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NL East: Gradin' the Tradin'
Before Tuesday's trading deadline, the NL East was even busier than Lindsay Lohan's now-discarded alcohol-detecting anklet on a weeknight. Well, three-fifths of the division was busier; the Nationals (13 games back) seemed happy to accept their fate and wait for that new ballpark next year, and the Marlins (10 games back) seemed happy to accept their fate and wait for, I don't know, the Messiah? The division's three powers, however, were involved in many of the deadline's biggest moves—with rather different results.
So Salty wasn't exactly freed in the way his legion of supporters in Atlanta (and what I like to imagine to be a legion of supporters who read the Fungoes blog) would have hoped. Even so, GM John Schuerholz must be commended for his deadline efforts. What Schuerholz's moves tell me is this: He believes that this team can win the World Series, this year. He realizes that the window is closing, as his best two players are a 40-year-old John Smoltz and a 35-year-old Chipper Jones, and he was determined to give them the extra support to make a run at the second championship that has eluded him and them for so long. So he sacrificed his organization's second-best (Andrus), third-best (Harrison), 14th-best (Jones) and 18th-best (Feliz) prospects, according to Baseball America, to acquire a top-five first baseman, a strikeout-throwing eighth-inning reliever, and two quality bullpen lefties, when he had none. Schuerholz is going for it all, and he's going for it now -- and any Braves fan's got to love it, and any fan of the Braves‚ opponents has got to respect (and fear) the effort.
Mets Acquired 2B Luis Castillo from Twins for C Drew Butera and OF Dustin Martin.
Omar Minaya proved far less willing than Schuerholz to part with his top prospects (including outfielders Lastings Milledge and Carlos Gomez) for relief help in the form of Washington's dependable closer Chad Cordero, so the Mets' only deadline bounty is a new second baseman whose best days are well behind him, and who, I would argue, doesn't even represent much of an upgrade over Ruben Gotay. Minaya's said to be enamored with the triumverate of switch-hitters he now has atop the lineup -- Jose Reyes, Castillo, and Carlos Beltran.
However, what good is a switch-hitter if he can't really hit? Castillo currently boasts a .302 batting average, but he has no power (only 14 extra base hits, and zero home runs) and nowhere near the speed he used to (nine steals, after swiping 48 five years ago). In half the at-bats, Gotay has three fewer extra-base hits and a .350 average. Defensively, Castillo's .819 zone rating doesn't put him in the majors' top 10 -- and Gotay's just behind him, at .809. The name Brian Roberts (who might be the baseball's second best two-bagger behind Chase Utley) was being bandied about, and while we can't know how active talks between the Mets and Orioles actually were, it seems to me that Roberts would be worth a boatload of prospects and would have made a real difference in the Mets' fortunes. As it is, it's almost as if they didn't do anything at all.
Phillies GM Pat Gillick acquired a few useful pieces. He acted quickly and prudently in picking up Iguchi after Utley went down with a broken hand—even though Iguchi was hitting only .251 with Chicago, something's clearly rotten in the South Side this season and the change of scenery seems to have already done him good (he's at .467 so far in Philadelphia). We all know how desperately the Phillies need starting pitching, and this was obviously not a good year to trade for help in that arena at the deadline. Even so, Lohse has proven that he can be successful in the National League (don't forget that he was one of the NL's top starters in April (2.88 ERA) before falling dramatically back to earth thereafter. As it is, his current 4.58 mark, while unspectacular, is better than all the Phils, besides Cole Hamels, who have made more than 9 starts. Mateo represents a low-risk gamble.
Labels: NL East
posted by SI.com | View comments |
Furman Bisher's column made me wonder what he actually remembers. No disrespect intended, but McGriff a temporary cog? He was traded to the Braves in the middle of 1993 and was a Brave through the end of the 1997 season. Without McGriff, they don't catch the Giants to win the West Division, they don't make it to 2 World Series and they don't win one. Mark DeRosa? While I think DeRosa would have made a good utility player for the Braves, please remember that he was given the starting job at 3B and played his way out of it. Jason Schmidt? How many years did it take to him to become one of the NL's best pitchers. I don't agree with every Schuerholz moves, but it is interesting to note that they won their division 14 straight years while Schuerholz was making these moves.
AL East blog (Monday)
NL West blog (Monday)
AL Central blog (Tuesday)
NL Central blog (Wednesday)
AL West blog (Thursday)
NL East blog (Thursday)
Wild Card (Friday)