DEALS AND STEALS
The July 31 trading deadline isn't the end of dealing. Since 1990 David Cone, Woody Williams, Denny Neagle, Jeromy Burnitz and Jose Canseco all passed through waivers and were part of August trades. No-name minor leaguers such as Jeff Bagwell, Moises Alou and John Smoltz also were traded in August.
The deadline, however, creates urgency and competition among clubs. That kind of climate makes July the best month for picking somebody's pocket. Here are the five most one-sided July deals from the past 10 seasons. Note that none of them led immediately to a world championship and most of the steals involved getting an established player rather than a prospect.
1. 1B Mark McGwire from Oakland to St. Louis for P Eric Ludwick, P Blake Stein and P T.J. Mathews (1997). After the Angels passed on McGwire, the Cardinals snared the man who would become the home run king in exchange for three pitchers who faded.
2. P Derek Lowe and C Jason Varitek from Seattle to Boston for P Heathcliff Slocumb (1997). The Red Sox stole a future 20-game winner and an All-Star catcher.
3. 1B Fred McGriff from San Diego to Atlanta for OF Melvin Nieves, P Donnie Elliott and OF Vince Moore (1993). At little cost, McGriff ignited one of the greatest second-half comebacks in pennant race history as the Braves caught San Francisco, who were 10 games ahead on July 22. Two years later they won the World Series.
4. 3B Scott Rolen and P Doug Nickle from Philadelphia to St. Louis for INF Placido Polanco, P Bud Smith and P Mike Timlin (2002). The Phillies came out of a messy divorce from Rolen with a fraction of his value.
5. P Kirk Rueter and P Tim Scott from Montreal to San Francisco for P Mark Leiter (1996). The Giants paid little for Rueter, who is 91-59 since the deal.
Tom Glavine (6-11, 5.10 ERA at week's end) has a diminished chance at 300 wins (he has 248 at age 37), a strained rib muscle and one of the worst teams in baseball around him. But he says he doesn't regret signing his three-year, $35 million deal with the Mets, even though his other suitors, the Braves and the Phillies, are strong contenders.