From The Dugout
By Keith LeClair
This is the time of year
when general managers will have either pushed all the right buttons in
putting their teams in position to make a playoff run or simply depleted
their farm system for merely a second place finish.
So, is it all worth the
Well, for the smaller
market teams, this time of year is huge in building a team that can
compete for a playoff spot in the near future, with young up-and- coming
stars from other organizations. And for the high rollers, honestly, it
doesn't matter, because when the off-season comes, the check book will
be out and the ink will be written to sign any free agent that will be
needed to replace any holes that obstruct a World Series ring.
So, how can this trading
deadline be good for Major League baseball? I have thought long and hard
about this scenario and believe it's truly one of the ways smaller
market teams actually have a chance to build up their talent to become
I remember two trades in
particular that made huge differences to smaller market teams I
realize there are a lot more but these players everyone will know and
their trades came at the deadline during a pennant chase. One was Doyle
Alexander of the Braves for little known John Smoltz. Even though
Alexander did what the Tigers wanted from him in the trade, there is no
question that Smoltz has done more for the Braves organization.
The other trade I want to
mention is even more lopsided when it comes down to value and longevity.
The Red Sox, who are known for making some of the wildest trades in
history, acquired Larry Anderson from the Astros who I may add was
about at the end of his career for Jeff Bagwell, who has been one of
the elite players in the game over the years.
What we must realize
during these trading periods is that there are two objectives: win now
and worry about the future later; and build now for the future.
Sometimes teams can do both with the right trade, but more often than
not these players traded into a pennant chase are no more than a good
rent-a-TV, in other words rent-a -players.
Now that we have talked
about some of the things that occur at the trading deadline, let's
tackle what we are seeing this year. In honesty, predicting what will
happen at this year's deadline will be the toughest, because their are
so many teams in the race, causing a greater demand on buyers than
sellers. So, the break-busting deals we may see could come in late
August when more teams fall out of the race and try to drop players with
high salaries, clearing them up for the free agency market to come next
winter. But for this to happen, the player must clear waivers first
before a deal can be complete.
With all this said, let's
breakdown the trades that have occurred as of 11:45 Saturday morning. I
won't go through every trade, but only some of the blockbusters, if you
want to call any of these block blusters.
The Marlins traded RHP
Brad Penny, 1B Hee Seop Choi and minor league LHP Billy Murphy to the
Dodgers for catcher Paul LaDuca, RF Juan Encarnacion and RHP Guillermo
Evaluation: The Dodgers,
with one of the best records in baseball, seem to have given up an awful
lot for what they received in exchange. Speculation has the Dodgers
lining up to go after Steve Finley or Randy Johnson, so we will have to
wait and see how all this shakes down before casting judgment.
The Marlins, on the other
hand, received just what they needed, a solid catcher in LaDica, RBI guy
in Encarnacion and a terrific setup guy in Mota. Now they are primed for
the stretch drive.
Dodgers' grade: D Penny
is not a dominator and Choi strikes out way too much and can't hit with
men in scoring position.
Marlins' grade: A The
Marlins addressed every need in just one trade, without giving up much.
unless, Josh Beckett has continued blister problems and is forced to
miss starts, then Brad Penny will be sorely missed.
The Mets receive RHP Kris
Benson and Jeff Keppinger in exchange for Ty Wiggington, minor league
RHP Matt Peterson and SS Juan Bautista, who came to the Mets from Kansas
City in an earlier trade for C Justin Huber.
Evaluation: The Mets get
what they hope will be a solid starter in Kris Benson, but his past
doesn't indicate that will be the case. His numbers are average at best
and he has a career losing record. The Pirates get a promising young
third baseman and a highly regarded prospect in Peterson.
Mets' grade: C Didn't
give up a lot, but they also didn't get much in return.
Pirates' grade: B They
have a potential great player in Wiggington and he is still young. If
Peterson and Bautista pan out, this will be a great trade.
Mets receive Victor
Zambrano and pitcher Bartolome Fortunato in exchange for minor leaguers
LHP Scott Kazmir and RHP Jose Diaz.
Evaluation: Mets got
Zambrano, who has potential but can't throw strikes, which is not what
you want in a pennant chase. The Devil Rays got the Mets' best LHP
prospect in Kazmir.
Mets' grade: C Only time
will prove me wrong.
Devil Rays' grade: A- If
Kazmir pans out, it could be a steal, but he is young and they will need
to be patient.
Other news of interest
The Phillies traded Ricky
LeDee and a minor leaguer to the Giants for Felix Rodriguez, and then
acquired Todd Jones from Cincinnati An obvious move to shore up their
bullpen, but what now will they do in centerfield? Great question!
Folks, it's past 4:00
o'clock and the trading deadline has passed with no Randy Johnson or
Larry Walker being traded. But rumor does have it Steve Finley was
traded from Arizona to the Dodgers. If that's the case, LA was certainly
the busiest during this trading period. Whether the move will work out
and produce a run at the playoffs and World Series, nobody knows but
time. Hopefully the D-backs got some good young prospects in return for
Finley. What excites me most about the trading period is seeing where
and when some of these young prospects will become superstars and which
teams will regret their trades.
In my opinion, these
trades can make or break an organization and nothing short of a world
championship will be forgiven, especially if you trade away the next
John Smoltz or Jeff Bagwell.
Hey, how about Sam Narron
making his big debut against Oakland after only two years removed from
the Pirate program. Do you think they could have given him a bigger
start in his debut? That says a lot about Sam and what the Rangers think
of his future.
Having coached Sam and
knowing his strengths, it was obvious Sam was a little nervous and
didn't have his best command nor stuff before giving way to a reliever.
But the Rangers came back to win and I have no doubt in my mind that Sam
will have a long and great Major League career.
On a bright note, Chad
Tracy was three-for-four last night and his average has climbed over
.280. Mark Grace, one of the Cubbies' announcers, spoke high praise of
Chad, and how he worked hard, kept quiet and went about his business. He
also added that Chad was the first one to the park and last one to
leave. Now, that's what Pirate baseball is all about.
It sure is awesome to see
all these Pirates break into the big leagues.
have a question or comment about the Pirates in particular or baseball
in general, get a learned response by firing your best pitch at Ol'
Condo. Submit your
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E-mail Coach LeClair.
02.23.07 10:27 AM