Catching Our Breath: What the Trades Really Mean

Now we can relax, think, and ponder just what the non-waiver trade deadline meant for one and all involved or not involved:

Moving up:

Cincinnati Reds. Bagging Jonathan Broxton just about ensures the Reds’ bullpen means business when they make things look as though they’re going to carry the Reds to the finish when the lineup needs big help—especially since Broxton can close whenever Arnoldis Chapman needs a breather, as well as being a solid setup. The Pirates may have a wild card play in them yet, but unless something drastic happens the Reds may have the NL Central secured. Almost.

Houston Astros. Don’t laugh—the Astros unloaded a small boatload of aging players who didn’t look to fit their future in exchange for a nice replenishing of a badly-parched farm system. It’s a beginning, and a badly-needed one.

Los Angeles Angels. No question—bagging Zack Greinke was the bag of the week. Once the Phillies locked Cole Hamels down, Greinke was the nugget among the available starting pitchers, and the Angels moved swift and just to get him for a serious run at the postseason . . . and the potential to sign him long-term.

* Los Angeles Dodgers. Maybe Hanley Ramirez really needed a change of scenery, but the Dodgers looked brilliant in landing him. And, in landing Shane Victorino from the Phillies. And what was the brilliance? They stood fast and didn’t let anyone pry their two best prospects out of their clutches.

* Pittsburgh Pirates. One of the aging Astros, Wandy Rodriguez, is a perfect fit for a Pirate team looking to finish what they started that they couldn’t finish last year—a run to the postseason. Bagging Gaby Sanchez from Miami also helped them bind up their outfield for the same purpose. And, like the Dodgers, the Pirates didn’t have to sacrifice keys to their future to do either one.

Moving down:

Colorado Rockies. Or, how to be quiet and dubious without really trying. And we emphasise “without really trying.” This team needed to change badly. And they did nothing much beyond Jonathan Sanchez and a dubious infield prospect. They chose not to throw relief pitchers Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle into the trade winds even though those two might have brought them a splendid return. And, worse, they made fading, aging Michael Cuddyer untouchable. Compound that to the fifth-inning-ending brain fart their field experienced when nobody remembered it was the third out, and you know why the Rockies have fallen fast enough from contenders to comedians and won’t return to the chase for at least a year or two.

* Miami Marlins. Maybe they really do need to remake things from the bottom up, but it still speaks ill of their all-in winter that it came to this. And what the hell were they thinking when they reached out for Carlos Lee?

St. Louis Cardinals. The bullpen bump they thought they got with Edward Mujica may turn into lumps—Mujica is considered too prone to the long ball.

Sitting still:

Boston Red Sox. They needed to shake up their rotation. They swapped relief pitchers. Did they say goodbye to 2012 and begin thinking about 2013? Hard to say.

Chicago Cubs. They did well moving Ryan Dempster when all was said and done, and they got a decent return in terms of their continuing rebuild. But continuing rebuild is just what it is: the Cubs aren’t likely to enter serious contention again until after 2013. Cub Country has to hope the Epstein Administration has a few more aces up its sleeves. Best move: Unloading Geovanny Soto and Paul Maholm for reasonable looking prospects.

New York Mets. Maybe they aren’t going to look like the team who surprised most of the league in the first half, but this still would have been a good time to shake up and begin rebuilding their atrocious bullpen, at least. On the other hand, they may have just enough parts to make a reasonable 2013 run, assuming the health of Johan Santana, the continuing steadiness of R.A. Dickey, the regrouping of Ike Davis, the emergence of Matt Harvey, and the continuing leadership of David Wright. May.

Philadelphia Phillies. They unloaded a couple of aging parts to steady the ship until next season, not to mention getting a little salary relief, but they’ll be sitting on pins and cushions (thank you, Jane Ace) over whether they can get more relief by moving Cliff Lee, perhaps after the season. And, possibly, at least one other fat contract attached to a down-sloping player. If they can, 2012 will be remembered as a stumble in the middle of an impressive run. If not, 2012 might be remembered as the beginning of yet another dead end.

* Texas Rangers. They ended up the winner in the Ryan Dempster chase, and they’re still likely to go to the postseason unless they’re overthrown by the charging Angels. But it turned out that getting Dempster only solved part of their starting rotation picture. The deal was barely done when Neftali Feliz ended up going down for the season for Tommy John surgery and Roy Oswalt was moved to the bullpen. Their prospects for if and when they make the postseason suddenly became a question mark more than a kind of promise.

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