Saturday, August 1, 2009

Summer trades don't usually mean a great fall

A trading frenzy in July doesn't often lead to frenzied celebrations in October. Photo from this site.

Three years ago, I wrote a piece for Ye Olde Employer about how blockbuster deals at the trade deadline rarely results in a championship. You can read that here, or check out the raw data here instead and check out the blockbusters of the last 10 years—as well as the mostly minor moves made by the eventual world champions.

What the champs did: The Phillies acquired starting pitcher Joe Blanton from the Athletics for three minor leaguers in mid-July and also picked up reliever Scott Eyre and reserve outfielder Matt Stairs in August deals. Blanton went 4-0 with a 4.20 ERA in 13 regular season starts and 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in four playoff starts. Eyre recorded a 1.88 ERA for the Phillies and Stairs, in his lone NLCS plate appearance, hit a game-winning two-run homer in Game Four.
Biggest deadline deals: The Sox and the Dodgers each made the LCS following the Ramirez-for-Bay three-team blockbuster. Hard to argue with the Brewers sending three top prospects to the Indians for CC Sabathia in early July: Even though the Brewers were knocked out in the NLDS by the Phils, it was still Milwaukee’s first playoff berth in 26 years. The Yankees sent four second-tier players to the Pirates for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte but missed the playoffs anyway for the first time since 1993. The Cubs sent four prospects to the A’s for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin and didn’t win a playoff game after a 98-victory regular season. The Angels got Mark Teixeira for Casey Kotchman and a minor leaguer before their annual loss to the Red Sox in the ALDS.

What the champs did: The Red Sox acquired Eric Gagne from the Rangers for Kason Gabbard and prospects David Murphy and Engel Beltre. Gagne was horrible but the Sox haven’t been haunted by any of the players they dealt to Texas. Sox also signed as free agents in August Bobby Kielty, who hit the decisive homer in Game Four of the World Series, and Royce Clayton.
Biggest deadline deals: Braves GM John Schuerholz said selling the farm for Mark Teixeira would be worth it if the Braves won “…two pennants…or one pennant. Or one World Series and one pennant.” It wasn’t worth it. The Braves finished five games behind in the NL East in ’07 and were 7 ½ games out when they traded him to the Angels last July 29. In 363 days with Teixeira, the Braves were 78-83. Meanwhile, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz all look like cornerstones in Texas. The Mets sent two minor leaguers to the Twins for 2B Luis Castillo and missed the playoffs following an epic choke in September. The Indians apparently missed the memo about Kenny Lofton’s bad mojo and sent a minor leaguer to the Rangers for him in July.

What the champs did: The Cardinals acquired Jeff Weaver—who had been designated for assignment by the Angels after he went 3-10 with a 6.29 ERA—for a minor leaguer in early July and added second baseman Ronnie Belliard and reliever Jorge Sosa in minor deals at the end of the month. They also signed outfielder Preston Wilson and infielder Jose Vizcaino as minor league free agents in August. Belliard and Wilson started for the Cards during their shocking World Series run while Weaver somehow morphed into an ace in October as he went 3-2 with a 2.43 ERA and won the Series clincher against the Tigers.
Biggest deadline deals: The Yankees sent four non-descript minor leaguers to the Phillies for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle, but the Phillies still lead the Yankees in titles since ’06. The Mets sent Nady to the Pirates for Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez but were knocked off by the 82-win Cards in the NLCS. The Rangers were just three games out of first when they sent Francisco Cordero, Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix and a minor leaguer to the Brewers for Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz, but they finished 13 games behind the Angels.

What the champs did: The White Sox acquired utilityman Geoff Blum from the Padres for a minor leaguer. He hit .200 in 95 regular season at-bats but hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer in his only World Series at-bat to help the Sox sweep the Astros. He’ll never have to buy a beer on the South Side again.
Biggest deadline deals: This deadline was deader than a Omega Mu/Tri-Lamb party. The Tigers sent closer Kyle Farnsworth to the Braves, where he dominated in the regular season but coughed up a three-run lead as the Braves’ season came to an end in Game Four of the NLDS.

What the champs did: In the biggest deal of the season, the Red Sox traded franchise icon Nomar Garciaparra and acquired Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz in a four-team blockbuster. Also picked up Dave Roberts in a separate deal. Cabrera and Mientkiewicz greatly improved the Sox’ defense while Roberts recorded the most pivotal stolen base in history.
Other big deadline deals: The Dodgers made the playoffs after acquiring Brad Penny and Hee Seop Choi from the Marlins for three big leaguers and Steve Finley and Brett Mayne from the Diamondbacks for Koyle Hill and two minor leaguers. The Mets did not make the playoffs despite trading Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano. Snort.

What the champs did: The Marlins acquired reliever Ugueth Urbina from the Rangers for three minor leaguers. Urbina wrested the closer’s job away from Braden Looper in September and racked up four saves and 14 strikeouts in 13 innings during the playoffs.
Biggest deadline deals: In a sign of things to come, Theo Epstein was quite busy at the deadline, acquiring Scott Williamson from the Reds and three pitchers—including Jeff Suppan and Brandon Lyon—from the Pirates. The Twins won the AL Central after acquiring Shannon Stewart from the Blue Jays for Kielty while the Cubs nearly won their first pennant in 95 years after fleecing the Pirates (notice a trend here?) for Lofton and Aramis Ramirez. The Yankees also shored up third base with Aaron Boone, whose middle name became Bleeping in the early morning hours of Oct. 17.

What the champs did: The Angels acquired C Sal Fasano and OF Alex Ochoa from the Brewers for C Jorge Fabregas and two players to be named later. Fasano had just one at-bat with the Angels while Ochoa went 0-for-5 during the playoffs.
Biggest deadline deals: The Cardinals pulled off two big trades, sending a prospect named Coco Crisp to the Indians for Chuck Finley and three big leaguers—including Mike Timlin—to the Phillies for Scott Rolen, but fell to the Giants in the NLCS. The Expos tried to make one last run in Montreal by acquiring Cliff Floyd from the Marlins and sending future big league stars Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips to the Indians for Bartolo Colon, but they fell out of the race by the end of July, traded Floyd to the Red Sox and finished 12 ½ games behind in the wild card derby.

What the champs did: The Diamondbacks acquired P Albie Lopez and C Mike DiFelice from the Devil Rays for two minor leaguers. Lopez nearly became the first pitcher in more than 20 years to lose 20 games in a season and posted a 9.95 ERA in three playoff appearances.
Biggest deadline deals: Jermaine Dye landed with the Athletics via the Rockies in a three-team deal, but the A’s blew a two games to none lead in the ALDS. Jason Schmidt was dealt to the Giants by the Pirates (there they are again!), but San Francisco finished two games behind the DBacks in the NL West.

What the champs did: The Yankees acquired Denny Neagle, Glenallen Hill and David Justice for prospects and young big leaguers in three separate deals. Justice (20 homers in 275 at-bats) and Hill (16 homers in 132 at-bats) provided pivotal power for an aging team while Neagle went 7-7 with a 5.81 ERA in the regular season and suffered the indignity of getting pulled one out shy of qualifying for a victory in Game Four of the World Series against the Mets.
Biggest deadline deals: The Diamondbacks sent four players (Nelson Figueroa, Travis Lee, Vicente Padilla and Omar Daal) to the Phillies for Curt Schilling on July 26, but the DBacks—who were tied for first when they made the deal—went 29-32 the rest of the way and finished 12 games out in the NL West. The Indians traded Richie Sexson to the Brewers for closer Bob Wickman but finished a game behind the wild card Mariners. The Mets acquired Mike Bordick from the Orioles and Bubba Trammell and Rick White from the Devil Rays and reached the World Series. The Cardinals acquired Mike Timlin and Will Clark in separate deals and fell to the Mets in the NLCS.

What the champs did: The Yankees did nothing. And they liked it!
Biggest deadline deals: The Mets made six deals in June and July, the biggest of which was acquiring Kenny Rogers from the Athletics for two prospects, including future big leaguer Terrence Long. Rogers went 5-1 with a 4.03 ERA in 12 regular season starts but posted a 6.75 ERA in the playoffs and walked in the NLCS-winning run in Game Six against the Braves.

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