Okay everyone, take a big, deep breath. It's over.
The madness that we call the MLB trade deadline has come and gone, and it was a week full of potentially game-changing trades.
Trades in baseball are not a zero-sum game. Just because one team acquires the guy they want doesn't mean the other team was automatically ripped off. This year, there were several trades that were truly mutually beneficial.
Now that the madness has ended, let's take a step back and discuss who were the winners and losers from the trade deadline.
Note: The list is not in any particular order.
Why Michael Bourn?
Much like Carl Crawford when he was in Tampa Bay, Bourn is a dynamic player who was largely under-appreciated because of where he played. He is exactly the type of player the Braves need—a great on-base threat with plus-plus speed. You cannot overstate the value of a great leadoff man, and that is exactly what Bourn will become with the Braves.
But for Bourn, this is a rebirth. It is finally a chance for him to showcase to the country on a consistent basis why he should be considered a top-flight leadoff man.
Why the Braves?
Boy, did the Braves need Bourn. Already with a fairly strong middle of the lineup, the biggest thing missing for Atlanta was a guy to set the table for a very potent middle of the order. Michael Bourn will be exactly that guy.
He brings a .363 OBP and speed that has gotten him at least 50 steals each of the last two years. He will be a potential game-changer in the NL pennant race. But best of all, Atlanta got to hang onto their four best pitching prospects.
Normally, I'm a huge fan of Tony LaRussa and his tactics. He is undoubtedly one of baseball's best managers, and has the track record to back it up. But he totally fumbled the Colby Rasmus situation, and as a result, his team had a horrid trade deadline.
In commenting that Rasmus did not listen to his coaches, LaRussa essentially started the process of cutting ties with the talented outfielder. A few days later, he was gone, and the Cardinals did not get much in return.
Why the Cardinals?
The Cardinals got the short end of the stick on the blockbuster deal that sent Colby Rasmus to Toronto. They received starter Edwin Jackson—who has a no-hitter to his name but not much more—a couple of decent bullpen arms and a journeyman outfielder. Then, they got Rafael Furcal, a shortstop who has limited value and will not provide a huge upgrade at all.
All in all, it was pretty much a disaster for a normally very savvy team at the trade deadline. They may not have cost themselves the playoffs, but this move left a lot of people shaking their heads.
Why the Rangers?
The defending AL champions are playing some great baseball right now, but at the trade deadline, they got even better. Sure, they gave up a good amount. Tommy Hunter, Chris Davis, Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin was a steep price to pay. But what they got in return is phenomenal.
They now truly have two shutdown relievers who are two of the best in baseball at keeping runners off the basepaths. Between Adams, Uehara and closer Neftali Feliz (who should rebound from a rough season so far), the Rangers now might have one of the AL's best bullpens. That's encouraging for a team with solid starters and a red-hot lineup.
This was nothing that Mike Adams could have controlled. But the electric reliever saw himself victimized by the "wrong guy" trade problem. Instead of San Diego dealing current closer Heath Bell, they traded Adams to a team with a closer already (Texas with Neftali Feliz).
Now, instead of becoming the team's closer, Adams will remain a setup man, likely until he is moved again or until Feliz is moved into the rotation. It's a shame for a guy who really deserves a chance to close.
AA certainly did some major damage at the trade deadline, and in a very good way. In a flurry of moves, the Toronto GM essentially set up the Blue Jays for contention in the very near future. The centerpiece of these deals was former Cardinals outfielder Colby Rasmus.
But beyond that, the Blue Jays acquired Mark Teahen, Brian Tallet and Trever Miller, all potentially valuable pieces on a team. Somewhere between trading with the White Sox for Edwin Jackson and giving up a large amount for Rasmus and his counterparts, baseball people realized that Anthopoulos might have solidified himself as one of baseball's best front-office men.
Why the Dodgers?
The Dodgers are a team in absolute shambles. With a miserable team on the field and a worse ownership situation, the boys in blue didn't necessarily need a strong trade deadline, but they didn't need a weak one either. Well, they got the latter.
They had to give up a top outfield prospect, Trayvon Robinson, as well as Chih-Hsein Chang. To boot, they gave up Rafael Furcal too. In return, they were only able to get prospects, and no one that would blow you away. In general, in some moves intended to bring some fresh air into the organization, the air quality just wasn't that good.
It's not often that a big-time player is a winner at the deadline, but the team he was traded to isn't. In this case, the Indians are the losers (see next slide) and Ubaldo Jimenez is a winner. Now, instead of making his home at Pitchers' Hell (aka Coors Field), he will be pitching in a relatively friendly Progressive Field in Cleveland.
He will be thrust into a pennant race against generally underwhelming lineups in the AL Central. This is a great situation for Jimenez, as he will not lose his "ace" status while arguably going to a better team and place to pitch.
Why the Orioles?
Early on in the year, many people thought that the Orioles could be this year's surprise team. Of course, the Pirates and Indians stole that honor, but quietly, the Orioles have again sunk to the bottom of the AL East.
Buck Showalter's club has severely underperformed, and at the trade deadline, they cut ties with two very important players. In losing veteran 1B Derrek Lee and stud reliever Koji Uehara (although his return was nice), the Orioles basically set their timeline back another few years. It's really a shame.
Why the Mets?
Say what you want about the fire-saleish tactics of the Mets at the trade deadline, but this was honestly one of the best possible scenarios for the team. They gave up two real headaches of players by trading Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers and Carlos Beltran to the Giants. In doing so, they freed up a ton of payroll and gave themselves some nice long-term flexibility.
With the team's finances in such dire condition, those were two moves that simply had to happen. But perhaps the best outcome was the acquisition of Zack Wheeler, a pitching prospect who has a definite chance to become a future ace.
Why the Indians?
In my own humble opinion, this is probably the most controversial pick on here. I know the Indians got Ubaldo Jimenez and Kosuke Fukudome, but was it really worth it? The Tribe gave up some serious prospects for those two players and a shot at winning the AL Central.
But there are some other factors at play. Despite Jimenez's team-friendly contract, his declining velocity is a potential concern and he hasn't exactly been himself this year. And Fukudome has had limited impact and really is only a minor upgrade. I like the idea, but the execution, most notably giving up big-time prospects, was lacking.
Like his former teammate Bourn, Hunter Pence was really hidden from the national spotlight in Houston. But the value is definitely there. In terms of WAR over the last three seasons (wins above replacement), Pence ranks ahead of Colby Rasmus, B.J. Upton, Andre Ethier and Adam Jones, all comparable players.
Now, he has a chance to be an impact bat on a lineup starving for production. He adds a new dimension to what is already baseball's best team. The Phillies just got a whole lot scarier.
Jim Hendry is quickly distinguishing himself as baseball's worst GM. The head man of the Cubs did absolutely nothing to better his team at the deadline. He traded outfielder Kosuke Fukudome to the Indians for two low-impact prospects. He could have traded Carlos Zambrano or Aramis Ramirez (more so the former than the latter), but never pulled the trigger.
Now, the Cubs are stuck with a lot of big contracts and not much in the farm system. Just a miserable deadline for a miserable front-office man.
Why Amaro, Jr.?
The Phillies GM knew that he had to get a bat. With the Phillies offense sorely underperforming this year, Ruben Amaro, Jr. went out and made the move he had to make: He acquired the best position player on the market, Houston's Hunter Pence.
The price was steep, but for a money- and talent-rich team like the Phillies, the cost was not too steep. In giving away top prospects Jarred Cosart, Jon Singleton and Josh Zeid, the Phillies were able to bring back an immensely talented player with a favorable contract. Not too shabby.
The former Phillies GM (isn't that something?) knows that he is pretty much a lame duck, and that the Astros had to shed some payroll. But instead of trading Hunter Pence away for absolutely nothing, he got back a terrific haul of prospects. Cosart, Singleton and Zeid should all turn into terrific MLB players that will be able to help the 'Stros down the road.
Obviously, nothing is close to being good with the Astros. But with all of this transition in the organization, this trade was a very nice start. However, he loses points for a good-but-not-great haul for Michael Bourn.
Why the Yankees?
For lack of activity, the Yankees absolutely failed themselves this deadline. Sure, the price was steep for Ubaldo Jimenez. But to walk away from the deadline with nothing is simply unacceptable for a team in New York's position.
They are desperately trying to keep pace with the Red Sox, yet they did not improve themselves one bit. Does anyone honestly think the Yankees rotation is playoff-worthy? This writer doesn't, and at this point, an early exit from the playoffs is starting to look probable.
Why the Red Sox?
The Red Sox only did slightly better than the Yankees, but they did not make themselves significantly better. They got Mike Aviles, who is a nice piece to the team but no one that will make any jaws drop.
Then, they dealt for lefty Erik Bedard, who is not only injury-prone but inconsistent on the mound. While baseball's best team got much better, the second-best team barely improved. Again, for a team in this position, the Red Sox did not do enough to be considered winners.
Talk about a guy who needed a change of scenery. Beltran, who honestly is one of this generation's best pure outfield talents, has had his talent go down the drain in the miserable organization that is the New York Mets.
Now, he is a welcome addition to an offense-starved San Francisco Giants team. He provides a great bat, a solid glove and a veteran presence. Above all, Beltran finally has a chance to compete for a World Series, something he rarely had before. This was the right move for a good guy who deserves a true chance to win.
Melvin Emmanuel Upton has never truly been comfortable as a Tampa Bay Ray. He has the talent, that's for sure. But he has never seemed to find his niche in Tampa Bay. A change of scenery for him would have been nice, especially to a team in the thick of a playoff race.
But instead, he is staying put. There's a good chance he'll move after the season, but the fact that he wasn't traded by the deadline suggests something. Perhaps teams see his character as a bad influence on a contending team? Maybe his talent isn't that exciting? Either way, it would have been nice for Upton to have been moved.
Why the Pirates?
Baseball's most surprising team made it clear at this year's trade deadline that it is serious about making a playoff run. The Pittsburgh Pirates made two moves to acquire two veteran bats, first baseman Derrek Lee and outfielder Ryan Ludwick. Neither one is spectacular, but both of them are proven run-producers with playoff experience and leadership ability.
They will be excellent influences on a generally young team in Pittsburgh, and possibly part of something truly exciting for an organization that it seemed had forgotten how to win.
Why the Padres?
In my opinion, the Padres traded the wrong reliever. Trading Mike Adams got them a decent return of prospects from the Rangers, two very nice pitching prospects who have a chance to be good in a few years. But they got virtually nothing for Ryan Ludwick.
Do you think trading Heath Bell, a bona fide closer, to a contending team would have gotten them better return? For a team in disrepair, the Padres didn't exactly blow it, but they missed a big opportunity to make a stellar deal with Bell.
Why the D'Backs?
Another surprising team this year is the Diamondbacks, who are heavily breathing down San Francisco's neck in the NL West. With the Wild Card likely coming out of the NL East, the Diamondbacks approached the trade deadline looking to make moves to give them an edge over the Giants.
They acquired a very good bullpen arm in former Oakland reliever Brad Ziegler. Additionally, they traded with Washington to pick up Jason Marquis, who is a very solid inning-eating starter who will definitely help Arizona down the stretch. These moves might not put Arizona over the top, but they won't hurt, either.
Why the Giants?
Okay, so they're not totally losers. But here's my reasoning here:
The San Francisco Giants got an aging outfielder in Carlos Beltran and an aging shortstop in Orlando Cabrera. Beltran's having a nice year so far, and he could be a nice part of playoff run for them. But he comes with a huge price tag and a bigger question mark for the long term. Plus, was he really worth giving up Zack Wheeler?
Then, you have Cabrera, who is a marginal improvement at best at shortstop. In short, only time will tell if these trades were worth it. But right now, it looks like the Giants may have overpaid for Beltran.
Why the Rockies?
The Rockies are 10 games out of first place in the NL West, and despite a tradition of finishing the season on a hot streak, Colorado just doesn't look destined to make the playoffs this year.
Knowing that, and seeing an opportunity to make a big trade, the Rockies shipped their ace, Ubaldo Jimenez, to the Indians. In return, they got a series of great prospects, most notably lefty Drew Pomeranz. In addition to Rockies prospect LHP Tyler Matzek, it appears that pitching is going to be a focus for this team moving forward. It's a wise decision.
Why the Rays?
This is a team that is slowly and painfully eliminating itself from playoff contention. All off-the-field issues aside, the Rays are a team that constantly carries a low payroll and young, fresh faces.
Given all that, wouldn't it have made sense for the Rays to unload some of their veterans? Johnny Damon, Kyle Farnsworth, B.J. Upton and even pitchers Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann would have made sense. Instead, the Rays kept them all. Many of these guys will be gone after the season anyways, but why not get some good return in-season?
In any case, this seemed like a real missed opportunity for the Rays.
Rays GM Andrew Friedman was in the hospital this weekend after getting an appendectomy. He conducted business from the hospital bed. Badass.
Why the Tigers?
When a team is in the midst of a fierce battle to get to the postseason, they must be careful. Many teams will bet the farm and make unnecessarily big trades, sacrificing the future for the present.
For the Tigers, they handled that situation very well. Sure, they gave up some nice prospects, including Charlie Furbush and Casper Wells. But in return, they got some pieces that will absolutely help them in their quest to hold on and win the AL Central. By getting solid starter Doug Fister, excellent reliever David Pauley and utility man Wilson Betemit, the Tigers got better, possibly even good enough to solidify a playoff berth.
Why the Reds?
For a team supposedly on the edge of contention, the Reds sure blew it at the trade deadline. At times rumored to get Ubaldo Jimenez, the Reds instead failed to pull the trigger on any good trades. They lost power bat Jonny Gomes to the Nationals in their only transaction.
They could have made a move to unload Ramon Hernandez and open up space for catching prospect Devin Mesoraco. They could have made a deal for Jimenez, a true game-changing ace. But instead, the Reds stayed put and in turn, might have cost themselves a shot at the playoffs.
Why the little guys?
This deadline was very unusual in more ways than one. Most notable, however, were the teams involved in the trading.
The usual buyers like the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and Cubs were noticeably quiet. They left the buying to such teams as the Indians, Brewers, Pirates and Diamondbacks, who normally are not considered to be those "types" of teams. It was a refreshing breath of fresh air for baseball. It's about time that the little guys flexed their muscles a little bit.
Why the big guys?
As I said, it just wasn't the same feeling at the trade deadline this year. The Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers and Angels were all pretty much lame ducks. It's not a bad thing, but it definitely made the deadline a lot less exciting.
And even more so, it showed that these five teams, none of whom are exactly dominating their respective divisions, are comfortable with where they are. Baseball is all about a constant flow of players in, out and between teams. The big boys didn't contribute to that this time around.