Don't hold your breath waiting for blockbuster trades
As the non-waiver trade deadline inches closer, baseball fans across the country are counting the days and hours.Surely, by Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, there will be countless deals, full of big-name players changing teams, leagues and the landscape of pennant races. After all, deadline mega-deals are all anyone's been talking about for the past few months. And that's the problem. We -- and by "we," I mean the media and people throughout baseball -- have conditioned baseball fans to expect blockbusters that are sure to either (A) propel their teams to the World Series or (B) restock their teams' rosters to ensure success in the near future. It's time we leveled with the fans: Ain't happening. Not for the vast majority, anyway. We might as well promise regularly scheduled doubleheaders, train travel between cities and flannel uniforms. All of those things are hopelessly passť, of course. And so, too, is the era when teams made big deals at the end of July, deals that truly impacted the standings. Maybe with all the talk -- it seems to increase exponentially each summer -- it's easy to forget that there's been precious little action. In July 2006, 42 players changed hands. But beyond Sean Casey and Bobby Abreu, we dare you to name them. As colleague Jayson Stark recently pointed out, gone are the days when a team could land Randy Johnson, David Cone or Bartolo Colon in midseason. There are plenty of reasons for this, including, but not limited to, increased revenue sharing, parity and the expanded playoff format. Teams stay in the race longer, meaning fewer teams are in sell-off mode shortly after the All-Star break. The introduction of the wild card has given more teams the belief (delusion?) that they still have a reasonable shot at reaching the postseason. The general economic health of the game means fewer franchises feel pressured into unloading salaries. And because prospects have become the true coin of the realm, the few teams willing to deal off valuable veterans set their asking prices so artificially high, few trades can be completed. But once spring training begins, the ritual begins again. General managers, talent evaluators and scouts develop collective amnesia. For its part, the media is complicit, with its own short institutional memory and willingness to pile on with the latest rumors and informed speculation. The rationalizations begin early. As teams leave Florida and Arizona, GMs and managers assess their rosters and concede that their clubs are perhaps a bit thin in -- choose one or more -- pitching, offense or depth. "But we can always address that at the deadline," they say, secure in the knowledge that there's plenty of time to augment and perfect their teams. Ah, the deadline! That's when mediocre teams become good, good teams become great and all the position needs are magically filled.
So many people have fantasy teams. I'm convinced they think deals are easy to make.
A baseball executive
JULY 31 TRADE DEADLINE
The Braves made the biggest splash before Major League Baseball's non-waiver trading deadline, acquiring switch-hitting slugger Mark Teixeira and hard-throwing reliever Octavio Dotel. The Red Sox also bolstered their bullpen with Eric Gagne.
• Braves get Teixeira, Dotel
• Red Sox deal for Gagne
• Giants swap Morris for Pirates rookie Davis
• Dodgers send Betemit to Yanks for Proctor
• Padres acquire Ensberg, Mackowiak
• Red Sox deal Pineiro to Cards
• Phils get reliever Mateo from Mariners
• Mets fill second base void with Twins' Castillo
• Phillies deal for righty Lohse from Reds
In the past week
• Astros deal Wheeler to Rays for Wigginton
• Reds get Cantu from Rays
• Phils get Iguchi from White Sox
• Rangers deal Lofton to Indians
• Padres get Hairston from D-backs
• Brewers get Linebrink from Padres
• Stark: Assessing the deadline deals
• Stark Market
• Trade scorecard
• Olney: Rangers did well with haul
• Fantasy: Deadline winners, losers
• Baseball America analysis
• Nelson: Trade can be hard on family
• Vote: Winners and losers?