The Red Sox beat out the rival Yankees in acquiring star reliever Eric Gagne.
Bob Levey/Icon SMI
Was that the deadline that just went by? Or the deadly?
Unless you're the most hardcore of baseball fans, you probably fell asleep about the time the trade deadline rolled around Tuesday afternoon.
And unless you're with the Braves, Red Sox or Rangers, or happened to be Eric Gagne or Mark Teixeira, who received get-out-jail free cards, you can't really be celebrating today. Look at this way: Without Texas, almost nothing interesting would have happened.
A majority of teams either picked up or traded role players, so-so relievers or no one. Still, I found a few I could call winners (and just as many losers).
1. Red Sox
Game Over? It's season over in the newly-named AL Easy. The importing of Gagne gives the Sox baseball's best bullpen by far. The all-time save percentage leader (96.2 percent) will set up Jonathan Papelbon, the best back-end bullpen duo since Mariano Rivera set up John Wetteland for the 1996 Yankees. A deal for Jermaine Dye that would have sent Wily Mo Pena and a reliever to Chicago fell through when the White Sox asked for a deal sweetener. Better yet, the rival Yankees did nothing of note and Boston got to hold onto its best prospects (Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester).
General manager John Schuerholz was one GM in a field of 30 willing to give up his better prospects, and his characteristic guts helped Atlanta make the biggest deal. It's not just that Mark Teixeira is being added to a fairly formidable lineup, it's that Julio Franco is being subtracted, as well. Octavio Dotel throws hard, but he isn't at his best with the game on the line. Schuerholz tried to unload beefy Bob Wickman before the deadline but was unsuccessful. In the end, he gave up a lot, but he gave himself a shot at the playoffs.
First let's raise a toast to Rangers owner Tom Hicks and GM Jon Daniels. Without them, nothing would have happened at the deadline. They are the only non-contending team with the good sense to own a mirror and realize what they were. Most execs also loved what Daniels extracted from the Braves, especially switch-hitting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who could switch to first base or DH if it doesn't work out as a catcher, and 18-year-old shortstop prospect Elvis Andrus. If the player to be named is lefthander Matt Harrison, that's another coup.
They tried hard to match the rival Braves by making a big deal on deadline day. They looked into Gagne, then targeted Chad Cordero. Ultimately, their best hope was a three-team trade involving Arizona that would have netted them Cordero and sent prospects from Arizona to Washington, but the Mets would not move Aaron Heilman to Arizona. Heilman's in a weird spot; the Mets don't think he's good enough to start, but they like him too much to seriously consider trading him. Luis Castillo was a nice pickup the day before. He's the No. 2 hitter they needed, he has a stronger glove and range than rookie Ruben Gotay and is a rare player who rakes at Shea (his record 32-game hitting streak at the Flushing ballpark was finally snapped on June 18). Castillo's range is needed considering the Mets have virtual statues at right field (Shawn Green) and first base (Carlos Delgado).
Nice work to trade their pitching coach's kid for Tadahito Iguchi, who'll make an acceptable last-minute replacement for injured Chase Utley. Too bad the Phillies lost Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn to the DL on deadline day. Considering their obvious attempts to remake the champion 2005 White Sox (they already had Aaron Rowand and Freddy Garcia), it's surprising they didn't go get Jermaine Dye.
They tried to get Gagne, and some folks think they actually finished second in the bidding. But earlier, they acquired Scott Linebrink, an important piece to bolster their bullpen as they try to fight off charging Chicago.
They didn't get the bullpen help they needed when they failed to land Dotel (perhaps Gagne was too rich for their blood). But old friend Kenny Lofton could give them an offensive spark.
Great job getting rid of the remaining $14 million on Matt Morris' contract (and Morris, too). But apparently everyone thought the rest of the roster was more suited for resting at home than a pennant race, because the Giants are stuck with all of 'em.
Joel Pineiro (5.03 ERA) doesn't look like much, but the switch to the National League may help. Plus, the Cardinals are on a roll now. They made the right decision to hold off and not to sell. Look out.
10. White Sox
They got Mark Buehrle signed to a reasonable contract ($56 million over four years), and that makes it all worth it. There wasn't much market for Iguchi. Unless they can re-sign Dye, he probably should have gone somewhere.
I am going to assume GM Dayton Moore knows something about Kyle Davies that we don't know (beyond his lifetime 6.00 ERA), and as a longtime Braves exec, he probably does.
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