July 2010


MLB fans, GMs and players can now breathe again—the trading deadline has officially passed. Need a recap on everything went down? Here are some trade links to do just that…

MLB Trade Rumors is the authority on the trading deadline, and the folks over there put together a nice rundown of all the trades from the past couple of days.

MLB.com also runs down the plethora of trades today.

Jayson Stark of ESPN gives his winners and losers of the trading deadline.

Big League Stew of Yahoo! ranks the top 10 notable trades from this July.

I had to get my hometown Pirates in here as they were busy as usual on the deadline. Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recaps the three trades the Buccos made today. From my viewpoint, the Pirates made some low-risk free agent pickups in the offseason and flipped most of them for some decent, young talent today. Not bad in my book.

Am I the only one who didn’t like the Jake Westbrook deal for the Cardinals? I mean parting with young hitter Ryan Ludwick for Westbrook when they also went after Oswalt and Lilly and end up with Westbrook. Seems like they panicked to me and settled for the lesser of three pitchers. I could see Westbrook find his groove against NL hitters, but it’s still a downgrade after losing out on Oswalt and Lilly.

Speaking of the Indians, they found a taker for Kerry Wood!?! The Tribe sent the struggling closer to the Yankees for a player to be named later or 500k. Uh, I’m pretty sure that cash will work just fine. I could see the Indians going to the Yankees in the offseason and say, “You know what, don’t bother sending anyone for the deal. We’re good.”

FanGraphs breaks down the Octavio Dotel trade to the Dodgers and wonders, along with many, what the Dodgers are doing giving up too much for bullpen arms, including a top prospect in Andrew Lambo now with Pittsburgh.

Also, the Reds stood pat and made zero moves. Interesting. After trading for Yunel Escobar earlier this month, the Blue Jays also were quiet at the deadline along with the Tigers, Mets, A’s (Billy Beane must have been sick), Brewers (they’re in contention though, that’s it), Red Sox and Rockies.

Well the non-waiver trade deadline gone, tomorrow is August 1 and back to our regularly scheduled program of baseball while teams battle for pennants the last two months of the season.

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There were numerous deals throughout the league on Friday. Let’s recap in the order that they were announced:

White Sox Acquire Edwin Jackson from Arizona
The Diamondbacks fire sale continues and believe it or not, but they may have picked up a better return for Edwin Jackson than they did for Dan Haren.I’m not sure what the D-Backs franchise plan is at the moment, but they seem to love trading for mid-rotation starters and then trading them away.

Jackson was traded for the fourth time of his career for pitcher Dan Hudson (No. 66 top prospect according to Baseball America) and low-level minor leaguer David Holmberg. Hudson is a great pickup for Arizona, but I’m not certain that they didn’t have more with Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth when they traded the two of them to Detroit last December for Jackson. I still think they should have held onto Scherzer. Despite throwing a no-hitter earlier this year with about 45 walks, Jackson isn’t having a very good season with a 5.16 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and a 4.0 BB/9. Forgetting about the deal last year, this stand alone deal was a good one for Arizona. Jackson will provide the White Sox some rotation depth with the loss of Jake Peavy as they battle the Twins for the AL Central title, but I can’t help thinking they gave up way too much in this deal. Though there’s also rumors going around that their plan is to flip Jackson around to the Nationals for maybe Adam Dunn? Crazy shit going down right here.

Rangers pick up Jorge Cantu and Cristian Guzman
Yesterday, the Rangers dealt for Marlins first baseman Jorge Cantu for two Double-A pitcher (Evan Reed and Omar Poveda) and today they added speedy infielder Cristian Guzman. Texas will send another couple of Double-A pitchers in Ryan Tatusko and Tanner Roark, which begs the question of who’s left at Double-A Frisco?

Guzman could have waived his 10-and-5 rights, but agreed to the trade. Guzman is hitting .282/.327/.361 while playing shortstop, second base and right field. Cantu has 10 home runs, 54 RBI and a slash line of .262/.310/.409 in 97 games. The Marlins may also not be done dealing as it looks like Cody Ross is also available. Neither of these guys (Cantu and Guzman) are going to single-handily win a division title for the Rangers, but they provide the team depth, experience and someone to play first base.

Yankees Bring Berkman to the Bronx
First the Yankees acquired Austin Kearns for a player to be named later from Cleveland. They like his right-handed bat. Ah, whatever. The next deal will make headlines. The Yankees continued to wheel and deal, trading for long-time Astros slugger Lance Berkman. In exchange, the Astros got reliever Mark Melancon and low-level minor league infielder Jimmy Paredes. Apparently after years and years of thinking they were still in the hunt, the Astros have finally given up the fight and are selling, selling, selling.

For some reason the Astros are sending about $4MM to cover part of Berkman’s salary for this year. Isn’t one of the prominent reasons to trade with the Yankees is that they have no payroll and will pay anyone and anything to play for them?

This trade will make big headlines in New York, but it would have been great had it been two years ago when Berkman was hitting like Lance Berkman. He’s currently in mist of a disappointing season with 13 home runs, 49 RBI and a slash line of .245/.372/.436 through 85 games. And I swear most of those home runs and runs batted in were against the Pirates this season. He’ll play DH for the Yankees and is an obvious upgrade over Colin Curtis, who has been playing there. Plus, the big guy still gets on base with 60 walks in 85 games for a .372 OBP. Berkman has the 10-and-5 rights, but waived his no trade clause in this deal, which he did when the White Sox attempted to get him.

There are the deals that went down today with possibly another one on the way with twitter blowing up right now on how the Dodgers are close to acquiring Ted Lilly from Chicago. Now does Paul Maholm go anywhere or Adam Dunn or Jose Bautista? Ah, the trade deadline. Don’t you just love it?

This is too funny. MLB Trade Rumors is reporting via Keith Law of ESPN that the Brewers have decided they are too close to contention to sell Prince Fielder or Corey Hart at the trading deadline.

Really, Milwaukee?

The Brew Crew are 48-55, 9.0 games behind division leader Cincinnati. According to CoolStandings.com, they have a 0.2 percent chance to win the division and just a 0.3 chance to make the playoffs period. This has to be some kind of joke, right?

Well it’s either that the front office has lost it in terms of realistic expectations or they are doing this to drive up the price and urgency of interested teams at the 11th hour of the deadline. Or they really haven’t had many interested teams and this is their way of telling their fans they are holding onto their big pieces.

Anyway, I had to take a moment to post something about this after I laughed out loud for about 10 minutes after reading the Brewers actually thought they were “too close to contention” to sell. ROTF.

Well if you haven’t heard about it by now, the Phillies ended the numerous Roy Oswalt rumors and acquired him from the Astros.

So let’s go back to last December in the offseason and play a little timeline game. The Phillies trade a couple prospects away to get Roy Halladay in a deal on Dec. 16, 2009. Almost immediately following that trade, the Phillies turn around and deal Cliff Lee to Seattle for a couple of prospects. Fast forward to July 29, 2010 when the Phillies trade a couple prospects away and a ML pitcher in J.A. Happ to Houston for Oswalt.

Why didn’t they just keep Lee originally like everyone was wondering last December? A rotation with Halladay and Lee for a full year in light years better than a rotation with Roy and Roy for a half season. Oswalt is a nice pickup, but he’s not Cliff Lee at this time of his career. Oswalt currently has a WAR of 2.7 while Lee’s is significantly higher at 4.9. Lee has been dominant this year and is now helping Texas run away with the AL West.

At any rate, the Phils now have Oswalt to provide a great 1-2 punch in hopes of getting ahead of Atlanta in the last two months of the season. They traded Happ and minor league prospects Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar. The Astros immediately turned around and dealt Gose to Toronto for key prospect Brett Wallace. Speaking of Wallace, if he’s such a great prospect that everyone raves about his power, why is this the fourth trade he’s been involved in about a year?

Wallace could eventually be the Astros long-term answer to Lance Berkman at first base as they are now discussing deals to send Berkman out of Houston. Anyway, getting back to Happ, who went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA last year to finish second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. He only pitched in three games in April for Philadelphia before a forearm injury has sidelined him since then. I’m just confused to what the Phillies were doing last offseason when they could have had Halladay, Lee and Happ all under contract. Instead, Lee and Happ are gone and Oswalt is the pitcher coming in.

Oswalt should be fine for the Phillies, but he won’t do what Lee did for them last year in the playoffs. It also will be interesting to see how Oswalt will react to pitching for a new team that isn’t the Astros for the first time in his career. The Astros probably could have landed better prospects for Oswalt, but with the money involved and Roy’s willingness to have his 2012 option picked up probably derailed better deals. The fact that they were able to get Villar, a young raw shortstop who could have a high ceiling, and a former first round pick with power that is probably ML ready in Wallace is a decent enough return for a pitcher that wanted out and wouldn’t be leading the Astros into the playoffs in the next two years.

Of course if you go over to FanGraphs or some other baseball site, they will probably tell you the Astros totally lost out on the deal. Anytime you’re trading for prospects with some of them in the low-level of the minors, you have to wait and see how these players develop before fully dissecting the trade. If Villar, Wallace and Happ end up having decent major league careers (even only two of them), doesn’t that outweigh a half season of Oswalt’s 32-year-old arm?

Imagine for a minute that it’s your major league debut, and you’re slated to face the New York freakin’ Yankees, a lineup that features Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, etc. Not to mention there’s all this additional hype and excitement around A-Rod possibly belting home run number 600 against you. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Well, not if you’re not Indians rookie pitcher Josh Tomlin. Tomlin made his ML debut Tuesday night and promptly shut down the Yanks for 7.0 plus innings to pick up the W in a 4-1 victory for Cleveland.

The 19th round pick of the Indians in 2006 went 7.0 plus strong innings, allowing just three hits, one run while striking out two and walking none. Tomlin actually faced the minimum through six innings. Incredible.

I began wondering how many pitchers making their ML debut mowed down the Yankees in the history of the game. Using Baseball Reference’s Play Index, I searched for pitchers who picked up the win against the Yankees and their ML debut with zero or one run allowed. Since 1920, this has occurred 12 times…

Rk Gcar Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit GSc
1 1 Josh Tomlin 2010-07-27 CLE NYY W 4-1 GS-7 ,W 7.0 3 1 1 0 2 0 93 69
2 1 Koji Uehara 2009-04-08 BAL NYY W 7-5 GS-5 ,W 5.0 5 1 1 1 0 0 86 52
3 1 Anibal Sanchez 2006-06-25 (2) FLA NYY W 5-0 GS-6 ,W 5.2 7 0 0 0 2 0 96 57
4 1 Brian Sikorski 2000-08-16 TEX NYY W 5-0 GS-7 ,W 7.0 4 0 0 4 5 0 108 70
5 1 Paul Rigdon 2000-05-21 CLE NYY W 6-1 GS-7 ,W 7.0 2 0 0 4 2 0 92 71
6 1 Jason Dickson 1996-08-21 CAL NYY W 7-1 GS-7 ,W 6.1 10 1 1 2 1 1 48
7 1 Vaughn Eshelman 1995-05-02 BOS NYY W 8-0 GS-6 ,W 6.0 3 0 0 2 1 0 62 65
8 1 Pat Rice 1991-05-18 SEA NYY W 4-1 GS-6 ,W 5.2 2 0 0 0 3 0 75 68
9 1 Billy Rohr 1967-04-14 BOS NYY W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 5 2 0 82
10 1 Luis Tiant 1964-07-19 (2) CLE NYY W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 4 0 0 4 11 0 86
11 1 Charlie Beamon 1956-09-26 BAL NYY W 1-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 4 0 0 7 9 0 81
12 1 Clem Dreisewerd 1944-08-29 (1) BOS NYY W 8-1 9.0 6 1 1 1 2 0 72
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/29/2010.

Koji Uehara of the Orioles was the most recent to accomplish this last season in the second game of 2009 on April 8. Uehara only went 5.0 innings, but still got the win in a 7-5 O’s victory. Marlins pitcher Anibal Sanchez turned the trick in game 2 of a doubleheader in 2006. Of the 12 games, eight of them occurred since 1991, and of those eight games only two had better game scores than Tomlin’s 69 on Tuesday night.

Also, besides the recent names of Sanchez and Uehara, who are still both active, most of the pitchers on this list only lasted a couple of seasons in the bigs. The exception being Luis Tiant, the only notable name on this list. Tiant won 229 games in 19 major league seasons, was selected to three All-Star teams, and along with Tomlin, also owned the Yankees in his first start while wearing an Indians jersey in 1964. Paul Rigdon also did it with the Indians in 2000. Must be something about those Indians rookies that strike fear into the Yankees.

On the flip side, Mariners pitcher Pat Rice appeared in only seven games at the major league level. His first ever start against the Yankees on May 18, 1991 was his only win of his career. Strangely enough, he suffered his first and only loss in his last ML appearance. Today, Rice is the pitching coach of Triple-A Fresno in the Giants organization.

No matter what road Tomlin’s career heads down, he shook off the nervousness of his first start and will always be down in the books as shutting down the Bronx Bombers.

Finally some real trades to discuss on Warmup Wednesday.

Let’s start with the first one that went down Wednesday afternoon—the Tigers acquired Jhonny Peralta from Cleveland for minor league pitcher Giovanni Soto (Yeah, different Soto from the Cubs catcher). Detroit has been decimated by injuries the past month and Peralta will fill in at third base in Brandon Inge‘s stead. This deal doesn’t exactly thrill me for the Tigers. Peralta is in his eighth major league season with his best year coming in 2005 when he belted 24 homers with a slash line of .292/.366/.520, but has progressively declined each year since then. Get it? Progressively declined…Progressive Field in Cleveland. Ah, forget it. Anyway, this year Peralta has just seven homers, 43 RBI and a line of .246/.308/.389. On the other hand, it’s better than throwing a rookie out there which is what the Tigers have been doing, and while Soto is enjoying a nice season at low-A ball, he’s only 19 years old and is years away from the majors. The Indians also sent cash to Detroit to most likely cover the rest of Jhonny’s contract, plus the Tigers will hold a $7.5MM option for 2011, which barring some dramatic improvement from Peralta, I don’t see the Tigers picking up. This deal doesn’t change the fact that I think the Tigers are done. Losing Zumaya and now Ordonez is just too much for this team to overcome.

The other trade on Wednesday involved the Dodgers acquiring Scott Podsednik from the Royals for two minor leaguers (Lucas May—Triple-A catcher and Elisaul Pimentel—right-handed pitcher in Low-A). Podsednik is in his 10th season and will join his sixth team of his career. Podsednik is having a nice season, hitting .309/.352/.400 with 30 steals, eight doubles, six triples and five homers. He really became the Royals only appealing trade piece once David DeJesus was lost for the season due to injury. This trade will give the Dodgers some outfield depth with Manny Ramirez on the DL, but this is another deal that isn’t going to change the NL West landscape.

So three days from the deadline, Wednesday was a nice warmup to the big deals that are sure to be just a few days away.

The Rays sure have been on the other end of these types of games lately, but tonight on July 26, 2010 the Rays found themselves on the fun side of a brilliant pitching gem as Matt Garza fired the first perfect game in Tampa Bay Rays history. I guess they knew what to do after watching it so many times before. It’s the fifth no-hitter thrown within the first four months of the 2010 season (sixth if you’re still counting Armando Galarraga‘s perfect yet no so perfect game).

How good was Garza? Pretty damn good. The former Fresno State Bulldog allowed only one walk and faced the minimum by getting a double play following the walk. He struck out six batters and threw 120 pitches, 80 for strikes. This game actually started out with Garza and Tigers starter Max Scherzer matching each only with no hits across through five innings until Scherzer ran into a wall in the sixth. Garza is having a better season than last year record-wise as he improves to 11-5 on the year after going 8-12 in 2009, but his ERA is right on line with last year’s after this shutout.

Garza joins Ubaldo Jimenez, Dallas Braden, Roy Halladay and Edwin Jackson in the no-hitter category this season. It’s the most no-hitters since 1990 when Bret Saberhagen, Wilson Alvarez, Dennis Martinez, Tommy Greene and Nolan Ryan also tossed no-no’s. Martinez’s was the only perfect game that year while we’ve enjoyed two this year with Braden and Halladay. With two full months left, I would not be surprised to see another one by year’s end.

Not to take anything away from Garza’s performance tonight, but how watered down is that Tigers lineup now with the injuries to Carlos Guillen, Brandon Inge and now Magglio Ordonez? They ran out a lineup that featured a rookie still looking for his first ML hit in Will Rhymes, then Ryan Raburn, Don Kelly, Gerald Laird and Danny Worth. The bottom of that order is hitting .204, .206, .182 and .250. Terrible is the word that comes to mind. The Tigers then pinch-hit Ramon Santiago for the final at-bat of the game. Not exactly Chase Utley. Brennan Boesch was the only player to reach base against Garza and while he’s had a great first half, he’s still another rookie.  There’s no one there to protect Johnny Damon and Miguel Cabrera in the lineup anymore. To make matters even worse, former Tiger Matt Joyce hit the grand slam in this game to put the Rays up 4-0.

Jim Leyland also got ejected from the game pretty early and seemed overly angry for a missed call on a steal by BJ Upton. The Tigers appear to be falling apart, and I think they are done. This game could lead to a massive collapse and knock them completely out of the AL Central race. Three more games in Tampa Bay won’t help matters either.

Anyway, congratulations to Garza for the fifth no-hitter of the season and what will be one of the most memorable moments in Rays history.

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