front office, Coletti was able to gain valuable pieces to help his Dodgers gain ground in the NL West. With Manny Ramirez on the DL, Podsednik can bring a lot of energy to the OF and the lineup. His speed can affect pitchers and I expect guys like Eithier and Kemp to enjoy hitting after a guy like Podsednik.
Theriot is another asset to any baseball team. With the ability to play multiple positions, Theriot’s versatility will help Joe Torre in making his lineup card. Perhaps the two biggest acquisitions were Lilly and Dotel.
Lilly has been a professional pitcher over the past few seasons in Chicago and not only will he help on the field but young pitchers such as Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley can learn a lot from how Lilly carries himself.
Dotel has been moved 3 times at the trade deadline in his career and it is because the guy has no fear. He wants the ball in any spot and with George Sherrill struggling, Dotel will help solidify an already quality bullpen.
The one downside was the trading of RHP James Macdonald. Macdonald has tremendous stuff and is one o the top pitching prospects in baseball. Coletti must have felt it necessary to give him up in order to compete this season. The Pirates did well to get Macdonald, who can be on their staff for years to come. However, knowing the Pirates, he’ll be gone by next July 31st.
Acquired: SP Joe Saunders, RP Rafael Rodriguez, SP Daniel Hudson, OF Ryan Church, SS Bobby Crosby, RP DJ Carrasco, Prospects
Traded: SP Dan Haren, SP Edwin Jackson, C Chris Snyder, RP Chad Qualls, SS Pedro Ciriaco
The Diamondbacks were the busiest of all the teams at the deadline. With the season over, the Diamondbacks ended their experiment with Edwin Jackson. While Jackson had a no hitter earlier this year, his performance has been poor. With a 5.16 ERA, he was the most expendable piece on the team. Trading Haren wasn’t a must, but the D’Backs were able to save some money and focus more on their farm system. The jewel of all of these trades was SP Daniel Hudson. Hudson is a strikeout pitcher, who limits his walks and can pitch deep into games. He can be a fixture at the front of the Diamondbacks rotation for years to come. Along with Joe Saunders, The D’Backs acquired two pitchers who are ready to start right away. They also received expiring contracts in DJ Carrasco and Ryan Church. This will save them money for the off-season and puts them in a nice position to begin rebuilding.
Chicago White Sox
St. Louis Cardinals
Acquired: RP Mark Melancon, IF Jimmy Paredes, SP J.A. Happ, 1B Brett Wallace
Traded: 1B/OF Lance Berkman, SP Roy Oswalt
Roy Oswalt had been the discussion of trade rumors the week leading up to the trade deadline. It appears the best offer they could get was from Philadelphia for Happ and some minor leaguers. While the Astros do rid themselves from most of Oswalts contract, they did not receive much talent in return. For Lance Berkman, not only did they receive little talent, but they also sent $4 million back to the Yankees. None of the prospects in these trades are immediate impact players, and Melancon has an outside shot of being a set up man or a long reliever. The Astros were desperate to shed money and did so with these deals, but they have given their fan base little faith to believe things are going to turn around anytime soon.
Acquired: Prospects, Future Considerations
Traded: SP Jake Westbrook, OF Austin Kearns, INF Johnny Peralta, Cash
If Cleveland sports weren’t in enough trouble, the Indians fire sale marks a new low for the franchise. They traded 3 contracts for no real impact players and even sent money to the St. Louis Cardinals to take Jake Westbrook off their hands. It seems to be a trend that the Indians are selling their players at the deadline, but if they don’t get anything in return at some point, this franchise isn’t going to turn around within the decade. Grady Sizemore must feel very alone out there in the Midwest.
Acquired: RP Matt Capps
Traded: C Wilson Ramos, LHP Joe Testa
It is very confusing that a team that is normally run brilliantly by GM Terry Ryan balked at the idea of trading blue chip prospect Wilson Ramos in a package for Cliff Lee, but then turn him around for a good closer in Matt Capps. RP Jon Rauch has had a solid season for the Twins, who really could have used some starting pitching depth, and instead, end up sending Nick Blackburn down to Triple-A to make room for Capps. No disrespect to Capps, but its harder for Albert Haynesworth to run 100 yards then to find a serviceable closer in baseball. The Twins are hoping that Ramos is more of a Chris Ianetta than a Joe Mauer.
Acquired: SP Edwin Jackson
Traded: SP Daniel Hudson, P Daniel Holmberg
There isn’t much that the White Sox did to critique there deadline performance. It was more so a lack of movement by GM Kenny Williams that put them in the loser category. Trading for Jackson wasn’t the best decision, especially giving up a potential stud in Hudson. However, there is logic behind the trade as Jackson has shown flashes of brilliance and is more valuable to the White Sox this season than Hudson would have been. Adam Dunn was the big name supposedly heading to the White Sox but they couldn’t pull the trigger as the Nationals decided that they didn’t want Edwin Jackson as apart of the deal. Other players rumored to be heading to Chicago were Prince Fielder and Corey Hart, but as the deadline passed, the White Sox were stolid.
Grade- C +
Acquired: SP Jake Westbrook, 2 Prospects
Traded: OF Ryan Ludwick
Many people believe that Westbrook has a lot left in the tank and can be a good back end of the rotation pitcher for the Cardinals. I disagree, especially not worth the price of a starting outfielder with the talent of Ryan Ludwick. Westbrook has had a sub 4 ERA just once in the last 5 seasons and has has issues getting his sinker down in the zone. Hitter are hitting near .280 against him and I don’t think this change of scenery will benefit him. The Cardinals need to play well for the rest of the year because of the success the Reds have had so far this season. Is Jake Westbrook the answer? Probably not.