Deadline winners and losers
Rangers, Yankees, Padres made great moves, while White Sox, Jays, Orioles didn't
As the rubble settles after a Richter Scale kind of Deadline Day, it's time to sort through the winners and losers of the Trading Deadline, 2010 Edition:
WINNERSCliff Lee), a run-the-staff-and-hit-for-the-cycle starting catcher (Bengie Molina), an RBI bat (Jorge Cantu) and a useful utility guy (Cristian Guzman), for nothing that figures to haunt them. Heck, Lee alone gives them a shot to win the World Series. And as one baseball man quipped, they did it all by "living the American dream: If you can't afford it, charge it." Ryan Ludwick, a guy with a better OPS this year (.827) than A-Rod (.825), and Miguel Tejada, a fellow they're hoping is still a winning player who just got swallowed up by the nightmare that engulfed him in Baltimore. Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood and Austin Kearns ain't what they used to be. But what exactly did the Yankees have to lose? They added less payroll ($4.8 million) than the Rangers -- and just gave up a bunch of second-tier prospects to fill potentially big holes. It's possible none of these guys will make an impact. But it's also possible the smell of October glory will revive them. And it was another display of the Yankees behemoth doing what the Yankees behemoth does best -- taking full advantage of its never-ending ability to absorb other people's dead money. Roy Oswalt and Berkman have hit the highway? Would you believe it's Wandy Rodriguez (in his sixth season), a guy who would barely know a Killer B if he saw one in his living room? Incredible, huh? But we look at that as a positive symbol of what's transpired here: Finally, this team has let itself turn the page. Finally, owner Drayton McLane has signed off on allowing his franchise to "quit holding onto what was and what was not going to be," said one NL executive. The Astros saved themselves $15 million. They got an underrated starter (J.A. Happ) to replace Oswalt, got a big league-ready bopper (Brett Wallace) to replace Berkman, did OK in their prospect haul and started looking at tomorrow. Finally. And it's about time. There's also some speculation this set the stage for McLane to sell the team, but that's another story. Adam Dunn as some kind of major black mark. But we'll withhold judgment on that front because the Nationals could still move him in August or sign him to an extension. In the meantime, they wind up in our winners column for turning Matt Capps, a man who was nontendered by the Pirates just last winter, into one of the best catching prospects in baseball, Wilson Ramos. "That was a big, big piece to add," said one executive. "They needed a catcher to grow with a very good young pitching staff, and they got him. That team's going in the right direction." Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson, Chad Qualls and Chris Snyder, with more undoubtedly on the way next month. And while the D-backs' young-player haul wasn't spectacular, they lopped at least $25 million off the payroll (depending on what Joe Saunders earns in arbitration). And for a team with big financial challenges, that was huge -- for now. But now comes the hard part: This team faces many more critical decisions in the months ahead. Jake Westbrook is the Cardinals' kind of pitcher. And he gives them not just one of the deepest rotations in the league but, more importantly, a rotation deep enough to match up with the Reds. "I think the Reds made them play this the way they played it," said one NL exec. "This was about winning the division they play in. They had to try to match up with the Reds. And now, I think they do." Ted Lilly figures to be a great fit for the ballpark. Ryan Theriot will be a much-needed energizer for a team that sometimes plays as if it's hooked on Tylenol PM. And while there are no Octavio Dotel Fan Club members typing away on this block, at least he's a power bullpen arm -- and you can never have enough in the NL West. Oh, and the Cubs and Pirates contributed about $3 million to the McCourt Divorce Court funds. What a country.
LOSERSManny Ramirez. We're still not exactly sure how the White Sox and Nationals came to misunderstand each other so badly on what it was going to take to get Dunn. But that scene didn't end pretty. Oh, there's still time for the White Sox to find a bopper in August -- and maybe it will be one of the boppers they missed out on over the last 72 hours. But for now, for a team that lives to make the big deal this time of year, this was a clear Mission Not Accomplished. Alex Gonzalez for Yunel Escobar, the Blue Jays otherwise frustrated a bunch of potential buyers by never moving Jose Bautista or the most attractive arms in a brutal bullpen market -- Scott Downs, Kevin Gregg and Jason Frasor. "They had a chance to really sell high," said an official of one club that got shut out. "I think they could have gotten huge value for Scott Downs, and they could have sold high on Bautista. I think they missed a real opportunity." If they're going to let those three relievers walk off into free agency for draft picks, "they'd better make some damned good picks," said another exec. "And they'd better hope none of them take arbitration if they offer it." Will Ohman-for-Rick VandenHurk deal. We'll get that out of the way fast. But how could a team that's on pace to finish 30 games out of next-to-last hang onto so much dead weight? Kevin Millwood destroyed all his value. And Jeremy Guthrie didn't help market himself, either. But how Ty Wigginton and Luke Scott could still be working there, we have no idea. "Everyone wanted Ty Wigginton," grumbled an official of one club. "I know they could have moved Luke Scott. And I think they could have moved Guthrie in a bad pitching market. They might be the biggest losers of all." Ramon Ramirez and Javy Lopez. But where's that bat the Giants had to have, needed to find and obviously pursued? This team seemed to be linked to every bat in Rumor Central, from Jose Bautista to Adam Dunn. But not dealing for any of them could turn into one of those critical missed opportunities to go deep into October. "They should have found a bat, no doubt about it," said one NL executive. "They've got the best pitching in the league. Give that team a little more offense, and look out." Mariano Rivera. "I hate to say this about them, because they're so good at what they do," said one baseball man. "But on this one, they panicked." Carl Crawford departs and the payroll plummets. So given the circumstances, it's tough to applaud the acquisition of only Chad Qualls as any kind of solution. For one thing, they took on all $1.5 million of his salary. For another, he's about the least dependable "quality" bullpen arm alive. "What can I say?" said an official of one rival team. "I'm just not a fan of that guy. He's Mr. Low Pressure. I just can't imagine walking into that Tampa Bay clubhouse and telling those guys, 'Hey, we got you Chad Qualls and his 8.50 ERA (OK, so it's actually 8.27). Now go get 'em.'" Click here to order a copy.
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