There was finally a big trade today in baseball as the Angels acquired Dan Haran for Joe Saunders and two minor league players (one of them a real good one). The Angels are close enough (six games behind) to Texas to still consider themselves contenders but are far enough back and not playing particularly well. This trade works out well for them in either case as they will have Haran to anchor their rotation for two more years and Saunders was a liability. But for other teams like the Mets, Red Sox, Dodgers and Rockies, serious thought has to be given if any short term trades will be worth the cost.
The Dodgers are six out and have lost six of their last ten. Their bullpen was falling apart until they brought up Kenley Jansen who has blown away four batters in two perfect innings and recorded his first save on Sunday. Jansen seems to preclude an need for a trade for bullpen help. They could use another bat, but is it worth any prospects when they might not have a realistic chance to get back into the race? That's a tough question. The same goes for the Rockies who are seven games back. The wild card for both of those teams is that the Padres are in uncharted waters. Nobody expected them to be this good for this long and everyone has waited for them to fall back to the pack. It hasn't happened yet. The Fan is no different than them as the Padres just don't seem good enough on paper to win the division. But there they are.
And what of the Mets? Seriously, it seems the Mets chances of getting back into the NL East race are remote. They are 2-9 in their last 11 games and they have all those players back they've been pining for. So is it a waste of any talent to bring in a short term fix at this point? Consider that the Mets are just as far away from first place in the NL East as the Brewers are in the NL Central. Does anyone think that the Brewers should be going out and getting help for the pennant race? Not exactly. The Mets have two teams on top of them and the Marlins who are in a virtual tie for third. They are done this season and only the pressure of the New York state of mind would make them act differently than that fact.
The same can be said for the Red Sox. They have dug themselves a really deep hole. Their entire outfield is a mess. Okajima, who for years has been untouchable, has an ERA near six and losing Pedroia has really hurt. Not only do the Red Sox have to consider with the depth of their problems whether it's worth it to take on salary, dump prospects and continue to act like they are a factor in the AL East race. They are eight back of the Yankees and five back of the Rays. Again, the pressure they've created themselves with the Nation and the winning expectation might cause them to pull triggers on trades that might be moot.
With today's economy affecting baseball, teams need to think long and hard about giving away young talent for the quick fix. The Angels could afford Haran and have the luxury of his services for two more seasons, so his addition gives them a boost this year (though it may be too little, too late) but also a better chance at contending the next two season. That's a different kettle of fish than going after Adam Dunn or other rentals.