Just a note before we start, in my All-Star Game post, I lef tout my Cy Young picks. How? I don’t know. But give me Verlander in the AL and I am clueless in the NL. Cueto is coming on VERY strong, Jurrjens, Vogelsong and Halladay are deserving, and I think Kershaw deserves a look too. Sorry, not you Jeff Karstens. I will take Halladay because the voters know him best.
The MLB Trade Deadline has passed, and we can finally take a stab at playoff predictions. Some did well, some did poorly, but regardless, we have a clearer picture of what we can expect from each team. We will do each team’s grades after going over the trades. Introductions like this are usually kind of awkward and superfluous, so on that note, let’s get to the actual trades.
Carlos Beltran to Giants
This was a pretty essential move for the Giants, whose offense is nearly as bad as my Indians’ lineup right now. Last year they at least had Buster Posey, and a living version of Aubrey Huff. This year, Posey out, and Huff has seen his power plummet (.365 SLG), leaving the Giants even more dependent on their pitching than usual. They had to give up Zach Wheeler, but this was an excellent move for the Giants, and a necessary one for the Mets. It makes the Giants immediately better, and I think they can beat the Phillies in a series if they make it to them.
I have a bad feeling about the Beltran trade, but really all the numbers point the other direction. Wheeler, while a good piece, is a pitcher, which means that he is just as likely to be Andrew Miller, or Brian Matusz in a couple of years as he is to be Michael Pineda. He was a big piece to give up, but definitely worth it for a team trying to win right now.
Hunter Pence to Phillies for Singelton, Cosart, 2 PTBNL (Player to be Named Later)
This was a bad move all things considered. It may have been an upgrade, but it should not have come to this. First off, Coasrt and Singleton are the Phillies top pitching and hitting prospects, respectively. Singleton is stuck behind Ryan Howard, but that is WAY too high a price for Hunter Pence.
Let’s do a quick player comparison:
Player A: .308/.356/.471, 11 HR, .368 BABIP (well above the average), 2.6 WAR, average defender, a couple years left on his deal
Player B: .285/.387/.503, 15 HR, .309 BABIP (more or less at the average), 3.8 WAR, average defender, free agent after the year
Who would you rather have? I want the guy with a little more pop, gets on base more, and has been to the playoffs before. Player B is Carlos Beltran, Player A is Hunter Pence. Pence’s average will probably end up right around .285 or so when that BABIP catches up to him. Beltran draws walks at a much higher rate as well, meaning that when Pence regresses, it not only will not be at the most important time for the Phillies, it may even be against the guy they had to have if they were going to go after a RF.
Ed Wade made another GM look foolish! We knew it had to happen some time but I never thought it would be like this. So the Phillies added a slightly above-average player in Pence. The guy is no scrub but he is a borderline All-Star at best. I cannot crucify them for that. However, if you are going to let your closest competition (probably) land the big guy, and you are going to take the consolation prize who is likely going to fall back to earth the rest of the year, do not expect too much down the line.
Look, the Phillies are still probably better than the Giants, but in a 7 game series, I do not think there is much separating the two. Halladay-Hamels-Lee-Worley vs Lincecum-Cain-Vogelsong-Bumgarner/Sanchez is probably a wash right now, and with those guys on the mound it is just a matter of a run here or there. I know this section is supposed to be about Hunter Pence, but it is really Beltran v Pence and Giants v Phillies. The Phillies lost this trade as far as what they paid for Pence and lost as far as adding the better piece. They may ultimately win the series but I am very against this move for the Phillies.
One thing working in their favor that those more knowledgeable than I have pointed out is that the Phillies are sort of front-loaded regardless and will probably be screwed in three years anyway, so losing the prospects will not be such a big deal down the road if they can win now. Still not my favorite move but a slight grain of salt for you.
Indians get Ubaldo Jimenez for Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Matt McBride and Joe Gardner, also get rid of Orlando Cabrera
This was a big price to pay but was worth it for what the Indians got. Ubaldo has been pretty damn good since June, is very affordable until 2014, and helps solidify a rotation that has been a little creaky lately. We all know how good he can be, so let’s look at why some dislike it.
Giving up Pomeranz and White is a huge price tag. No one is arguing that, but they also probably overrate just how many “pitching prospects” actually pan out. Not only that, but no one was projecting #1 stuff out of Alex White, and only in the best possible scenario is Pomeranz a true ace. They are a steep price but are certainly not locks to be stars in the future. In exchange for those guys, the Indians get about 75 Ubaldo starts for $11 million bucks. I will take that every time. This all assuming the velocity issues are not permanent as some of my Rockies sources have indicated.
As far as the roster, Carrasco may get suspended for throwing at Billy Butler’s head (it was childish) but regardless they should send him down to figure stuff out and call him up when David Huff falls back to earth. Masterson is a stud who gets no run support, Ubaldo is a stud, Carrasco has future stud potential, Tomlin has been solid, and Carmona has been streaky but is a very solid #4 or #5 starter.
Oh, and Orlando Caberera is gone!!! His leadership will really be missed when he no longer can pop out on the first pitch with a RISP. The Indians have been abjectly horrible for a couple months now, but are only 2.5 GB as I write this. They may not be great but if they make the playoffs with this rotation, they have a chance.
Indians get Kosuke Fukudome and cash for a bucket of balls and a dozen doughnuts
Cubs fans hate Kosuke Fukudome because he gets paid too much for him and probably expected too much. However, He works counts well (most pitchers/AB seen in the NL I believe), gets on base at a .375 clip, plays passable defense, and doesn’t have much pop. What else were you expecting from the guy, Cubs fans? He is a contact hitter who works counts, not Ichiro and not Barry Bonds. He is very solid. Here’s the best part for the Indians: The Cubs are sending over about $4m so the Indians are on the hook for a little udner a million the rest of the year. There are other good parts too, such as only giving up a high A guy who doesn’t have much of a chance of making it to the bigs in Abner Abreu and the 6th best reliever in AAA who, if everything goes well, can be a marginal bullpen guy for a couple years in the bigs. Very solid move, for a team that really just wanted a stop-gap outfielder to deal with the Sizemore and Choo injuries.
We all know the Indians need a bat, and that this move will not fix that, but I still like the moves so far. When Choo comes back, it will help a ton as well. I believe in this team, and I wouldn’t have said that a week ago.
Doug Fister to Tigers
Solid move, but nothing spectacular. The rotation needed to be solidified and they did that somewhat here. This was a move that was very easy to like.
Rangers get Koji Ueharafor Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis
Solid bullpen arm for the Rangers and I like what the O’s got out of it too. Tommy Hunter was an Indianapolis kid too (Cathedral High School), so a shout out for him.
Derrek Lee to Pirates
Well, he is an upgrade over Lyle Overbay, but he is still not much of anything to get excited about. I am sure some ESPN people will like him for his leadership, but I am really not sold he can come in and make this team better.
Ryan Ludwick to Pirates for PTBNL
Alright, this one hinges on one little thing. If Ryan Ludwick started sucking because he went to Petco, it got in his head, and he stopped trying to hit for power, this could be a very good move for the Buccos. If Ludwick remains the player he was in SD, it is a bad move. That PTBNL is not just a scrub either because the Indians backed off going for him because the Padres were asking for too much, but the entirety of this trade depends on which Ludwick they get. I thought the Pirates had to do more, personally.
Rafael Furcal to Cardinals
Not sure I get this one. Their middle infielders are OPSing at or below .600 each, but Furcal is no better (.528). There really is no defensive advantage either. Not sure I get it, but maybe they just felt the need to mix things up.
Jason Marquis to D-Backs
Sure, I guess. Thought they needed a bat at 3B or 1B, not an arm, but how can I bash them for that after my Tribe went pitching when they had hitting issues. Not a bad addition just not especially intriguing. If he plays well, he is very re-signable, so they got that goin’ for ’em.
Jerry Hairston Jr. to Brewers
They needed to fill Rickie Weeks’ spot at 2B and as a utility guy Hairston does just that.
Mike Adams to Rangers for Erlin, Wieland
This is a fantastic haul for the Padres and it really solidifies the Rangers’ pen. There is no such thing as a pitching prospect but both of these guys will probably see time at the major league level next year. tip of the hat to the Padres on this one, though they may find the Heath Bell situation less than desirable. They want the Bell draft picks, but if he accepts arbitration, and they do not pay him a boatload of money, they do not get those picks. Paying bullpen guys a lot of money rarely turns out well.
Bourn to Braves for Jordan Schafer and 3 prospects
Yeah I guess this is a fine move, but I am not sold on what Bourn can do beyond this year. This year he will be some nice speed, leadoff/bottom of the order guy. However, if those prospects end up being anything (I am just unsure who they are) then this trade could end up being more of a positive for the Astros than the Braves.
Erik Bedard to Red Sox for 3 prospects
When the Rich Harden deal fell through, Theo Epstein went to his team and issued the following challenge: I want someone just as injury-prone as Harden, left-handed, and coming off an injury. Just a day later, the front office erupted in joy as the Red Sox landed Erik Bedard to presumbly be a stop-gap arm until they get healthy. Yeah, this isn’t a great move but the Red Sox can afford to give up a handful of prospects for a stop-gap starting pitcher who will probably get hurt before he hits the 25 inning mark.
Brad Ziegler to Diamondbacks
Solid relief arm, not sure it matters when they are in the same division as the Giants.
Grading the Teams
Alright, let’s get to the winners, losers, and grades in general.
The Indians are winners, but take it with a block (not just a grain) of salt. Not only am I such a homer, I wrote the Odyssey, but the Indians failed to do something they probably needed to do. The Ubaldo trade was covered above and I liked it, but the Indians real issue is their hitting, which is putrid. They will be getting Sizemore and Choo back soon, which is huge, but they may be out of it before they get there. They are a winner here because the Ubaldo trade sets them up this year and a few years down the road, but it may not work out this year. I hope they make it, I believe they can, but it may not beenough. We will see.
The Rangers were the other big winners here. Uehara and Adams are fantastic bullpen adds for a team that only really needs bullpen help. They had one hole and they filled it. I do not want to have them at all this postseason. I would rather face the Red Sox or Yankees. No, seriously.
The Giants are also winners and we already saw why. They needed a bat, they got a bat and that is all you can really ask of a front office. I think Giants fans will deeply regret Orlando Cabrera within a week, but it was a good deadline for the Giants.
The Blue Jays deserve a mention here despite being eternally in 4th. Excellent deal to get Rasmus.
The New York Yankees needed an arm and they came up short pre-waivers. I am fairly shocked that they did not come away with Ubaldo, especially if it just came down to Jesus Montero as was reported. He is a good prospect without a position and that is of very limited value. If it really was just a matter of not giving him up, the Yankees made a big mistake. They need another starter and they did not do it. For once, the Yankees stood pat and did the wrong thing.
I really feel like the Braves missed out on Pence/Beltran but I am not too familiar with their farm system so I do not know what would have been a reasonable price, but their failure to get involved will put a lot of pressure on an already-strained offense when the postseason rolls around. With that pitching, they could certainly make a run, but they did not really help themselves at the break.
Unfortunately, this section also includes the Pirates, who added next to nothing of real value, and while the new guys are technically upgrades, I thought they could have done much more. I understand them not going in on Pence/Beltran, but I would have liked to see Josh Willingham or some power bat not named Ludwick. If Luddy ends up being the player he was in St. Louis, this all changes but I am just not crazy about the moves.They are not on the same level of losing as the Yankees, but they could have done better.
The Reds needed to add a few pieces and added no one. I felt they were done a month ago, but this confirms it. I would be a little surprised to see them make the playoffs and shocked to see them do anything in the playoffs if they make it.
Middling Moves and Everything Else
The Angels stood pat because the Rangers are running away. The Diamondbacks added a couple arms to a race that I think is over and that move is not going to change much. The Tigers added Fister, and should probably be the favorites in the Central, but I can’t really call them a winner or loser, so they land here. The White Sox probably are kicking themselves that they were not the ones to pick up Rasmus, but it seemed like they were sellers here anyway so I cannot really call them a loser for accomplishing their goal. Same goes for the Rays who were both buyers and sellers and will be missing the playoffs regardless of any moves they wanted to make. The Brewers also land here, because while they found a replacement for Weeks in the short term, it is hard to feel they really won or lost. Same goes for the Cards who added Furcal, but did not add a bullpen arm. I do not blame them for not offering up the prospects for Bell (who wants to stay on the West Coast), and they must like who they have. So to recap, here are the grades for every team:
Yankees- F. Needed an arm. Do you trust Ivan Nova to start Games 3 and 7 in the postseason?
Red Sox- B. Bedard is a luxury for them, but they can afford him. Went back and forth between B and C here.
Rays- C. No adds, no losses.
Blue Jays- A-, Love the Rasmus trades, apart from some of his red flags.
Orioles- B+. Really like the pieces they added.
Tigers- B-, Fister is a solid add but not a game-changing add. They should be WAY up on the Indians now but are letting them hang around.
Indians- B. To clarify, it was an A for Ubaldo and a D for not adding a bat. Choo’s return is the biggest thing this team needs going forward.
White Sox- C, a seller only a couple games out. Weird. Still a little surprised my surprise Aramis Ramirez didn’t come through here.
Twins- D- Trading Denard Span for Drew Storen would have been a great move. Also, I dislike the Twins so a potential C is now a D. Sue me
Royals- C. I like them in the future and I think they did well to hang onto Melky, but Francoeur should have been traded.
Rangers- A, closed up the bullpen problems and really like them moving forward
Angels- No real adds, probably the right move. They are a team for next year, not this year.
Athletics- Not relevant, only traded a reliever
Mariners- C, no real opinion on prospects they got
Phillies- B. Thought they needed Beltran more than Pence. If the Giants don’t beat them to Beltran, it might be an A-.
Braves C-. Not sold on Bourn, needed a bat not a slapper.
Mets- B. Zach Wheeler is a decent add for a guy who was gone.
Marlins- No opinion
Nationals- B. Solid work not trading Storen for a guy who, in what would be the power-peak year for most, slugged under .400. There are much better options.
Milwaukee- C+. Good work getting K-Rod and getting rid of his games-played clause. Just need to get healthy.
St. Louis- C. Furcal underwhelms me.
Pittsburgh- B-. I know they can’t splash too much but I would have liked to see more in their magical year.
Cincinnati- F. Did nothing, will get nothing for it.
Cubs- C-. Why did they not move Pena so they can add Fielder next year?
Houston- B. They will suck (even more) in the short term, but they got some good pieces for Pence and Bourn, and almost offloaded Wandy’s contract.
Giants- A. Big, necessary move.
Diamondbacks- I. I is for inconsequential. Think the moves are alright but that race is over.
Rockies- B+. It hurts now, Rockies fans. I know it does. But you got some good pieces.
Dodgers- F. F isn’t for fail, but Financial fiasco.
Padres- B+. Good selling, though they may have misplayed Bell here.
Alright, so those are the grades, but where does that lead us?
AL East- Red Sox. The best team in baseball and will hold off the Yankees.
AL Central- Indians. I am very, very biased. The Tigers should win, the Indians will. However, BRUTAL stretch coming up, 4 vs Boston, 3 vs Texas, 3 vs Tigers.
AL West- Rangers. They should be given the same odds as the Red Sox. I would be/will be frightened to face them.
AL Wild Card- Yankees. Still a very good team playing in a tiny stadium missing a starter or 2.
NL East- Phillies. Because they have been the best team this year.
NL Central- Brewers. I liked them to close this out before they got K-Rod.
NL West- Giants. Equal to the Phillies in the playoffs.
NL Wild Card- Braves. They will be quiet getting in but could make some serious noise in the playoffs.
I will address the actual postseason picks when we get there, but I think the Braves, Giants, and Phillies are all capable of winning the World Series, and only the Red Sox and Rangers are in the AL.
If you got a present this Trade Deadline, go enjoy him for a week and I will be back then to talk about it all more.