Monday, August 3, 2009

Breaking Down the Deals

To my left you will find a picture of Ken Phelps. During his career with the Yankees he played in 131 games, batted about .240, hit 17 jack jobs and had 51 rib eye steaks. He was acquired from the Mariners in 1988 for a little known outfielder by the name of Jay Buhner. 307 home runs, 950 rbis, and one cannon for an arm later, the Yankees looked like fools in this deal. The trading deadline is a time of big risks and big rewards for all teams involved. Let's take a look at this year's winners and losers.

St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals really bolstered their lineup at the deadline. Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa are two guys with proven success in the NL and in the playoffs, and will help protect El Hombre. Moreover, don't sleep on Julio Lugo. As much as I think he sucks, he has terrorized the Phillies in every game he has played against them and could possibly do the same against other NL teams. The Cardinals gave up some good talent for Holliday, who is essentially a rental player, but I think they have a good chance of signing him in the offseason. DeRosa and Lugo were acquired for a song and could provide many happy returns.

Philadelphia Phillies: The Phils are already reaping the dividends of the Cliff Lee trade. He dazzled against the Giants and looks to benefit from the trade to the NL. He will also get plenty of run support whenever the Phillies decide to wake their bats up again. As for the pieces they gave up to get Lee, I was not really impressed with any of them. Carlos Carrasco has been pretty bad in AAA ball, and Lou Marson did not look big league ready in his cup of coffee with the Phils this spring. Jason Donald and Jason Knapp appear to be promising players but both have struggled with injuries. Ruben Amaro looks like a genius after balking at the Roy Halladay demands and giving up much less to get Cliff Lee.

Boston Red Sox: I would have liked to see the Sox go after a shortstop too, but Victor Martinez is a huge upgrade behind the plate. Jason Varitek's act had worn pretty thin even by last year, and it was clear a change was needed offensively at catcher. The quesiton remains whether Martinez will be as good of a game caller behind the plate though. For what they gave up though (Justin Masterson and two minor leaguers) Martinez was a steal and will greatly improve that lineup.

Detroit Tigers: Jarrod Washburn was a great pickup for the Tigers. He will excel in cavernous Comerica Park and gives them the pitching necessary to take the AL Central crown. Luke French is a promising young pitcher but probably hates America, and Mauricio Robles has a funny name, so it seems that the Tigers got a pretty good deal here.

Pittsburgh Pirates: I don't think anybody knows what the Pirates are doing. Not even the Pirates organization. They have been in a "rebuilding mode" for about 20 years now, and just imploded their team again. If anyone from Pittsburgh tries to gloat about the Steelers or the Penguins, just mention that they don't have a pro basketball or baseball team.

LA Dodgers: This is one of those trades that can REALLY come back to burn a team. It seems that teams trading for middle relief always give up more than what they get. I cite two trades involving the Red Sox as examples; Jeff Bagwell (whose batting stance looked like he was taking a dump) to the Astros for Larry Anderson, and Heathcliff Slocumb (pronounced "Slow Cum") to the Mariners for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe. The Dodgers gave up a highly regarded 3rd baseman and pitcher for George Sherrill. These two players will almost certainly benefit the O's more than Sherrill will help the Dodgers. When teams know they need relief help though, they get desperate. Borst might like this factoid about Sherrill though:

"During the 2008 season, some of Sherrill's Baltimore teammates would flip up the brims of their hats every time he successfully closed out a game. Orioles fans nicknamed this move the Flat Breezy, and the Orioles television announcers would sometimes announce an Orioles win after a Sherrill save as "flat breezy time.""

Chicago Pale Hose: Jake Peavy is not going to help Chicago as much as anyone hopes. First of all there is the fact that he is returning for a serious ankle injury. Secondly, he is switching to the AL which is always tougher for a pitcher it seems. Finally, he is going from luxurious and spacious (can anyone catch the reference?) Petco Park to homer friendly U.S. Cellular Field. All signs point to trouble here.

All trades are risky, but some of these could really come back to bite some teams right in the behind. Chicago, LA and Pittsburgh could have some real Ken Phelps' on their hands after this trading deadline. Meanwhile, Boston, Philly, St. Louis and Detroit might have gotten some Jay Buhner's to push their team over the hump.


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