Deadline drama: Reviewing 2008-10

July, 25, 2011
The trade deadline is fun, full of rumors and feverishly hyped, tweeted and talked about. But how much impact does it actually have?

Here's a more detailed look at the past three seasons.


AL playoff teams on July 31
White Sox
Rays (wild card)

Next closest: Twins -0.5, Red Sox -5.5.

Final playoff teams
Yankees (wild card)

Big moves: Rangers picked up Cliff Lee in early July; White Sox get Edwin Jackson; Twins add Matt Capps; Angels acquire Dan Haren.

What happened: The Twins went 36-22 the rest of the season to win the Central by six games. Capps went 2-0 with 16 saves and the Twins won both games he had a blown save anyway. Lee wasn't great for the Rangers in the regular season (4-6, 3.98), but they won the division by nine games over Oakland.

Impact: None. Capps was a nice pickup, but it was mostly an improvement in the starting rotation that spurred the Twins in August and September. The Red Sox curiously remained quiet and never got in the race.

NL playoff teams on July 31
Giants (wild card)

Next closest: Reds -0.5, Phillies -3.5

Final playoff teams
Braves (wild card)

Big moves: Phillies get Roy Oswalt, Dodgers get Ted Lilly from Cubs, Padres acquire Ryan Ludwick.

What happened: Oswalt was superb as the Phillies went 41-17 down the stretch. The Padres had the best record in the NL on July 31, but finished 30-30 while the Giants went 32-25 (with help from Cody Ross and Jose Guillen, both picked up in August). Their only deadline deal was reliever Ramon Ramirez from the Red Sox.

Impact: Small, with little action. The Giants only added spare parts, and two of those in August. The Phillies trailed the Braves by 3.5 on July 31, with Oswalt a key part of their eventual six-game spread over the Braves. But they would have made the playoffs without him.


AL playoff teams on July 31
Red Sox (wild card)

Next closest: Rangers -1.5, White Sox -1.5, Twins -2, Rays -4.5

Final playoff teams
Red Sox (wild card)

Big moves: Red Sox acquire Victor Martinez, White Sox get Jake Peavy, Tigers trade for Jarrod Washburn, Twins get Orlando Cabrera.

What happened: The Twins tied the Tigers for the division lead and won the tiebreaker, and Washburn was a big reason why as he went 1-3 with a 7.33 ERA in eight starts for the Tigers after he had posted a 2.64 ERA for Seattle. Peavy, meanwhile, made just three starts for the White Sox while Cabrera scored 42 runs in 59 games with the Twins.

Impact: Big. The Cabrera/Washburn deals had a huge impact on the Central, with Washburn's failures doing major damage to the Tigers. Cabrera wasn't great for the Twins, but solidified shortstop, where Nick Punto and Brendan Harris hadn't done the job.

NL playoff teams on July 31
Rockies/Giants (wild card)

Next closest: Cubs -0.5.

Final playoff teams

Big moves: Phillies get Cliff Lee, Cardinals acquire Matt Holliday, Giants acquire Freddy Sanchez.

What happened: The Cardinals acquired Holliday on July 24 and he was a huge reason St. Louis pulled away from the Cubs as he hit .353/.419/.612 with 55 RBIs in 63 games. The Phillies had a comfortable lead in the East, which Lee helped maintain, and he led them into the World Series, going 4-0 in the postseason. The Rockies added only relievers Rafael Betancourt and Joe Beimel but went 36-23 the rest of the way, the best mark in the NL.

Impact: Moderate. The Cubs didn't do anything, but truth is they weren't as good as the Cards, who won the division by 7.5 games.


AL playoff teams on July 31
White Sox/Twins
Red Sox (wild card)

Next closest: Yankees -1.5

Final playoff teams
White Sox
Red Sox (wild card)

Big moves: Angels trade for Mark Teixeira, Red Sox get Jason Bay, Yankees acquire Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte, White Sox get Ken Griffey Jr.

What happened: The White Sox remained in a battle all season, although the only move either team made was Chicago picked up Griffey from the Reds. The teams tied for the division with the White Sox winning the tiebreaker. The Red Sox picked up Bay in the Manny Ramirez three-way deal and held off the Yankees for the wild card, going 34-19 to the Yankees' 30-24.

Impact: Minor. The Angels had a huge lead when they got Teixeira from the Braves, so he was acquired to make a postseason impact. It didn't happen, as the Red Sox beat the Angels in four games in the American League Division Series. Nady played OK for the Yankees, but that was a team that gave a combined 35 starts to Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson. They weren't going to catch the Red Sox.

NL playoff teams on July 31
Brewers/Cardinals (wild card)

Next closest: Mets -1, Marlins -1.5, Dodgers -2.

Final playoff teams
Brewers (wild card)

Big moves: Brewers get CC Sabathia on July 7, Dodgers get Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake, Phillies acquired Joe Blanton on July 17.

What happened: Sabathia wasn't quite a deadline deal since he came over in early July, and it's a good thing they made the deal since they didn't win the wild card until the final day of the season. Sabathia went 11-2, 1.65 for the Brewers, including three starts down the stretch on three days' rest (including the clincher). Ramirez was an absolute beast for the Dodgers, hitting .396/.489/.743, with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs in 53 games. The Dodgers went 30-24 to catch the D-backs, who went 26-28 after making just two minor moves in Tony Clark and Jon Rauch. The Phillies, meanwhile, held off the collapsing Mets by three games, with Blanton going 4-0, 4.20 in 13 starts.

Impact: Huge. The Brewers don't make the playoffs without Sabathia and the Dodgers probably don't win the West without Ramirez (they finished two games up on Arizona).


Pittsburgh at Atlanta, Monday through Thursday

Monday: James McDonald (6-4, 4.15) vs. Tim Hudson (9-6, 3.29), ESPN, 7 p.m. ET
Tuesday: Jeff Karstens (8-5, 2.28) vs. Tommy Hanson (11-5, 3.06)
Wednesday: Paul Maholm (6-10, 3.26) vs. Jair Jurrjens (12-3, 2.44)
Thursday: Kevin Correia (11-8, 4.38) vs. Derek Lowe (6-8, 4.49)

The trade deadline doesn't come until Sunday and the Pirates hope that won't be loo late for reinforcements. The Pirates have seven road games against the Braves and Phillies this week. Hudson loves pitching at home -- 2.73 in Atlanta in 2011, compared to 4.47 on the road. The key pitcher to watch for the Pirates is All-Star Correia, who has posted a 5.86 ERA over his past nine starts.


Tuesday: Justin Verlander (13-5, 2.24) vs. Mark Buehrle (7-4, 3.38), Tigers at White Sox

The Giants and Phillies begin the week with a three-game series, but none of the aces match up, so we'll go with this crucial AL Central showdown. Buehrle has quietly and efficiently kept the Sox in nearly every game he's started this season, as he hasn't allowed more than three runs since April 22 -- a streak of 14 starts. He may need to pitch a shutout in this one.


1. Our Red Sox blog wrote about this last week, but it's difficult to argue for Adrian Gonzalez as AL MVP when he may not even be the MVP on his own team. Dustin Pedroia has been excellent, but Jacoby Ellsbury has been unbelievable. With five home runs in his past 10 games, he's now just one behind A-Gone (who has just one in July), and has 45 extra-base hits to Gonzalez's 50. He has 28 steals to Gonzalez's one, and while Gonzalez plays an excellent first base, Ellsbury plays a solid center field, a more important defensive position. His latest power display came on Friday night, off Felix Hernandez, when he golfed a low fastball that was just a few inches off the ground deep over fence in right. On a team of stars, Ellsbury's is starting to shine the most.

2. When you have so much parity like this, it only takes one or two players having bad seasons to derail a potential playoff bid. Which teams have given the most playing time to bad players? Looking at the primary playoff contenders, here is how many plate appearances each team has given to hitters with an OPS+ (on-base + slugging percentage, adjusted for home park, scaled to where 100 is a league average hitter) of 75 or less, entering Sunday's action. (From

National League
1. Brewers, 1250
2. Braves, 823
3. Giants, 809
4. Pirates, 660
5. Phillies, 534
6. Reds, 461
7. Diamondbacks, 456
8. Cardinals, 231

The Brewers are the team that should be kicking itself the most if it misses the playoffs, high in star power but a brutal bottom of the roster. Yuniesky Betancourt's line was predictable, but Casey McGehee has been even worse. Both have held their jobs. What is inexcusable is giving more than 300 plate appearances to vets Craig Counsell and Mark Kotsay.

American League
1. White Sox, 1221
2. Rays, 729
3. Tigers, 559
4. Red Sox, 488
5. Indians, 462
6. Angels, 432
7. Rangers, 333
8. Yankees, 121

Will the White Sox continue to play Alex Rios and Adam Dunn as the calendar flips to August? Rios is hitting .207, Dunn .160. Ozzie Guillen must still have faith: He hit Dunn cleanup on Sunday. One of less-heralded bad positions has been the Tampa Bay shortstops, where Reid Brignac and Elliott Johnson are both hitting under .200. Sean Rodriguez made his 11th start there on Sunday, but he's made five errors there with little range.

3. The Mariners have lost 15 straight. I was at Friday's game at Fenway when Felix Hernandez pitched. The King was alternately frustrated and unfocused, but mostly he displayed an alarming amount of bad body language throughout the game. When the Mariners scored a run in the first and then the Red Sox tied it in the bottom of the inning on a Kevin Youkilis RBI single, Hernandez waited to cross paths with Youk after getting out of the inning. Both players smiled and laughed, as Hernandez probably said something to the extent of "Well, there's the ballgame." When Felix departed, not one player met him at the top of the dugout to shake his good or give him a pat on the back. It's a bad situation in Seattle and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Mariners shop Hernandez around in the offseason.

By the way, here are the past five teams to lose 15 or more in row:

2005 Royals: 19 straight losses.
Final record: 56-106.
Next season: 62-100.
Next winning season: Still waiting.

2002 Devil Rays: 15 straight losses.
Final record: 55-106.
Next season: 63-99.
Next winning season: 2008.

1988 Orioles: 21 straight losses.
Final record: 54-107.
Next season: 87-75.

1982 Mets: 15 straight losses.
Final record: 65-97.
Next season: 68-94.
Next winning season: 1984.

1977 Braves: 17 straight losses.
Final record: 61-101.
Next season: 69-93.
Next winning season: 1980.

I find it hard to believe this report, which suggests the Cardinals could trade Colby Rasmus to the White Sox for Edwin Jackson or Matt Thornton plus a prospect. Even if the prospect is lefty pitcher Chris Sale, Chicago's first-round pick in 2010, I don't think it makes much sense for St. Louis. Jackson is a free agent and inconsistent -- 3.97 ERA but a 1.43 WHIP.

Chris DenorfiaHoward Smith/US PresswireA homer? Well, it looked like it might be, then Chris Denorfia got his hands on things.

David Schoenfield | email

SweetSpot blogger



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