Tom Verducci will answer select questions from SI.com users in his Baseball Mailbag.
Another trading deadline has passed, and once again, with apologies to a struggling but still game Greg Maddux, no impact starting pitcher changed teams, further underscoring how front-line starters are the most valuable commodity in baseball.
So while names such as Roy Oswalt, Barry Zito, Jason Schmidt and Roger Clemens were thrown about, second-tier starters such as Kip Wells, Cory Lidle and Oliver Perez ultimately were the ones secured for a pennant-race push. Good luck there.
But hey, help can be found in the oddest of places. Who knew that Shawn Chacon and Kyle Farnsworth would be the stars of the trading deadline last season, or that Geoff Blum, an afterthought among the players moved last July, would win a World Series game with a home run?
Once again, the dealing didn't match the buildup, as the trading deadline has begun to rival the Super Bowl and the NFL draft in overblown hype. Still, you can be sure that even moves on the periphery are bound to have some impact on the crowded races, in which 17 teams remain within five games of a playoff spot.
In such a crowded field, here are five players who will have the biggest impact on the races.
1. Bobby Abreu, Yankees He's No. 1 on this list by default, being the best player traded. Sure, New York is crowing about how many pitches he takes and how often he gets on base. The Yankees' lineup, stocked with patient hitters, should be able to wear down pitchers and regularly stretch games past the three-hour mark. And the Yankees essentially gave up nothing but money, making this a low-risk, high-reward proposition. They clearly are a much better team with Abreu in right field than Bernie Williams or Aaron Guiel.
But hold on. This just might be Raul Mondesi revisited, too. Even if the Yankees gave up nearly nothing in terms of talent, New York fans might find Abreu not at all to their liking and the Yankees could be stuck paying $21.4 million for eight months of a player in decline. (I'd rather have Gary Sheffield next season than Abreu.)
Abreu has hit five home runs on the road since the 2005 All-Star break. His slugging percentage has gotten worse with every month this season (.550, .471, .404, .313). Yankees fans will chafe at his penchant for not going all-out for balls in right field, especially anything remotely close to the walls, and for his refusal to hit aggressively in run-scoring situations. It should be alarming that Abreu has whiffed once in every three at-bats in close and late situations (20 in 61 at-bats) while hitting .230. He's the kind of hitter who is happy with a walk in run-scoring situations, which sometimes leads to looking at third strikes.
Does he get on base? Sure. But a $21.4 million corner outfielder in the AL had better also hit with power and knock in big runs. And another thing or two: He has only three career postseason at-bats, with the Astros in 1997, and the Phillies, who are wrongly being portrayed as some small-market team that had to dump payroll, could not wait to rid themselves of Abreu to remake their team. It's a good move for the Yankees, but not without the possibility that it could blow up on them.
2. Jeremy Affeldt, Rockies Without taking away from their major league roster (perpetual prospect Ryan Shealy was traded while his value was still high), the Rockies fortified their bullpen with a 27-year-old left-hander who throws 97 mph. Affeldt's lack of strikeouts is perplexing, but he is lights-out against left-handers (.181) and, after jockeying between the rotation and the bullpen, would seem to prosper if he's used only as a reliever (2-1, 2.96 out of the pen this year, with a .174 average against). The switch out of the AL, not to mention into meaningful games, figures to bring out the best in Affeldt too. It's hard to even write this after years of Rockie Horror Pitching Shows, but Colorado just might have the best pitching in the NL West now.