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Winners and losers at the trade deadline

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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.

Wade Davis? Greg Holland? Who needs ’em?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The story of the two-time defending AL champion and current defending World Series champ Kansas City Royals cannot be told without talking at length about their bullpen.

In 2014, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera formed a shutdown brigade that not only made it next to impossible for the opposition to mount late rallies, but managed something which seemed utterly impossible before 2014: they turned Ned Yost into a tactical genius. Indeed, the only time Yost got criticism at all that fall was when he messed with the autopilot formula that had that three-headed monster handling the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

Much the same happened in 2015, of course, despite Holland’s sharp decline and eventual injury. Davis and Herrera continued their dominance. They were joined by Ryan Madson and a cast of other effective relievers who, along with timely hitting, great defense and good health, helped propel the Royals to the title.

This year had not been quite the same story. Holland has been out all year and Davis, while effective when he’s pitched, has missed time due to injury. As has longtime contributor and presumptive next-man-up Luke Hochevar. Herrera is basically still Herrera, but Ned Yost has been presented with a decidedly different set of choices. Lots of choices and Ned Yost don’t always go together well, but lately that hasn’t mattered.

Last night the Royals’ bullpen came in to a close game and tossed three scoreless innings. That set a franchise record with 32 straight scoreless frames, besting the previous record set back in the club’s inaugural season in 1969. The streak is a huge part of why the Royals have won nine games in a row.

Unlike the success of 2014-15, the streak is not a three-man show. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes, eight different relievers have appeared for Kansas City during the streak, with Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm leading the crew with five and a third innings pitched. Herrera has tossed five scoreless. Otherwise it’s been a group effort with even Peter Moylan offering a couple of scoreless frames. And here you thought Moylan was, I dunno, gearing up for the upcoming Brisbane Bandits season. Nope.

The Royals are still not, in my view anyway, a lock to make the postseason. It’s a a crowded field right now. They’re seven and a half back in the AL Central and four back in the Wild Card with a bunch of teams in front of them. But they’re certainly playing themselves back into the conversation. They’re interesting. And they’re doing it in much the same way they’ve done it the past two years. Only with different dudes doing the do.

Video: Mookie Betts made a ridiculous throw last night

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Mookie Betts was an infielder once upon a time and the knock on him both then and since his move to the outfield was that maybe his arm was not fantastic. As an infielder there was talk that he was better suited to the right side than the left. As an outfielder people were saying that, with work, his arm could be average and/or serviceable. Not bad, of course, but not anything to write home about.

Maybe we need to reassess that, because last night he uncorked one from right field that would make Dwight Evans says “dang, man.”

 

And the throw mattered, as Kiermaier represented the tying run in a game that, at the time, the Sox were leading 2-1.

Betts is a dangerous middle-of-the-order bat at age 23. And now he shows that he’ll nail a fast runner with a frozen rope if he has to. The guy is going to win an MVP award some day. And maybe not just one.