We interrupt the never-ending Brett Favre saga to remind you that there are other sports out there and one in particular had a very busy week last week.
The trade deadline for the 2008 season has come and gone. In it’s wake, we have some very interesting trades, some expected, some a complete surprise. We saw three certain Hall of Fame players move to new teams, all for different reasons. Some teams got better while others may have been losers in this season’s trade game.
Much of the baseball landscape changed last week. Some of the more notable trades (Griffey to the White Sox, Pudge Rodriguez to the Yankees) look good on paper, but may not have the impact that one would think. The biggest trades that will likely have the most impact is Manny Ramirez moving to the LA Dodgers in a last-minute, three-team deal, Mark Texiara leaving Atlanta and going to the Angels for Casey Kotchman and CC Sabathia going to the Brewers for three players.
This is where we start our look Around the Bases.
How badly did the Red Sox want Manny off the team? Consider this: The morning of the trade, several veteran players had a meeting with GM Theo Epstein and all but demanded Manny be traded. They insisted that he had to go. He was becoming a veritable cancer in the clubhouse and had pretty much alienated himself from most of his teammates with his most recent antics. It seems that they were tired of the “Manny being Manny” show. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Dodgers are getting Manny virtually free. That is, the Red Sox are paying the entire salary that remains on his contract for the year ($7M)
In the few weeks leading up to the trade, he got into a shoving match with 1B Kevin Youkalis in the dugout, in the middle of a game; he shoved 64-year old traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the ground after McCormick couldn’t honor his last-minute request for 16 tickets to a game in Houston; he came up with a mysterious injury that materialized out of nowhere, keeping him out of two important games against the Yankees.
The general consensus was that he may have missed the whole series if Boston ownership hadn’t threatened him with a suspension if he didn’t play. This was after they insisted on an MRI on both knees to make sure there was nothing wrong.
The final straw was when Manny jogged up the first base line after hitting a soft grounder against the Angels. The general feeling in the clubhouse was that if he was going to play like that now, he couldn’t be trusted to give 100% when the stretch run came the last month of the season.
The Sox put together a package to send to the Dodgers that included Ramirez, as well as relief pitcher Craig Hanson and up and coming rookie Brandon Moss. LA sent four prospects to Pittsburgh, including 3B Andy LaRoche who now teams with his brother, Adam, on the other side of the diamond. The Pirates sent outfielder Jason Bay to the Red Sox.
At first, it appeared that the Red Sox had gotten the short stick in this deal. Manny had to go and they had no bargaining power whatsoever. However, Jason Bay has been playing his best baseball of the season in his first week with the Sox. In 6 games, he has gone 11-for-26 (.423) with a HR, 6 RBI, 8 runs, 2 doubles, and a triple. He capped this off with a 4-for-5 night against KC on Tuesday with 2 doubles, 2 RBI, and 4 runs. His 10 runs scored lead the Majors since August 1st.
One of the doubles he hit against KC the other night was very nearly a HR. The ball sat on top of the wall in left-center and rolled several feet on top of the wall before Royals’ outfielder Russ Gload reached up and nudged it back into the field of play with his glove.
In six games with the Dodgers, Manny has gone 13-for-23 (.565) with 4 HR, 9 RBI, and 7 runs.
Manny joins other former Red Sox players Derek Lowe and Nomar Garciappara, as well as former Sox 3B Bill Mueller, who is now a Special Assistant in the Dodgers’ organization.
In another blockbuster trade, the Cincinnati Reds traded Ken Griffey Jr. to the Chicago White Sox for a fairly low grade infielder and pitcher (RHP Nick Masset and INF Danny Richar).
The acquisition of Griffey will give the White Sox much needed depth in the outfield. Don’t count on Griffey being a starter, however, with the fantastic outfield of Quentin, Jermaine Dye, and Nick Swisher, and powerhouse Jim Thome as DH. Griffey will be most likely be relegated to a reserve role and used as a pinch-hitter or to give one the OFs a day off.
With Griffey moving to Chicago, the White Sox now boast the first line-up in Major League history to feature a 600 HR guy (Griffey – 609) and a 500 HR guy (Thome – 529).
In 4 games with Chicago, Griffey has gone 4-for-16 (.250) with 2 RBI, a walk, and a run scored.
Thoughts are that his primary reason for accepting this trade was he felt it was his last true chance to get to the World Series. And, he does have a very good chance now.
Carlos Quentin, the White Sox’ left fielder, has been one of the catalysts of this team’s success this season. He leads his team in HR (30), RBI (87), and runs (80). He also leads the AL in HR, and is tied for 5th in RBI and is ranked 6th in runs scored. After a tepid June, he came back strong in July with 9 HR (1st in AL), 22 RBI, and 22 runs, and that was with 4 days off in the middle for the All-Star break.
Despite the fact that the White Sox have only 1 pitcher in double digit wins (Gavin Floyd – 11), they are still are a much better than average pitching crew. They are ranked 6th in ERA (3.94), 4th in Ks (802), and 3rd lowest in walks (321).
Ken Griffey Jr is the 2nd player in Major League history to be traded mid-season with more then 600 HR. Who was the first?
In the third huge trade, the Cleveland Indians traded away the ace of their staff, C.C. Sabathia, to the Milwaukee Brewers for 3 prospects. This trade was completed earlier in the month, on July 7th, to be exact. Since then, Sabathia has pitched in 6 games and has a 5-0 record with the Brew Crew. He also has a ridiculous 1.88 ERA with 3 CG (to give him 6 for the season), 1 shutout (which gives him 3 for the season), 43K and 11BB.
Since that trade, the Indians have gone 12-13, including going 4-8 against the Central division. They have also dropped down to last place in the division, 14 games back.
In yet another big trade last week, the Atlanta Braves traded 1B Mark Texiara to the already power-loaded Angels of Southern CA. In return the Braves received 1B Casey Kotchman and RHP Stephen Marek. This was somewhat of a surprise considering how much the Angels management liked Kotchman and that he was having a pretty descent season (.287, 12HR, 54 RBI, 47 runs). He’s done almost nothing in his first week with the Braves (5-for-33 for a .152 avg, 1 double, 1 triple, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 3 runs).
Texiara, on the other hand, was having a pretty good year with a 4th place Braves team (.283, 20 HR, 78 RBIs). Since he’s been on the Angels, he has continued at the same pace. So far he has played in 8 games and has gone 8-for-28 (.286), with 1 HR (Grand Slam), 7 runs and 6 RBI.
The move made the Angels, who were already very good, even better. They currently have the best record in baseball at 71-43 and are leading the AL West by a whopping 12 games. Since picking up Texiera, they have gone 4-3.
In yet a fourth huge trade, the New York Yankees acquired Detroit catcher Pudge Rodriguez in a trade for reliever Kyle Farnsworth. This was actually the second big trade that the Yankees had in July. On July 25th they grabbed OF Xavier Nady from Pittsburgh for 4 prospects.
Both have been very good moves for New York. After learning that long-time catcher Jorge Posada was going to be lost for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, they desperately needed a catcher to back up Jose Molina. Since Rodriguez arrived, he has played in 6 games and has gone 3-for-14 (.214) with a HR, 1 RBI, and 1 run. But the truly important thing is he provides much needed relief for Molina behind the plate.
Meanwhile, Farnsworth, an average set-up guy at best, has appeared in 3 games for the Tigers and has given up 5 hits (including 3 HR), 4K, and 0BB in 3 1/3 innings pitched. By the way, he has an astronomical ERA of 10.80.
The Yankees’ other trade has thus far worked out very well for them also. In 12 games, Nady has gone 15-for-42 (.357), with 4 doubles, 4 HR, 11 RBIs, and 9 runs. The fact that they gave up 4 prospects for him proves that they are tired of waiting for a championship.
They have Nady for the 2009 season as well, and although they are currently in 3rd place in the AL East, they are only 5.5 games out and are clearly not giving up.
There were several other trades throughout baseball by the time the deadline arrived, but none had the potential for as much impact as those mentioned above.
Other trades included:
Jon Rauch moving from Washington to Arizona. Since the trade, Rauch has appeared in 7 games in relief. He has given up 4 hits (1HR) and 1BB along with recording 7K in 6.1 innings for a 2.84 ERA.
The Oakland A’s traded starters Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin to the Cubs for RHP Sean Gallagher, OF Matt Murton, C Josh Donaldson and 3B Eric Patterson. All of these players were bench players for Chicago.
Since the trade, Harden has started 5 games and has gone 1-1 with a 2.10 ERA, giving up 22 hits (5 HR), 7 ER, 47K and 9BB. Gaudin has appeared in 13 games and has gone 3-1, giving up 9 hits (3 HR), 3 ER, 18K, and 3BB in 14.2 innings for a 1.84 ERA.
Not only did the Dodgers pick up Manny Ramirez, but they also traded 2 prospects to the Cleveland Indians for 3B Casey Blake to help them get into the post-season. Since the trade on July 26th, Blake has played in 12 games and has gone 15-for-44 (.341) with 1 HR, 6 doubles, 4 RBI, and 4 runs scored.
The Brewers also made another trade to compliment the C.C. Sabathia deal. They picked up Giants 2B Ray Durham for 2 prospects. Since the trade, Durham has played in 11 games and has gone a disappointing 5-for-27 (.185) with 0HR, 0 RBI, 3 doubles, and 4 runs scored.
One other trade earlier in the month sent A’s starter Joe Blanton to Philadelphia for 3 prospects. In 3 games started with the Phillies, Blanton has gone 1-0 with a 4.80 ERA. He has given up 15 hits (3 HR), 8 runs, 7K and 6BB in 15.0 innings.
It’s very tough to say who the real winners are in this very busy trade season, but early indications are the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Brewers did quite well for themselves.
On the other side of the coin, the A’s lost their entire pitching staff, never a good thing, and the Pirates gave up 2 very good players for some prospects and bench players.
As the season starts to wind down and we see who gets in the play-offs and who misses out, we’ll know for sure who the real winners and losers were in all of these trades.