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.

Cubs release Shane Victorino

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File this under “not terribly surprising,” but Shane Victorino was released from his minor league contract with the Cubs yesterday after batting .233/.324/.367 through nine games with Triple-A Iowa. Victorino says he does not plan on retiring, however, and that he plans to try to latch on someplace else.

It’ll be a supreme long shot. Victorino, 35, Victorino suffered a calf injury during spring training and missed all of spring training. Last year he played in only 71 games between the Red Sox and Angels, and 30 in 2014 with the Red Sox. He was last healthy and effective in 2013. In a league where older players don’t do as well as they used to, it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to find a gig.

If this is the end of the road for the Flyin’ Hawaiian, he’ll finish with a career batting line of .2750/.340/.425 with 108 homers, 489 RBI, 231 stolen bases and four Gold Glove Awards in 12 seasons. He also has two World Series rings, from the 2008 Phillies and the 2013 Red Sox. He was a two-time All-Star.

Maybe not the way he wanted to end his career, if this is indeed the end, but Victorino had a fine career while it lasted.

Miguel Sano criticized by his manager for dogging it on a defensive play

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Sal Perez of the Royals had a nice night last night, going 5-for-5. One of those five hits was a triple. But it maybe didn’t have to be a triple, as Perez’s hit to right field went over the head of Miguel Sano and off the wall, bouncing back toward the infield.

Sano is no one’s idea of a gold glover so getting on him for not catching a ball at the wall is only going to have so much of an effect. But Twins manager Paul Molitor was rightly upset, it would seem, for how Sano reacted after the ball bounced off the wall. Specifically: he basically just stopped and watched it roll away as center fielder Danny Santana had to spring over and field it as the slow Perez lumbered around the bases. Molitor:

“I think maybe he assumed that [second baseman Eduardo] Nunez or Danny were going to be in better position after he positioned himself close to the wall to make the catch,” Molitor said. “But you want him to go for the ball even if you think there’s somebody else to help you out. Sometimes you get caught assuming out there and it doesn’t look too good.”

You can watch the play below. It starts at around the :37 second mark and is Perez’s third hit in the sequence:

Red Sox reliever Carson Smith to have Tommy John surgery

BOSTON, MA - MAY 09:  Carson Smith #39 of the Boston Red Sox looks on in the seventh inning during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park on May 9, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Getty Images
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Last season Carson Smith was an effective and durable relief pitcher for the Seattle Mariners, appearing in 70 games. In the offseason the Red Sox traded for him and Roenis Elias in exchange for Jonathan Aro and Wade Miley. This year Smith has appeared in just three games. And he will appear in no more as the Red Sox just announced that he will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery today.

Smith last appeared in a game ten days ago and, until today, it was believed that his injury was minor, like the flexor strain injury he sustained in spring training. Sadly, the news was much worse.

Bill “Spaceman” Lee is running for governor of Vermont

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Bill Lee pitched for the Boston Red Sox from 1969 through 1978 and for the Montreal Expos from 1979 through 1982. He’s far better known, however, for being a weirdo, in the best sense of the term. He was outspoken and controversial and funny and aggravating and above all else his own dude.

His most famous comment as a player was when he said that he sprinkled marijuana on his pancakes in order to immunize him from Boston bus fumes as he jogged to Fenway Park. Which is patently silly, as everyone knowns you can’t just sprinkle it. You gotta make butter out of the stuff and spread it on the pancakes. Or so I’m told.

In recent years Lee has alternated gimmicky and celebrity baseball appearances with political aspirations. His political aspirations, of course, have never been conventional either. In 1987, for example, he had announced plans to run for President of the United States for the Rhinoceros Party. Which would’ve been a neat trick as it was a Canadian political party. Still, we could’ve used it here, as its platform was fairly intriguing. The Rhinoceroses advocated, among other things, repealing the law of gravity, legalizing all drugs, privatizing Tim Hortons and giving a rhinoceros for every Canadian Citizen.

That campaign didn’t work out for Lee, sadly, but he is undeterred. And now he plans to run for office again. Governor of Vermont, to be specific. And he plans to soak the rich:

Now, he’s throwing his hat into the race to be Vermont’s next governor shaking off campaign contributions and decrying wealth inequality.

“You get what you pay for, if you want change, you vote for Sanders or me. I’m Bernie-heavy, I’m not Bernie-lite. My ideas were before Bernie,” said Lee. “If you want to see money come down from the 2 percent, we’re going to need umbrellas when I’m elected, because it’s going to be raining dollars,” he said.

This is no Rhinoceros Party joke, though. He’s a member of the Liberty Union party, which is where Bernie Sanders got his start. And his platform — legalization and taxation of pot in Vermont, single-payer health care, paid family leave — are all things which have no small constituency in a liberal state like Vermont.

Oh, he has one other platform plank: bringing the Expos back to Montreal. That may be a bit tougher for the governor of Vermont to do, but we’ll probably see some form of New Expos in Montreal in the next decade or so, and Lee will be proven to be on the right side of history. And that’s better than a lot of our politicians can say, right?