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Your trade deadline winners and losers

Jul 31, 2010, 8:46 PM EDT

As much as we try our best to separate the wheat from the chaff here at HBT, we’re honestly still trying to get our bearings straight after cranking out over 110 posts in the past two days alone, the great majority of them being trade rumors. If you followed today’s deadline on Twitter, you should understand why that thing should come with a warning label for possible brain leakage.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t too early to take stock of what we’ve just witnessed over the past few weeks. Here’s a list of the top five teams that have improved themselves and five others who have left many of us scratching our heads.

Winners:

Angels: This is an easy one for me. Sure, the Angels have lost seven out of their last 10 games and currently sit eight games out in the AL West and 12 1/2 games behind the Rays for the AL Wild Card, but acquiring Dan Haren from the Diamondbacks wasn’t just a move for this season. Haren earns a very reasonable $12.75 million in each of the next two seasons and has a $15.5 million club option for 2013. Somehow, Arte Moreno managed to swoop in, only giving up a back end starter (Joe Saunders) and two good-but-not great left-handed pitching prospects, all the while managing to keep top prospect outfielder Mike Trout. That, my friends, is a coup of the highest order.

Rangers: Isn’t this franchise supposed to be bankrupt or something? The Rangers are mostly here by virtue of trumping the Yankees and landing Cliff Lee from the Mariners. The left-hander immediately gives post-season legitimacy to a starting rotation that has managed to get by with unproven commodities like C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis. It’s a little tough to get too excited about Bengie Molina, Jorge Cantu and Cristian Guzman, but they certainly provide much-needed depth, if not an upgrade in some areas, and they barely have to pay a thin dime to any of them. Well done, Jon Daniels.

Phillies: I see the Roy Oswalt trade as an admission by Ruben Amaro Jr. that flipping Cliff Lee to the Mariners was a mistake. At the same time, he deserves a lot of credit for swallowing some pride to get this deal done. Most Phillies fans would surely rather have Halladay-Lee-Hamels-Blanton-Happ than Halladay-Oswalt-Hamels-Blanton-Kendrick, but provided they make it to the postseason, they’ll still have the best short-series rotation in the National League, if not all of baseball. Oswalt doesn’t come without some risk, but the $11 million Ed Wade kindly sent along will help soften the blow.

Yankees: We often say the rich get richer when talking about the Yankees, but in this case, I believe the rich just got a lot smarter. Lance Berkman is no Adam Dunn, not right now anyway, but he can be what Nick Johnson was supposed to be, an on-base machine against right-handed pitching (.395 on-base percentage this season, .423 on-base percentage vs. RHP career). It wasn’t the splashy move we have seen in the past and Joe Girardi may have to rest Berkman or Posada on occasion as he attempts to sort out the DH spot, but that’s a pretty nice problem to have. Austin Kearns provides more versatility as a right-handed bat off the bench than Marcus Thames and the upside on Kerry Wood is too high to pass up, especially with the Indians picking up nearly 60 percent of his remaining contract.

Pirates: I really think the Pirates deserve to be here. GM Neal Huntington managed to turn two months of Octavio Dotel and $500,000 into right-hander James McDonald and Andrew Lambo. Neither are sure things, obviously, but McDonald showed a lot of promise in the Dodgers’ bullpen last season, compiling a 2.72 ERA and 48 strikeouts over 49 2/3 innings. After getting jerked around between the starting rotation and the bullpen in Los Angeles, he should finally have an opportunity to pitch every fifth day in Pittsburgh. The Bucs also flipped some useful bullpen arms (D.J. Carrasco, Javier Lopez) and two unwanted players (Bobby Crosby, Ryan Church) for Chris Snyder and cash, John Bowker and prospect shortstop Pedro Ciriaco. No, I don’t think the Pirates have many wins in their immediate future, but there’s plenty of upside in this bunch.

Honorable mentions:

Nationals: Sold high on Matt Capps and picked up Wilson Ramos, dropped a bit by not cashing in on Adam Dunn. That being said, there’s still time in August.

Padres: Big win acquiring Ryan Ludwick from the Cardinals, but lose some points if they think of using Miguel Tejada at shortstop on a regular basis.

Dodgers: Did well to pick up Ted Lilly, the best available pitcher on the market, but Ryan Theriot is already an obvious non-tender candidate. They gave up a little too much for Octavio Dotel.

Losers:

White Sox: White Sox GM Ken Williams got played. Over the past two days, we heard plenty of hype about a big move — even inquiring about Manny Ramirez — but the only thing Williams was able to pull off was swapping top right-handed pitching prospect Daniel Hudson and top left-handed pitching prospect David Holmberg to the Diamondbacks for Edwin Jackson. It was widely reported that the Nationals love Jackson, but somehow, the two sides weren’t able to strike a deal for Adam Dunn. Now the White Sox are stuck with a guy who is a pretty decent middle-of-the-rotation starter, but will be a free agent after the 2011 season. Worse yet, KW failed to land a big bat.

Twins: Trading Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps is bonkers. Two days to think about it hasn’t changed my mind. I’m not saying that Capps isn’t a good bullpen arm. With his solid peripherals, he should prove very useful down the stretch. It’s just very obvious that Twins GM Bill Smith undersold on Ramos — who was having a poor season with Triple-A Rochester — and overrated the “save” stat in the process. He has also taken on someone who figures to get a hefty raise in arbitration this winter, and thus, becomes an obvious non-tender candidate for which the Twins will get nothing. No compensation. Nada. Have fun with that.

Giants: Much like the aforementioned White Sox, all we heard this month is that the Giants were in the market for a big bat. Corey Hart, Prince Fielder and Jose Bautista were just some of the exciting names being bandied about. So, who did they end up with? Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez, two decent-but-flawed bullpen arms. Don’t worry, Brian Sabean is paid to underwhelm. It won’t matter if the starting rotation continues to be brilliant (3.50 ERA – 2nd in MLB), if they can’t hang with the big boys on offense.

Cardinals: It was only a week ago that we were still thinking Roy Oswalt to the Cardinals had a reasonable chance of going down. That obviously didn’t happen. Just 24 hours ago, most Cardinals fans would have signed up for Jake Westbrook, but they would have had a decidedly different response if they knew they were giving up Ryan Ludwick in order to do it, especially to a team they might end up meeting in the postseason. Ultimately, this trade might not be remembered for what Westbrook does in a Cardinals uniform — I believe Dave Duncan could squeeze talent out of just about anyone — but for the production that Jon Jay and possibly Allen Craig will be able to provide in right field. Jay has been brilliant in spot duty with the Cards this season, but what happens when his .446 batting average on balls in play normalizes? For a team that doesn’t strike me as an offensive powerhouse, it’s a risk.

Rays: The Yankees are in first place at the moment, yet they continue to find ways to improve. The Rays? Well, they picked up Chad Qualls on Saturday. I’m not denying that they are a playoff team right now — they clearly are — but their designated hitter options have combined to hit just .246/.314/.380 with a 694 OPS this season. They are currently tied with the Mariners for dead last with just nine home runs out of the DH spot. It would have been one thing to acquire
Adam Dunn from the Nationals
, and I certainly heard plenty of clamoring for that, but even picking up a Luke Scott from the Orioles would have been a nice compliment to the in-house options, especially against right-handed pitching. A missed opportunity.

(Dis)honorable mentions:

Astros: They deserve plenty of criticism for trading away two of the best players in franchise history and getting little in return — in fact, they even kicked in some money — but they were saved by picking up Brett Wallace for Anthony Gose, at least in my eyes. Wallace takes over first base from Berkman immediately and projects be a decent, if not above-average major league regular.

Diamondbacks: The return for Haren was pretty awful, no doubt about that, but they were about to acquire Daniel Hudson and David Holmberg from the White Sox for Edwin Jackson. Although, Jerry DiPoto may have Mike Rizzo to thank for that one.

Tigers: Another team, like the White Sox and Giants, in need of a big bat, yet they were only able to get Jhonny Peralta and his 722 OPS. That won’t get it done.

  1. quint - Jul 31, 2010 at 10:08 PM

    I never got how the Astros return for Oswalt was poor, but were saved by getting Wallace – it took 6 seconds to trade Gose for Wallace, its almost as if that was already planned.
    Their return for Oswalt includes Wallace and doesn’t include Gose.
    Still probably should have gotten more, but it isn’t bad and then saved, its an overall assessment.
    Padres are a big winner in my book.
    I also don’t think the Rays are losers – I think it was always going to happen they were not going to be able to add, payroll is high and they need to keep their prospects to replace Crawford and Pena at seasons end. They have a bunch of good prospects that could help if needed down the stretch – they will be just fine and make additions that way.

  2. Bill@TDS - Jul 31, 2010 at 11:04 PM

    I totally agree that the Ramos-for-Capps trade was insane, but this makes it sound like you further downgrade the Twins for DFAing Capps after the season…a move which would be even MORE insane and which there is absolutely zero chance they will make. No offense intended, but that’s easily the silliest thing I’ve ever read on this excellent site.

  3. D.J. Short - Jul 31, 2010 at 11:15 PM

    Actually, I do downgrade them further for that. Capps could make somewhere around $6 million in arbitration next season. As such, I’d be very surprised if he’s back with the Twins. It’s possible a team could really like Capps and try to trade for him, fully aware of the salary he’ll make, but I doubt it.

  4. Bill@TDS - Jul 31, 2010 at 11:21 PM

    Again: no chance at all they DFA him. Won’t happen.

  5. D.J. Short - Jul 31, 2010 at 11:27 PM

    Respectfully disagree, sir.
    It’s actually non-tender, not a DFA. They would just choose to not offer him a contract.

  6. ThePoopsburghStealers - Aug 1, 2010 at 12:34 AM

    What about the Reds…as losers. They are relying on “Kay” Automatic Out Bruce, Drew Strikeout Stubbs, and Uh-oh Cordero.

  7. Final Countdown - Aug 1, 2010 at 1:03 AM

    Bill Smith said: “To give him [Ramos] up, having that second year of control for Capps was a critical piece.”

  8. D.J. Short - Aug 1, 2010 at 1:29 AM

    Thanks for the quote. I haven’t seen that, so my apologies. I think it’s worth mentioning that they’ll also be paying Nathan 11.25M again next season. Assuming Capps makes around $6M, that’s an awful lot of money to commit to two relievers, even for a large market team. Then again, we don’t know when Nathan will be ready to actually pitch again.

  9. TominNH - Aug 1, 2010 at 7:57 AM

    It must be fun to try and buy a World Series every year!! But, I gotta wonder how the Yankees feel about paying A-Rod $27M/yr when he’s not in the top 10 in any offensive catageory! Could this guy be a creation of the ‘roids era?
    Yeah, Im a Ed Sox Fan!! LOL

  10. lowleadman - Aug 1, 2010 at 10:31 AM

    Baseball need a salary cap if it ever hopes to be taken seriously like football. I find it a boring, one sided game played by the rich. Some day you will all wake up and wonder why a jerk like A-Rod can make $250,000 a game or some such nonsensical amount, and some of you will respond that he makes that much money because he can hit the ball. Then, sit back and let that really soak into you mind. Our warped priorities have caused this to happen. We care more for the A-rods of the world than the firemen who save our lives and homes or the cops who risk their lives daily and they will never sniff this kind of money. It’s sad, really.

  11. snowbum - Aug 1, 2010 at 11:33 AM

    The Twins have had two pitchers go through Tommy John surgery recently, and neither was effective there first season back. They made this move wanting a closer for this year and next year. Also, they didn’t pay Nathan that much this year, it is in his contract that if he is unable to pitch, he gets paid less. Also, stop with the overvalued the save stat, it wasn’t just the save stat, it was also needing Rauch to go back to being a setup man.

  12. Jimee Johnson - Aug 1, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    You ought to know, but as a Red Sox fan, it is understandable that you overlook THE FACT that Boston has had the second highest payroll in baseball, and that the gap between them and the Yankees declined by another half million in 2010. What Red Sox fans don’t like to admit is that the Yankees get winners, while the Sox….get losers!

  13. Jimee Johnson - Aug 1, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    You can thank the embodiment of death, aka the Republican party, for this. Republicans JUST voted down extra payments to take care of first responders to the 9/11 terrorist act. Blame Republicans for these warped priorities.

  14. bgrant - Aug 1, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    Minor correction: Nathan gets paid the same amount regardless of injury, but the Twins insured the contract and only have to pay 50% of the yearly salary if he is injured the full season. Assuming he comes back next year they are obligated to pay his full salary in 2011.
    Regarding the non-tendering: The Twins will likely retain Capps next season no matter what the financial cost, if for no other reason than for PR. That arb contract for Capps next season might be an albatross, and certainly a big part of the reason the Nats were eager to move him for a sizable return from the Twins. Fantastic deal for Rizzo.

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