Each year at the trading deadline there are players who are absolute locks to be traded somewhere, and some teams who are absolute certainties to acquire those players. And then each year we fans are left stunned when one or both of these things do no happen.
Here are what I think are this seasons biggest shockers...I am certain I am leaving some off, as I’ve been interrupted several times while trying to complete this article.
What? Did I hear that correctly yesterday? The Padres did not deal Heath Bell, perhaps the best reliever on the market? How could that be? Were the Padres asking too much for him? Were teams just not interested in trading for a “hired-gun” who’s made it known he loves San Diego, just put in a pool at his house there and would love to resign?
Reports had Heath Bell going every from Texas to St. Louis to Philly, and none of them ponied up whatever the Padres were asking for their stud closer.
Equally surprising was that San Diego dealt controllable relieve Mike Adams and held onto expendable Chad Qualls.
Is it 2008 all over again? Have the Yankees thrown in the towel on the season? The Yankees are usually one of the busiest teams at the deadline, especially when they have needs. The 2011 version of the Yankees is a dominant, well-rounded team, but lacks the starting pitching depth to make a deep run through October. While there wasn’t a marquee name on the market this year, there were some pitchers would could have upgraded the Yankee rotation.
Wandy Rodriguez or Brett Myers of Houston, Jason Marquis of the Nationals (who went to Arizona), Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies (who went to Cleveland) all would have made for an upgrade over Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon---neither of whom can be trusted down the stretch. However it seemed the Yankees were unwilling to part with their better prospects for slight upgrades, and did not want to take on ridiculous contract (yeah, the Yankees...huh?)
The team the Yankees have now probably will not be the team they head into October with. Players will still be available once they clear waivers---no one is going to claim Wandy Rodriguez’s contract. If the Yankees target a pitcher who gets through waivers they could still be able to put a deal together.
For years the knock on Erik Bedard, a potential-ace left-hander, has been that he does not seem to care much about baseball. He plays the game simply because he has the talent and it pays the bills, but he’s not completely invested in it. He shined in Baltimore and then was dealt for a mother-load of prospects to Seattle a few years back, and has flamed out since. Boston didn’t need pitching as much as the Yankees did, but acquiring Bedard and tossing him into the heat of an August pennant race is dangerous, and might be what brings them back to the Yankees level.
Cleveland, in the heat of a pennant race for the first time since 2007 (apologies to those who were offended in a previous article when I stated they hadn’t been in one in a decade---I was mistaken had completely forgotten about 2007; I guess that’s what happens when I try to write an article at seven in the morning when my 18 month old has keep me up all night), are going for it. They’ve acquired probably the best starting pitcher on the market in Ubaldo Jimenez, mortgaging a big part of their future to do so. While they took a big risk in trading for a pitcher the Rockies did not need to deal, it’s a calculated risk to take in order to challenge for the AL Central crown. If they don’t make the playoffs they may regret it, but for a team run by a Dolan family member it’s a surprising move nonetheless.
St. Louis was supposedly in on Heath Bell until the very end, and surely could have used his arm in their bullpen. With the Brewers loaded up for a deep run, it probably was not the best time to pass on a player who could have helped out down the stretch---especially with Albert Pujols a free agent at the end of the year. St. Louis does not want Pujols’ last taste of St. Louis baseball before filing to free agency to be watching the team not go all-in in an attempt to win.
For the better part of the last two decades the American League has been the dominant of the two leagues, winning more All-Star Games and World Series championships.
The AL has often dominated the trading deadline, bringing in marquee players to suit up for championship runs. However, this year that seemed to change. The Giants, Phillies, Braves and Diamondbacks each made significant moves at the deadline, acquiring top-notch talent.
In the AL only the Rangers and Indians made significant moves to upgrade their rosters and bolster postseason their chances.
It will bring an interesting last two months of baseball, and in October we all start over.