By Jose M. Romero / @RomeroJoseM
For FOX Deportes
Nothing like the Major League Baseball trade deadline to sort out who are the true playoff contenders, and who has raised the white flag of surrender for the 2012 season.
If your team is in the hunt, seeing whom that team deals for in an effort to make it better for the stretch run is an exciting time. You accept that your farm system will be raided in order to pick up a needed piece to the playoff puzzle, and you look forward to seeing what the new guy can do.
If your team is well out of the playoff race, you say goodbye to a veteran, in most cases, and you look ahead to a future when (or if) all of your organization’s good young prospects put it together and form the core of a contending team.
The deadline passed after 1 p.m. PT with a lot of activity over the past few days. It was especially entertaining to see what the rivals Dodgers and Giants did, L.A. being proactive long before the deadline and San Fran making its biggest move on the day it came.
The two teams are co-leaders of the NL West, and the Dodgers added National League All-Stars Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino plus an American League All-Star, former Mariners closer-turned setup man Brandon League.
The moves didn’t cost the Dodgers more than a couple of young pitchers and good minor-league prospects, and now L.A. has a top-of-the-order pest/defensive stalwart in Victorino, a proven hitter in Ramirez and a reliever with something to prove in League, who lost his closer job in Seattle but might flourish setting up for closer Kenley Jansen.
The Giants added ex-Phillies All-Star Hunter Pence, a slugging corner outfielder who will help their offense. Last week they picked up a solid veteran infielder in Venezuelan Marco Scutaro, but the Dodgers made the bigger splash overall.
The Arizona Diamondbacks approached the deadline only 3 ½ games out of first, but didn’t make any super-bold moves to help their chances. Maybe maintaining clubhouse chemistry, apparently a huge positive for the D-backs, was more important than adding a potentially high-impact player to the mix.
It’s strange but uplifting to see the Pittsburgh Pirates in contention as we move into August. They didn’t do anything too aggressive at the deadline but got a young veteran who could contribute in outfielder Travis Snider and a decent starting pitcher from the Houston Astros, Wandy Rodriguez.
The Pirates ended up winners for the deadline when they dealt for Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez, who has been an All-Star. Pittsburgh added a couple of position players with low salaries who will play with something to prove.
The Cincinnati Reds lead the NL Central and bolstered their bullpen by making a deal with the Kansas City Royals for reliever Jonathan Broxton. Wow, two hard-throwing guys out of the Reds’ bullpen with Broxton and Aroldis Chapman. Broxton is a risk, though. He really struggled last season for the Dodgers.
The Texas Rangers made a good move to get catcher Geovany Soto from the Chicago Cubs, who are having a fire sale with no shot at the postseason. Texas also won the Ryan Dempster (Cubs) sweepstakes. The Rangers’ AL West rivals, the Los Angeles Angels, got better, too, when they added starting pitcher Zack Greinke from the fading Milwaukee Brewers, but Texas should win this division with its wealth of talent.
The biggest move of all was made by the best team in the American League, the New York Yankees, who got Ichiro from the Mariners for two minor-leaguers. Might as well put the Yankees in the playoffs now. With Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Ichiro, New York has the bats to run away with their division.
The Atlanta Braves, Oakland Athletics and AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox got a little better with some lesser moves. Interestingly enough, the team with the best record in the majors on July 31, the Washington Nationals, did nothing. That’s a clear sign of a team that is perfectly content with its pitching and offense.
The Nats also appear to have plenty of depth in their organization and good clubhouse chemistry. And who can argue with the results?
On this trade deadline day, we say “Wait ‘Til Next Year” to the following teams who have unloaded top players to contenders – the Cubs, Astros, Mariners, Brewers (wow!), Phillies (double wow!) and Marlins.