The non-waiver trade deadline tends to be overblown in baseball and this year was no exception. In fact, the deadline was so pathetic this year that the biggest trade on July 31 was actually the Bucks-Blazer deal in the NBA, where Jamaal Magliore was shipped to Portland. However, there were still some interesting deals and a few bigger trades in the days leading up to the deadline. Here's my rundown of the winners and losers:
Yankees - I can't stand the Yankees and it drives me nuts that they did so well this trade deadline. First, they pulled off a classic move that only they can pull off by acquiring Cory Lidle and Bobby Abreu from the Phillies for four extremely raw prospects that are yet to show lots of promise in pro ball. The only reason Philadelphia did this deal is because the Yankees were willing to take all of Abreu's salary. New York did not need any offense, but Abreu is really going to add to the lineup and it is downright scary to think just how good that offense will be if Sheffield and Matsui come back healthy. Whoever thought up the old baseball adage "pitching and defense wins championships" never imagined this Yankees lineup. Lidle was a great pickup as well because, though he is a mediocre starter at best, he is certainly better than anyone the Yankees have been throwing out as a fifth starter. In fact, Lidle may end up having a bigger impact than Abreu because he is replacing such a weak spot on the Yankees roster. If that deal wasn't bad enough, the Yankees somehow coaxed the Pirates to take Shawn Chacon for Craig Wilson straight up! Wilson is good enough to start on most teams but he'll add a ton of punch to the Yankee bench and all New York gave up was a guy who had no place thanks to the addition of Cory Lidle.
Rangers - Texas also made a big splash by acquiring Carlos Lee, but I am not convinced he significantly improves their team. Lee is replacing Kevin Mench, who had just as good of an average and on-base percentage, and the Rangers also gave up a piece of their bullpen, Francisco Cordero. However, Texas also acquired Matt Stairs from the Royals and Kip Wells from the Pirates for essentially nothing, and those were both good moves. Stairs strengthens the bench and Kip Wells cannot be much worse than John Rheinecker lately, and he has the potential to be a huge improvement. The fact that the Rangers were the second biggest winner at the deadline is telling of how little teams did to improve.
Braves - Bob Wickman and Danys Baez don't sound like much of an improvement, but considering how bad Atlanta's back end of the bullpen has been, they are a significant improvement and patch up the most glaring hole on the team.
Tigers - There was so much talk about Detroit getting a left-handed hitter that it may have been disappointing to the team if no one had been acquired. So, though I think Sean Casey is only a marginal upgrade at first over Chris Shelton, the deal may have prevented a swoon by a bunch of disappointed players.
Reds - I am not convinced Cincinnati is any better now than they were before their trades, but I have to give credit to their GM Wayne Krivsky for acquiring a completely new bullpen in only a month. I still think there was a way to make the same moves without giving up Austin Kearns and/or Felipe Lopez, but freeing up time for Ryan Freel and Chris Denorfia was not a bad move either.
Nationals - I do not know for sure, but it looks like Washington really dropped the ball at the trade deadline. It looks to me like Jim Bowden held out forever trying to get the deal he wanted for Alfonso Soriano but the deal that he wanted never came. That by itself does not bother me. However, by trying so hard to maximize the Soriano deal, Bowden completely ignored other options, namely trading a number of his starting pitchers. There were no attractive starters available this deadline, so Bowden could have probably got a better deal for Livan Hernandez, Tony Armas Jr., and/or Ramon Ortiz than in almost any other year. So, if Bowden really did completely focus on trading Soriano and ultimately not pull the trigger, and consequently completely ignored the possibility of trading any of his starters in what could have been a deal that clearly favored Washington, he completely failed at this deadline. There is still the possibility a trade could be done before August 31, but I wonder if any of those starters will pass through waivers since so many contending teams want starting pitching.
Phillies - Pat Gillick actually said his team would be both a buyer and seller at the deadline. Yeah, sure. He ditched Bobby Abreu, Cory Lidle, David Bell, and Rheal Cormier for essentially nothing. This was a complete roster and salary purge. Pat Gillick better sign a bunch of great free agents with all the money he has all of a sudden saved, because the Phillies got no quality prospects at the deadline despite giving away so much major league talent.
Dodgers - The Wilson Betemit deal looks fair, and the Julio Lugo deal looks pretty good, but trading Cesar Izturis for Greg Maddux made no sense. This team is fading fast and Greg Maddux is not much of an improvement at this point in his career. Izturis was a fan favorite in Los Angeles and he is a better player than Maddux at this point. Furthermore, there is a pretty good chance Greg Maddux will re-sign with the Cubs this offseason if he does not retire, which means in a couple months it will become painfully apparent the Dodgers gave away a gold glove shortstop for absolutely nothing.
TWO MORE INTERESTING TEAMS
Royals - Dayton Moore in his short time with Kansas City has made lots of personnel changes and he made some more at the deadline, most notably acquiring Ryan Shealy from the Rockies. Moore has not acquired any blue chip prospects, but he did not have a ton to work with either. Considering the situation Moore faced in Kansas City, he has done a very good job and there is no doubt the team is better now and has a brighter future with him in charge.
Mets - The most interesting deal of the trade deadline was swung by Omar Minaya when he sent Xavier Nady to the Pirates for Oliver Perez and Roberto Hernandez. Hernandez will become a key arm in the bullpen immediately, but Perez is a project. He has shown the potential to be one of the premier starters in baseball, but has struggled with massive inconsistency. The deal is risky since the winner of it will ultimately be decided by Perez, but it is especially risky for the Mets because they dealt their starting right fielder in a year where they are the favorite to go to the World Series out of the NL. Omar Minaya must have unbelievable intestinal fortitude, because I would be chugging Pepto Bismal by the bottle if I were the Mets GM and just agreed to this trade given the circumstances.