from Stuart Barefoot, “Trade Deadline Insider” for GreensboroSports.com….
Well, it’s been about week since the rowdy trade deadline on July 31, and now is as good a time as any to see how these trades could help re-shape the playoff picture.
A’s Acquire Jon Lester and Johnny Gomes, Red Sox Get Cespedes and Lots More
In perhaps the most surprising trade of the deadline, The Red Sox unloaded Ace Jon Lester on the A’s in exchange for Slugger Yoenis Cespedes. This gives the A’s one of the most formidable pitching rotations in baseball. With Lester as their Ace the A’s have a rotation of Lester, Jeff Smardzija, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jason Hammel.
So far the trade has paid off. Through two starts Lester is 2-0 with a 1.72 ERA, having allowed just three runs through 15.2 innings.
The loss of Cespedes is more about sentiment that baseball practicality. Cespedes has power, (17 home runs) he has a good arm defensive instincts (remember those Sportscenter Top 10 Plays?) But realistically, he’s not a Billy Beane type player. Sure the fans love him, and who can blame them? But for Beane a player with a high salary, nearing free agency and a low OBP, is not a great fit in Oakland, for pretty simple reasons. After all, the odds that they would sign him as a free agent after 2015 were pretty slim to begin with. He will be a Godsend for Boston, whose outfield has been awful, and his power will translate to even bigger numbers in Fenway. Plus the Sox have the money to sign him to an extension, so he might be around for a while.
The Red Sox also picked up outfielder Allen Craig and starting pitcher, Joe Kelly, from the Cardinals in exchange for John Lackey.
What the A’s are saying with this trade is “Hey it’s a long season, a long postseason and we need as many good arms going into the playoffs. If we have a solid five or six man rotation, that leaves us three starters for the playoff rotation and two or three other starters to add to the bullpen. Sure, we may not sign Jon Lester to a contract extension, and yes, we are very aware that he’ll probably just go back to Boston as a free agent, but our window for success is very small, and we need to capitalize now, and having a deep rotation gives us the best chance at winning a World Series.” That’s not verbatim.
Not to Be Outdone, The Tigers Land David Price in Complicated Three Team Trade
The Tigers are among the top teams in the AL, and if they are to beat the A’s, Angels, Orioles or whomever they might face in the playoffs, they might as well have a ton of pitching. So landing a trade for David Price makes perfect sense. The Tigers now have the past three AL Cy Young Award winners with Justin Verlander (2011) Price (2012) and Max Scherzer (2014.) On the season Price is a modest 11-8, mainly due to the Rays bad offense) but has an ERA of 3.11 and leads the majors in strikeouts with 189. Combined with an offense that includes Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers have a pitching staff full of aces that will get plenty of run support.
Price pitched a no decision in his Tiger debut against the Yankees, going 8.2 innings, allowing three runs and a homer each to Brian McCann and Martin Prado.
The acquisition of Price cost the Tigers Center Fielder Austin Jackson, who was shipped off to Seattle where he is already an upgrade for the Wild Card contending Mariners. Any way you look at it be it advanced metrics, (fangraphs.com ranks the Mariners production from centerfield as the worst in baseball with a WAR of -.08) or just regular statistics, (James Jones and Abraham Almonte have a combined 1 HR and 16 RBI’s) the Mariners really lack in Center Field. Jackson may not ever live up to the hype he once had, but he’s true leadoff hitter and an upgrade over any outfielder the Mariners have, even if he’s a slight downgrade defensively, which he actually is. It’s a gamble Seattle has to take.
The Cardinals Prepare for Playoff Race
In the midst of a tight NL Central and Wild Card playoff race, the Cardinals are shaking up their lineup. In order to boost their pitching they traded Allen Craig and Pitcher Joe Kelly for starting pitcher John Lackey. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports this move was not well received by Cardinals players who are worried that such a move will hurt clubhouse chemistry. It’s a risk the Cardinals are willing to take. They also traded for Starting Pitcher Justin Masterson.
Yankees Shakeup Lineup to stay in the Hunt
For a while it looked like Derek Jeter’s final game would be September 28 at Fenway Park. Now the Yankees are saying, “that would be wildly inappropriate! Besides we’re the New York Yankees, we have to be in the playoffs.”
The Yanks added Stephen Drew by sending Kelly Johnson to the Red Sox, and traded Catcher Peter O’Brien and a player to be named later for super Utility man, Martin Prado. This gives the Yankees more depth in their infield and even the outfield for the final two months of the season. It doesn’t answer their concerns about all of their pitching injuries, but these moves still make their team better.
Some Teams Do Nothing
The Phillies had a chance to unload a few salaries on desperate teams and didn’t. They tried trading Marlon Byrd, Cliff Lee and A.J Burnett and were unable to. They also could have tried to find buyers for high paid players like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins or Ryan Howard. The Phillies are likely to finish last in the NL East for the second year straight and could make some deals for major prospects and if they do nothing on the August 31 waiver deadline, one has to wonder if GM Ruben Amaro can still manage the team’s front office.
The Toronto Blue Jays find themselves in the middle of a tight AL East and Wild Card race and did nothing to bolster their club at the deadline. The Jays might be waiting to see if Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie will be healthy in time to make the final push before they make any trade at the waiver deadline.