Trade deadline had some winners and losers
Is it us, or did we just finish a trade-deadline July we'll look back on in 50 years and still find ourselves wondering: What the heck happened there?Think about the men who got traded, in a span of 24 action-packed days in July: A 600-homer guy (Ken Griffey Jr.). A 500-homer guy (Manny Ramirez). A 14-time All-Star catcher (Pudge Rodriguez). An incumbent Cy Young Award winner (CC Sabathia). The starting pitcher with the best strikeout ratio in baseball this year (Rich Harden). And the second switch-hitter in history to rip off four straight seasons of 30 homers, 100 RBIs and a .500 slugging percentage (Mark Teixeira). Whew. That should be a Hall of Fame ballot, not a shopping list of guys you could line up and trade for. Shouldn't it? We can't remember a parade of players like that ever landing in the same pre-deadline transactions column. And neither could anyone else we surveyed Thursday.
WINNERS• Yankees On the Fourth of July, they were nine games out of first and looking like just another .500-ish team. Now, here the Yankees are, a game behind the Red Sox, four games out of first, a bunch of glaring weaknesses shored up and no more Manny-mania to worry about. (Manny's career numbers against the Yankees: .321 BA, .1.029 OPS, 55 HRs, 163 RBIs in 200 games.) Now, they have a left-handed reliever (Damaso Marte) to haul out of the bullpen for every Big Papi occasion, a right-handed bat (Xavier Nady) to fill out the lineup against the Jon Lesters and Scott Kazmirs in their future and a Hall of Fame catcher (though a fading 36-year-old version of Pudge Rodriguez) to plug in for Jorge Posada. So, who would bet against their extending their hallowed stadium's life into October now? "Nobody," said one GM, "did a better job of putting pieces together than the Yankees." • Dodgers No one knows what the Dodgers are going to get from their man Manny these next two months. Not Joe Torre. Not Scott Boras. Not even Manny himself. But it won't be all good. We know that. Not when you have a slightly whacked-out man on a shameless money mission. Not when the manager has to figure out how to play five "regular" outfielders on one roster. And not, certainly, when Manny puts a glove on his hand.
LOSERS• Red Sox The eviction of Ramirez is a story with so many levels that it's impossible to sum them all up with a one-word label such as "winner" or "loser." We recognize that. There's also a value to subtracting a selfish, disruptive, divisive knucklehead like Manny from an otherwise-harmonious, purposeful clubhouse. We recognize that, too. And Jason Bay is a heck of a player, one who can stick around and patrol left field in Fenway next year, too. We recognize all of that. Honestly, if the Red Sox went out now and won another World Series, it wouldn't shock us a bit.
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. His book, "The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History," was published by Triumph Books and is available in bookstores. Click here to order a copy.
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TRADE DEADLINE: JULY 31, 2008
Baseball's July 31 trade deadline passed with a blockbuster: Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox to the Dodgers and Jason Bay from the Pirates to the Red Sox in a three-team deal.
• Updated trade deadline blog | Fantasy spins blog
• Rumor Central
• 2008 Trade Scorecard
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• Baseball Today: Buster Olney on Teixeira, Bay
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• Steve Phillips: MLB Trade Rumors
• Peter Gammons: Ramirez trade unlikely
• Indians trade Blake to Dodgers
• Yanks get Nady, Marte from Pirates
• Brewers get Durham from Giants
• Phillies get Blanton from A's
• Stark: Harden a risk, potential reward
• Cubs deal for Harden from A's
• Indians trade Sabathia to Brewers