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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.

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Dodgers Finally Have a Real Superstar

So a few days ago it was a great day to be an Angels fan (and it’s still a great time to be one too, with plenty of room left on the bandwagon), but of course now it has become a great time to be a Dodgers fan as well. Despite tossing away $100 million on the likes of Jason Schmidt, Andruw Jones, and Juan Pierre, Ned Colletti made all the pain and suffering go away with one swift, deadline-beating blockbuster on Thursday. Colletti pulled off the ultimate coup, getting Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox. If you really examine things, he has acquired Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez for the bargain price of Jon Meloan, Carlos Santana, Andy LaRoche, and Bryan Morris — all without spending any cash — much to the delight of Mr. McCourt. Even though I was completely on board with both the Schmitty and Andruw signings which turned out to be busts, I agree with Simers who says this is finally a fullproof deal. That just means something bad is bound to happen.

Putting pessimism aside, the Dodgers finally have a legitimate superstar on their team — something they’ve lacked for a very long time. The Angels got one when they signed Vladimir Guerrero — a player who was in his prime and a legitimate MVP-candidate. Manny might not be a regular season MVP candidate anymore, but he still is one of the most entertaining players in the league, not to mention best clutch hitters. With Manny, the Dodgers finally have a legit superstar on the team for the first time in years and that’s enough to make the trade work. I’ll tell you this much — and this is probably all that McCourt really cares about — the first thing I thought of when I heard the Dodgers got Manny was “Man, I need to get to the stadium to see Manny play!” And that’s exactly it — Manny puts asses in seats. People don’t go to the ballpark to watch Juan Pierre drag bunt his way on, Russell Martin throw a runner out, or even to see Matt Kemp hit a home run. They go to watch Manny be Manny, and that includes tripping over a ball in left field turning a single into a triple, not running out a grounder to short, and of course, getting that monster clutch hit. With Manny, you have to take him as the complete package and embrace the great with all the bad.

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Great Day to Be an Angels Fan

The double-coup the Angels pulled on Tuesday was easily one of the peaks of the baseball season. First, things got exciting when reports in the morning said the Angels were warming to the idea of acquiring Mark Teixeira from the Braves. Later in the day, the dream became reality and the Angels all of a sudden had the three-hitter they so desperately have needed the last three years. As soon as I heard that it had happened, I began to worry about who the Angels had lost. It was obvious that Casey Kotchman was gone, but I also figured maybe prospects like Adenhart or Wood, or one of the spare outfielders like Willits or Rivera would be gone, too. I wasn’t too happy to think about life without Kotchman since he’s a solid all-around player, delivering clutch hits and playing a Gold Glove first base. But come on, it’s Mark Teixeira — a guy who can produce the way Vlad did during his MVP years with the Angels. It didn’t take long for me to get pumped up and celebrate like the Halos just signed Jack Parkman.

As if the Teixeira acquisition wasn’t enough, John Lackey went out and slayed his Fenway Park dragon by almost throwing a no-hitter. Even though he allowed a hit and home run back-to-back in the 9th, the statement was bold — the Angels are no longer chumps in Fenway Park — they can beat the Red Sox anywhere. The Angels have now gone 7-1 against the Red Sox this year and are going for their second sweep of Boston this year on Wednesday night. Now the irony would be if the Angels turned the corner on the Red Sox — a team that’s owned them and eliminated them from the playoffs recently — and all of a sudden couldn’t beat the Yankees. The Yanks are the exact opposite from the Red Sox for Anaheim — a team they’ve owned in the regular season and knocked out of the playoffs on a regular basis. Now if they could just combine the two, they’d be set.

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10 Worst Deadline Deals of the Decade

Note: This is something I posted two years ago at my blog on Fox Sports before I had started this site. Since I put so much time into it, I felt it was worth sharing here (and I’ve copied and pasted word-for-word).

In light of the upcoming baseball trading deadline, I came up with a list of the worst (most one-sided) deadline deals of the decade. Hopefully this should serve as a cautionary tale for GMs before they go out and sell off their teams and get nothing in return, or on the flip side, acquire a useless player and give away superstars in the making. The list takes two factors into account. The first is how much the acquired player helped/has helped the team that acquired him. The second is how little was given away in return. Feel free to comment if you disagree with the order or if you would like to add to the list. Keep in mind, this is strictly a trade deadline list since 2000.

10. Jeremy Bonderman to the Tigers – (July 5, 2002)
This is one of the more one-sided 3 way deals around. In 2002, the A’s sent Carlos Pena, Franklyn German, and a player to be named later to the Tigers. The A’s got back a year and a half of average starts from Ted Lilly and 2 minor-leaguers from the Yankees. The Yanks got one and a half less than mediocre years from the now defunct Jeff Weaver. Of course, the wild card in the deal, Jeremy Bonderman became the player to be named later. Bonderman has had the longest tenure with the team to whom he was traded of all the players involved in the deal. By 20, he had already pitched a full season in the bigs. Now at 23, he’s begun to dominate teams.

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In Billy Beane, the A’s Should Trust

I learned my lesson (for the 82nd time) this year, that you can never underestimate Billy Beane. After he traded away Dan Haren and Nick Swisher leading into the season, I said the A’s had conceded 2008. They’re happily in 2nd place in the AL West, well over .500. What the **** do I know. Anyway, I think the Rich Harden trade definitely was one worth making for the Cubs, and was probably smart on the A’s part as well.

At first glance, the A’s got completely ripped off. Which probably means Beane got a steal. Sure, Beane was fleeced on the Tim Hudson deal after Dan Meyer decided to suck upon being dealt to Oakland, but there’s no doubting Beane’s track record — he’s awesome. Beane’s already received at least equal value in both the Haren and Swisher deals, and most of the prospects haven’t even come close to blossoming yet. So let’s break this trade down on both ends.

For the Cubs, they’re getting an ace who’s capable of pitching seven pretty unhittable innings in a ballgame. Rich Harden is one of the harder-throwing starters in the game, also possessing a devastating change up that he mixes in frequently. The dude needs a milk IV pumping into his bones not to mention a bubble to sleep in so he can be healthy, but he’s dominant when he’s out there, however infrequently it may be. The Cubs are essentially getting Mark Prior once again, and everyone knows how frustrating that can be. They’re rolling the dice and taking a gamble that can have a huge reward, and one that probably makes them the favorite at the sportsbook. If it doesn’t pay off, they’re not going to be hurt too much by losing the players they traded away. If it does pay off, they could be looking at winning a World Series. It was definitely a gamble worth taking.

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