Jake Peavy

Winners and losers at the trade deadline


Given how disappointing this afternoon’s trade deadline proved to be, it’s only fair that the annual winners and losers column is a little lopsided. Let’s get right to it:


Red Sox: I didn’t like the idea of Boston giving up top prospects for Jake Peavy because I just didn’t see him being a big upgrade over the rest of their candidates for the postseason rotation. Parting with Jose Iglesias for him, on the other hand, is something I can get behind. Iglesias had an incredible run for the Red Sox earlier this season, but he was a lifetime .257/.307/314 hitter in the minors. He had a .588 OPS in 829 Triple-A at-bats.  And while he was still at .330 for Boston this season, he had returned to earth in a big way this month, batting .205/.247/.217 in 83 at-bats during July. I think Iglesias will be a useful regular for a long time, but for a big-spending team like the Red Sox, he was always going to be expendable. They sold high when they sent him to Detroit in the three-team swap.

Angels: Getting Grant Green from the A’s for Alberto Callaspo was a nice little coup. Green is 25 and still doesn’t have a position, which is a problem, but he’s also hit .325/.379/.500 in Triple-A this year. The Angels should start working him out at third. Some will argue that the Angels should have moved Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar as well, but I’m not so sure. Both have reasonable contracts, and the Angels almost certainly would have downgraded had they tried to replace either in free agency this winter. They would have needed a big return to justify dealing either.

Braves: Many wanted the Braves to get a starter with Tim Hudson out. I think they’re just fine with a front six of Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, Paul Maholm, Brandon Beachy and Alex Wood. And getting the perpetually underrated Scott Downs from the Angels for Cory Rasmus was nice. I’m not positive how he does it, but Downs has a 1.76 ERA again this year. Last year’s 3.15 mark was his worst since 2006, and that was really the result of two bad weeks (nine of the 16 runs he allowed came in a stretch of five appearances).

Cardinals: The slumping Cardinals failed to add, but the important thing for them is that the Pirates and Reds didn’t make any additions, either. St. Louis is still the NL Central’s best team on paper, provided that Yadier Molina isn’t out for much more than the minimum 15 days with his sprained knee. All bets are off if his absence extends into September.

Cubs: The lack of action on Wednesday suggests that the Cubs were smart to move Matt Garza, Scott Feldman and Alfonso Soriano when they did. They clearly got a better return for Garza, a free agent at season’s end, than the White Sox did for Peavy, even though Peavy is locked up for another year.

Dodgers: Drew Butera, yo. But, no, the Dodgers are here for the same reason as the Cardinals. Maybe the Diamondbacks engaged in some addition by subtraction in shedding Ian Kennedy, but they didn’t do much addition by addition.


Mariners: Kendrys Morales, Oliver Perez, Michael Morse, Raul Ibanez and Joe Saunders are all going to be free agents this winter, and the 50-56 Mariners, remaining stubborn under GM Jack Zduriencik’s guidance, didn’t cash any of them in. Morales and Perez would have brought significant returns. At least some of the other teams that declined to sell could have chances to get deals done in August, but I’m not sure any of the Mariners listed above will clear waivers, limiting the team’s options.

Royals: Winners of seven in a row to move to 52-51 on the season, the Royals refused to sell. Which is understandable. But the fact that they did choose to buy, acquiring outfielder Justin Maxwell from the Astros, and still didn’t land an upgrade from Chris Getz at second base is tough to take. It’s not like they needed a star; they’ve gotten so little production from second base for years now that just about anything would have done.

Indians: One of the rumors going around Wednesday was that the Indians were aiming for a big-time starter. Instead, they stayed quiet; their only deadline pickup was lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski, who was unwanted by the Cardinals. Something to energize the fanbase in Cleveland would have been welcome; the Indians have the AL’s sixth-best record, so they’re right in the thick of things.

Blue Jays: The Blue Jays could have cashed in closer Casey Janssen and turned a tidy profit. They also had a couple of nice role players in Emilio Bonifacio and Rajai Davis to dangle. They did nothing.

White Sox: The White Sox’s top picks in the 2009, 2011 and 2012 drafts were outfielders (Chris Sale was the choice in 2010). Baseball America said their No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5 prospects at the start of the season were outfielders. Yet when they chose to deal Peavy, they did it for another outfielder, getting Avisail Garcia from the Tigers. They also dealt Matt Thornton to Boston for an outfielder (Brandon Jacobs) earlier in the month. In the abstract, I don’t mind Peavy for Garcia. It’s decent value. The White Sox, though, have questions throughout the infield and a dearth of young pitching in the minors. I’m not sure what they’re building.

Phillies: Ruben Amaro Jr. is still likely shocked and appalled that no team was willing to surrender two top prospects for Michael Young. The Michael Young.

Marlins: OK, so the Marlins didn’t put Giancarlo Stanton on the block yet. That’s fine. But then they wouldn’t talk about relievers Steve Cishek and Michael Dunn. Even more incredibly, they weren’t even interested in picking up a prospect for a 34-year-old Chad Qualls today. The only thing I can figure is that the commissioner’s office and the MLBPA is back whispering in the Marlins’ ears about their use of revenue sharing money.

Giants: The flagging Giants had a chance to refuel the farm system a bit, which could have been a silver lining in a very disappointing season. Instead, they held on to Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum and even Javier Lopez. Maybe they’ll get compensation picks if Pence and Lincecum leave as free agents or maybe they’ll even deal Lincecum in August, but with plenty of contenders looking for a middle-of-the-order bat and starting pitching, it’s disappointing that they resisted overtures.

Astros clubhouse attendants: Good luck with those end-of-season tips. With Bud Norris, Carlos Pena and Jose Veras gone, Erik Bedard in now the highest-paid Astro at $1.15 million this season. That’s about what Alex Rodriguez makes per week.

Champagne after a loss? Why not?

Astros Wild Card
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There was some hockey person last week arguing about how it was silly or untoward for baseball teams to celebrate clinching wild cards or other, less-than-championship-level accomplishments. Calling it bush league or lacking in act-like-you’ve-been-thereness or what have you. I can only imagine what he’d say about the Astros celebrating with champagne following (a) winning a wild card; and (b) losing the game which immediately preceded the celebration.

But screw him. Seriously.

I used to think that way. Indeed, if you search the HBT archives I’m sure there’s a post or two in which I disapprove of teams engaging in multiple champagne celebrations. But I was wrong about that and I’ve changed my mind on the matter over the past year or too. And on some other matters as well, all for the same reason: athletes are people just like us, not some avatars for our machismo and our fantasies. They’re people who have spent their entire lives devoted to their calling and do it under a lot of pressure and in the face of a lot of criticism and expectations from others. Why on Earth would anyone deny them their happiness upon the realization of an accomplishment?

This is even more true if you’re one of those misguided souls who erroneously believe that sports actually is separate from real life and believe them to be supremely and impossibly important. Even if you’re right — and you’re not — wouldn’t that give the athletes an even greater incentive to celebrate accomplishments? Funny how those people who who act as if sports is life and death would deny athletes their joy for defying death, as it were.

My view on the matter now is that if a guy hits a homer he should be able to celebrate it. If a pitcher strikes a guy out, he should be able to celebrate it. If a team makes the playoffs, no matter how low their seed and no matter the manner in which the accomplishment is achieved short of their competitors going down in a plane crash, they should be able to celebrate if they so choose.

So enjoy your hangovers this morning, Houston Astros.

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights


Diamondbacks 5, Astros 3: The Astros lost but, in the course of the loss, they learned the Rangers won and that was all Houston needed to clinch the wild card. No better way to evade beat writers’ questions about what went wrong out there than to be in the process of getting roaring drunk and thinking about playoff baseball, right? And come back in a bit, as I’m going to have a post up later in which I explain why it’s totally cool for a team to have a champagne celebration after clinching a mere wild card. Which some people think is lame.

Rangers 9, Angels 2: Cole Hamels was supposed to be a pickup for 2016 but, in his final start of 2015, he pitched the Rangers to the division title with a complete game. Adrian Beltre‘s homer and three RBI and the Angels’ craptastic bullpen, which uncorked a six-run seventh inning, didn’t help.

Orioles 9, Yankees 4: Joe Girardi whined a bit about having to start this game at 3pm, saying that an all-important game 162 shouldn’t be decided in long shadows. Hey Joe: if you had won either Game 160 or 161 on Saturday this game wouldn’t have mattered to you. Or if you had used your roster in a manner that suggested some manner of urgency, which you didn’t do in any of the games in this series against Baltimore, it wouldn’t have mattered either. And, of course, it ultimately didn’t matter thanks to the Astros’ loss. Wild Card game in the Bronx tomorrow. Viva long shadows.

Dodgers 6, Padres 3: Clayton Kershaw faced 13 batters in his final tuneup before the playoffs. He struck out seven of them. Yeah, gonna say he’s tuned up nicely. That gave him 301 strikeouts for the year. Before yesterday baseball had not had a 300-strikeout pitcher since 2002, when both Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling did it.

Braves 6, Cardinals 0; Braves 2, Cardinals 0: After a span of 24 winless starts stretching back to May 17, Shelby Miller finally gets a win. This is exactly the sort of thing which should set him on the right track and really help him in his next few starts.

Oh. Wait. Damn.

Phillies 7, Marlins 2: The game didn’t matter a bit in the standings but it mattered for Dee Gordon, who went 3-for-4 with a homer and a double and ended the season with a .333 average and the batting title thanks to Bryce Harper‘s 1-for-4 in the Mets-Nats game. Gordon bomes the first NL player to lead the league in batting average and stolen bases (.333/58) in the same season since Jackie Robinson did it in 1949. Which, wow.

Pirates 4, Reds 0: 98 wins and the Pirates are still playing a one-and-done game on Wednesday and needed this win just to clinch home field for that game. Man, the NL Central was rough this year.

Rockies 7, Giants 3: Down 3-0 in the ninth, the Rockies rallied for seven. Pretty sure the entire 2015 Rockies highlight reel will just be a quickly-burned DVD of that inning.

Tigers 6, White Sox 0: It was a year to forget for Detroit, but at least it ended with a young pitcher acquired in a mid-season white flag trade pitching a nice game. The pitcher was Daniel Norris who allowed one-hit over five innings. The outing allowed the Tigers to think a bit about the future.

Indians 3, Red Sox 1: And on the last day of the season the Indians move above .500. What a weird year for them. Such a talented team which had so many issues putting it together in the first half and, later, when it mattered most.

Cubs 3, Brewers 1: Chicago ended the regular season with a three-game sweep in Milwaukee and forced the Pirates to win one for home field advantage in the wild card. Regular season momentum doesn’t really mean much in the playoffs, but if it makes the Cubs feel better between now and Wednesday to say they have it, all the better for them.

Royals 6, Twins 1: Like I said: momentum doesn’t much matter, but on the off chance it actually does, Johnny Cueto has to feel OK, having allowed one run over five innings. We’ll forget for a second that it came against a deflated, recently-eliminated, spit squad Twins lineup.

Mariners 3, Athletics 2: After the game Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon tossed his cap into the crowd. Which is fine as it’s highly unlikely that he’ll be needed it next year. Not that I can act all smug given that I was one of those loonies who though the Mariners would make the World Series.

Mets 1, Nationals 0: Like Clayton Kershaw, Jacob deGrom was merely tuning up for the NLDS. He’s running just fine too, having tossed four shutout innings with seven strikeouts. They were no-hit innings too, actually, but it’s not like Terry Collins was going to leave him out there for that sort of thing with the playoffs looming. Curtis Granderson‘s eighth inning solo shot was the only scoring. The Nationals, finally, have been put out of their misery and can go home and wonder about what in the hell happened to them this season.

Rays 12, Blue Jays 3: Mark Buehrle was supposed to come in and pitch two innings to get his 200 for the year and then retire. Which would’ve been a neat thing for him given that he’d tossed 200+ innings for 14 straight years before that. He couldn’t escape the first inning, though, as first the Jays’ defense and then his ability to get dudes out disappeared. Oh well. One crap inning doesn’t negate a first-ballot Hall of Very Good career.

And with that another regular season is in the books. Another season of 8, 12, or (usually) 15-game days. Of flipping TV channels or radio stations or clicking between websites and between games. Games which, compared to the other 2,400 or so that happen during a season, mean nothing. But mean everything. Games which can be enjoyed and savored for a bit if your team won and enjoyed and easily forgotten if your team lost. The easy listening soundtrack of the past six months now fades away and in its place comes a 30-day burst of hardcore intensity.

And it’ll be a lot of fun. The playoffs are the point of it all, right? Assuming, that is, baseball has to have a point. Maybe it does, but it’s an assumption that, the older I get, is less and less necessary for me to hold in order for me to enjoy it.

Thanks for another good season, everyone.