Thursday, August 02, 2007

Deadline Recap

I've received a couple of requests for a roundup of the deals made at the trade deadline. I'd write one up, but it would basically be the same analysis you've seen at BP.com. Here's one, for example.

I'm less bullish than Sheehan about the Gagne deal, though I think his analysis of every other deal is spot-on. (Incidentally, I also think it's a tad optimistic to call the Brewers the potential best team in baseball in 2008. Joe is a very good writer, but a man of strong convictions; his 2007 Rangers forecast is probably legendary in results-oriented circles.)

The Braves very clearly overpaid for Teixeira, but it will be worth it if he brings them a playoff berth. Their deals for role players look like very good ones.

The Rangers probably get my highest grade for their deadline deals, although the Padres are still in the lead for the season-long award. If you told me a year ago that Kevin Towers would add Ensberg, Barrett, and Bradley to the Friars essentially for free, I'd have asked to tag along with you for the next Pink Floyd laser concert.

If you're wondering, no, there really was no reason for the Pirates to add Matt Morris. It seems like every July we see one inexplicably bad trade: Zambrano-for-Kazmir, Kearns/Lopez-for-free, and now Morris-for-anyone. Every analyst worth his salt has blasted this trade, but the most important impact was described thusly by Baseball Analysts' Patrick Sullivan:

"The worst part of this is the opportunity cost that their financial outlay to Morris will represent. Just think of some of the ways this money could have been better spent. No, the Bucs will never be playing at the high end of the free agent market and the middle of the market is usually bogged down with the, well, Matt Morris's of the world. But do you think Pirates fans would have preferred Matt Wieters or Rick Porcello to Daniel Moskos? What about Andrew Miller or Tim Lincecum in Brad Lincoln's stead?"

Two more points from me. First, there should be a rule that if you get ripped off in a trade by someone who is universally regarded as one of the game's worst GMs, you take his place at the bottom of the list. Dave Littlefield has now officially joined that club, just as Jim Duquette did in the Kazmir trade. Feel free to nominate your own selections.

And second, how about those players the Reds acquired from the Nats last year?

- Gary Majewski has alternately been a terrible pitcher when healthy and the center of a controversy the rest of the time.
- Bill Bray can't pitch his way out of the paper bag known as the minor leagues.
- Royce Clayton, despite the best efforts of modern medicine, still plays like Royce Clayton, though he did help the Reds out by signing with Toronto.
- Brendan Harris is having a downright decent season...for the Devil Rays, after the Reds gave him away for nothing in return.
- Daryl Thompson's name on B-R links to this.

Man, that's some bad mojo. Lopsided trades are generally classified in two categories: Deals that were obviously bad from the start and turned out as expected (Kazmir) and fair deals where one side's players developed into far more than expected (John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander). Once in a blue moon, you hit the parlay where a terrible trade becomes even more one-sided, like the infamous A.J. Pierzynski trade that netted the Twins seventeen years of Francisco Liriano, Joe Nathan, and Boof Bonser in exchange for one cancer-infested season of Pierzynski. (Were you wondering why Brian Sabean was at the bottom of the list before fleecing Littlefield?)

Not that Lopez and Kearns are playing at a star level for the Nats, but this whole episode has to feel like a 32-hit combo to the stomach of Wayne Rivsy. (Thanks to Keith Law for this excellent nickname. I want to be the first to coin the pseudonym Yle Endric.) I honestly wonder if MLB is denying Rivsy's grievance simply because there is no way he could argue that this deal would have been fair with a healthy Majewski. If someone in your fantasy league traded Pujols straight up for Scott Proctor, and Proctor had a shoulder injury, would he demand a refund?

The only other big loser I can think of is the Nats, since the Young and Belliard extensions can be classified as deadline activity. But you already knew I hated those deals.

It's hard to blast teams for inactivity, because we don't know what offers were really out there. I would have been a huge fan of any trade that moved the White Sox closer to rebuilding, but apparently Kenny Williams wants to half-ass this project. It's getting harder and harder to see where the 2010 Sox's young core players are going to come from.

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