On an episode of The Fresh Prince, Will Smith was asked “What baseball?”, to which he responded, “What baseball? Baseball sport where man with stick hit ball and run” in a Cuban accent, no less:
The July 31st non-waiver trade deadline ended on Tuesday at 4PM. Not that drama can’t ensue after this date, teams have until August 31st to trade players via waivers.
To reflect on this recent trade deadline, I am separating the biggest champs (or prospective World Series Champions) from the biggest chumps. Why? Let’s be honest: this deadline brings front-runners, division leaders and Wild Card chasers either closer to their goals or not.
This deadline did not come short of talented, maybe under- or overrated pieces that multiple teams coveted (see Dempster, Grienke) by multiple teams. Thus creating bidding wars, drama, and the type of angst MTV would want to profit off of. All in all, 31 deals this year lead us to a short list of projections.
Let’s begin by starting with the chumps, because good news always makes tough situations better (records and positions in divisions as of Wednesday).
Top 4 Chumps:
- New York Yankees (61-43, 1st place AL East) — Obtaining perennial All Star Ichiro Suzuki from the Mariners does not make up for the weeks Alex Rodriguez will miss in this most crucial times of the season. As hard as it is to call a 1st place team a chump, their ailing, but returning rotation could maneuver an AL playoffs appearance, maybe to the ALDS. Their lack of movement is uncharacteristic, the free spending Yankees made no noise, aside from Ichiro. How does getting one of the best hitters of his era from lead-off to end of the line up will play out in the playoffs, but he’s a professional hitter, and as usual, I am sure it will work out for the Yankees.
- New York Mets (50-54, 3rd place NL East 12 GB) — As the Mets continue to thank the baseball Gods for David Wright. They are chumps because they made NOT ONE MOVE this trade deadline (for all of the trades check out CBSSportsline.com for all of the deadline moves). Injuries to Johan Santana and others made some type of deal obvious, but their lameness makes them a chump.
- Miami Marlins (47-56, 4th place 47-56 NL East 14 GB) — All I have to say is FIRE SALE EVERYONE?!?! Assuming Josh Johnson is in the beautiful Miami Marlins new stadium next year, proves the ineffectiveness of the Marlins management. Fans in the seats, an incendiary manager in Ozzie Guillen keeping them middle of a tough division only sends Miami in a tailspin. People wonder why the disparities in teams in MLB, this is one of the reasons why.Burdened with heavy contracts of dissatisfied, under performing stars forced their hand to trade. Sending Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers, to the SP Anibal Sanches and 2B Omar Infante Tigers, and 1B Gaby Sanchez and RP Kyle Kaminska to the Pirates, plus a few others breeds another rebuilding for this franchise. Johnson cost too much to be dealt during this deadline, who knows for next year.
- Chicago Cubs (43-60, 5th place NL Central, 19 GB) — Theo Epstine came rite the ship of a constantly down franchise who just can’t make the right moves. They rid themselves of Dempster and a hand full of other veteran players only to have a few rich guys playing with Scrubs. They sit only above the Houston Astros in the basement of the NL Central.
Top 4 Champs:
- LAA Angles (59-47, 2nd place AL West, 3 GB) — Getting the best pitcher available in Zach Grienke seals this victory for the Angels. Maybe three players for one is steep, but if they can make this more than a rental, this could make up for a seemingly failed John Lackey experiment.
- L.A. Dodgers (56-50, 2nd place NL West, 1.5 GB) — My favorite move: Hanley Ramierez. A beautiful pick up from the Marlins, despite the large amount of money he’s owed. You add Shane Victorino from the Phillies and Branding League from the Mariners add so much depth to their team, much like what the Braves did, except star power means something in deals like this. The new ownership group there, led by Magic Johnson, definitely helped get some of the best athletes in baseball in Dodgers Stadium.
- Texas Rangers (59-47, 1st place AL West) — Beyond Josh Hamilton’s slump as of late, the Rangers just keep winning. Uncle Ron (AKA Rangers Manager Ron Washington) is the coolest man in all of baseball, guiding a solid ball club like Don Cornelius led Soul Train audiences to funky grooves. The victor in the Ryan Dempster courtship this trading period, they (slightly) bolstered their already excellent rotation.
- Atlanta Braves (59-44, 2nd place NL East, 2.5 GB) — I have to add my team. They were spurned by Ryan Dempster in a potential trade, sending right-hander Randall Delgado to the Cubs. With the surprise of Ben Sheet’s return to the mound making up for the poor performance of Jair Jurrjens and the inconsistent pitching of Mike Minor and Tommy Hanson, needs for a solid starter were evident. The Braves did make a trade with the Cubs, acquiring starting right-hand pitcher Paul Maholm. In also acquiring veteran OF Reed Johnson in the same trade adds depth to their bench and an extra utility player, making the Braves viable and full of hitters from either side of the plate. For the former Cubs, the Braves parted with valuable minor leaguer RH Arodys Vizcaino and SP Jaye Chapman. While Vizcaino has not played in 2012 since having Tommy John surgery in April, but was regarded as one of the best in the Braves farm system. Also acquiring SS Paul Janish on July 14th from the Reds continues to add utility and depth to a bench that loves to hit (aside from Uggla and his awful hitting streak). Braves GM Frank Wren called them a “perfect fit” to a good ballclub pushing towards September and beyond.
On the Fence:
- Philadelphia Phillies — Not that they are in heavy contention for any type of crown. The once dominant team of the National League has so much money tied into specific players, specifically in pitchers. Now at the bottom of the N.L. East, the Phillies are looking up at once-lowly Washington Nationals by a double digit deficit. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the Phillies have $374 million in pitchers alone (Hamels, Paplebon, Lee). Not to mention the money owed to Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins through 2014-15, the Phillies didn’t have much room to sign another big name. Trading Shane Victorino to the Dodgers and Hunter Pence to the Giants for minor league players and cash considerations, consider this a trying to make wiggle room for moves in the future. Resigning Hamels for a six-year, $144 million contract removing him from being traded is why they’re on the fence. No doubt this is a disappointing season, but trade deadline season next year will be the catalyst to how they move in the future.
The addition of the second Wild Card spot helps the need for more movement now and through August 31st. Expect the middle of the pack/ front runners to possibly make more waiver moves, if necessary to full the voids not filled post All Star break.
Information used in this article from Yahoo Sports, MLB.COM, ESPN.COM, AJC.COM, The Bleacher Report, CBSSportsline.com. Images from Google, video from YouTube.