Sunday, August 1, 2010

10 observations at trading deadline

Some thoughts at baseball's trading deadline:

Yankees get richer: There's no way around this. We say this every other year. We moan about the bottomless wallet. The free-spending pinstripes were at it again, snatching up a DH (Lance Berkman), a setup man (Kerry Wood) and bench depth (Austin Kearns).

Berkman's fantasy value gets a lift in the Yankees' wind tunnel (for lefties), Wood loses value and Chris Perez inherits the Indians' closer job and is the only decent pickup here.

None of these can be pointed as impact moves, but together they might be. And baseball economics aside, you have to hand it to the Yanks for trying to overpower the Rays, Angels and Rangers.

Spending is Bigger in Texas: The story is similar in Arlington, where Nolan Ryan and company has decided to go for it all. After all, with Vlad and Cliff Lee free agents at the end of the year, this may be their window.

Cliff Lee a few weeks ago was the big splash, but they put a little window trimming at the deadline by adding the Marlins' Jorge Cantu, Benji Molina and Christian Guzman. You can officially start the eulogy for Chris Davis, the latest Ranger with the AAAA tag. Cantu's value gets a boost, playing in the Texas air and Guzman's drops to a utility role, so if by chance you had him manning a MI spot, go ahead and cut the cord once Ian Kinsler comes off the DL.

Phillies add another Roy: By throwing prospects at the Astros, Philly now has both Halladay and Oswalt, not to mention Cole Hamels for possibly the best 1-2-3 punch in baseball. The biggest concern is getting Rollins, Utley and Victorino back in time to squeak into the playoffs. Oswalt's value gets a small bump in the wins, but the ERA/WHIP may take a hit in a smaller park.

Cubs can't unload the right guys: Getting Blake DeWitt and prospects for Ryan Theriot and Ted Lilly isn't exactly the Cubs fans' idea of blowing up the team and starting over. Theriot had found Lou Piniella's dog house and at the bottom of the lineup, playing sparingly, his value had almost vanished. Lilly, however, gets a boost, pitching for a contender in a hitter-friendly park. But why the Cubs didn't deal Kosuke Fukudome or Carlos Zambrano is a mystery. Actually, they probably couldn't find a taker with their huge salaries. You have to wonder when the rebuilding truly begins here. Or how.

Twins lose faith in closer: Jon Rauch evidently blew up one too many times for the Twins brass. Minnesota paid retail and then some for the Nats closer Matt Capps, in the currency of highly-touted catching prospect Wilson Ramos. Sure, he was going to rot behind Joe Mauer, but they could have fetched a quality starter or position player to help fill a more obvious need. After all, Joe Nathan's back next year. Drew Soren of the Nats is the obvious add here, while Rauch hits the cutting room floor, unless your league for some reason counts holds (yes, I'm in one of those. Somehow).

Padres going for it all: Nobody believes San Diego is for real. That's fine. They went out and shored up their lineup. Or at least tried. Adding Miguel Tejada will move Chase Headley to the OF and give them another professional bat in a lineup seemingly held together by smoke and mirrors. Tejada may be rejuvenated in San Diego and playing in a pennant chase. He's hitting cleanup, which bodes well if you need RBI. Don't look for too many HR in that cavern called Petco Park.

Red Sox quiet: Boston, without doing so, raised the white flag on the season when they didn't go after any big, medium or even small names a the deadline. Disappointing season gets an exclamation point. Too many injuries.

Cardinals add Westbrook?: Cincy fans have to look at the Cards move (dealing Ryan Ludwig and adding Jake Westbrook) and breathe a sigh of relief. That's all they've got? Jake Westbrook? And they give up one of their top 4-5 bats to do so? That could be game over for the Reds.

Dunn stays home: Washington said all along they weren't going to trade Adam Dunn without getting the right package. Message received. The best hitter on the market wasn't going to come cheap and so he didn't come at all. Interesting strategy. We'll see if Dunn resigns to play in Washington now next year.

Angels going after it again: Two words: Dan Haren. These guys don't know how to give in. You have to like that about any franchise.