The trading deadline finished with a fury as several teams, including all three contenders in the American League Central, attempted to upgrade their teams. Did they succeed? Some did. Some did partially. Others fumbled. Let's break it all down.
Winners: Twins, Red Sox, Marlins, Mariners.
Minnesota Twins: The Twins had two glaring weaknesses, pitching and offense from their middle infielders. They didn't do anything about their pitching, but they did pick up Orlando Cabrera from the Oakland A's for borderline prospects. While the Twins' middle infielders were slick with the glove, they couldn't hit a lick. Nick Punto was batting .208 with an OPS of .568. And this year was not that unusual for a guy with a career OPS of .643. Sure, he plays great defense and seemed to be a fixture on the nightly highlights. But the guy has to hit at least a little. Punto's counterpart, Alexi Casilla, was decent last year but, if possible, batted even worse than Punto. Casilla has an OPS of .448. Ouch. A team can't have two automatic outs in the same lineup every game it plays. Brandon Harris has seem growing playing time, but is not nearly as good in the field.
Cabrera, on the other hand is a proven major league shortstop. And at least he can hit a little. He has a lifetime BA of .274 and a lifetime OPS of .719. That, at least, is serviceable. And he is a proven glove even if he has slipped a little in that department this year. Put him on the artificial turf and the Baggie Dome and he should have little trouble. As a bonus, Cabrera has been hot lately and has fifteen hits in his last ten games.
Now if the Twins can pitch a little bit...
Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox were in the Halladay sweepstakes but wouldn't part with both Buckholz and Bard. Wise move. Slide Buckholz into the rotation in the second half and he might do just fine. And Bard has been sensational in the bullpen just as this writer predicted he would be during Spring Training. So even if the Red Sox did nothing, they would have been winners. But they didn't do nothing. They picked up Victor Martinez from Cleveland for the decent Masterson and a great prospect (Nick Hagadone). Martinez, who was very sad about leaving his beloved Indians, is the bat the Red Sox really need. The team has surprisingly struggled at the plate this year with production problems in centerfield, shortstop, DH and catcher. Martinez should catch every day but that won't happen because of loyalty (stupid but there it is) to Varitek. Varitek can't hold Martinez's equipment bag. But Varitek will get the occasional day off and Martinez will probably play first (moving Youkilis to third) and probably DH some too. The Red Sox have to get Martinez in there every day somehow and he will certainly help them.
The Red Sox also traded new acquisition, Adam LaRoche back home to Atlanta for Casey Kotchman. Kotchman has little power but is a good on-base guy and a slick fielder. He won't get much opportunity with the Red Sox though.
Florida Marlins: Wow! The Marlins made a move! The Marlins are a talented but free-swinging club and they acquired Nick Johnson and his .408 OBP to hit in front of Hanley Ramirez. The Johnson trade also moves Jorge Cantu to third base and finally ends the Bonifacio era. Of course, you have to keep your fingers crossed that Johnson won't get hurt again, but it was a risk worth taking and if Johnson can stay healthy, will really help this team and its wild card chances.
Seattle Mariners: The Mariners traded a 34 year old Jarrod Washburn to the Tigers for a 24 year old Luke French. Good deal for them. Add this to the Jack Wilson pick up and that's a good couple of days.
Losers: White Sox, Tigers, Yankees, Blue Jays.
White Sox: The White Sox finally got Jake Peavy. But will they get what they paid for? Doubtful. First, Peavy is currently on the DL and won't be ready to pitch until the end of August. Secondly, a lot of Peavy's success has come from pitching at the Padres home park, one of the best pitcher parks in baseball. He has a career 2.83 ERA at home but is 3.84 on the road. Take him out of San Diego and especially into the American League and it seems unlikely that he will as good a pitcher as he was as a Padre. And lastly, the White Sox gave up Clayton Richard who was helping the rotation right now (who will they replace him with?). He has shown flashes of being a pretty decent starter. The White Sox also gave up three other pitchers, the best of which is Aaron Poreda who has a 2.45 ERA in ten appearances along with 12 strikeouts in 11 innings. Adam Russell also was included and doesn't seem to the same upside as Poreda. This deal may help the White Sox in the long run, but it's a heck of a gamble.
Tigers: The Tigers on paper got a good deal by trading for Jarrod Washburn. But this Fan isn't buying it. Washburn is having a pretty lucky year so far as he has a very low batting average from balls put in play. That's partly luck and partly defense. But the guy is 34 and goes against what the Tigers were trying to do in getting younger and more athletic. Plus, they gave away a young pitcher named Luke French, who has done very well for the team and was only 24 years old. So even if this does work out, they get a 34 year old pitcher with a lot of baggage and lose a 24 year old pitcher with his whole career in front of him. Hmm... Plus, the Tigers didn't do anything about third base where Inge is really hurting and is questionable as far as his ability to help much further this year.
Yankees: While their bitter rivals, the Boston Red Sox, got a great bat and a great guy in Victor Martinez, the Yankees countered with Jerry Hairston, Jr.? Ugh! The guy is 32 and has a career BA of .259. What is he going to do for the Yankees? Do you want him playing instead of Melky? No. Swisher or Hinske? No. A-Rod? No. Jeter? No. Cano? No. Damon? No. And so it goes. The Yankees have always liked washed up infielders. Look at all their teams since 1996 and you'll find a washed up infielder.
The Yankees still have a hole in their rotation where Wang was supposed to be. Hughes is stuck in the bullpen the rest of the year. Do they really want Sergio Mitre taking the ball every fifth day? At least the Yankees weren't foolish in trading away all their young talent for Halladay, even if he is one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Blue Jays: It seems hard to fault J. P. Ricciardi for not trading Roy Halladay if he didn't get the deal he wanted. But it looks bad when his dangling of Halladay was so out there and he came up empty. He didn't get "wowed" but there were some pretty interesting packages presented to him. In the long run, it may turn out that he should have bit the bullet and taken one of them. Plus, the Blue Jays lost their best hitter and fielder in trading Scott Rolen. The word is that Rolen asked for the trade for personal reasons. But still, couldn't Rolen have fetched someone better than Edwin Encarnacion?
So So Deals: The Dodgers getting Sherrill. The Rockies getting Beimel. The Brewers getting Vargas.
It was a fun couple of days, wasn't it?