Tagged: trade

It’s Been Awhile, but the Trade Deadline is Here!

Kids take alot of time.  Totally worth it…

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So what will the Rays do as the trade deadline looms? 

It seems that the Tampa Bay franchise is best when it avoids the big deal at the deadline.  The deals that make this team what is has been for the last four years or so are the deals that go unnoticed by the MLB public at large.  The Rays will likely end up picking up a guy off the waiver list and stand pat with what they have.

But, just in case…

WHO IS LIKELY GOING?

BJ Upton has already called the trade rumors about him “comical.”  It’s true.  A trade rumor about BJ is like all of the foreclosed houses in the area–omnipresent and depressing.

He’s a big talent, of course.  But he hasn’t utilized that talent at all, which makes him expendable.  Plus, he’s apt to make about $7 million in arbitration next year.

That REALLY makes him expendable. 

The best rumor I’ve heard is that he would go to the Nationals (they are doing things right in DC, aren’t they?) for their SS Ian Desmond and a catcher.  I’m a big fan of Desmond–of his speed, his power, and his youth.  Not many teams have strength at the SS position, so brining him to St. Pete would be great.

Let’s not forget that the Rays have Desmond Jennings, who is hitting .500 right now, primed to take BJ’s place. 

Oooooo, things do not look good for the underachieving Upton.

LIKELIHOOD: Medium

James Shields has had a TON of rumors about him.  The Reds seem to be the frontrunners in the “Big Game” sweepstakes.  However, I do not see the Rays, a team who is so shrewd when it comes to storing pitching, moving him.  His price next season will be $7 million, just like BJ, but that money for a solid #2 pitcher is much smarter to use than on a center fielder.

LIKELIHOOD: Miniscule

JP Howell has made a nice comeback from Tommy John surgery a few years ago, but he is not all the way back.  Nevertheless, there are suitors for the left-handed reliever.  They say that the Royals might want him back, but who wouldn’t want a strong lefty with a wicked curve in their bullpen?

LIKELIHOOD: Could Happen

Kyle Farnsworth has had a renaissance this season, becoming the closer the Rays thought they had lost when Rafael Soriano left town for the New York Yankees last season.  He would fetch a pretty penny on the market.  With the Rays falling out of the race, they can afford to experiment in the closer department.  Since Farnsie would ask for much more money next season, the Rays likely would not be able to afford him.  So…

LIKELIHOOD: Gone

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The bottom line is that the Rays listen to deals on all of its players.  Jeremy Hellickson has been mentioned in trades, but there is no way he’s going anywhere.  That doesn’t mean the Rays won’t listen.

Tomorrow will be a big day.  4 pm Eastern Time is the drop dead time, and it will be fun to guess about who is going where.  Unfortunately, for Rays fans, anyway, no matter what deals are done they will not lead to October. 

But next season, who knows…

Trayde Winds A-Blowin’

As many of you know, I have been pretty incommunicato this week due to a week of sipping cocktails poolside in Orlando. 

It’s been a good week.

I wanted to say alot about the upcoming trade deadline, but it has been difficult to find the time, obviously.

However, I do have some ideas of who might be coming to the Rays, who might be leaving the Rays, and who will be staying with the Rays.

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Who’s Comin’?

–With the rumor that the Yanks are near a deal to acquire Lance Berkman, I would say that the Rays have become the frontrunners for picking up slugger Adam Dunn.  They could do worse, for sure.  But I am not sure I would like to see the Rays give up players for a guy who will be here only for these final few months and more more.  That said, his incredible walk numbers, batting average, and power numbers will be a welcome addition to the DH slot.

Honestly, there is not alot of talk about who the Rays might try to pick up.  The front office has been very quiet on the subject.  I think that the Rays could use a stronger DH, surely, but a stronger 5th starter and another bullpen guy (never have enough of those) would strengthen this team as well.

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Who’s Goin’?

–Minor league pitcher Jake McGee will more than likely be moving on.  He has great talent, but it still not 100% after arm injuries.  He is young, and will likely recover completely, which makes him valuable as a future ‘pen guy or bottom of the rotation guy, a la Wade Davis.

Reid Brignac has done great things for the Rays this year.  His power surge as of late has really lifted this team.  But he is a man without a country.  Or a position, anyway.  He is a middle infielder in an organization full of ’em.  Jason Bartlett is too beloved by the Rays management to go anywhere.  Sean Rodriguez is the future 2b of the Rays (though he is kind of the present-day 2b of the Rays as well).  Brignac does not fit in.  He will somewhere else.

–This might be a longshot, but Wade Davis might be moved.  If he can bring in a solid bat, he will certainly be moved with the pitching depth the Rays have in the minors. 

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Who’s Stayin’?

Jeremy Hellickson will be moved when hell freezes over.  ‘Nuff said.

Jason Bartlett ain’t goin’ anywhere.  His arrival catapulted the Rays to the playoffs in 2008.  They expect a return to form in these final months.

–Minor league veteran Dan Johnson might lead the International League in slugging numbers, but that just makes him more valuable as a late-season callup for the Rays than a bargaining chip.  Plus, after Carlos Pena’s departure next season, he might inherit the 1b job.

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It’s late, but I wanted to get some thoughts down before the trades start a-flyin’.  I’m returning from poolside soon and I can’t wait to see what the Blogosphere’s intrepid writers have to say on the subject of the tradewinds.

Back soon!

The Bell Has Rung…Kaz Got His Wings

The Rays lost tonight.

And I’m not talking about the game with Detroit.

The on again/off again romance between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Scott Kazmir has reached its fitting end. 

Scott Kazmir is now an Angel.

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Took Long Enough

It’s been a long road, but somehow a deal got done.

The trade started back in July when the Rays were out scouting the Angels’ farm system for prospects.  At the time the rumor was that Kaz was on the block and a trade to the Angels was imminent.

Both teams denied the reports and the rumors quickly died–well before the July 31st trade deadline.

Nothing was said for weeks.  Then reports started to leak this afternoon from the LA Times that a deal was done and Kazmir was an Angel.  Coming over in the trade were lefty Alexander Torres and 3B Matt Sweeney.

Alas, the trade was NOT done.  It fell through because the Rays wanted one more player.

Cue ominous music:

Duh-duh-duhhhhhhhhhhhh.

I reported that, thankfully, the Rays were going to hang on to their 25-year-old lefty and that that was a good thing.  They were fighting for the playoffs, after all.

No news was good news.

Until there was news.

After the Rays loss to Detroit this evening, news came out that Kaz had, indeed, been traded.

We were shocked!

The Rays apparently got what they wanted in Torres, Sweeney, and a player to be named.

The fans lost a favorite player, and More Cowbell lost the ability to wear a certain pitcher’s t-shirt.

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Clubhouse Fallout

Kaz was not only a fan favorite, but also a teammate fave.  He seemed to click very well with youngster David Price.

That could have been a bad thing, considering that Price, upon being called up this year, immediately took on some of Kaz’s traits:

          Throw lots of fastballs, work slowly, and get pulled before the 6th inning.

Regardless, you have to imagine that such a positive guy as Kaz being gone will negatively affect the Rays clubhouse and make players search for what is the next step. 

It should also cause them to question the front office’s faith in their ability to win this wild card spot.

Keep in mind that Kazmir was starting to come around.  He had been solid in his last 8 starts, going 4-2 with a 4.41 ERA.  He had thrown 6+ innings in 7 of those 8 starts and dominated Wednesday night with 10 Ks.

He was starting to look like the guy who set franchise records for wins, innings, strikeouts, starts, and quality starts. 

And, despite his good-faith contract signing for much less money than he could have gotten on the free agent market recently, the Rays STILL shipped him off for prospects in what can only be seen as a cost-cutting move.

A cost-cutting move during a playoff run!?

Idiots.

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Potential Fan Reaction

I think that Rays fans are going to be mixed on this one.

On one side will be the fans who remember the last 2+ years during which our once golden child struggled to get out of the 5th inning.  The kid who set the bar for all future starters for this frahchise.

They’ll remember the guy who was the DEAL OF THE CENTURY when we stole him from the New York Mets for who WAS our franchise record holder in wins etc, Victor Zambrano.

That was a Chuck Lamar deal…one of the few things he did right while with the Tampa Bay franchise.

They’ll remember him as the Icarus of the team who fell much too quickly and disappointed us much too strongly.

Remember when he was the fixture of the rotation?

Remember when EVERYBODY saw him as the team’s ace, the only 2-time pitcher All Star in franchise history.

He was supposed to be one of the greats.

The fall was quick and hard.

Those fans are going to be excited about this 21 year old pitcher and his 21 year old counterpart 3B and what they will bring to the Rays 1-2 years down the road.

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The other side will remember a kid with blonde hair and a cherub face who was ready to help a terrible team get better.  A kid who went out every 5th day from, seemingly, the beginning and threw gems. 

A kid who just won–Period. 

He was a kid who made us forget we rooted for one of the worst teams of all time.  He gave us hope when we had none.

Those fans are going to miss him.  They’ll miss the “Kaz” and “Kid K” nicknames and wonder if this deal is going to be something we rue as much as the Mets did when they dealt him in the first place.

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Personal Memory

What I’ll remember most of the kid was one game during the “Devil Rays” days when his teammates decided to have fun with him one night.

It was miraculous that the cameras caught it, but one night Kaz’s teammates (I believe it was Jonny Gomes) decided to make Kid K look stupid.

They blew up a Dubble Bubble bubble and pinched it off.

Then they placed it on his head.

Scott went most of the game with that bubble on his head.  His teammates fell out every time he came up to shoot the sh– with them.

Of course, this kid had no idea why he was so funny all of a sudden.

He smiled and waved at the cameras everytime he saw the red light come on.  He thought he was suddenly some kind of celebrity, though he had no idea why.

After a few innings he took his hat off.  And the camera caught him going nuts over the fact that he had been on tv all night long with a HUGE bubble gum bubble on his head.

I’ll always remember that one.  It was one of the funniest moments I’ve ever had watching a baseball game.

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Where Do We Go From Here?

The Rays acquired two very young, but very talented, players from the Angels farm system.  Both guys played primarily at Class-A the last year or so, but recently were promoted to Class-AA.

Alex Torres was named the organization’s pitcher of the month for July for putting up stellar numbers.  He was just moved to Class-AA Arkansas.

Matthew Sweeney missed the entire 2008 season with an ankle injury and two months of the 2009 campaign.  He still impressed enough for the Rays to get him, but his power numbers this season (9 hrs) are not impressive at all.

As fans, we’ll just have to wait and see just who got fleeced in this deal.  I don’t see this as a win/win situation.  I see this as a “somebody beat somebody else” situation. 

I don’t know if the Rays got the best of this deal, but I doubt it very much.

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Final Thoughts

I don’t want to be too negative here.  The deal is done.  Kaz is no longer a Ray.  We have to deal with losing our franchise’s best starting pitcher ever.

What makes me more upset than anything is simply the timing. 

According to reports, Kaz could have been moved around the trade deadline. 

Know who we could have gotten?

Mr. Cliff Lee

You know.  Mr. 5-0 sub-1.00 ERA for the Phillies, Cliff Lee.

Instead we’re getting two guys (and a player to be named) who have yet to reach AAA. 

These moves do not win you Executive of the Year, Andrew Friedman.  These moves make you a joke.

Not only does the timing of this move stink because of what we COULD have had, but it makes the Rays look like they are giving up on the post season.

It is as if the Rays are showing the team–and their fans–that they don’t think making it to October is plausible, so moving a surging pitcher now is not that big of a deal.  Might as well get what we can for him, right?

Moving Kaz is not the bad move. 

Moving Kaz NOW is what makes this stupid.

I’ll admit, my confidence in this team’s committment to winning this year is now shaken.  I bet I speak for lots of fans when I say that.

Regardless, I wish Kazmir luck in California.  He’ll certaily help out that Angels rotation.  Maybe he’ll even get his elusive World Series ring.

I’m sure he’ll enjoy it.

But, no doubt, he–and we–would have enjoyed it alot more if he could have earned that ring playing for the team that annointed him a Golden Child.

We called him “Kaz.” 

And he’ll be missed.

East Coast Kaz?

I think that the things worked out for the best–for now.

I’m afraid to post this since it could be rendered irrelevent in the next 20 minutes by this on again/off again romance between the Angels and Kaz.  Remember around the trade deadline the Rays were off scouting Angels minor leaguers while the Angels were making some noise about wanting Kazmir.  Both teams said it was nothing more than pure coincidence.

Ah, the politics of baseball.

However, after reading things around the net and listening to local sports radio, it seems as if the potential deal that would send Scott Kazmir to the Angels is officially

D-E-A-D

That could be a good thing.

Or not.

It seems stupid to analyze a deal that wasn’t, but I’m going to take a look at this thing anyway.

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Bad Idea to Trade Kaz

THE CLUBHOUSE: 

Moving Kaz now would have done much damage to the Rays.  Remember that this is a team trying to get into the playoffs.  Why would you ever want to mess with one of the team’s more dominant starters (right now, anyway) when they are sitting just 3 1/2 games out of the wild card spot?

Don’t forget also the potetial effects that trading a popular guy in the clubhouse could have on the team.  Right now the Rays are getting close to having the chemistry that they had in 2008, and a move of a guy of Kaz’s stature could undo all of that.

HIS YOUTH AND TALENT:

Let’s not forget that Kazmir is just 25 years old.  He ain’t some washed up has-been.  You don’t often see teams trade their all-time leader in wins BEFORE the guy’s 26th birthday!

HE TOOK LESS MONEY:

From a moral standpoint, I don’t think that moving Kazmir would have been the right thing to do.  I know we are talking about millionaires here, but when the Rays were hoping to keep their young talent (Upton, Crawford, Longoria, etc…), Kazmir agreed to a contract that paid him less than what (at the time) he could have made elsewhere. 

He said he took the deal because he loved the Rays.  He said that taking less money meant he could stay here for his career.  He knew the Rays were a team that could not afford to pay guys $15 million. 

So he took a more reasonable contract to stick around St. Pete.  It would seem wrong to trade him now.

WHITE FLAG?:

Let’s not forget what trading a suddenly-dominant rotation member would mean to a team fighting for the wild card. 

It would mean surrender.

If all you were going to get in return (look below) was a couple of prospects, I don’t know what else it could mean to trade a guy like Kaz.  When your team thinks that the front office has given up, they often follow.

THIS DEAL SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE IN JULY!: 

If we were going to move him, why not do so in July?  We could have gotten much more.  Look at what the deal would have been if the Rays had worked things out in a 3-team deal back around the trade deadline:

According to the Seattle Times

The Mariners, you might remember, were linked to Kazmir at the trade deadline in a rumored three-way deal that would have sent Brandon Morrow and Jeff Clement to Cleveland, Cliff Lee from Cleveland to Tampa Bay, and Kazmir and shortstop Reid Brignac to Seattle. It never came to fruition, obviously.

 

WHAT WE WOULD GET IN RETURN:

Finally, I took a look at the prospects we would have gotten for Kaz.  Not impressed.  Not terribly impressed, anyway.  We would have gotten a left hander named Alexander Torres and a third baseman (like we need one) named Matthew Sweeney.  Those guys were good, but they were not going to get us to October.

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Good Idea to Trade Kaz

DOUBTFUL RESURGENCE:

I don’t think that Kaz’s sudden turnaround is for real.  I think that due to the teachings of one Jim Hickey, or maybe just due to Kaz’s loss of control, Kazmir will not be the pitcher he was.  In that way, we might have missed out on an opportunity.

TORRES WAS GOING TO BE GOOD:

Torres had already won several awards in the Angels’ minor league system.  He was only 21.  His next stop (probably next year) was the Angels rotation.  Plus, he is more than likely making NO MONEY and could free the Rays up to go after a solid starter for next season.

OPENS UP ROTATION:

Moving Kazmir would have opened up a spot in the rotation that does not exist right now.  Perhaps a spot that guys like Mitch Talbot could take over.  And let’s not forget the money thing again.  Promoting a minor leaguer for next year saves money and–maybe–gives us a guy who can actually go more than 5 innings.

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As I post this I see online the news starting to get out that the deal fell through.  It is funny because the LA Times reported that the deal was done. 

Bad reporting.

I wonder, though, if keeping Kaz is the best thing for the team.  I want to think it is. 

Since the All-Star Break Kaz has gone 4-2 with a 4.41 ERA in 8 starts.

That’s not great, but it is enough to get you to October. 

But I just don’t get that excitement about having Scotty in the rotation anymore.  I don’t think he is going to continue to get better.  I am dubious about how much he can help us in the rotation next year.

Maybe he can be a closer?  Hmmmmmm….

No matter what, I have to cheer a little bit about keeping one of the Rays’ best deals EVER (Kaz for Victor Zambrano!) in the fold.

I can still wear my Kazmir t-shirt!

That makes it all worth it…

West Coast Kaz?

This all seems to be coming together pretty quickly as the Rays and Angels are currently working out a deal to send Scott Kazmir to Los Angeles/Anaheim/California.

Right now the sports news outlets are saying that a deal is “close,” and little else. 

We don’t know what players might be involved or how the deal might be structured.

I’m surprised that the Rays were able to sneak Kaz through waivers.  No team wanted a 25-year-old lefty starter who can throw 94 mph?

Seriously?

I know he is making a little money these days, but not enough to dissuade teams such as the Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox, and White Sox from trying to get him.

So, do those clubs know something we don’t?

I can’t say I’m surprised that the Rays want to move Kazmir, who makes much too much money for a guy with a barely sub-6.00 ERA and who, for the last few years, has been unable to go past 5 innings.

However, I would be upset to see my guys send him west for anything less than a pitcher who could help us reach October.

I think Kaz is that pitcher right now, so moving him is slightly perplexing–if it does happen.

I know that there will be many sad Rays fans if this goes through (Ginny, get ready for heart ache!). 

My gut is hoping it falls apart, but my brain says it is the right move for the future of this team. 

I don’t think it is the right move right now, though. 

Gradin’ the Tradin’: Part II

The first post I put out a few days ago was only to rate the trades that occurred on Friday, the trading deadline day. 

However, I got a few e-mails asking me why I left out one trade or the other.  They got me to thinking….why NOT go through the notable trades from the trading deadline and just before? 

I enjoyed arguing with some of you through comments and e-mail about what you thought of some of the trades.  Good times…

This post might be more for me than anybody since I LOVE trades and how they affect teams.  I think they are something that is utilized by baseball better than any other sport and is part of the reason why this game is so grand.

Again, I’m primarily looking at the team that is the bigger part of the deal, though in some cases I grade both teams.

So without further adieu….here is part deux. 

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Deal:  Reds trade Edwin Encarcion et al to the Blue Jays for Scott Rolen

Analysis:  It seemed that Encarnacion never really got it going in Cincinnati.  He hit a load of dingers last year, but the average the last few years was never really what Dusty Baker wanted (.209 in 2009).  I don’t see him being the 3B of the future for the Jays, unfortunately.  However, from what I’ve read about the two young pitchers who were also sent to the Jays, the real value might be there.  These two pitchers might make an impact on Toronto this season, which would make the Jays winners here.  The Reds get an aging 3B who might be able to help out a little next year.  While the Reds play in a strong offensive park, the fact is that Rolen is 34 and has seen his best years pass him by.

Grade:  Reds–C+   Jays–B+

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Deal:  Jerry Hairston, Jr. to the Yankees for a Single-A catcher

Analysis:  This just doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.  Of course, the Rays are notorious for making the “not a big deal” trades that end up getting them a bunch of wins.  Maybe the Yankees have been taking notes.  They already went into the Rays’ playbook to make a deal for Eric Hinske earlier in the year, after all.  Hairston, Jr. has speed and versatility.  For those reasons he might be a nice guy to have on a team.  A National League team.  I don’t see him helping the Yanks out too much.  Then again, New York didn’t give up much, either.

Grade:  B-

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Deal:  Brewers deal to get Claudio Vargas from the Dodgers

Analysis:  The Brewers needed a starter.  A good starter.  They needed somebody to help them contend with the Cubs, Cardinals, and, suddenly, the Astros.  Instead they dealt for a bullpen guy in LA who they actually had not that long ago and dumped because of his ineffectiveness.  They didn’t give up much, but they didn’t get much, either.

Grade:  D-

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Deal:  Cubs get John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny from Pirates

Analysis:  This is a case where I think both teams won out.  The Pirates got a young hurler in Kevin Hart and a strong piece of the bullpen in Jose Ascanio.  The Cubs needed a starter in Gorzelanny (he’ll start this week) to fill in for Ted Lilly and they needed a strong lefty in the ‘pen in Grabow who will take the place of the Tommy John-bit Neal Cotts.  Grabow will complement Sean Marshall in the bullpen and add some stability to a shakey group.

Grade:  A for both teams (especially because of the mad kung fu skills of Gorzelanny)

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Deal:  Royals get Josh Anderson from the Tigers

Analysis:  This guy was got for cash.  That’s it.  Typically these deals are non-issues.  This one fits in with that characterization.  So why are we talking about it?

Grade:  Who cares?

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Deal:  The Giants get Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates

Analysis:  The Pirates are becoming to be old hat in these trade discussions.  With that said, the Bucs are doing the right thing.  Sanchez was scheduled to make $8 mill next year.  That’s too rich for a team with so many holes.  I was hoping that the Rays would get this guy–he’s one of my faves–so that they could move Ben Zobrist’s rocket arm and huge bat to right field.  Alas, not to be.  This move will probably lead to the Giants releasing Rich Aurelia and his salary.  Sanchez will help the Giants.  The Pirates got a pitcher in Tim Alderson who will help them–in the future.

Grade: B+

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Deal:  Phillies land Cliff Lee from Indians 

Analysis:  C’mon, do we have to talk about this one?  I was hoping the Rays might get active here, and they were, but not as active as the Series champs.  They got Lee, gave up some guys they’ll miss, and promptly saw him throw a complete game shutout.  ‘Nuff said.

Grade:  A

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Deal:  Mariners get Jack Wilson from Pirates for a bunch o’ guys

Analysis:  The M’s got the shortstop they had hoped they had in Yuniesky Betancourt.  When they realized Betancourt was a flop defensively, they shipped him to Kansas City–where he’s struggled.  Wilson is a solid piece of the future puzzle for the M’s and will get them some wins in the future.  The guys the Pirates got will be helpful, but not too helpful right away.  Ronny Cedeno is flopping right now and catcher Jeff Clement was not sparking the way the Mariners wanted.  I thought that the addition of Clement might lead to the Bucs moving Ryan Doumit–to the Rays.  Not so.  Oh well.

Grade:  Mariners–B+    Pirates–B

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Deal:  White Sox get Mark Kotsay, Red Sox get Brian Anderson

 

Analysis:  No doubt, the White Sox won this trade–right now.  The White Stockings got a premiere pinch hitter who can play almost any corner position.  He is a veteran who can fit in immediately with is new team and pay dividends as they push for October.  The Red Stockings got a supreme underachiever in Anderson.  He might develop, though, into a guy who might be the utility outfielder Rocco Baldelli is supposed to be.  With JD Drew on his way out (c’mon, folks, he’s hurt, like, ALL THE TIME) this might be a good add–next year.

Grade:  White Sox–B+    Red Sox–B+ (potentially)

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Deal:  Giants get Ryan Garko for Single-A pitcher

Analysis:  Garko was a fan fave in Cleveland, but he was going to be up for big money in the off season.  So he was shipped.  He was taking playing time away from guys the Indians really wanted to see and they did not view him as a piece of the future.  He has a gift for being offensive–in a good way–and should help the Giants offense get going.  The guy Cleveland got will be good two years from now.  That’s something to be happy about in Clevelend–and there isn’t much these days.  However, the move will give more AB’s to superstar-in-the-making Matt LaPorta

Grade:  B

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Deal:  Matt Holliday goes to St. Louis

Analysis:  Waste of time to talk about.  He’s hitting .529!!! 

Grade: A+ (and it sickens me to say that)

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Sorry if the pics got a little weird there at times.  I’m as distracted by the strange moments of our favorite sport as anybody.

I think that runs down most of the more notable trades that have occurred the last few weeks (and a couple of not-so-notable trades). 

I think that this time of year is the most captivating of any sport out there.  Teams are fighting for division titles.  Others are scrambling for wildcard berths.  Franchises are deciding whether to buy or sell.  Squads are scouting for both this and next year–and with a do-or-die attitude.

It’s just great.

And the waiver-wire trades are going to get going soon too.  Teams have to make waiver deals before August 30th if they want that guy to be eligible for the post season.

And the countdown begins.

 

And if anybody asks me about the Julio Lugo deal……..

Gradin’ the Tradin’

Ah, well.  The Rays did not make any moves at the trade deadline.  Despite two glaring needs, the team was unable to do that trade that might have helped to shore up some weaknesses for the final playoff push.

I don’t know that moves HAD to be made.  This team stood pat last year and was able to utilize the huge talent it had to make it to October.  This year’s iteration of the Rays is not much different, and should be able to ride its talent–both here in the majors and in the minors–to a division crown or wildcard berth. 

It ain’t gonna be easy, though.

Even though I can’t look at any moves the Rays made, I wanted to take a look at the multitude of moves made yesterday and grade how each move should help each team.

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Deal: Red Sox trade for Victor Martinez

Analysis: Jason Varitek has not been what the Sox have needed this year.  Sure, he’s led the team as an old grizzled veteran should, but little more than that.  Add in the fact that Mike Lowell’s hip is not long for this season and you have a need at catcher and first base.  Well, the Red Sox filled those needs with the addition of Martinez.  One of the more coveted players available at the deadline, the versatile Martinez might just be the piece that complete the playoff puzzle for the Sox

Grade: A+

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Deal:  White Sox trade lots of young arms for Jake Peavy

Analysis:  Initially this looks like a great deal.  The White Sox were able to rekindle interest in moving Peavy late Friday (interest that waned early in the season) and finally consummated the deal.  Why Peavy would want to pitch in hitter-friendly US Cellular Field in a new league is beyond me, but he had his reasons to waive his no trade clause.  The Sox got a pitcher who is not ready to pitch now and might not be ready for several more weeks.  The Padres got a plethora of arms that should help them long term.

Grade:C+

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Deal:  Twins acquire Orlando Cabrera

Analysis:  I don’t like Cabrera.  Let’s get that out of the way.  I don’t like the way he tried to make some lame point in the playoffs last year against the Rays.  I am glad Grant Balfour struck him out, though.  Why do I say all this pointless blather?  Because this is a perfect move for the Twins.  And if I’m saying that with the way I feel, then you know it is good.  The Twinkies needed a strong shortstop, and they got it.  He will hit 2nd in the lineup ahead of Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer and will help that offense really get going.  And his defense will be welcome in the Metrodome–especially if you saw the bumbling of Brendon Harris in last night’s game.

Grade:A

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Deal:  Tigers get Jarrod Washburn

Analysis:  Washburn was not going to be able to help the Mariners make the playoffs this year.  And he was going to ask for more money than the M’s would be willing to pay him after the end of this season.  For them, this is a great move.  For the Tigers, this move makes sense.  They will now have a solid 1-3 in the rotation.  Plus, the move enabled them to keep pace with the moves the Sox and Twins made within the division.  But can Washburn keep up his torrid pitching?  I don’t think so.

Grade:  B-

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Deal:  Braves and Red Sox exchange 1B: Adam Laroche and Casey Kotchman

    

Analysis:  The Braves have fallen out of love with the guy they acquired for Mark Teixeira not that long ago.  Why?  They want more home runs.  Kotchman has just 6 this year.  But the guy is hitting .283 and plays a decent 1B.  Laroche, on the other hand, struggles to hit .250 and only has 13 dingers this year.  Each guy has only around 40 RBIs.  This is kind of a non-deal–much like the Jeff Francoeur for Ryan Church deal earlier.  What are the Braves thinking?

Grade:  Braves–C             Red Sox–B

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Deal:  Marlins trade for the Nats’ Nick Johnson

Analysis:  Everybody seems to love Nick Johnson.  I don’t get it.  He’s a marginal hitter, and ok fielder, and he might actually be slower than our own Pat Burrell.  What’s the deal?  When the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez was told of the trade, he reportedly pumped his fist and yelled “YES!”  Why?  This might help the Marlins shore up their infield by moving Jorge Cantu to 3B and allowing Johnson to man 1B, but that’s about it.  But, the Fish did not give up much for him so…

Grade:  B

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Deal:  Rockies get Joe Beimel from the Nats

Analysis:  Make fun of the Pirates all you want, at least it seems they are getting a direction in mind for the franchise.  The Nationals don’t have a clue.  They dumped a solid lefty bullpen guy in Beimel to get two youngsters–one of which, I read, is recovering from surgery.  Ugh.  This deal should help the Rox, but not that much.

Grade:  B

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Deal:  Dodgers send minor leaguer 3B Josh Bell to O’s for closer George Sherrill

Analysis:  I’m looking at both sides of the coin on this one.  The Dodgers acquire a solid closer who has been more and more consistent as the season has gone on.  Thus, right now the Dodgers have one of the more potent 8th- and 9th-inning guys out there.  The Orioles got a guy I hadn’t heard much about, but about whom I read is something special at 3B.  Melvin Mora won’t be long in an O’s uni, so getting Bell, who might get a callup sometime next year, plays out perfectly for Baltimore.  This team is going to be pretty exciting come next season. 

Grade:  D’s–B+        O’s–B

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As with any trade that went down in the last few days, we will have to wait and see how things go.  Of course, the Cardinals have gotten immediate returns on their move as Matt Holliday has TORN IT UP since his arrival in St. Louis.

Lots of the deals above included young minor leaguers.  Their value is not entirely quanitfiable just yet, but it may be sooner rather than later.

Either way, Friday was lots of fun.

Even if the Rays did do nothing.