The 2011 trade deadline… a Q&A recap


And so another July trade deadline has come and gone. Sure… teams can still trade for players and postseason roster eligibility isn’t done. But for the hassle-free trading, we are now beyond the deadline. So let’s bring up some questions (basic questions) and see if there are answers (not the normal answers, but surprise answers to kick around and consider) to a couple of little things still out there…


Major League Baseball.

Not a joke. MLB. A winner. Look things over.

Pittsburgh and Cleveland went out on the market as buyers.


The Pirates and Indians! Imagine that. I’m pretty certain that Pittsburgh and Cleveland and Milwaukee and Texas all adding parts in moves to improve for the current season is one of the modern day signs of impending apocalypse. (Though that could be a slight exaggeration.) In fact… Texas…

The Rangers just so happened to manage landing the best reliever to move. And the Brewers (who would be wrong, but would argue they got the best reliever to move) not only added in the bullpen, they also traded for a need to cover for an injury.

All this while the Red Sox and Yankees twiddled their thumbs.

(I’d say while they “effectively twiddled their thumbs” but there was nothing at all effective about the twiddling those two clubs did.)

Specific winners… ok… we’ll look at the big names, and not the prospects returned. (So this will be things like what Philly and Texas did and not what Houston and San Diego received.)

Without having time to research it, I like the Hunter Pence move for Philly a lot… right now and in the near future. But, I just wonder about the organization. See… every time you look at Boston and their moves, you debate money and perhaps scratch your head. Carl Crawford? Adrian Gonzalez? Seems like they are spending a ton of money. (And they are.) But then you notice that Ortiz and Drew, and likely Papelbon, are gone, freeing up a conservatively presented $35-million or so. In other words, they have a rolling salary that fills itself in. My point being, Ryan Howard is going to cost a boatload with his contract kicking in… and that pitching rotation ain’t cheap… and now, Hunter Pence, who might not really be worth the money he may get when that hurdle needs to be cleared. Thing is, I’m nit-picking and kicking tires on a trade that runs really well for now. Several clubs would have liked to acquire Pence… Philly did… they needed a regular position player… good for them.

Mike Adams to Texas… awesome acquisition. They have him for next year as well, and could be thinking of him as the 2012 closer. Good job. I think it may just be the best trade made in July for what it means today, tomorrow, and fits into current needs and future organizational plans.

Now… I love what Pittsburgh and Cleveland did as statements. Example… it’s not that I think Ubaldo Jimenez was a great get for the Indians. Instead it’s the mindset they are using and the approach they are taking, setting themselves up to be a threat and saying they don’t consider their club a bottom dweller for this season and next. If the Pirates and Indians each manage nothing more than 81+ wins (meaning .500 or better for the year), that’s huge. And keep in mind… the Indians also traded Orlando Cabrera for a solid prospect. The Indians made multiple trades. Some with designs on this year, most with an eye toward 2012 and the future, and you can’t really fault the aggressiveness or the judgement. Nice work.

Baseball collectively wins during July of 2011 and the trading that took place. Keep in mind… Cleveland is the same organization that traded Sabathia and Lee and Martinez in recent years.


I don’t know if losers really applies as a tag this year. Take a look around…

San Francisco, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Texas… and the list keeps going… all added interesting players. Pittsburgh and Milwaukee were in the trade mix as well. In other words… as noted in the winners section, it was a fairly different trade deadline, and many teams sought to improve their rosters.

Good stuff.

I’ll stay with the label of losers, if for no reason than we called the first segment winners, but for me the reality is that I consider the funny areas to be more surprises than losses. Consider…

Mike Aviles?

Geez… that one makes zero sense. He doesn’t really hit, and he isn’t exactly Picasso with a glove. I mean… it’s kind of a depth move, and one that just didn’t seem necessary. Sure… I’ve been harping on the 40-man roster theme for Boston, and maybe this shakes out in some way after 2011 is over. Or perhaps Lowrie… injury-prone and currently down… is done for the year. (Doesn’t sound like he is. Could be back next week. You never know though.) Still, this is not much of an improvement for the club (if it even counts as an improvement).

And the real surprising thing for Boston comes in the area of starting pitching. Everyone knew they were looking for it. We now know that Buchholz could be down until next spring… and that Boston likely has known this since well before the afternoon of July 31st. So while Erik Bedard is ok as a risk for a club that should be able to coast to the playoffs (division title or wild card, the postseason appears a given), the reality is I have to kind of unite Boston with New York as losers here, since…

With so many teams active and potentially in need of a good starter (in the American League both Detroit and Cleveland wouldn’t mind picking up a guy capable of being number three or four in a playoff rotation… in the National League that could be said for everyone in the Central to support our point), when we have the Yankees looking for someone to take the mound other than Sabathia, it’s kind of mind-boggling that New York doesn’t make at least one move while they can do it without having to clear waivers.

Sure… Wandy Rodriguez… maybe no one touches him before the Yankees when he gets placed on waivers, and they can pick him up for the full price of his contract or some prospects, and they do add an arm in August. Got it. But a lot of players… Bedard would have been, Harden still is, and so on… are on lower cost deals and wouldn’t be huge risks for a team like Pittsburgh if they are hanging in there late in August. We’ve already established that payroll dumping wasn’t the business model for 2011. The real additions may never reach the Yankees so they can make a claim.

So… Boston, slight loser, more of blah grade… and New York, big loser, because I think on August 20th or so, if they still feel like they can win the American League (and I don’t think they can, but they certainly will feel as if they can), they are going to find there is simply no one to be found that will help them against Boston, Detroit or Texas in a playoff setting.

You hit the Red Sox and what they moved… players apparently on the cusp of the 40-man roster that wouldn’t have been protected this off-season and probably would have been lost for nothing in return before 2012 began. Was it really what you expected?

Well, there are three things going on here. (The short answer is it was a nice theory from me, but no, I expected something different.)

First, yeah, I got the Sox right. Their trade for Erik Bedard involved three players not on the 40-man roster, all with varying levels of interest from other organizations, and none likely to be considered for organizational protection after the curtain has lowered on the 2011 season. They took three players they were almost certain to lose with no compensation in return before next year and sent them away for a flyer on a starting pitcher. And even the trade with Kansas City sort of cleared up 40-man places when it comes to this off-season. Yup… I got the concept right.


Second, I honestly expected those players to be used as overpayment for a larger haul. No… I was not expecting Jose Reyes. I didn’t think they’d be calling Florida for some sensational move. And yes… I understand that some trades, say with Colorado and Los Angeles, weren’t even worth getting too deeply involved in. Jimenez comes, in my opinion, with question marks and in LA we find players that don’t want to leave. You could argue that Hunter Pence, Ubaldo Jimenez and Mike Adams were the big positional player, starter and reliever to move. Boston wasn’t a leader in any of those situations… even though Pence or Adams would have been fantastic fits for them. I did think we would see the Red Sox act in some unexpected way and add something a bit more significant.

And third, I missed the changes the small market and usually quiet clubs would be willing to make. I mean come on… did any of you, even as recently as early July, see Pittsburgh and Cleveland as teams ready to be acquiring players?

So while many clubs did nothing at all of interest, and even with so many unavailable targets, it did become a very interesting trade deadline.

Short version of the story… it was not what I expected. Theo, once again, had a situation on hand where he could swing for a big haul and instead seems to have caught the ball strangely off the end of the bat for a dribbler down the line.

The Yankees did nothing. Nothing. But is that a loss? After all, the trade you don’t make occasionally is the best…

Yes, yes, and actually… that’s a good question. Why? Well…

How old do you think Jesus Montero is?

(I’ll let you think about that for a second.)

I understand that Sabathia, Colon and Garcia sounds impressive when you look over 2011 numbers to date. But… I ask you… would you want that or Beckett, Lester and the hopes Buchholz can get into some action by late September that makes him worth pitching in October? Or how about the rotations Texas and California could be setting up? (Go look those two clubs up. You’re going to be surprised by the tops of their staffs.) To me, Lackey pitching well in October is just as possible as Colon and Garcia holding up, and you can go ask people in Boston how they feel about Lackey in a playoff spot. (Actually… funny thing… I’m good with Lackey in the playoffs. I honestly think he might do well there when you consider the offense supporting him. But I digress… we’ll get to Lackey in a minute.)

Every American League club in the postseason discussion, from Boston, Texas and Detroit all the way to California, Cleveland and Tampa, has a starter on their roster capable of winning a game Sabathia starts. I am not kidding. Beckett or Lester, Verlander, Weaver… you see the idea here. (And, amazingly, each of those six teams also has a solid option for a number two guy in place now. Right now. No move of crossed fingers necessary.)

Sure… the pitching numbers look good for them now. Don’t they always look good in the regular season? I mean, the Yankees are the masters of kicking the tar out of opponents putting their fourth and fifth best starters on the mound. It’s not showing up today… as they club teams into submission. But when we get to the playoffs, it will show up.

Trouble is… other than the Red Sox (currently holding a better record and selecting after them on waiver claims), the Yankees have to face the possibility that what becomes available in August may interest every other club looking for pitching. (Remove Boston, New York and the team waiving the player to be considered. Depends on the league, but you get the idea. Waiver claims are likely made for playoff motives, but it isn’t necessarily so. Pence and Jimenez were not brought in for 2011 only.)

As I said before… sure… the Yankees and Red Sox might be the only two teams willing to take on all of Wandy Rodriguez’s contract. Is he going to be worth it? Is he the solution? Because if someone like Rich Harden looks good, he’s never lasting until the Yankees enter their claim.

Ok… hold on… isn’t that a little strong? I mean when doing nothing may honestly be the best move at times, ripping the Yankees for doing nothing and holding on to prospects seems a bit rough.

Ah yes… here we go with why I asked about Montero and his age. Because you might have a point.

Matt Wieters was drafted in 2007. He played 96 games for Baltimore in 2009 at the age of 23. His offensive numbers haven’t been awesome in 2010 or 2011, but he came up to the big league and has stayed in place.

Joe Mauer was drafted in 2001. Minnesota had him on their roster for 35 games in 2004. In 2005, at the age or 22, he played in 131 games for the Twins. You don’t need me to fill in much about his abilities.

Sure would seem like Montero is a long-term prospect and a head-scratcher for why he isn’t playing at the top level. Didn’t take these guys tons of time or arriving at middle age to earn a seat at the top level. What’s up with Montero?

Well… sit down… here we go…

Jesus Montero is only 21 years old. And while I know the debates about real ages and so on… for now, baseball reference sites, it is a fact. It’s also a fact that he’s been with the New York organization since 2007, when he played for their Gulf Coast League affiliate. So if it seems like he has been a Yankee prospect forever… well… yeah, he sort of has been a prospect forever. In AAA we have some good numbers… .290ish average, .350 on-base, 21 homer power in 120+ games. Plus… he’s 21.

Personally I was very surprised to see his age. In a way, I’m guessing you are as well. He’s very young, very talented, and still has nothing but a complete big league career as a possibility ahead of him. I was going to try and compare him to Wieters and Mauer, and make the case that he’s been a prospect so long that the time has kind of come for us to at least consider maybe he’s a failed prospect for right now that needs to prove some things. After all… there are more than whispers these days that he is better served being considered a designated hitter than a catcher. And Wieters jumped inside of two years… Mauer up by age 21 and full-time by 22.

But then… there it is… Montero is a teenage signing and only 21. Turns 22 in the off-season. I don’t think you can point at that and scream he should be on the big league roster by now.

Those are the types of prospects you probably don’t trade. Look at Boston and Ellsbury. How many times has his name been brought up? (Answer… plenty.) How many times has it seemed like he was injury-prone or that the organization, locker room, and fans were ready to move on? (Answer… plenty.) He’s still with Boston, and having a fantastic year.

So then end result is more evidence for why I said the trade deadline featured more surprises than true losers.

Could Colon and Garcia work out for New York? Sure… they could.

Might Buchholz be on a mound the first week of September, on a rehabilitation pace the brings him up to Boston the last week or two of the regular season to get some work, and then he’s active and pitching in the postseason? Sure… I heavily doubt it… but he could.

The thing is, when you take a deep breath and look over the landscape, it appears that almost all of the potentially salvageable gems that would fall to those with dollars are staying put right now. High-priced pitching is already where it is going to finish the year for the most part. And if Pittsburgh… or Cleveland… or Detroit… or St. Louis… sees a chance to add a starter that will cost fairly low dollars for a month of service, or add something now and next year, they are going to submit a claim. For that reason… Boston tried something, and while I don’t trust the move I can say I sort of get it… both the Red Sox and the Yankees deserve question marks.

Well… alright then. Oh… oh… wait. Erik Bedard. I mean, you just mentioned you don’t trust it… you must be ticked about the Sox only picking up Bedard? Pick on them… yes?

Yeah… sort of. I don’t think Boston truly dove in to the trading arena the way they could have this season. But… while I consider them a loser for the trade deadline, at least I can understand it. Why?

John Lackey.

I know… you doubt it. But watch…

Over his career Lackey has pitched fairly often in the playoffs. 14 appearances and 12 starts… he’s 3-4 overall with a 3.12 ERA. And… three of those losses came to the eventual champion (2005 White Sox, 2007 Red Sox, and 2009 Yankees). He’s put in 78 postseason innings, and you can view it as a solid bet he’ll get through 6 innings and likely be pitching in the seventh. I’m not saying he’s consistent… his playoff record actually looks a lot like his regular season in some respects, some good efforts and some bad (heck, his ERA improves in the playoffs, but his WHIP is exactly the same)… I am saying he has a win in a World Series start and has decent numbers against some really tough opponents.

If that’s the third guy Boston is sending to the mound, that’s not too bad.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at