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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Deadline Deals Already Paying Dividends

Much like the NBA season, I was incredibly pleased with the way teams were wheeling and dealing at the trade deadline in baseball. It’s always nice to see teams trying to compete and make the move that will put them over the top. Moreover, the exchange of prospects for major-league talent helps the competitive balance in the game because it improves the bad teams in the long run (at least you hope). Anyway, though some of the NBA trades were busts (like the Jason Kidd deal for Dallas), many of the baseball trades already are paying off — for both sides.

The largest deal was the three-way trade between the Dodgers, Red Sox, and Pirates. Manny has already hit two home runs and helped the Dodgers beat the Diamondbacks twice in three tries. Not only that, but he has completely livened up the city and already sold plenty of tickets. For Boston, Jason Bay hit a triple and scored the game-winning run in extra innings on Friday, and hit a 3-run home run on Saturday. For Pittsburgh, Andy La Roche and Brandon Moss both homered on Sunday, though Craig Hansen did take the loss. And Jeff Karstens shut out the Cubs on Friday — a pitcher acquired in the highly criticized Xavier Nady/Damaso Marte trade. Need I remind you that Nady has 10 RBI in eight games with the Yanks including six on Sunday? And while we’re on the Yankees game from Sunday, Mark Teixeira hit his first home run with the Angels — a grand slam to give them a 9-8 8th inning lead. Too bad it didn’t stand up. But we’re not even done here.

Perhaps the deal I was most excited about — a true indication that an absolute loser of a franchise the last two decades was going for it — was the CC Sabathia trade that brought the Cy Young winner to Milwaukee. He’s 5-0 with three complete games for the Brewers. You really couldn’t have asked for more. The day after Sabathia was acquired, the Cubs got Rich Harden from the A’s. All Dick Harden’s done is give up a paltry three runs in 24.1 innings, giving the Cubs an excellent chance to win every time out. Not to be overlooked was Chad Gaudin who was also acquired in the same deal, he’s been less promising giving up 4 runs in 12 appearances, but he’s helped the pen. The A’s seemed on their way to getting back good value when Sean Gallagher won his first start, but he’s only been OK since that point, while Matt Murton was demoted. It will be a while before they realize their dividends in the deal.

Joe Blanton was another A’s pitcher to be traded — he went to the Phillies and pitched seven strong innings getting the win on Saturday. Many people, myself included, laughed at the Astros for acquiring Randy Wolf from San Diego. He’s already helped Houston play spoiler by shutting out the Mets. Casey Blake and Pudge Rodriguez each homered for their new teams over the weekend and appear to be big pieces for their team’s stretch runs.

Even the teams that stood pat — the Twins and Rays most notably — will receive or have already received boosts from roster moves; Minnesota released Livan and promoted Francisco Liriano — the near equivalent of trading for a Rich Harden-type pitcher. The Rays will probably make a similar move in September by promoting David Price who’s 9-0 in the minors. Let’s just say I’m pretty stoked about seeing the rest of the season unfold. Even though only one team will win the World Series, just by making efforts to improve their teams, many of these organizations have already become trade deadline winners.



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