MLB Trade Deadline Winners and Losers

August 3, 2008

The non-waiver baseball trade deadline has come and passed, and many talented players now find themselves with new teams. Some of these trades helped contenders strengthen up for the playoff run while some helped cellar-dwellers start anew. Let’s take a look.

CC Sabathia to Milwaukee for Matt LaPorta and 2 minor leaguers
Milwaukee’s rotation greatly improves with the acquisition of Sabathia. He has pitched very well thus far for the Brewers. Whether that’s enough to take the NL Central is yet to be determined. Meanwhile, Cleveland knew they couldn’t afford to sign Sabathia to a long-term extension and got some value back for him. Oh, and Sabathia used the trade as an opportunity to change his first name to “CC” from “C.C.”

Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to the Yankees for Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, Dan McCutchen, and Jeff Karstens
The Yankees added the right-handed outfield bat (Nady) they needed to replace Hideki Matsui, who is likely out for the year with a knee injury. Marte provides a solid lefty option in Joe Girardi’s bullpen. The Pirates add some promising prospects for their future. Tabata was seen as the top Yankee outfield prospect before personality issues arose this season. Ohlendorf can potentially help Pittsburgh as a starter or out of the bullpen.

Mark Teixeira to the Angels for Casey Kotchman and a minor leaguer
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim needed a bat, so they added Mark Teixeira of Atlanta. Teixeira is due to become a free agent at the end of the season, so unless the Angels can sign him to an extension, this trade may not work out well. Who exactly is going to play 1B next year?

Ivan Rodriguez to the Yankees for Kyle Farnsworth
The Yankees decided they could not withstand another blow to the catching position, so they instead gave up setup man Farnsworth for two months of Pudge Rodriguez’s services. The bullpen takes a bit of a hit as a result. Farnsworth, however, was pitching at his peak performance and is due to become a free agent, so just being able to trade him for anything more than a bag of baseballs is more than the Yankees could have asked for. Classic “sell high” strategy.

Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers, Jason Bay to Boston, Andy Laroche, Brandon Moss, Craig Hansen, and a minor leaguer to the Pirates
Where to start with this one? Manny gets to be Manny for Joe Torre, which should be interesting to watch. Pittsburgh might be building a very solid future with this trade as well as the deal they made with the Yankees. Jason Bay will provide a defensive upgrade in LF for the Red Sox but is not the same presence at the plate as Manny is. I call the loser in this deal the Red Sox. Manny, Moss, Hansen, and cash for Jason Bay? I smell a ripoff. But if Bay plays well then this deal will be well worth it.

Ken Griffey, Jr. to the White Sox for Danny Richar and Nick Masset
The White Sox now have a bit of a crowded lineup with OF/1B Nick Swisher, OF Griffey, and 1B Paul Konerko all competing for playing time. The Sox plan to use Griffey in CF. He had been moved to RF by the Reds previously because of his age and declining defensive skills. Somebody better tell Ozzie Guillen that it’s 2008, not 1998. Griffey may help the lineup, but at what cost defensively?

That’s it for now. Further updates when I feel like it. It’s my blog after all 😉

New York Yankees Update

May 13, 2008

Wow, it’s been a while since my last post. That’s what happens when you have to balance final papers, final exams, and a steady loving girlfriend. My time at UAlbany is coming to a close this Sunday, and that night I’ll be at my first Yankee game of the year, which will also happen to be the last Subway Series game ever played at old Yankee Stadium.

Anyways, the season is about a quarter way through and the Yankees have been very inconsistent. Still, though, they find themselves only 4 games out of the divisional lead, thanks mostly to improved competition from the Orioles, Blue Jays, and Rays. The Yanks have struggled both on the mound and at the plate at times, but when both come together the team seems almost unbeatable, a telling sign for the future.

Melky Cabrera and Hideki Matsui (both of whom were almost traded this past offseason) have been carrying the club offensively. Johnny Damon has heated up lately and Bobby Abreu and Derek Jeter have been consistent. The main struggles have been due to lackluster performances thus far by Robinson Cano and Jason Giambi. To date, Cano is hitting .188 with 4 HRs and 11 RBIs. He has been hitting .313 in May after hitting .151 in April, so signs are pointing towards Cano finding a more consistent approach at the plate.

Giambi’s struggles are far more concerning. He is currently batting .177 with a team-leading 7 HRS, but 3 of those dingers have come in 2 games against Cleveland’s Paul Byrd and another 2 were off of Boston’s Mike Timlin. So to summarize, that’s 2 HRs against all other pitching in a month and a half. Couple this with his less-than-stellar play at first base and some fans may wonder what exactly this man is doing on the field. Wilson Betemit (if he were not injured) could provide better defense and a better bat at 1B than Giambi has so far. Giambi is making over $23 million this season, and this may be the only reason he’s being given a legitimate chance. He could be traded to another contender by season’s end if he can show some positive signs.

Starting Rotation
The Yankees’ starting pitchers have seen their fair share of struggles so far, outside of Ace (yes, I said Ace) hurler Chien-Ming Wang. Andy Pettitte has has some poor performances and Mike Mussina started out looking terrible until he realized that if he throws a 60 mph changeup he can get away with an 83 mph fastball. Phil Hughes struggled terribly before learning that he had suffered a cracked rib, which will keep him out until July. Ian Kennedy also struggled but pitched very well when he was sent back down to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He will get a start on Thursday in Tampa against the Rays.

This leaves the Yankees in search of a fifth starter until Hughes is ready for another crack at the bigs. Darrell Rasner has pitched well in two games against the Mariners and Tigers. If he pitches well against the crosstown rival Mets on Friday, the rotation spot may be his to lose. I’ve personally liked Rasner since I first saw him pitch in the bigs in 2006. In both 06 and 07 his season was cut short by injuries. If he can stay healthy he might be able to help bring consistency to the Yankees’ rotation. At worst, he’s better than Kei Igawa.

The Yankees’ bullpen has been shuffled over many times since the beginning of the season, mostly thanks to injuries and the ineffectiveness of the starters. Mariano Rivera is yet to allow a run and it doesn’t look like he will any time soon. Joba Chamberlain has had a couple rough outings, namely against the White Sox and Indians, but overall has pitched very well setting the table for Rivera. Ross Ohlendorf’s stock has risen thanks to his strong performances in long relief. In the event that Chamberlain rejoins the starting rotation, Ohlendorf has to get a look as the setup man. He throws a power fastball that can strike hitters out and also has a sinker which he can use to induce double plays.

Jonanthan Albaladejo pitched well in short time with the team but is currently on the DL. Brian Bruney seemed to have rejuvenated his career before he went down until at least August with a torn ligament in his foot. LaTroy Hawkins has been inconsistent and has yet to earn Yankee manager Joe Girardi’s trust in key situations. Kyle Farnsworth started out very poorly but has added a cut fastball that has made his power arsenal much more effective. The Yankees have also shuffled Edwar Ramirez, Chris Britton, Billy Traber, and Jose Veras in and out of the bullpen.

Overall, the Yankees look like they are starting to solidify as a team. Once Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada return from their injuries, the offense will appear unstoppable. With continued strong performance from Wang and improved pitching from the rest of the rotation, the Yankees could emerge as a clear favorite in what this season has become a very competitive AL East.