They got what?

The trading deadline is always interesting, as much for who gets traded as who doesn't.  I'm not sure what the percentage of teams is that go on to win their respective division because of a deal they made at the deadline but I assume it's at least 50% because teams wouldn't do it if it didn't work very often.  So without further adieu, here's my take on what will happen based on what has happened this last week.

Boston did a nice job to get Sauerbeck as a lefty specialist and the acquisition of Scott Williamson should be significant because they now have two guys who have successfully negotiated the pressure of closing big-time games in their bullpen.  Their closer-by-committe idea wasn't flawed in theory; only flawed in execution by trying to make it happen with guys who have had a history of failure in the role.  Many are making a big deal of the Sox getting Jeff Suppan, but frankly, I don't see what the big deal is.  Here's a guy who was pretty lousy in Kansas City before this season, but give him 2 or 3 times facing the pitcher per game in the NL and suddenly he looks like a pretty good pitcher.  Maybe he's the answer, but I don't believe the Sox are much better off with him than they were with Ryan Rupe or Bruce Chen or Ramiro Mendoza as their fifth starter.  They may have to tinker further with the rotation.

The Pirates scored a big bonus by acquiring Freddie Sanchez at the cost of Suppan and Sauerbeck.  Neither of those pitchers are irreplaceable, especially with John VanBenschoten only a year or two away.  Even though he's a bit old for AAA, Sanchez is a decent defensive player with a pretty good offensive upside.  Next season, he could be the best offensive player they've had in the middle infield since the peak years of Jay Bell in the early-90s (10-12 homers, 18-20 steals, .380-ish on base). 

The Yankees were forced to dump Raul Mondesi because of a flare up with manager Joe Torre and as much as they say they won't miss him, they probably will.  Ruben Sierra and Karim Garcia are nice hitters, but they don't offer the added benefit of being good defensive players, nor do they offer any speed on the basepaths.  Dave Delucci does offer decent defense and some speed, but not much in the power department.  What they did get out of the deal was Brett Prinz, who might end up being the most useful player in the deal.  Prinz was a good reliever for Arizona when he was healthy and could be a nice boost for the Yankee pen down the stretch.  Dealing for Aaron Boone gives the team a little more flexibility on offense, but I think you'd be hard pressed to make a convincing argument that they are better off defensively than they were with Ventura.  Given Jeter's well publicized limitations range-wise, this might end up being a wash for the Yanks.  And getting Gabe White for their bullpen is certainly no assurance that their troubles are over.  The AL East race is still very interesting and far from finished with new developments.

The Giants getting Sidney Ponson was somewhat of a coup, but they gave up an awful lot for a guy they only plan to keep for 2 or 3 months.  It's probably safe to say that Ponson moving to one of the best parks for pitchers will probably be a boon for him.  So 20-22 wins and an ERA in the low 3's is a definite possibility.  The question is whether Ponson is the guy who can help pitch them through the playoffs.  He's an emotional pitcher who's success this season has been largely due to keeping his temper under control.  But what happens in the playoffs, with all the accompanying spotlight and pressure, if he has a bad inning or two?  Will he keep his composure and focus like he has all season and push forward or will he melt down like he has in previous years and become the starting equivalent of Armando Benitez?  It's a big risk that the Giants took.  We'll see if it pays off.

As for the Baltimore side of the equation, Kurt Ainsworth will be a very good starter and if someone can get it into Damian Moss's head that it's ok to throw the ball over the plate, he will be very good as well.  Ryan Hannaman is very highly regarded and could be a part of the rotation within 3 years.  Suddenly, a rotation with Matt Riley, Kurt Ainsworth, Damian Moss, Rodrigo Lopez and Eric Dubose, with Hannaman waiting in the wings doesn't look so bad.  And if the O's really want him, they can probably resign Ponson after this season.  This is a great deal for the O's and makes it more likely, with all the money they will have to spend this offseason, that they could compete for the AL East title as soon as next season.

The A's acquired hot-hitting Jose Guillen to help their outfield and right-handed hitting woes, and it could end up a nice deal for them.  By the way, whatever happened to their mantra of "on base, on base, on base"?  They signed Chris Singleton before this season (career on base: .314, this year .316) and now they are trading for Jose Guillen (career .315, this year .385, largely due to a .337 batting average, 67 points above his career average).  Anyway, Guillen's aggressiveness at the plate could be a huge boost if he stays hot, but a huge lodestone if American League pitchers figure out a weakness.  It used to be breaking pitches outside but he's been going the other way with them this year.  He's always had great talent: in his early days in the minors, he was compared to more celebrated contemporaries Andruw Jones and Vlad Guerrero in both arm strength and power.  Guillen definitely upgrades the A's outfield defense and if his offensive improvement this season is real, he could be a difference maker for them in the playoffs.

The Royals acquired Graeme Lloyd and Al Levine to help out their bullpen at little cost.  True, those guys won't set the world on fire, but they are decent relievers and, more importantly, the Royals got them for basically nothing.  While that may not be enough to hold off the Twins and White Sox, it should keep them in the playoff picture well into September.  They tried to acquire Juan Gonzales, and apparently had a deal in place to bring him to Kansas City, but like he did with the Expos, he negated the deal invoking his no-trade clause.  This time, he did it by stipulating that he wanted his $10.5 million plus interest in deferred payments accelerated to be paid within the next 2 years.  It is likely that because of the actions of Juan Gonzales, no player will ever get another no-trade clause. 

Speaking of the White Sox, they made their moves early and in doing so, got bargains.  Roberto Alomar, Carl Everett and Scot Schoenweis not only give them quality but allow the White Sox to take advantage of their minor league depth by not forcing their young players into high pressure situations.  However, Jerry Manuel's mess of a bullpen might still keep them from winning the division.  The Twins did very little other than acquire Shannon Stewart to lead-off for them, but may have enough offense and pitching to push ahead for another division title.  Their biggest concern is production from the middle infield, but young Luis Rivas (23) and Cristian Guzman (25) have enough talent to improve both offensively and defensively.  The Twins' playoff fortunes might depend on them realizing that potential soon.

The Cubs didn't make any deals at the deadline, but they might have won the division just the same.  Neither of their division rivals, the Cardinals and Astros, made any moves to upgrade their deteriorating pitching staffs to counter the Cubs acquisition of Kenny Lofton and Aramis Ramirez a week earlier.  It is assumed that the Cards and Stros will bottom feed the wire in hopes of finding lightning in a bottle to solve their rotation woes.  Dan Haren isn't a bad option for the Cardinals, and if Garrett Stephenson can pitch as well as he did in 2000, the Cardinals, with Matt Morris and Woody Williams at the lead, might have enough to make it an interesting three-way race.  The Astros could be in serious trouble if, as feared, they've lost Roy Oswalt for the rest of the season.  While their bullpen has been sensational, one of the most dominant in recent memory, Wade Miller and Ron Villone probably aren't enough by themselves to hold on to their tenuous lead in the Central.  Consistency from Tim Redding and Jeriome Robertson will be necessary if the Astros are going to stay in this race.

The Reds seem to have gotten a whole lot of nothing.  Brandon Claussen was the biggest named prospect they got in the deals, but he is generally regarded as one of the most overrated prospects in baseball.  It's hard to see how pitching in the homer haven of Great America Ballpark is going to help erase that tag.  The other player they'll get from the Yankees for the Gabe White deal probably won't be significant because the Yanks don't really have a lot in their system these days.  The guy they got from the Red Sox, Phil Dumatrait, has some promise, but he also has a long way to go with his control.  Of the pitchers they acquired from Oakland, Aaron Harang might pan out for them, but it's unlikely that he'll become more than a 3rd or 4th starter; Joe Valentine has some upside as a reliever but he doesn't look like a future closer.  Unless the players to be named later turn out to be complete studs, it's likely that this fire sale could go down as one of the worst in history.

Two teams that didn't do anything and could end up regretting it are the Mariners and Braves.   The Mariners have plenty of starting pitching depth; Rafael Soriano might be one of their best pitchers and he's wasting away in middle relief.  They could have traded one of their starters like Ryan Franklin for some help at the offensive black hole known as third base.  The Braves have the opposite problem in that their rotation and bullpen are dangerously thin, yet they did nothing to address these concerns.  And while it may seem like their lead in the East is insurmountable, they still have 7 games against Philadelphia, 7 against Florida and 5 more against Montreal.  It's still likely that they will end up with the division title, but it's certainly not guaranteed.  In 1993, the Braves came back to win the division from a similar deficit at the deadline against a pitching-limited San Francisco Giants team, who only had two pitchers with more than 10 wins and just two others with as many as 8.  This Braves team is just as vulnerable.