It’s this time of year that’s like Christmas for me. We’re in the dog days of summer and the men are being separated from the boys in Major League Baseball. To be quite honest, I’ve found this season to be more exciting than years past – for the most part, none of the contenders from last year have been counted out and there are a lot more tight division races, save for the AL West. It’s also that time of year where we see old faces in new places. And I’m here to break it down for you. Due to the enormous length of this article, I’m going to do it in two parts. American League first, National League second.
New York Yankees: Added 1B/DH Lance Berkman, OF Austin Kearns and RP Kerry Wood. Lost minor leaguers RP Mark Melancon and IF Anthony Paredes.
Alright, if you know me, you know my Yankees bias. In all seriousness, I like two of these moves. Adding Berkman was big because he adds a lot of options for manager Joe Girardi. If Mark Teixeira needs a day off, Berk can play first. More importantly, he solidifies a DH position that the Yankees have used as a revolving door this season. And more important still, he’s wearing pinstripes instead of a baby blue Rays uni. Kerry Wood will compete for the 8th inning job with Joba Chamberlain, who has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he is a complete and utter headcase. Not that that’s his fault, I mean, I wouldn’t want to be jerked around by a team telling me I’m a starter, no I’m a reliever, no I’m a starter, no I’m a reliever. At any rate, if Wood can stay healthy for the rest of the season, he can throw gas in the 8th inning and provide a somewhat reliable bridge to Mariano Rivera. As for Kearns, didn’t really understand why the Yanks got him other than adding some veteran bench depth, but Colin Curtis had been doing just what the Yankees needed from him, but whatever. Deadline grade: B+
Tampa Bay Rays: Added RP Chad Qualls. Lost a player to be named.
I get why the Rays added a bullpen arm. Grant Balfour, one of their hard-throwing relievers, is currently injured and he is a crucial part of that ‘pen. But let me compare his numbers with those of Qualls. Balfour: 43.1 IP, 2.08 ERA, 44 K, 13 BB. Qualls: 38.2 IP, 8.15 ERA, 34 K, 15 BB. Yeah that sounds like a suitable replacement to me. Look, it’s hard to say that a team failed at the deadline, but what the Rays really needed was a bat and they could’ve taken a shot at Adam Dunn or Prince Fielder. It’s not like they didn’t have the prospects (Desmond Jennings, Jeremy Hellickson) to make a splashy move. But as the Rays have proven since their inception into the league, they aren’t willing to part ways with prospects. Jennings will likely replace Carl Crawford next year (notice I’m not even giving the Rays a chance to re-sign him. If they can’t take on a big contract now, how are they gonna do that next year?) and Hellickson is making his big-league debut tonight, after which he may find himself in the bullpen. Deadline grade: C-
Boston Red Sox: Acquired C Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Lost minor leaguers Roman Mendez and Chris McGuiness, a player to be named later and cash.
I gotta give Theo Epstein a little credit here. He sees that his team has a serious void behind the plate and there’s no guarantee Victor Martinez and/or Jason Varitek will be back next season. While the Sox seem to have fallen out of contention this season, Epstein is preparing his team for next season. Salty has yet to show the flashes of greatness that he displayed in the minors, but he still has potential to be a good offensive catcher. Plus the guy has a cannon for an arm. Not a great move, but not a bad one either. Deadline grade: B
Toronto Blue Jays: Nothing.
The only reason I mention them is because they did nothing. How stupid are they??? They have hot commodities in Jose Bautista, Scott Downs, Jason Frasor and Kevin Gregg. But Alex Anthopoulos had ridiculous demands on all these guys. Now he’s going to have to take his chances on arbitration and draft pick compensation. Deadline grade: F
Chicago White Sox: Added SP Edwin Jackson, Lost SP Daniel Hudson and minor leaguer David Holmberg.
Once again, an opportunity for me to hate on Kenny Williams because he, once again, made a stupid move. To make a long story short, he was trying to flip Jackson to Washington for Adam Dunn, but it didn’t work out and now he’s stuck with him. Also, he’s hardly a suitable replacement for Jake Peavy. Hudson was one of their top prospects and dominated in his first start with the Dbacks. As for Jackson, he brings his 5+ ERA to Chicago, where he is likely to suffer the same fate he did in Arizona. Deadline grade: D
Minnesota Twins: Added RP Matt Capps. Lost minor leaguers Wilson Ramos and Joe Testa.
There are few times that I don’t trust the management of the Minnesota Twins. This is one of them. Wilson Ramos, the team’s top prospect, was deemed untouchable in potential trades for Jake Peavy, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. Instead, he’s flipped to Washington for Matt Capps. MATT CAPPS???? Hardly Peavy, Lee or Halladay. And, oh yeah, there’s a guy named Joe Nathan who will be back next year and that other guy Jon Rauch who had been filling in admirably for Nathan. Are you kidding me? Deadline grade: D-
Detroit Tigers: Added IF Jhonny Peralta. Lost minor leaguer Giovanni Soto.
The Tigers did what they needed to do. After losing Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen in the same week, they added Peralta, a utility infielder. Soto’s not a huge loss, but I think it’s time the Tigers waved the white flag on this season. Deadline grade: B
Texas Rangers: Added SP Cliff Lee, C Bengie Molina, 1B Jorge Cantu, IF Cristian Guzman. Lost 1B Justin Smoak, RP Chris Ray and minor leaguers Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke, Matthew Lawson and Michael Main.
The Rangers were by far the most active team in the month of July, fortifying their team with a host of veterans. Lee gave them a front-of-the-rotation guy who is just perfect for them, Molina seems rejuvenated, Cantu is a solid but unspectacular player and Guzman addresses the loss of Ian Kinsler. The Rangers, like the Rays, have a fantastic farm system. Unlike the Rays, they are willing to part with their prospects if it means winning now. The deals may come back to bite them some years down the road, but if the Rangers don’t win this year, this season will be a huge disappointment. I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that Lee is a free agent at the end of the season and with the ownership situation in flux, there’s really no way they can afford to re-sign him. It’s do or die for the Rangers. Deadline grade: A
Los Angeles Angels: Added SP Dan Haren and 3B Alberto Callaspo. Lost SP Joe Saunders, RP Sean O’Sullivan and minor leaguers Will Smith, Patrick Corbin, Rafael Rodriguez and Tyler Skaggs.
The Angels certainly surprised everyone when they added Dan Haren when they were already basically out of the playoff hunt. However, these moves were not intended for winning this year. Haren is under team control for the next two years and certainly makes the Angels’ top three of Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana and Dan Haren very scary. That being said, the Angels seemingly gave up a lot for both Haren and Callaspo and then turned around and said they might become sellers. That raised questions in my mind, but I’m not a baseball GM. Next year, when the Halos get Kendry Morales back, they will fight with the Rangers hard for the division. Deadline grade: B
Part 2 on the National League will be coming soon!