Your trade deadline winners and losers

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As much as we try our best to separate the wheat from the chaff here at HBT, we’re honestly still trying to get our bearings straight after cranking out over 110 posts in the past two days alone, the great majority of them being trade rumors. If you followed today’s deadline on Twitter, you should understand why that thing should come with a warning label for possible brain leakage.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t too early to take stock of what we’ve just witnessed over the past few weeks. Here’s a list of the top five teams that have improved themselves and five others who have left many of us scratching our heads.

Winners:

Angels: This is an easy one for me. Sure, the Angels have lost seven out of their last 10 games and currently sit eight games out in the AL West and 12 1/2 games behind the Rays for the AL Wild Card, but acquiring Dan Haren from the Diamondbacks wasn’t just a move for this season. Haren earns a very reasonable $12.75 million in each of the next two seasons and has a $15.5 million club option for 2013. Somehow, Arte Moreno managed to swoop in, only giving up a back end starter (Joe Saunders) and two good-but-not great left-handed pitching prospects, all the while managing to keep top prospect outfielder Mike Trout. That, my friends, is a coup of the highest order.

Rangers: Isn’t this franchise supposed to be bankrupt or something? The Rangers are mostly here by virtue of trumping the Yankees and landing Cliff Lee from the Mariners. The left-hander immediately gives post-season legitimacy to a starting rotation that has managed to get by with unproven commodities like C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis. It’s a little tough to get too excited about Bengie Molina, Jorge Cantu and Cristian Guzman, but they certainly provide much-needed depth, if not an upgrade in some areas, and they barely have to pay a thin dime to any of them. Well done, Jon Daniels.

Phillies: I see the Roy Oswalt trade as an admission by Ruben Amaro Jr. that flipping Cliff Lee to the Mariners was a mistake. At the same time, he deserves a lot of credit for swallowing some pride to get this deal done. Most Phillies fans would surely rather have Halladay-Lee-Hamels-Blanton-Happ than Halladay-Oswalt-Hamels-Blanton-Kendrick, but provided they make it to the postseason, they’ll still have the best short-series rotation in the National League, if not all of baseball. Oswalt doesn’t come without some risk, but the $11 million Ed Wade kindly sent along will help soften the blow.

Yankees: We often say the rich get richer when talking about the Yankees, but in this case, I believe the rich just got a lot smarter. Lance Berkman is no Adam Dunn, not right now anyway, but he can be what Nick Johnson was supposed to be, an on-base machine against right-handed pitching (.395 on-base percentage this season, .423 on-base percentage vs. RHP career). It wasn’t the splashy move we have seen in the past and Joe Girardi may have to rest Berkman or Posada on occasion as he attempts to sort out the DH spot, but that’s a pretty nice problem to have. Austin Kearns provides more versatility as a right-handed bat off the bench than Marcus Thames and the upside on Kerry Wood is too high to pass up, especially with the Indians picking up nearly 60 percent of his remaining contract.

Pirates: I really think the Pirates deserve to be here. GM Neal Huntington managed to turn two months of Octavio Dotel and $500,000 into right-hander James McDonald and Andrew Lambo. Neither are sure things, obviously, but McDonald showed a lot of promise in the Dodgers’ bullpen last season, compiling a 2.72 ERA and 48 strikeouts over 49 2/3 innings. After getting jerked around between the starting rotation and the bullpen in Los Angeles, he should finally have an opportunity to pitch every fifth day in Pittsburgh. The Bucs also flipped some useful bullpen arms (D.J. Carrasco, Javier Lopez) and two unwanted players (Bobby Crosby, Ryan Church) for Chris Snyder and cash, John Bowker and prospect shortstop Pedro Ciriaco. No, I don’t think the Pirates have many wins in their immediate future, but there’s plenty of upside in this bunch.

Honorable mentions:

Nationals: Sold high on Matt Capps and picked up Wilson Ramos, dropped a bit by not cashing in on Adam Dunn. That being said, there’s still time in August.

Padres: Big win acquiring Ryan Ludwick from the Cardinals, but lose some points if they think of using Miguel Tejada at shortstop on a regular basis.

Dodgers: Did well to pick up Ted Lilly, the best available pitcher on the market, but Ryan Theriot is already an obvious non-tender candidate. They gave up a little too much for Octavio Dotel.

Losers:

White Sox: White Sox GM Ken Williams got played. Over the past two days, we heard plenty of hype about a big move — even inquiring about Manny Ramirez — but the only thing Williams was able to pull off was swapping top right-handed pitching prospect Daniel Hudson and top left-handed pitching prospect David Holmberg to the Diamondbacks for Edwin Jackson. It was widely reported that the Nationals love Jackson, but somehow, the two sides weren’t able to strike a deal for Adam Dunn. Now the White Sox are stuck with a guy who is a pretty decent middle-of-the-rotation starter, but will be a free agent after the 2011 season. Worse yet, KW failed to land a big bat.

Twins: Trading Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps is bonkers. Two days to think about it hasn’t changed my mind. I’m not saying that Capps isn’t a good bullpen arm. With his solid peripherals, he should prove very useful down the stretch. It’s just very obvious that Twins GM Bill Smith undersold on Ramos — who was having a poor season with Triple-A Rochester — and overrated the “save” stat in the process. He has also taken on someone who figures to get a hefty raise in arbitration this winter, and thus, becomes an obvious non-tender candidate for which the Twins will get nothing. No compensation. Nada. Have fun with that.

Giants: Much like the aforementioned White Sox, all we heard this month is that the Giants were in the market for a big bat. Corey Hart, Prince Fielder and Jose Bautista were just some of the exciting names being bandied about. So, who did they end up with? Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez, two decent-but-flawed bullpen arms. Don’t worry, Brian Sabean is paid to underwhelm. It won’t matter if the starting rotation continues to be brilliant (3.50 ERA – 2nd in MLB), if they can’t hang with the big boys on offense.

Cardinals: It was only a week ago that we were still thinking Roy Oswalt to the Cardinals had a reasonable chance of going down. That obviously didn’t happen. Just 24 hours ago, most Cardinals fans would have signed up for Jake Westbrook, but they would have had a decidedly different response if they knew they were giving up Ryan Ludwick in order to do it, especially to a team they might end up meeting in the postseason. Ultimately, this trade might not be remembered for what Westbrook does in a Cardinals uniform — I believe Dave Duncan could squeeze talent out of just about anyone — but for the production that Jon Jay and possibly Allen Craig will be able to provide in right field. Jay has been brilliant in spot duty with the Cards this season, but what happens when his .446 batting average on balls in play normalizes? For a team that doesn’t strike me as an offensive powerhouse, it’s a risk.

Rays: The Yankees are in first place at the moment, yet they continue to find ways to improve. The Rays? Well, they picked up Chad Qualls on Saturday. I’m not denying that they are a playoff team right now — they clearly are — but their designated hitter options have combined to hit just .246/.314/.380 with a 694 OPS this season. They are currently tied with the Mariners for dead last with just nine home runs out of the DH spot. It would have been one thing to acquire
Adam Dunn from the Nationals
, and I certainly heard plenty of clamoring for that, but even picking up a Luke Scott from the Orioles would have been a nice compliment to the in-house options, especially against right-handed pitching. A missed opportunity.

(Dis)honorable mentions:

Astros: They deserve plenty of criticism for trading away two of the best players in franchise history and getting little in return — in fact, they even kicked in some money — but they were saved by picking up Brett Wallace for Anthony Gose, at least in my eyes. Wallace takes over first base from Berkman immediately and projects be a decent, if not above-average major league regular.

Diamondbacks: The return for Haren was pretty awful, no doubt about that, but they were about to acquire Daniel Hudson and David Holmberg from the White Sox for Edwin Jackson. Although, Jerry DiPoto may have Mike Rizzo to thank for that one.

Tigers: Another team, like the White Sox and Giants, in need of a big bat, yet they were only able to get Jhonny Peralta and his 722 OPS. That won’t get it done.

Evan Gattis undergoes surgery for hernia; recovery is 4-6 weeks

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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news

One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.

Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.

Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.

Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.