Every year around this time there’s a run on boxes and packing tape. As teams in the hunt wheel and deal with those shedding payroll, the moving industry gets a temporary bump. With less than 24 hours left before the non-waiver deadline, I’ll examine the winners and losers so far.
Let’s take a look at the winners and losers, top to bottom:
1) Giants. Carlos Beltran provides a much needed bump to the San Francisco offense. For more tha half the year, they have relied on their pitching staff to carry them along in a mild National League West. With this move, they prove their plan is repeat or bust. No longer satisfied with coasting along, the Giants almost instantly put distance between themselves and the Diamondbacks.
2) Indians. By picking up Ubaldo Jimenez, Cleveland looks to secure a positive run differential in the American League Central. With the White Sox as the only team giving up less runs than they score (barely), it was clear that the Indians needed pitching help if they were going to continued to compete.
3) Pirates. Just announced, the Pirates pulled of a deal for a sweet swinging left handed bat in Derek Lee. While Lee’s numbers have clearly been on the decline, he should see a minor statistical resurgence playing at PNC Park the rest of the season. The park plays smaller than Camden and should allow Lee to help the Pirates challenge for the division crown. More importantly, it signals to Pirates fans that this team is actually in it to win, not just to create the warm and fuzzy feel good story of its first winning season in 18 years.
4) Phillies. Hunter Pence should help Philly in two important areas; Offense and youth. The Phillies should have control over Pence for the next two years without even having to work a new deal. They get a proven contact hitter with a little pop, and they get some youth infused into an ever-increasingly older team. Already the clear National League favorite, the Phillies may be able to force the Braves to forget about a division win and focus on the Wild Card.
5) Red Sox. Rich Harden should help, but probably not enough to justify the trade. This move feels like a move made simply for the sake of the trade deadline. Over his career, Harden has proven himself successful, but he is injury prone. The Red Sox should do fine with this deal, but most likely could have done fine without it.
6) Diamondbacks. Already 3 games back in the division, the Dbacks were faced with the prospect of dealing with the Giants AND Carlos Beltran the rest of the season. Their counter-move? Trading for Jason Marquis. Arizona gave up a 21 year old prospect for a 33 year old pitcher with only 7 wins more than he has loses. Marquis is a decent player, but in comparison to the Beltran deal, it’s like a boxer countering an upper-cut with a weak side jab.
7) Yankees. They will likely take the Wild Card, but by standing idly by, they seem to be willing to allow the Red Sox to take the division. New York is a good team that could have been better. With such a head start earlier in the season over a struggling Sox team, it would seem the Yankees would dread giving up not only the division lead but the eventual crown. Yet, their lack of action during the trade season would indicate otherwise.
There will probably be more trades to come, but based on what we know so far, these are the winners and losers. Now, it’s the time for teams to take these puzzle pieces, put them in place, and charge toward the finish line. Races will intensify, rivalries will renew, and the play-offs will take center-stage.