Sunday, August 01, 2004

Now that was a trade deadline. Lots of controversy, big names changing big teams, cheers of joy, rending of garments in lamentation....everything you could’ve wanted. I’ve got a few thoughts, a wee bit of analysis, and even some unsolicited advice.

First off....some of the notable deals:

  • Red Sox: Acquired shortstop Orlando Cabrera from the Montreal Expos for infielders Alex Gonzalez and Brendan Harris and pitcher Francis Beltran; acquired outfielder Dave Roberts from the Los Angeles Dodgers for outfielder Henri Stanley.
  • Cubs: Acquired first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz from the Minnesota Twins for pitcher Justin Jones; acquired shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, outfielder Matt Murton and cash considerations from the Boston Red Sox for Mientkiewicz, infielders Alex Gonzalez and Brendan Harris and pitcher Francis Beltran.
  • Twins: Acquired minor league pitcher Justin Jones.
  • Expos: Acquired Alex Gonzalez, pitcher Francis Beltran and infielder Brendan Harris
  • White Sox: Acquired pitcher Jose Contreras and cash considerations from the New York Yankees for pitcher Esteban Loaiza.
  • Dodgers: Acquired outfielder Steve Finley and catcher Brent Mayne from the Arizona Diamondbacks for catcher Koyie Hill, pitcher Bill Murphy and outfielder Reggie Abercrombie. Acquired pitchers Brad Penny and Bill Murphy and first baseman Hee Seop Choi from the Florida Marlins for catcher Paul Lo Duca, outfielder Juan Encarnacion and pitcher Guillermo Mota.
  • Marlins: Acquired pitcher Rudy Seanez from the Kansas City Royals for outfielder Abraham Nunez; acquired pitcher Ismael Valdez from the San Diego Padres for pitcher Travis Chick. Acquired catcher Paul Lo Duca, outfielder Juan Encarnacion and pitcher Guillermo Mota from the Dodgers for pitchers Brad Penny and Bill Murphy and first baseman Hee Seop Choi from the Florida Marlins.
  • Mets: Acquired infielder Jose Bautista from the Kansas City Royals for catcher Justin Huber; acquired pitcher Kris Benson and infielder Jeff Keppinger from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Bautista, infielder Ty Wigginton and pitcher Matt Peterson; acquired pitchers Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for pitchers Scott Kazmir and Jose Diaz

I’ve been reading Sons of Sam Horn and came across this sentiment from a poster there on the deal that sent icon Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs: “Only game I have interest in going to at Fenway this year is Mon. Sept 9 vs TB. Their first game home and our first chance to go boo the @#%$ out of Cabrera, Minkwhateverowitz and the bosox management.

Bad idea, to anyone who shares the sentiment. If you want to jeer the management team--fine. But this trade wasn’t Cabrera’s or Mientkiewicz’s idea and it wasn’t their fault. They’re gonna bust their butts to win the Red Sox the pennant and deserve support. Losing a superstar like Garciaparra is almost always painful, but don’t forget who’s responsible for the trade, and who isn’t. Blaming the players acquired in the deal accomplishes nothing. The Red Sox probably were going to lose Nomar to free agency and due to the money Garciaparra’s making in 2004 ($11.5 million), the Red Sox might not have offered arbitration (the Red Sox would pay a minimum of $9.2 million and you can bet that if the Red Sox were to offer anything under what Garciaparra made this year they‘d probably lose in arbitration). So, instead of losing Garciaparra and getting *nothing* in return, the Red Sox traded two months of Nomar and got two Gold Glovers to shore up a weak defense.

Other things to bear in mind: Garciaparra is going to want a big contract (I’m guessing 5 years/ $75 million). He’s been fragile, his defense is declining, and he’s on the wrong side of 30. So whomever signs him to his next contract is going to find out all about “the winner‘s curse.” The Red Sox got the best of Nomar Garciaparra at half the cost of Alex Rodriguez. Now somebody else is going to pay for his decline phase. Also, the Red Sox were dealing with an unhappy, injured superstar who can't play SS effectively anymore on a good offensive team with plenty of defensive question marks. Chances are Cabrera and Mientkiewicz have a better shot at rediscovering their offense than Garciaparra has of rediscovering his range and health.

Just remember the hosing the Mariners took when their icon--Ken Griffey Jr.--wanted out. Everybody said that the Mariners were doomed forever and the Reds may as well print World Series tickets. The Mariners went to the post season the first two years after Junior departed and won 93 games in each of the two seasons after that. The Reds ended up with $116.5 million albatross.

In short, the weeping and the gnashing of teeth in Boston might be a bit premature. Don’t forget, the Red Sox are a distant second in the AL East, and second in the wild card standings. The status quo may not have gotten it done. I’m not saying the Red Sox made a terrific deal, but all things considered, it wasn’t a horrible one either.

Now the Mets. These were horrible deals. They cashed in the 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 seasons for a futile shot at a title in 2004. The Mets are 49-54, fourth place in the NL East, eight games back, and even further back in the wild card hunt. Kris Benson had one season where he tossed more than 200 IP (2000) and Victor Zambrano seems to challenge Barry Bonds for walk totals in a season. For this (and others) they gave up Justin Huber, Ty Wigginton, Matt Peterson, Scott Kazmir and Jose Diaz? I’m not a Mets fan but I’m flabbergasted. If the Blue Jays get healthy, the Devil Rays will make the 2005 AL East a real dogfight with the additions of Diaz and Kazmir. I do not know the thought processes that went into this deal. Somebody’s head(s) should roll. For disappointed Red Sox fans--this is what a bad deal looks like. Everything the Mets had been building towards has just been depth charged into oblivion.

Although I think the Dodgers got the better end of the deal with the Marlins, I think both teams got what they were looking for. The Dodgers upgraded both the present and the future with the additions of Penny, Choi, and Murphy, and the Fish bolstered their bullpen and the difference in their offense should be negligible. The Marlins made this deal with 2004 in mind and did what championship teams are sometimes forced to do--trade away some of the future for a shot at the present. The Marlins are the defending World Series champions and are still close enough to the NL East title to take a run at a repeat. The Dodgers on the other hand just made Brian Sabean look comatose. Granted, Sabean may have been handcuffed by Magowan . The Giants are only 4.5 games out of the NL West and two games out of the wild card. The Giants should’ve been more active but chose not to. Finally, although I feel the Expos’ days are numbered, they picked up some good prospects for a player on the way out. I just wish I could enjoy it more, but for Expos’ fans, the future never comes.

Best Regards