Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Baseball Trade Deadline Notes

Greg Maddux is traded away from the Chicago Cubs. It had been hoped by some in Chicago that he would end his career here. He's still attractive enough to get a shortstop in return, however, so he unsentimentally goes to L.A. He'll probably do alright there, but he's not as in control of hitters as he once was. He'll benefit from being in a pitcher's park.

The New York Yankees get Bobby Abreu, and he'll probably help them more than it might at first appear. He's basically heading to right field in place of a platoon of Bernie Williams and Aaron Guiel, and his numbers look about the same as those players combined. But he also provides the kind of hitting patience and on-base percentage that characterized the Yankees dynasty of the late '90s. They also got Cory Lidle for their bullpen.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have turned over a huge part of their roster. The Chicago White Sox did that a few years ago and they eventually reached the World Series with much of what they got from trading away the strong team they had. We'll know if the Pirates did the right thing in about 5 years. The key difference is that the Sox were pretty good when they traded away their core; the Pirates are horrible, and perhaps didn't get the same value for the players that they gave up.

One of the players they traded away was Sean Casey. He went to the Detroit Tigers, and now I have little doubt that the Tigers will win the division. He's the kind of veteran that will be consistent through the end of the season. My thought about the Tigers is that they're so young they'll either run out of steam or lose their heads, or both. Now they have a player at first base and in the middle of the lineup that is unlikely to do either.

Of course, having said that, the Tigers will probably collapse starting tomorrow. Whenever a baseball trend seems unstoppable, it reverses.

I don't expect the remainder of the trades to have a meaningful effect, except perhaps for the trade that sent Cubs second baseman Todd Walker to the San Diego Padres. He's thought of now in Chicago as clubhouse poison, and he may send the Padres out of the playoff hunt in the weak National League West.

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