Don’t look now, but did you know that last year was the first time since 1999 that none of the five California teams made it to October? Barring a drastic tectonic shift in either baseball or the Golden State, that’s not going to be the case this October. We are at the beginning of August and the Dodgers, Giants, Angels, and (believe it or not) Athletics are all contending. That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised to see some California teams ranked high on this list.
If you haven’t figured out by now, the whole premise is that trading is a shark-eat-shark world, and some sharks do the eating, and some sharks get eaten. That’s how we here at Dubsism compare the performance of baseball teams at the trading deadline. Why do we do that? Because no matter what, one thing is certain; where there is trading is there is bleeding, and nothing draws the sharks like blood in the water.
The bottom line: since we here at Dubsism are not willing to wait for two years to see who are the bleeders and who are the eaters, we decided to give the rating of winners and losers a ”swim with the sharks” twist.
Oh, and don’t be that guy who points out it isn’t Shark Week yet. We know the Olympics screwed up our timeline, but this comparison has become a Dubsism tradition, so just play along and don’t be a big pain in the ass.
Great White Shark:
Los Angeles Angels:
First-year Angels general manager Jerry DiPoto scored big once again as he did with Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson during the winter. Zach Greinke was the biggest single impact player available, and the Angels snatched him out from under division rival Texas.
San Francisco Giants:
There’s a reason why the peninsula on which the Giants play was named “Tiburon” by the Spanish. The ocean off San Francisco is so full of these giant, flesh-eating fish the Spanish named the area after their word for “shark.” Had Brian Sabean been on that peninsula in the 1770’s, the Spanish may have named him “Tiburon” as well.
Thanks to Brian the Shark, the Giants once again addressed major needs at the trade deadline. The G-Men grabbed Cody Ross off waivers in 2010. Last year, they acquired Carlos Beltran. To that record amassed by Brian Sabean, this year you can add Hunter Pence to the outfield and Marco Scutaro to the infield. Not to mention, how does that Jonathan Sanchez for Melky Cabrera deal look right about now?
I hope the coincidence of the Tigers being ranked as a tiger shark doesn’t cloud the fact that Detroit believes it can eat the rest of the American League Central. For the second year in a row, general manager Dave Dombrowski has acquired rotation help for the stretch run, but the million-dollar question is can Anibal Sanchez become this year’s version of Doug Fister in Detroit? The Tigers also shored up their infield with Omar Infante, but they honestly coveted another bat.
Los Angeles Dodgers:
The Dodgers had high hopes to do something spectacular, but really only made it to “pretty damn good.” They coveted Ryan Dempster, but one can make an argument not getting him is a blessing in disguise. Adding Hanley Ramirez to the lineup can only help, and while Shane Victorino is nowhere near the payer he was even three years ago, he certainly adds a bit more Bugs Bunny-style defense to the outfield over the Herman Munster-like stylings of Juan Rivera and Bobby Abreu. Brandon League adds some needed bullpen depth. The sole flaw in what the Dodgers did…they are still needing Chad Billingsley to…wait for it…wait for it…step up his game. This officially marks the 100,000th time the words “Chad Billingsley” and “needs to step it up” have appeared in the same sentence.
Cue completely predictable joke in 3…2…1. Somehow, the Pirates managed to nab some buried treasure in hitters Travis Snider and Gaby Sanchez, plus a pretty solid starting pitcher in Wandy Rodriguez. On top of that, through these deals the Pirates still kept their best young prospects.
Yeah, I know this sounds a bit bizarre at first, but consider the following. First of all, the advantage of being at the bottom is you have nowhere to go but up. Second of all, look at what Astros’ general manager Jeff Luhnow just pulled off. He managed to unload all the contracts that had him handcuffed…he got rid of Wandy Rodriguez , Brett Myers, Carlos Lee, J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon, and Chris Johnson, and he got 13 prospects plus two players to be named later in return. Granted, watching the Astros now is like watching a fraternity softball team well into its third keg of beer, but it is distinctly possible this slew of deals may mark the turning point for the Houston Astros.
Blacktip Reef Shark:
The Indians likely made their best move by not making a move. Even though they picked up Lars Anderson from Boston, and even though Cleveland was pretending to be a contender before the deadline, the simple fact of the matter is that no trade they could have made now would have made the Indians as good as the White Sox and Tigers. In other words, those who think the Indians should have dealt Shin-Soo Choo fail to realize his price will only go up this winter.
San Diego Padres:
Clearly, there is a new philosophy in the Padre front office. The days of the Padres being sabotaged by their own ownership looks to be a thing of the past., if the retention of Carlos Quentin, Huston Street, and Chase Headley. Make no mistake, the Padres still could use a couple of busloads of better players, but even a journey of a thousand signings starts with but one.
Here’s a team that really didn’t need to make a move, and didn’t hit the panic button to do so.
Hello? Has anybody in Cincinnati seen a lead-off since the turn of the century? The Reds made bids for Shane Victorino and Denard Span, and it’ doesn’t require the FBI Crime Lab to understand why. The guys slotted at the top of the Cincinnati order have combined to rank dead last in on-base percentage and batting average. Even during their recent winning streak, Reds’ leadoff hitters contributed a measly .213 on-base percentage.
So, while failing to address a weakness, the Reds built on a strength. The acquisition of Jonathan Broxton means the Reds can use him as setup guy in front of Aroldis Chapman. This only adds depth to a bullpen with the lowest ERA in the majors.
On the plus side, the Brew Crew landed three top prospects from the Angels (shortstop Jean Segura, and pitchers Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena) for Zach Greinke. On the minus side, Francisco Rodriguez imploded so badly even teams in the Serbo-Croatian league weren’t interested, and there was absolutely no real interest in Aramis Ramirez or Randy Wolf.
Toronto Blue Jays:
The Blue Jays know they need pitching, but they also now they don’t need to get it now. The contention calendar in Toronto doesn’t even start counting days until 2013, and to be honest, 2014 is more realistic. The Blue Jays did shop for starters; they courted Matt Garza, Josh Johnson, and James Shields, but they also were the last team willing (to this point) to give Jamie Moyer a shot. Failing that, they also looked at a lefty bat in Justin Morneau to go with Jose “Joey Bats” Bautista. At the end of the day, they built on the bullpen by adding relievers Brad Lincoln from Pirates and Steve Delabar from the Mariners.
While general manager Alex Anthopoulos is building quite the reputation for being aggressive, even he knows that with as many injured starting pitchers as Toronto currently has, the better move is to build toward that calendar date rather than building for this October.
St. Louis Cardinals:
The Cardinals knew they needed starting pitchers, which is hwy they entertained deals for James Shields and Francisco Liriano. But they couldn’t move those deals from talks to reality, which is largely why they ended up with reliever Edward Mujica from the Marlins’ fire sale. This is a bit surprising considering it was only a year ago when when the Cardinals pulled of major deals — adding shortstop Rafael Furcal, reliever Octavio Dotel, and starter Edwin Jackson — which played a big role in their World Series title.
Tampa Bay Rays:
To be fair, the Rays are stuck in “neither-nor” land. They aren’t shitty enough to be a seller, but they are nowhere good enough to be a buyer. That means the dreaded “small/failing market” rule kicks in. This is why dealing James Shields would have made sense. It’s also why dealing James Shields makes more sense.
To play the small market game, the Rays would need to subscribe to the idea that any year in which you have no shot at October, you should trade current talent for future talent. However, in Tampa, there’s some wildcards that punch some “stingray barbs through Steve Irwin’s heart“-type holes in the conventional wisdom.
First of all, the Rays just aren’t that far out of the race to burn everything down. Second of all, it is entirely possible that Evan Longoria could come back and go back to hitting the shit out of American League pitching. More importantly, just rewind your baseball clock to last September for a graphic display of the Rays’ comeback ability.
New York Mets:
Their fall from grace came with the worst possible timing. They died too early to be a buyer, and too late to be a seller. The long story short: they fucked up and held on to Scott Hairston. Welcome to the history of the New York Mets since 2002.
Oakland is that classic high-school guy who realizes moments too late that the girl of his dreams would have totally gone to the Prom with him i fhe had only asked two days before he did. Had the A’s grown some balls a few days earlier, they very likely could have netted Hanley Ramirez before the Dodgers got him. +At the end of the day, the A’s added no offensive help while watching division rivals Texas and Los Angeles bulk up.
The Twins are a bad team which is desperate to flesh out its farm system young starting pitchers in the hopes they can find five that don’t suck. However, that really didn’t happen. Granted, the Liriano trade netted lefty pitching prospect Pedro Hernandez and a minor-league infielder. But by failing to move Justin Morneau and Denard Span, the Twins will be fielding trade prospects for both of them for quite some time.
New York Yankees:
We can officially stop the “Yankees just stock up on the best available player” wheeze. There is no way a high-mileage car like Ichiro Suzuki and a semi-serviceable bat like Casey McGehee qualify as “the best available.”
Bathtub Toy Shark:
For all the hype which surrounded the D-backs and their wants to make some real noise in the NL West, then nothing really did happen. Sure, they added third baseman Chris Johnson, but they really coveted a big-name pitcher, they clearly wanted to ship Stephen Drew out of town, they made it clear Justin Upton was available, and none of it happened. Meanwhile, their division rivals in the Giants and Dodgers both significantly upgraded.
Boston Red Sox:
The Red Sox can’t really decide if they are buyers or sellers, but it really doesn’t matter as they aren’t relevant to a pennant race anyway. The deals they made aren’t relevant either. Like the D-backs, they looked to be bold, then meekly folded. They didn’t deal Josh Beckett, but they did deal Lars Anderson and Matt Albers. Gone are the days when the Sox made ballsy trade deadline calls, like arranging a three-way deal to ship Nomar Garciaparra out of town.
In what will be known as yet another unmitigated Marlins disaster, not only did they go from loading for bear last winter to becoming a fire-sale in July. They still thought they were buyers as recently as three weeks ago when they acquired the fat, worthless Carlos Lee and his even more bloated paycheck. But then they dealt Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez amongst others, and clearly were willing to move Josh Johnson and Carlos Lee.
The Chum Bucket:
Here’s how Ryan Dempster screwed everybody. Obviously, he dicked the Cubs when he nixed the proposed deal to Atlanta. That cost the Cubs any leverage they might have had, while simultaneously dropping his trade value. This led to the Dodgers passing on a deal which would have involved one or both of their two desired young pitchers, Zach Lee or Allen Webster. At the end of the day, the Rangers gave up two Single-A prospects for an aging pitcher in Dempster whose ERA is almost certain to balloon in the American League.
The Cubs had a Plan B with Atlanta by dealing Paul Maholm, but they didn’t get the young starter they wanted in Randall Delgado. Instead, they got Arodys Vizcaino whose is 21 years old and already recovering from Tommy John surgery. Matt Garza came up lame at the deadline and the Cubs couldn’t move him, nor could they find a sucker to take Alfonso Soriano. Three years from now, the Cubs will still suck, largely because Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have such an incredibly deep hole from which to crawl out.
A description of how bad things are in Coloradc: They couldn’t even trade closer Rafael Betancourt, and they actually traded Jeremy Guthrie to get Jonathan Sanchez, which is like trading a brown turd for a green one.
Kansas City Royals:
A description of how bad things are in Kansas City: They were Colorado’s partner on the aforementioned turd trade.