Friday, July 31, 2009

2009 Trade Deadline

Major League Baseball's trade deadline passed this afternoon and the big name we've been hearing about for weeks didn't budge. That's right, the Blue Jays held onto their ace Roy Halladay and at least one of the teams that had attempted to broker a trade for him, the Phillies, managed to fair pretty well without him. Let's slow this down...here's your play-by-play of all things trade:

We've heard of teams that know they aren't in the thick of division races ridding themselves of payroll, but the Pirates have redefined team building. Last season they parted with their all-star caliber outfielders, Jason Bay (to the Red Sox) and Xavier Nady (to the Yankees), and this season they've parted with the rest of their semi-recognized starters and nearly the rest of their starting lineup--Nate McLouth (to the Braves), Adam LaRoche (to the Red Sox and quickly to the Braves), Freddy Sanchez (to the Giants), Ian Snell and Jack Wilson (both to the Mariners), Eric Hinske (to the Yankees), Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett (both to the Nationals). Those of you keeping score know that this means 17 new players for the Pirates in a grand total of 7 deals. Add to that the loss of Nady and Bay last season and you have nearly an entire 25-man roster in brand new Pirate uniforms.

The Indians traded away their ace, catcher, first baseman, reliever, and an outfielder. The Tribe will pick up eleven players in exchange for five, which, for a team that is rebuilding should work out pretty well. However, you have to wonder what exactly the strategy is in Cleveland--remember they traded CC Sabathia to the Brewers at the end of last season. You'd think with Cliff Lee (now of the Phillies), Victor Martinez (now of the Red Sox), Ben Francisco (also a Philly), Rafael Betancourt (now with the Rockies), and Ryan Garko (now of the Giants), the Tribe could have been in contention. I guess this is proof of how important Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore being healthy are to this franchise.

One trade in particular is being referred to as a wash, but the trade of Adam LaRoche to the Braves. The Red Sox just barely acquired LaRoche and in the last minutes before the trade deadline sent him to Atlanta for first baseman Casey Kotchman. Sure it is just a swap of two first basemen, but I think this is actually going to work very well. Kotchman, who was acquired by the Braves in the Mark Teixeira trade to the Angels last season, has always seemed to be an American League type of player. And Adam LaRoche was drafted by the Braves and spent quality time taking throws across the diamond from Chipper Jones. Kotchman never really fit in the Braves lineup and LaRoche brings an already established chemistry. Kotchman might find Boston a perfect fit and with the unknown of Mike Lowell in the Red Sox lineup, somebody is going to have to take the place of Kevin Youkilis when he makes the move to third.

Much can be said about the boosting of franchises by key trades. Clearly, the Giants, Phillies, Dodgers, Twins, Red Sox, Tigers, Marlins, and Cardinals have been given a boost by key signings. It may prove to be that last boost they need to make it to the playoffs, but there is one team that really did themselves a favor right before the deadline. The Chicago White Sox signed Jake Peavy in a trade that resembles the one they attempted earlier in the season. Time was really a factor here. Peavy, who has been out with a bad ankle, must have been ready to say goodbye to San Diego. Adding an ace like Peavy to a starting rotation that already includes the brilliance of John Danks and the perfect Mark Buerhle solidifies the White Sox lineup. Ozzie Guillen, who was in the news today for demanding the list of players who tested positive for steroids in 2003 be released so we can stop facing the news as individual names are released, has a solid shot in the American League Central where his White Sox are two and a half games behind the league-leading Tigers.

What was the biggest surprise of today's trading? Not that Roy Halladay wasn't traded. Not that the White Sox landed Peavy. Not even that teams that were in contention might be runaways with single trades. The big surprise today was that the Mets didn't make a single move. They've got an enormous payroll and they can't win their division or even keep it together through September. If any team should have started trading away players and ridding themselves of payroll it was the Mets. They've signed some of the biggest names in baseball (Putz, K-Rod, Santana) and they still can't win. Paging Mr. Minaya, you're the captain of a ship that sank two years ago. Problem is, you're the only one who can't see it. Okay, you and David Wright...

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