Rangers celebrate

Winners and losers at the trade deadline

72 Comments

One person’s thoughts on who made out best and worst at the trade deadline.

Winners

Texas Rangers: GM Jon Daniels wasn’t interested in parting with third baseman Mike Olt, much less shortstop Jurickson Profar, in order to counter the Angels’ Zack Greinke pickup, but he was able to keep his best prospects and land Ryan Dempster anyway. All Dempster has done in 104 innings this season is amass a 2.25 ERA, good for second in the NL. I’m less enthused with acquiring the struggling Geovany Soto to replace Yorvit Torrealba in the catching tandem, but there’s some upside there. The Rangers will get Neftali Feliz back (uhh, scratch that, Tommy John surgery coming) and they have the option of moving Alexi Ogando to the rotation if things don’t work out with Roy Oswalt, so I’m feeling better about their chances of staying ahead of the Halos in the NL West.

Miami Marlins: Deciding to hold on to Josh Johnson, the Marlins made a couple of smaller deals before the deadline and did well in both. In getting Zack Cox from the Cardinals for reliever Edward Mujica, they picked up a guy who would have been a top 10 overall pick in the 2010 draft if not for his bonus demands. Cox has been something of a disappointment in the minors, particularly in batting .254/.294/.421 in Triple-A this year, but he’s hit for very good averages in the past and there should be more power on the way. He should get a look at third base in September. The Marlins also traded Gaby Sanchez to Pittsburgh for speedy outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and a draft pick that will probably end up around 40th overall.  Hernandez is a fifth outfielder, but that’s a nice return for someone who wasn’t in the Marlins’ future plans. Logan Morrison needs to be their 2013 first baseman.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Time will tell whether the Pirates got better with their trades Monday and Tuesday; they certainly got more interesting with Travis Snider in ight field and Sanchez replacing Casey McGehee in the first base platoon. Snider hasn’t been quite as much of a disappointment as everyone thinks — he has a .248/.306/.429 line and 31 homers in 835 at-bats — and he’s just 24 years old. Sanchez is a career .298/.390/.488 hitter against lefties. He’s been way off this year, but if the Pirates can get him straightened out, he’ll be a nice part-timer. Again, I’m not sold on the moves — Brad Lincoln was looking pretty good since a switch to the pen — but factor in the Wandy Rodriguez pickup last week and they belong in the winners category.

Casey McGehee: From starting against lefties only on a still relatively anonymous team in a ballpark that punishes right-handed hitters to a wide-open corner infield situation on the game’s most celebrated team in a ballpark that loves everyone. McGehee was one lucky dog, getting to go from the Pirates to the Yankees for reliever Chad Qualls. The Yankees figure to use him primarily against lefties, too, but with Alex Rodriguez out, Mark Teixeira’s wrist still a bit iffy and Eric Chavez always a possibility to spontaneously combust, it’s a great situation for him.

Kansas City Royals: I thought the Royals’ asking price for Broxton would go unmet, but the Reds surprisingly coughed up enough talent to satisfy them in left-hander Donnie Joseph and right-hander J.C. Sulbaran. Joseph ranked as one of the game’s better relief prospects, having struck out 68 and posted a 1.72 ERA in 52 1/3 innings between Double- and Triple-A. He could help right away. Sulbaran is 7-7 with a 4.04 ERA and a 111/54 K/BB ratio in 104 2/3 IP for Double-A Pensacola. He might be a reliever, too, but he has mid-rotation potential if his secondary pitches come along.

San Francisco Giants: The Giants didn’t get the reliever they needed, so they wouldn’t quite get an A grade here. Still, picking up Hunter Pence at a modest price tag is a win. Pence should be a significant upgrade getting at-bats that were going to Gregor Blanco and Nate Schierholtz, and the Giants will no longer be reduced to having Angel Pagan bat fifth. Catcher Tommy Joseph was the only major piece the Giants gave up, and he had Buster Posey and Hector Sanchez ahead of him anyway.

Losers

Arizona Diamondbacks: Lots of smoke, no fire. Caught in between deciding whether they were buyers or sellers, the Diamondbacks kept Justin Upton, Stephen Drew and all of their top pitching prospects, instead making only a minor deal to acquire reliever Matt Albers and outfielder Scott Podsednik from the Red Sox for reliever Craig Breslow. It’s not a bad move — Albers is serviceable and Podsednik adds protection in case an outfielder gets hurt — but the Diamondbacks wasted a chance to set themselves up better for either the present or the future.

Minnesota Twins: The Twins got next to nothing for Francisco Liriano from the White Sox last week and then did nothing at the deadline, even though they had Josh Willingham, Denard Span and Glen Perkins all in demand. The major league team is going nowhere fast and the minor league system rates among the bottom third in the game, so this was absolutely the wrong path for GM Terry Ryan and company to take.

Philadelphia Phillies: At least the Phillies tried; I just don’t think they did all that well in their returns for Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino, Pence especially. They’re going to need a whole lot of help offensively next year, and the money they saved will only go so far. If they could have turned around and traded for Chase Headley, I would have been more impressed. Of course, they could always try that this winter.

Ichiro was happy to see Pete Rose get defensive about his hits record

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 14:  Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Miami Marlins warms-up during batting practice before a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on June 14, 2016 in San Diego, California.   (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
30 Comments

You’ll recall the little controversy last month when Ichiro Suzuki passed Pete Rose’s hit total. Specifically, when Ichiro’s Japanese and American hit total reached Rose’s American total of 4,256 and a lot of people talked about Ichiro being the new “Hit King.” You’ll also recall that Rose himself got snippy about it, wondering if people would now think of him as “the Hit Queen,” which he took to be disrespect.

There’s a profile of Ichiro over at ESPN the Magazine and reporter Marly Rivera asked Ichiro about that. Ichiro’s comments were interesting and quite insightful about how ego and public perception work in the United States:

I was actually happy to see the Hit King get defensive. I kind of felt I was accepted. I heard that about five years ago Pete Rose did an interview, and he said that he wished that I could break that record. Obviously, this time around it was a different vibe. In the 16 years that I have been here, what I’ve noticed is that in America, when people feel like a person is below them, not just in numbers but in general, they will kind of talk you up. But then when you get up to the same level or maybe even higher, they get in attack mode; they are maybe not as supportive. I kind of felt that this time.

There’s a hell of a lot of truth to that. Whatever professional environment you’re in, you’ll see this play out. If you want to know how you’re doing, look at who your enemies and critics are. If they’re senior to you or better-established in your field, you’re probably doing something right. And they’re probably pretty insecure and maybe even a little afraid of you.

The rest of the article is well worth your time. Ichiro seems like a fascinating, insightful and intelligent dude.

There will be no criminal charges arising out of Curt Schilling’s video game debacle

Curt Schilling
21 Comments

In 2012 Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios, delivered the fantasy role-playing game it had spent millions of dollars and countless man hours trying to deliver. And then the company folded, leaving both its employees and Rhode Island taxpayers, who underwrote much of the company’s operations via $75 million in loans, holding the bag.

The fallout to 38 Studios’ demise was more than what you see in your average business debacle. Rhode Island accused Schilling and his company of acts tantamount to fraud, claiming that it accepted tax dollars while withholding information about the true state of the company’s finances. Former employees, meanwhile, claimed — quite credibly, according to reports of the matter — that they too were lured to Rhode Island believing that their jobs were far more secure than they were. Many found themselves in extreme states of crisis when Schilling abruptly closed the company’s doors. For his part, Schilling has assailed Rhode Island politicians for using him as a scapegoat and a political punching bag in order to distract the public from their own misdeeds. There seems to be truth to everyone’s claims to some degree.

As a result of all of this, there have been several investigations and lawsuits into 38 Studios’ collapse. In 2012 the feds investigated the company and declined to bring charges. There is currently a civil lawsuit afoot and, alongside it, the State of Rhode Island has investigated for four years to see if anyone could be charged with a crime. Today there was an unexpected press conference in which it was revealed that, no, no one associated with 38 Studios will be charged with anything:

An eight-page explanation of the decision concluded by saying that “the quantity and qualify of the evidence of any criminal activity fell short of what would be necessary to prove any allegation beyond a reasonable doubt and as such the Rules of Professional Conduct precluded even offering a criminal charge for grand jury consideration.”

Schilling will likely crow about this on his various social media platforms, claiming it totally vindicates him. But, as he is a close watcher of any and all events related to Hillary Clinton, he no doubt knows that a long investigation resulting in a declination to file charges due to lack of evidence is not the same thing as a vindication. Bad judgment and poor management are still bad things, even if they’re not criminal matters.

Someone let me know if Schilling’s head explodes if and when someone points that out to him.