The one thing that distinguishes Nationals general manager Jim Bowden from all the many deadline disappointments is that Bowden felt compelled to call a press conference to tell us how great he did.
Sure, Bowden got nothing for one of the greatest players in the game (Alfonso Soriano). And sure, he delayed the mid-market Nationals' required rebuilding by a half a year, or more. But at least the infant Nats can give the star who will soon become both their all-time home-run and stolen-base king a proper sendoff before he bolts at year's end for his big free-agent payday.
Unlike Bowden, most of the other duds of the deadline did their work without gathering a stack of press clippings or logging more airtime than Taylor Hicks. Yet Bowden wasn't nearly alone in his failure.
Here's a rundown of all the many losers (and yes, a few winners) from a dreadful deadline day:
1. Washington Nationals They spent six weeks auctioning off seven players yet are inexplicably still stuck with six of them (Soriano, Jose Guillen, Jose Vidro, Tony Armas Jr., Ramon Ortiz and Livan Hernandez). Their one shining accomplishment was that blockbuster trade of middle-aged middleman Mike Stanton, a deal that could have been done in five minutes.
2. Baltimore Orioles I'm still trying to figure out how the Orioles could possibly have turned down the Angels' offer of top young pitcher Ervin Santana and superb shortstop prospect Erick Aybar for disgruntled, $72 million shortstop Miguel Tejada, who wants out every other day. The only thing I can come up with is that out-to-lunch Orioles owner Peter Angelos is a closet Angels fan. I am challenging him now, finally, to drop the disguise and lose that "o'' in his last name.
3. Boston Red Sox If I had a quarter for every time someone told me in the past few days how "active" Theo Epstein was, I'd be able to buy my own baseball team. But as it turned out, Epstein did just a little less than Bowden. According to some reports, Epstein was close to landing Braves center fielder Andruw Jones on deadline day. Yeah, right, and all he had to do was surrender a couple of "throw-ins,'' namely pitching phenoms Jon Lester and Craig Hansen.
4. Houston Astros GM Tim Purpura tried 50 different ways to land Tejada -- including the ever-intriguing three-way deal that would have sent Roy Oswalt to the Mets and top outfield prospect Lastings Milledge to Baltimore. However, the trade was killed at the last second by at least one of two overinvolved owners, either Angelos or Houston's Drayton McLane. The Astros came away with nothing more than an ace (Oswalt) annoyed to hear his name thrown around on trade day.
5. Los Angeles Angels At a time when prospects were never valued higher, it's no surprise that GM Bill Stoneman continued his prospect-hoarding program. If he keeps them any longer, he may hold retirement parties for them in Salt Lake City.
6. San Francisco Giants Grab some Geritol, prunes and a ventilator and head for the "pennant race.'' They needed Stanton about as much as Barry Bonds needs another clubhouse bobo and are now on an eight-game losing streak -- not counting a confusing trade deadline day in which they entertained offers for Jason Schmidt before finally deciding they'd all go down together.
7. Atlanta Braves In these confusing times, even one of baseball's best GMs, John Schuerholz, got caught in limbo. After the archrival Mets delighted in handing the Braves their lunch (and making some Braves players eat their words), Schuerholz changed course and tried to shop Jones to the White Sox for Brandon McCarthy and others, and to the Red Sox for Lester and Hansen. Instead, he's stuck with well-paid struggling reliever Danys Baez trying to help the Braves avoid a last-place finish after an amazing streak of 14 consecutive division titles.
8. Philadelphia Phillies GM Pat Gillick's selloff was hampered by the horrendous contracts his predecessor Ed Wade negotiated, so all he could get for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle was three minor leaguers and a reliever, and he couldn't even get Rodrigo Lopez for Pat Burrell (who used his no-trade clause to reject that deal).
9. New York Mets After coming within a New York nanosecond of landing either Oswalt or Schmidt before their trading partners pulled the plug (the Mets were prepared to do either deal, with the Schmidt deal costing them prospects other than Milledge), sadly, they lost top setup man Duaner Sanchez to a late-night cab accident. GM Omar Minaya did OK to scramble and patch up his bullpen by getting Roberto Hernandez (who'll have to repair his rocky relationship with manager Willie Randolph from last year) and Oliver Perez (who can't get anyone out anymore). The cancellation of a trade of Perez and Heath Bell to the Padres for Scott Linebrink was their final disappointment.
Losers (non-team category)
1. Gary Sheffield The Yankees dropped a $22 million hint in the form of Abreu that they want Sheff gone at year's end. Sheffield hustled out of the clubhouse after the deal was made but told the Newark Star-Ledger, "It becomes, do you want him or me? That's what it becomes. For what I've done, I thought that was worth something, but obviously not.'' Something tells me the Yankees might want to let Sheffield do his injury rehab in Tampa, 1,100 miles away.
2. Xavier Nady Thanks to Sanchez's cab mishap, he goes from the penthouse to Pittsburgh, just like that.
3. Coco Crisp Boston couldn't give him away if they packaged him in a colorful cereal box. He looked like a find last winter, but it turns out he's no lucky charm.