The Best Deadline Moves Are the Small Ones

By Ted Gay- @TedG63

Everyone wants a big sexy move at the trade deadline.  They yearn to read that their team “won” the trade deadline even though the team crowned the most improved generally fails to win the World Series.  The Mets for getting Yoenis Cespedes in 2015; the Astros for acquiring Randy Johnson in 1998; The Dodges dealing for Manny Ramirez in 2008; The Diamondbacks getting Curt Schilling in 2000; The Brewers dealing for CC Sabathia in 2008; the Astros scoring Carlos Beltran in 2004; the Cubs nabbing Rick Sutcliffe in 1984; the Astros snagging Roy Oswalt in 2010 and the Indians Andrew Miller in 2016. None of these deadline victories lead to a championship the year the trade was made.  Schilling did the year after.

Over the last two years, the tide turned.  Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs in 2016 and Justin Verlander ( a late August deal) to the Astors both helped their respective teams win the World Series.  Despite this recent success, a cardinal rule of baseball is the team that makes the best deal on paper ends up watching the winning team’s parade from home.

The Yankees acquired Zach Britton to great fan fare.  I question why, with a stacked bullpen of Chapman, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, and David Robertson, the Yankees needed to give up prospects for a fifth reliever, especially one who hasn’t shown he can return to form after injury.  Are the Yankees considering having their starters go through the lineup twice and then turn the ball over to the bullpen? And do they trust Aaron Boone to do that? It seems ridiculous to say that a team on pace to win 104 games has been a disappointment but the name of the game is winning the division and the Yankees, despite a Murderer’s Row Jr. lineup, are in second place.  Questions about Boone’s competency abound.

The JA Happ move was a much smarter move for New York.  He fills their need for a starter and could be their number two pitcher. The last time we saw Mr. Happ Mookie Betts was finishing as thirteen pitch at-bat against the newly acquired Yankee hurler by crushing the ball out of the stadium and chasing him from the mound.  While the hosts of the most partisan Yankee broadcast in the medium, on the Sports Hub from 6:00 to 7:00 each night, gushed over the Yankee move they somehow forgot to mention Betts’ at-bat.

Of equal importance to the Happ move, the Red Sox’s acquired Nathan Eovaldi, whose ERA is a pedestrian 4.26 but has a WHIP is under 1.  With Eduardo Rodriguez out Eovaldi slips into nicely into the fourth starter slot. It may also send Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen where he thrived with the A’s, but right now no one trusts the ball in Pomeranz’s hand no matter what the role.

During their three recent championship seasons, the Red Sox have not dealt any top 100 prospects for proven players.  The Nomar Garciaparra trade was veterans for veterans, in 2007 Eric Gagne was traded for David Murphy, who did develop into a serviceable outfielder but was not considered a top prospect, and in 2013 Jose Iglesias, although a rookie, was already an established player when he was dealt for Jake Peavy.  All three championship seasons the Red Sox attempted to improve themselves without giving up highly rated prospects. It worked in 2004, and 2013. In 2007 the Gagne trade was a disaster of Tyler Thornburg proportions. He gave up 14 runs in 18 innings and almost single-handedly ruined the 2013 season.

The Red Sox must still fill a gaping hole in the bullpen.  Dombrowski’s biggest failure as a GM has not been trading prospects for relief pitching but letting those relief pitchers walk the following offseason.  In the past two years, they traded prospects for Brad Ziegler and Reed then did not sign them. Now we have to trade more prospects for another reliever. Ironically one of those available is Brad Ziegler.  If Dombrowski had signed either one of those pitchers, we would not be looking for another reliever. Before Dombrowski is done, we are going to trade half our prospects for three months of relief pitching every year.

The greatest Red Sox deadline transaction was in 2004 when they acquired Dave Roberts for Henri Stanley (@CU_stanley).  That is his actual Twitter handle.  I think we all owe him a thank you tweet.

Roberts became the ultimate right guy at the right time and sparked the Red Sox to a world championship. You don’t need a sexy player, or a big name, you need the right player who can win you a game when you need it the most.

Give me that over sexy anytime.

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