The Trade Deadline   (07/27/01)

July 31st trading deadline is next Tuesday.  That doesn't necessarily mean that trades can't be made after that date.  Just that trades can't be made freely without players having to clear waivers after then.  What that means is that if a team wants to trade a player after the deadline, it would have to make him available to all teams.  In the reverse order of the standings, each team would have an opportunity to make a claim on that player.  The waiving team then would have to decide to either make a deal with the lowest ranked claiming team, or withdraw the player from waivers.  As you might imagine, not many perceived impact players make it through waivers.  It does happen occasionally - Jose Canseco last season - but that's usually due to that player having a contract that the waiving team wants to dump.

Anyway, I suspect we'll know this weekend whether or not we're gonna have a hot trading season up to the deadline or not.  So far, most indicators to a busy 4 or 5 next few days.  More than the usual number of names are being mentioned and about 20 teams still have at least an outside chance at either a division title or a wild card spot.  There are also a lot of medium sized contracts that will expire at the end of this season, meaning teams want to get something before they lose the player for compensation picks and the players want to showcase their talents in the playoff spotlight as part of their salary drive.

So far...

Some decent players have changed teams.  James Baldwin isn't a top tier pitcher, but he's pitched reasonably well for the last month and changing leagues should help him continue that trend with the Dodgers for a while, as NL hitters will be unfamiliar with his delivery and repertoire.  By the way, is their any more amazing performance by a manager and team this year than that of the Dodgers?  Who would have guessed with that without Kevin Brown, Andy Ashby and Darren Dreifort, that the Dodgers would only be a half game out of first place at this point in the season?  Surprisingly, the offense has carried the load, currently 6th in run scoring while playing in one of the tougher parks to hit.
Albie Lopez also switched leagues and will now provide the D-backs a consistent starter behind Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.  Like Baldwin, his last few starts have been pretty good and the league change should help him continue.

Jermaine Dye became an Oakland Athletic in a deal that shows why the terms "Kansas City Royals" and "braintrust" are rarely seen together.  The Royals gave up Dye, who's a better than average outfielder, in a three way deal with the Rockies and A's, for Rockies shortstop Neifi Perez.  The Rocks were looking to get rid of Perez because they had a better player in Juan Uribe making less money.  While Perez' overall numbers look pretty good, his performance away from Coors has been pretty uninspiring - .289 on base and a .347 slugging over the last 3 years, .266 and .298 this year.  basically, they traded for Rey Sanchez, who, as fate would have it, they already have.  Dye certainly upgrades the A's defense in right and makes their bench a lot stronger by allowing manager Art Howe to go with the hot hand between Dye, Terrence Long, Jeremy Giambi and Johnny Damon.

The Giants traded for Andres Galarraga to help a struggling JT Snow at first base.  Galarraga did not adjust particularly well to the American League this season and questions remain about whether he has the bat speed to catch up to the good fastballs he'll see in the NL West.  My guess is that he'll start out hot, happy to be back in the NL, but come back to earth in the middle of August when the Giants square off against hard throwing Cubs and Marlins staffs, followed by a run in with the Braves.  It won't get any better after that: 9 of the Giants remaining 18 series, including 5 of 9 in September, will be against pitching staffs dominated by hard throwers.

Michael Tucker has been traded once again, this time to the Cubs.  With Rondell White perpetually day-to-day, and centerfield a question mark offensively, Tucker will provide some stability.  While he'll never be mistaken for Willie Mays in the field, he is vastly superior with the glove to the Cubs other options - Roosevelt Brown and Delino DeShields.  

Yet to come...

Both the Braves and Dodgers are interested in the Royal's Rey Sanchez.  Apparently, neither team feels it has enough light-hitting infielders and is looking to add to an already impressive corps.  By trading for Neifi Perez before dealing Sanchez, it is almost assured that the Royals will get little in return as they've traded away much of their bargaining power.

Pirate Jason Schmidt could turn into a pretty impressive starter under the right guidance.  He has the stuff to dominate but just doesn't have the game plan to maximize it's effectiveness.  Under a pitching coach like Verne Ruhle (Philadelphia) or Dick Such (Minnesota), he could blossom into a very tough 2nd or 3rd starter come October.

Rockie Pedro Astacio has fallen apart in 2 of his last 3 starts.  I suspect part of that is the fact that he has been rumored to be going just about everywhere.  Imagine trying to do your job with the threat of having to move in the next couple of days, not knowing when or if you'll have to move, nor where.  Once he's traded, or once the deadline passes without him being traded, Astacio should return to pitching consistently well down the stretch.

A lot of teams are looking for bullpen help and the Pirate's Mike Williams seems to be on everyone's want list.  However, his history of second half fades (2.42 ERA before the break, 4.16 after) makes it unlikely that he'll become the closer for his new club if he's dealt.

Detroit ex-closer Todd Jones is another reliever on the block but he probably won't have any more impact that Williams if traded.

Another Pirate who's a good bet to travel to a new club is John VanderWal.  Not only is he a good 3rd or 4th outfielder (an OPS of .850+ the last 2 years as a regular player) who can play first base, but he's a very dangerous pinch hitter.  He seems like a very good fit for the Cubs, who could use some help in all three areas.

The guy I can't believe is rumored to be on the move is Shannon Stewart.  He's probably the best leadoff hitter in the American League and one of the Blue Jays best hitters, especially with regards to getting on base.  He doesn't make that much money relatively speaking, so why they would even consider trading him is beyond me.  Any team that gets this guy stole him.  There are only a few minor league players that could be as valuable as Stewart and the teams that have those guys have the good sense to keep them.

Another rumor that puzzles me is the Mets' apparent willingness to deal Glendon Rusch.  True, he hasn't been great this year, but his 4 of his last 5 starts have been pretty solid.  The rumor is that they'll get a power hitting outfielder in return, but I have to ask: which is harder to find - a power hitting outfielder or a competent lefty starter?  There are currently 45 outfielders with a slugging average of .450 or better.  There are 63 starters with better ERAs than Rusch's 4.69, 15 of which are left handed.  The Mets also have very little pitching on the farm, so filling one hole by trading Rusch would simply create another.  The Mets already have 2 decent outfielders - Agbayani and Payton - and have the luxury of a great hitting catcher.  They would probably be better served by picking up an outfielder on the free agent market this offseason - they're in no position to make a run at the playoffs this year - and focus their efforts on trying to address their offensive problems at short.

With the emergence of Robert Fick, the Tigers are looking to deal Tony Clark.  Clark, a switch-hitter, would have been a better choice for the Giants than Galarraga.  However, he still could be dealt to the Cubs, Braves, Marlins, Yankees, or Red Sox.  Each team has issues at first which Clark would solve.  Personally, I think he'll go to the Marlins as they have the minor league pitching depth that he Tigers crave and Derrek Lee was a Randy Smith favorite when he was GM of the Pads.  Adding Clark to a line-up with Cliff Floyd, Luis Castillo, Charles Johnson and Mike Lowell, with their starting pitching, might make the Marlins the favorite to win the East.

The Padres have 2 solid starters they'd like to trade, almost entirely because of their $5 million salaries: Sterling Hitchcock and Woody Williams.  I expect both will be dealt but I have my doubts that either will have a significant impact during the regular season.  Hitchcock is still recovering from elbow surgery and might not be completely healthy until next year.  He should still be able to give some quality innings but will probably not be as consistent as he was before his injury for some time.  Williams is an extreme flyball pitcher in a park (Qualcomm) that has been tough to hit homers in.  If he gets traded to somewhere like Houston, Minnesota, Cleveland, Boston or Philadelphia, those long flyball outs he gives up are gonna score some extra runs.

Back to Reality

In the Sandbox league, I don't really expect too much trading activity.  There have only been a couple of trades to date and several owners have already started making noises about next year.  I don't see myself making a trade at this point either.  I have a solid offensive team that has potential to get better - Carlos Delgado and Bobby Abreu are still performing below expectation - and a pitching staff that has 6 starters who are averaging 18+ points per start.  If Ben Davis' slump continues (hitting .176 in July), I may look to deal for some catching help, but there's certainly no urgency as he performed very well up to the break and this could be just a little bump in the road.

Another reason I don't think there'll be many trades is many owners are waiting to see how the latest group of call-ups are going to do.  Adam Dunn, Adam Johnson and others could help in the short term as their major league opponents get a better feel for what their strengths and weaknesses are.

And finally, just not that many transactions are being made.  This week was one of the lightest this season.  Perhaps everyone is waiting for the dust to settle after the deadline.  Or perhaps they are largely content with their current personnel.  Regardless, it doesn't look like the Sandbox league will be as interesting this season, trade-wise, as the big leagues.

The Standings

                                   Starting P       Relief P       Hitters FP
Rank  Team                        FP   G   FP/G    FP  G  FP/G    FP    G  FP/G   Total
1     ...Jumanji!                1483  92  16.1   705  88  8.0   3365  986  3.4    5553
2     SF Mock Woodmen            1362 104  13.1   627  84  7.5   3388  975  3.5    5377
3     BaseballHQ Bombers         1579  93  17.0   744  95  7.8   2905  973  3.0    5228
4     Fantasy Baseball HQ        1557 101  15.4   880 100  8.8   2634  984  2.7    5071
5     Dr. Stats Juggernauts      1964 106  18.5   697  88  7.9   2375  940  2.5    5036
6     Sandbox Sports             1509 107  14.1   694  90  7.7   2763  976  2.8    4966
7     Desert Dwelling Scalawags  1616 127  12.7   442  88  5.0   2887  990  2.9    4945
8     The Write Stuff            1616  93  17.4   636  86  7.4   2568  947  2.7    4820
9     WSS Hurlers                1642 107  15.3   492  86  5.7   2504  934  2.7    4638
10    Press Room Pundits         1475 104  14.2   565  88  6.4   2585  984  2.6    4625