Thursday, August 16, 2012

Trade Deadline Losers

After taking a look at the winner’s of this seasons’ trade deadline, I thought we’d take a look at the teams that didn’t do as well in the trade market this season.


New York Mets:                        For a second straight season the Mets take on the awesome mantle of trade deadline losers.  While their loss didn’t come at the same level as last season’s ineptitude, it was equally head scratching.  Last season, the Mets were easily the biggest losers of the deadline by choosing to hang on to Jose Reyes.  Everyone thought they should trade him.  He was the hottest commodity on the market, and everyone wanted him.  He would have been an invaluable upgrade to any number teams who were playoff bound in 2011.  Instead the Mets held on to him, hoping he would take a discount to stick around.  He did not.  Instead of trading him away and getting a bounty of prospects on a team that is re-building, they held on to the guy to watch him win the batting title when he was healthy and sit out after his first at bat in the last game of the season.  There was no reason to hang on to him.  It was possibly the biggest trade deadline mistake of the past decade.  If he chooses to come back to the Mets, you can still trade him away for prospects.  If he goes to a new team (like he ended up doing) you can still trade him away from prospects.  It was incredibly frustrating to watch.  I’m not even a Mets fan!  And then the worst part was listening to the New York sports radio support the decision in the season, and then tear it apart in the offseason after he signed with the Marlins.  It was going to happen!  The Mets have no money!  And even if he chose to come back to the Mets, he still should have been traded away for the last few months of the season!  He was the best player on the market!  You could over-charge like crazy for two months of his services and then possibly get him back in the offseason!  The dumbest move in years.  Well this season, they made an equally dumb, though not as crippling a move.  Scott Hairston is a talented veteran reserve who a lot of teams wanted on their benches for the playoff run.  There is no reason the Mets, who were 3 games under 500 at the deadline, need the luxury of a veteran bench player.  He is not a part of their future.  Other teams were interested in him.  And they could once again cash in on a player who won’t help them this season.  Mets fans want to believe.  And they had a very impressive first half.  But it was clear this was not their season.  And giving away a utility guy who has probably past his prime doesn’t really hurt them now, and could only help them in the future.  But they once again failed to do so, and that is what makes them losers for the second year in a row.

St. Louis Cardinals:                        This loss isn’t of the epic proportions of the Mets last year, but it’s another one that makes you wonder.  The Cardinals needed pitching, specifically in the bullpen.  There was a lot of bullpen help available.  They only got one pitcher, Edward Mujica, who is so-so.  Their bullpen doesn’t look much better than it did before the deadline, there is just another arm out there.  They have money and prospects available, and plenty to make a move.  And they have mid-level prospects, the kind necessary to trade for a good bullpen arm that doesn’t break the bank.  The Phillies, Marlins, Cubs, Astros, Brewers, Rockies, Padres, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Royals, Twins, Indians and Mariners all had bullpen guys available for a decent price.  And while other teams got some of those guys, the point is there was plenty to get.  And the Cardinals just couldn’t make a move.  Maybe they didn’t want to overpay.  But they are falling behind in the NL Central and needed help to catch up.  That help didn’t come, and most people now have them finishing outside of the playoffs the year after winning it all.

Colorado Rockies:                        Reality is often tough for teams to face.  And in Denver, the Rockies couldn’t see that not only will they not be in the playoffs this season, they are arguably the worst team in baseball.  They spent a lot on the offense this offseason, bringing in veterans Marco Scutaro and Michael Cuddyer.  They hoped this offense would have enough oomph to beat the better pitching teams in their division.  It wouldn’t have mattered with the woeful pitching the Rockies send out there every 4th day.  And when your pitching is that bad, why not go to a 4 guy rotation.  At least you’ll be noteworthy for something.  The Rockies should have been selling hardcore this season.  They sent off Scutaro, but held on to Cuddyer.  Cuddyer can play first, second, third, right and left field.  He is 33 and making over $20 million dollars the next two years.  There are teams who would have loved his bat and defensive adaptability.  The market for him was fairly robust.  But the Rockies wanted to hold on to him.  They will never have a chance to sell so high on such an old guy again.  In addition, they hung on to Rafael Betancourt, who intrigued plenty of teams, and traded FOR Jonathan Sanchez.  Sanchez is a lefty who struggled in San Francisco.  Why does anyone think he’ll succeed at Coors Field?  The Rockies are out of it this season, and likely will be out of it for a while.  They have two stars signed to long-term deals.  But instead of trading away 3 veterans at their peak of value for a slew of prospects who could grow into major leaguers to support those guys, they held on to almost everyone and traded for more.  Now they can spend more money than any other team that is fighting Houston for the worst record in the league.  They have an ineffective four man rotation and the highest payroll among last place teams this season.  I guess they’re borrowing a page from the Miami Marlins, New York Jets and Kardashians this season.  Bad press is better than no press. 

New York Yankees:                        This one just doesn’t make sense.  At the time of the trade deadline, the Yankees starting rotation consisted of C.C. Sabathia (good), Hiroki Kuroda (decent), Ivan Nova (struggling), Phil Hughes (inconsistent) and Freddy Garcia (yikes).  They are hoping to get Andy Petite back for the postseason, but that still would leave them with two question marks in the rotation in Nova and Hughes.  Now that Sabathia is on the DL, that starting rotation is even thinner with youngster David Phelps brought up to start and struggling veteran Derek Lowe joining the team after being cut by Cleveland.  This is not what the Yanks needed.  They have the best offense money can buy, so they may get by in the regular season.  But some recent struggles and a surge by Tampa Bay have seen their lead shrunk from uncatchable to decent sized.  They make it to the playoffs every year, but unless they improve their pitching they will continue to exit in the early rounds.  They claim that they hit just fine against King Felix (he of the perfect game) and Justin Verlander when they faced them in the regular season.  But Oakland’s talented youngsters were able to keep this offense in check for 4 straight games, and they aren’t Verlander.  They will face better pitching in the playoffs, and that pitching will be amped up to win.  The Yankees needed another starting pitcher.  Cliff Lee was available, but they likely blanched at the price tag (though to imagine the Yankees claiming anything is too expensive is laughable).  Ryan Dempster was available at the last minute, and they had a chance to get him.  But they couldn’t pull the trigger.  They are desperate to decrease payroll, but the decrease they have in mind still has them as the highest spending team in the game by a wide margin.  You are what you are Yankees.  And the fact that they ignored that and didn’t acquire a pitcher that they desperately needed makes them losers in the biggest way.

Baltimore Orioles:                        Man, this was tough.  The Orioles have had some surprising success this season.  They didn’t want to overreact and trade away important pieces of their future for a present that may not hold up.  But they needed to do something to take advantage of their hot start.  They’ve had a lot of luck, which points to the idea that they may not be built to do this again in the immediate future.  For that reason, they needed to take advantage of the present.  Unlike the Rays or Blue Jays, they aren’t a few years or pieces away from contending.  They have holes.  And this season was an incredible stroke of luck (as their abysmal run differential shows).  They needed to take advantage.  Instead they brought in 41-year old DH Jim Thome to provide a little extra pop.  They needed a little extra power, but Thome doesn’t have enough in the tank to provide it all.  And he does nothing to address their pitching shortcomings.  The Orioles didn’t want to overpay in a season where they think they are a flash in the pan.  It’s understandable.  But their future success is much less assured than other teams, and the White Sox proved that it’s possible to make short-term moves that won’t hurt you in the future.  I’m not saying it’s easy, but it still needed to be done.

Cleveland Indians:                        This is the prime example of a team that was done in by it’s surprise success this season.  The Indians are playing better than anyone expected.  But let’s not kid ourselves they aren’t a good team.  The Indians are built for the future.  And while that future showed a little of itself this season, they aren’t going to be in the playoffs this year.  They have a great closer who is due a lot of money in arbitration this offseason.  The Indians can’t afford to give him a lot of money.  So instead of sending him to a contender for some good young prospects, they held on to him and got nothing.  The Indians don’t want to think they are out of it, but it’s time to face facts.  They aren’t going anywhere this season, and instead of shopping the best reliever on the market, they held on to him and will have a great closer for the rest of a season that ends just shy of the wildcard.  That's not a winning formula, and it's why they made this list.

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