By Matt Straub
The baseball trade deadline has come and gone. We broke down yesterday all the ways a team can win or lose at the deadline as well as which teams had a chance to do big things for their playoff hopes today. With the deadline now passed, it’s time to examine who took our advice and who didn’t.
First a quick caveat on the Yankees. I thought about putting them in the loser category because I really thought they should go for it and try to add something, but I don’t hate the way they’ve held on to thei first group of big prospects they’ve had in years. It wasn’t worth the risk of letting go of those big names for a moderate gain, but I think they could have swung some kind of deal this week. Also, they get credit for spending the day trying to get a pitcher or two from the Padres.
Toronto Blue Jays: This isn’t exactly a controversial opinion, but when you add Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, and a solid reliever in Mark Lowe, you had a good week. Price has been awful against the Yankees and might not have been Toronto’s first choice to take down the division leaders, but he’s an ace who gives you a chance to perhaps play them down the line. Add outfielder Ben Revere and reliever LaTroy Hawkins, and the Blue Jays won the week.
Houston Astros: The Astros knew they were starting to stumble and wanted to do more than just try and make the playoffs. They were aggressive and won big, getting Scott Kazmir and some smaller pieces.
Kansas City Royals: You could have made the argument they were the best team in baseball before they went out and got Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist. This is a great example of a team knowing the difference between trying to contend and trying to win the World Series. Their fans who waited so long and stuck by that franchise deserve nothing less.
Texas Rangers: It probably won’t be enough for this year, but kudos to the Rangers for understanding you don’t have to sell because you’re out of the race. If Yu Darvish comes back healthy next year, the Rangers have already made their big acquisition to go with him in Cole Hamels while everyone else is scrambling at the winter meetings.
New York Mets: Yoenis Cespedes isn’t known for being a great guy, but he’s a hard-hitting outfielder, which is exactly what the Mets needed. More importantly, the Mets had to do something to show their clubhouse they wanted to get them help. If New York did nothing, the players and the fans would continue to believe the Mets weren’t trying to win.
Colorado Rockies: Sure they saved a bunch of money, but if you’re going to trade your cornerstone player, you have to get either sure thing minor leaguers or a superstar major leaguer. Trading a franchise player requires getting back a new franchise, either with a bunch of young players or a current star. The Rockies got a good player who will make up some of the lost production at a huge discount and some solid prospects. Those pieces aren’t enough for your star.
San Diego Padres: I actually love a team which doesn’t panic when things go wrong four months after it was put together. Everyone assumed the Padres would just blow up all the work they did in the winter to create a contender. However, I don’t like standing pat. In baseball you’re either rising or falling. The Padres said they stood pat because they think they can make the playoffs. If you believe you can catch the Dodgers or Giants, go for it. Add to your roster. Don’t sit still. They didn’t give up, but they didn’t make another big charge up the ladder, either.
Minnesota Twins: Sometimes, teams rely too much on the future. The Twins went through a number of bad years to build their farm system in the hopes they all would grow up into a good team. The time arrived this year, as the Twins find themselves two games up in the second wild card race. Instead of doing what the Royals and Astros did and deciding to go for it, they made a move for a decent middle reliever. What if the kids don’t get any better? What if someone gets hurt? Too many teams have been close over the years and never got back in the hunt. You don’t take chances to win for granted.
Boston Red Sox: Like the Padres, I like the way the Red Sox refused to completely give up on a collection of stars. Unlike the Padres, the Red Sox have no playoff hopes. They had to do something to try and improve, whether it be going young or adding to the group for 2016 the way the Rangers did. I would consider them winners if they tried to improve for next year, cleared the way to have young kids play the rest of this year, or brought in young kids for 2018. Instead, they did nothing.
Detroit Tigers: I beat them up enough the other day, but it’s worth noting once more that the Tigers were as close to a playoff spot as the Mets are, and yet they unloaded everything they could.