The 30 best moves of this year
Only 10 teams account for 28 of 30 entries on my list
The Yankees, Rockies and Mariners combined for 14 of the 30 moves
Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell is believed to be Cleveland's top candidate
Two of the best moves of the year involved Matt Holliday. One was a deal to acquire Holliday, the other was a deal to be rid of Holliday.
Such are the dangers of big-league dealing.
It's all very unpredictable. But as it turned out this year, the very same GMs -- the Yankees' Brian Cashman, Rockies' Dan O'Dowd and Mariners' Jack Zduriencik -- seemed to hit time and again with their deals and moves over the course of the last calendar year.
The same GMs made so many of the best moves that only 10 teams account for 28 of 30 entries on my list of the 30 Best Moves of the Year. For those scoring at home, that's 33 percent of the teams accounting for 93 percent of the entries. The Yankees and Rockies are tied for the lead with five entries, followed by four for the Mariners and two apiece by the Tigers, Cardinals, Phillies, Angels, Dodgers, Braves and Red Sox. The Nationals and Brewers had one entry apiece. Eighteen of 30 teams (or 60 percent) were shut out.
Not surprisingly, seven of the 10 teams that have multiple moves on the list are heading for the postseason, and an eighth likely will join them.
Here is the list ...
1. Rockies acquire Huston Street, Carlos Gonzalez and Greg Smith for Matt Holliday. Folks didn't like Colorado's end of this trade initially, which is usually a sure tipoff that they made a fine deal. And sure enough, for one year of Holliday, they filled their closer hole with Street (34 saves) and received a talented young outfielder in Gonzalez, who is now showing signs he has star power (.533 slugging percentage).
2. Tigers acquire Edwin Jackson for Matt Joyce. Tampa Bay made hay the year before by acquiring starting pitcher Matt Garza and shortstop Jason Bartlett in a deal for disappointing Delmon Young. But this winter they actually determined that they had too many starters, taking offers on Jackson, Jason Hammel (who was traded to Colorado) and Jeff Niemann with the intention of trading two of them. Jackson, very good in Tampa last year, became even better with a move to Comerica Park. Tampa was at least wise to trade Hammel and keep Niemann.
3. Cardinals acquire Matt Holliday for prospects Brett Wallace, Clay Mortensen and Shane Peterson. Holliday didn't take to Oakland, but he has absolutely thrived in St. Louis, batting .350 and providing the perfect complement to superstar Albert Pujols. Wallace will be a good A's-type player, but the Cardinals believed he's a first baseman and had no use for him
4. Yankees sign Mark Teixeira for $180 million over eight years. The Red Sox power brokers had a bad meeting with Teixeira at his Dallas-area home, opening the door for Yankees' GM Brian Cashman, who implored his bosses to take the big plunge and beat Boston's $170 million bid by telling them it was an opportunity to "make the Red Sox look bad.'' It also made the Yankees look good.
5. Rockies get Jason Marquis from the Cubs for Luis Vizcaino. Marquis was never a favorite of Cubs manager Lou Piniella, but he's won 15 games in Colorado and is headed for the postseason a 10th straight time. Vizcaino was almost immediately released.
6. Angels sign Bobby Abreu for $5 million. Besides putting up the very same numbers he puts up every year (he's hitting .297 with 15 homers, 102 RBIs, 94 walks and 29 steals), Abreu taught a lesson in plate discipline to all his new Angels teammates, from Chone Figgins to Torii Hunter to all the others (well, all of them except Vladimir Guerrero).
7. Rockies hire Jim Tracy as manager to replace Clint Hurdle. I love Hurdle, but his time was up. The message was getting lost. Tracy didn't seem like a very inspired choice at the time, but he defined roles (giving a more prominent one to Gonzalez) and has led the Rockies to a 73-40 record and playoff spot after they began 18-28 under Hurdle.
8. Phillies sign Raul Ibanez for $31.5 million over three years. For two months Ibanez was the best player in baseball, inspiring bloggers to speculate about how he got so good. Eventually, he came back to Earth. But he still had a great year (34 HRs, 93 RBIs, .274).
9. Braves acquire Javier Vazquez and reliever Boone Logan from the White Sox for prospects Tyler Flowers, Jon Gilmore, Brent Lillibridge and Santos Rodriguez. It seemed like a big gamble at the time, but it turned out to be the key move to rebuilding a rotation that badly needed it. With Vazquez pitching brilliantly (15-10 with a 2.87 ERA), the Braves turned a weakness into a great strength. The White Sox love power prospect Tyler Flowers.
10. Yankees sign CC Sabathia for $161 million. Some wondered whether the Yankees had to pay this much. That'll never be known, but they felt a threat from Sabathia's home-state Angels and simply had to have Sabathia, the ace they plainly needed.
11. Phillies acquire Cliff Lee from Indians for prospects Carlos Carrasco, Jason Knapp, Jason Donald and Lou Marson. Philly was able to add an ace without surrendering any of their top three prospects (Kyle Drabek, Dominic Brown or Michael Taylor). Seemed like a decent deal for Cleveland, too, but Knapp soon after coming over required microfracture surgery on his throwing shoulder and is out a full year.
12. Dodgers sign Randy Wolf for $5 million. The Mets' second choice to Oliver Perez will start Game 1 of the Division Series.
13. Mariners hire Don Wakamatsu as manager. Wakamatsu instilled a discipline they badly needed and has led Seattle to a surprising 83-76 record.
14. Red Sox acquire Victor Martinez for Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price. The versatile V-Mart has been Boston's best player since arriving, batting .332 for the Red Sox and lengthening a lineup that was struggling at the time.
15. Dodgers sign Orlando Hudson for $3.38 million plus incentives. Originally looking for $50 million, Hudson had to settle for a small fraction of that due to an iffy wrist and disappearing market.
16. Nationals acquire Nyjer Morgan in a deal for Lastings Milledge. Morgan was known to be a very good defensive center fielder, and heaven knows he's exactly what they needed in Washington. But exciting offense, including a .351 average and 24 stolen bases, is a pleasant bonus.
17. Yankees sign Andy Pettitte for $5.5 million plus incentives. Pettitte held out for long enough for the price to drop, but he made it up in incentives after delivering an excellent year in the Bronx.
18. Yankees acquire Nick Swisher for Wilson Betemit, Jhonny Nunez and Jeff Marquez and a pitching prospect. It seemed like an extravagance once the Yankees acquired Teixeira, as Swisher appeared destined to become an expensive and dissatisfied bench player. But when Xavier Nady went down with elbow trouble, Swisher moved to right field where he became a power threat and fan favorite.
19. Mariners acquire David Aardsma from Boston for minor leaguer Fabian Williamson. Aardsma becomes the Mariners closer, saving 37 games.
20. Cardinals acquire Mark DeRosa for Chris Perez and Jess Todd. Several teams sought DeRosa, a late bloomer with versatility and power who's made an impact. John Smoltz and Julio Lugo also worked out for St. Louis on the cheap.
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