A.J. Burnett, Ruben Amaro Jr., Ryne Sandberg

Winners and losers at the trade deadline

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It doesn’t take a whole heck of a lot of baseball sense to name the Tigers, A’s and Red Sox trade deadline winners this year, so let’s see if we can’t be a little less obvious than that. Here are some other people, as well as teams, that had good and not so good days Thursday.

In case you missed it, here’s our Trade Deadline Tracker.

Winners

Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski: I’m not so convinced the Tigers made the right move parting with Austin Jackson and Drew Smyly for David Price for three reasons. First, Rick Porcello and his 3.24 ERA were likely to be more than fine in the postseason rotation. Second, the downgrade from Jackson to Rajai Davis in center field is big offensively and defensively (Davis’s OBPs against right-handed pitching the last three years: .290, .273 and .299). Third, Smyly seemed poised to be a very important piece of the Detroit pen in October.  Of course, all of that said, Price was the most valuable pitcher on the market. Dombrowski got his man yet again. He always seems to.

Jon Lester (LHP Athletics): Not only does Lester get to fatten up his numbers in Oakland for a couple of months and potentially improve those Hall of Fame credentials during another playoff run, but thanks to today’s trade, he’s no longer tied to draft-pick compensation as a free agent this winter. That could increase his haul by a few million bucks.

Oscar Taveras (OF Cardinals): It’s your turn to shine, Oscar. After getting mentioned in the Price and Lester talk, Taveras not only stayed put in St. Louis, but he now has himself a clear starting gig with Allen Craig gone to Boston. It hardly seemed like a coincidence that he responded by homering today against the Padres. The Cards could call up Randal Grichuk to platoon with Taveras against left-handers, but even if that happens, Taveras will no longer have to wait until the lineups are posted each day to figure out whether he’s playing.

St. Louis Cardinals: They got John Lackey and Justin Masterson without parting with Taveras or dipping into their stable of arms beyond Joe Kelly. Lackey has been a bulldog in the playoffs, and while I’m not sold on Masterson turning it around as a starter this year, I don’t deny it’s a possibility, and even if he doesn’t, he could be a force in relief in October. Also good: the Pirates did nothing Thursday and the Brewers failed to add to their staff (though they did get a nice piece in Gerardo Parra for the outfield). The Cardinals still have to get to the playoffs, but if they do, they have at least as good of a chance as any NL team of reaching the World Series.

Houston Astros: I’ve never been a big Jarred Cosart fan. I’m also not a big Jake Marisnick fan, so today’s trade with the Marlins wasn’t necessarily a slam dunk. It is worth a try, though. 2013 first-round pick Colin Moran should make it as at least an average regular at third base and might be something more. Marisnick has the tools to be an above average regular, too; I’m just skeptical he’ll put them together. To get the pair (along with a wild card arm in Francis Marte and a draft pick) for Cosart, and a couple of likely role players in Kike Hernandez and Austin Wates was a smart move.

Losers

Every AL contender besides the A’s and Tigers: Pick your poison… Lester, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija or Max Scherzer, Price, Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez. The Angels have been the AL’s second best team this year — probably MLB’s second best team — but it’s going to be awfully difficult to get past those pitching staffs and into the World Series.

Philadelphia Phillies: OK, so this one is terribly obvious. It could be seen coming, too. It at least seemed that Ruben Amaro Jr. would move Marlon Byrd and/or Antonio Bastardo, two guys who had some legitimate trade value without the Phillies having to eat any money. Nope. Nothing. Nada. It’s disappointing that Amaro couldn’t pull off some sort of a deal with so little to lose. On the plus side, most of the rest of the Phillies will clear waivers, making them available in August deals.

Kansas City Royals: GM Dayton Moore couldn’t sell. To do so would have been to admit defeat and most likely would have cost him his job. Unfortunately, Moore also failed to add anything after flirting with several starters. All signs point to the Royals finishing in the neighborhood of .500 as a result.

Daniel Nava (OF Red Sox): The Yoenis Cespedes acquisition left room for Nava, but that changed a couple of hours later when Craig joined him on Boston’s roster. That’s a shame. Nava is hitting .330 over the last couple of months, has a better career OPS against righties than Craig and is a better defender in the outfield than Craig. He deserves to start against righties, but he’s probably going to take a backseat because of Craig’s contract.

Mookie Betts (2BOF, ?? Red Sox): Hard to tell what’s in store for one of baseball’s best prospects now. Already having moved off his natural home of second base, Betts finds himself behind Cespedes, Craig, Jackie Bradley Jr., Nava and Shane Victorino in the Red Sox outfield. Perhaps Betts will overtake Bradley at some point, but that’s going to be a tough assignment, what with Bradley looking like the AL’s premier defensive center fielder at the moment.

Cincinnati Reds: Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon, yet your GM and ownership won’t step up to bring in any kind of bat with Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips hurt. This has been bothering me for weeks.

Joc Pederson (OF Dodgers): Pederson’s minor league numbers sat he’s ready — the 22-year-old is hitting .319/.448/.587 for Triple-A Albuquerque — but he stayed buried in Los Angeles after both being involved in Price and Lester rumors and also potentially being a candidate for promotion in the event of a Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier deal (of course, one of those could still come in August).

Colorado Rockies: Kevin Gausman for Jorge De La Rosa? Telling teams you’re not interesting in moving the NL’s oldest player (LaTroy Hawkins)? Sometimes it seems like the Rockies are perfectly content to be bad.

Not Losers

New York Yankees/Seattle Mariners: I can’t put them in the winners category since they’re AL contenders not located in Oakland and Detroit, but I still like the moves. The Yankees added Martin Prado and Stephen Drew to the haul that already included Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy without significantly dimming their future prospects. That’s just good dealing. And while the Mariners did give up a pretty nice piece in Nick Franklin, he stopped fitting into the club’s future the day Robinson Cano was signed. With Jackson and Chris Denorfia in the fold, the Mariners upped their chances to reach the playoffs and gave their fans a product worth investing in for the first time in a long time.

Great Moments in Not Understanding The Rules

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Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is a Hall of Fame voter. In the past he has voted for players who used PEDs, but he’s never been totally happy with it, seeing the whole PED mess as a dilemma for voters.

On the one hand he doesn’t like voting for users and doesn’t like harming those who were clean by shifting votes away from them, but on the other hand, he doesn’t want to pretend history didn’t happen and that baseball hasn’t been filled with cheaters forever. What to do?

This year he decided to abstain altogether. A fair and noble act if one is as conflicted as Livingston happens to be. Except . . . he didn’t actually abstain:

Major league baseball will confer bronzed immortality on a few players Wednesday when the results of the national baseball writers’ balloting for the Hall of Fame will be announced.

I had a 2017 ballot. I returned it signed, but blank, with an explanatory note.

A blank ballot, signed and submitted, is not an abstention. It’s counted as a vote for no one. Each “no” vote increases the denominator in the calculation of whether or not a candidate has received 75% of the vote and has gained induction. An abstention, however, would not. So, in effect, Livingston has voted against all of the players on the ballot, both PED-tainted and clean, even though it appears that that was not his intention.

This is the second time in three years a Cleveland writer has had . . . issues with his Hall of Fame ballot. In the 2014-15 voting period, Paul Hoynes simply lost his ballot. Now Livingston misunderstood how to abstain.

I worry quite often that Ohio is gonna mess up a major election. I guess I’m just worrying about the wrong election.

Hall of Fame voters are making news, not exercising democratic rights

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Associated Press
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Last month the Baseball Writers Association of America voted to make all Hall of Fame ballots public beginning with next year’s vote for the 2018 induction class. In the past 24 hours or so, as this year’s Hall of Fame voting period comes to a close, a lot of folks have been talking about that. Most notably in Jayson Stark’s piece over at ESPN regarding next year’s brave new public world.

Stark is pro-transparency on the ballots, as are the vast majority of BBWAA members who voted on the public ballot measure (it passed 80-9). Not everyone Stark quotes in his article is on board with it, though:

“I’ve already seen a lot of people change their votes from one year to the next,” said one of the strongest dissenters to this decision, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. “People have changed their votes based on public opinion.”

Two other sources in the story, Scott Miller of Bleacher Report and a voter who asked to remain anonymous equated their Hall of Fame vote with democracy and invoked the sanctity of the secret ballot. “The No. 1 reason I was against this rule is that in this country, it’s a democracy, and everyone has a vote on different things. And I hate to see a blanket rule that forces everyone to go in one direction,” Miller said. Here’s what the anonymous guy said:

“To me, a secret ballot is a fundamental of democracy. You should be able to vote your conscience without having to explain your vote. But once it’s public, you’re open to public pressure. And that’s not what we want in a democracy. We’re not elected representatives. We’re chosen to be part of a voting group.”

This is ridiculous of course. Voting for the Hall of Fame is not exercising democratic rights. It is making news and making history. Hall of Fame voters are making decisions which will fundamentally alter baseball history and which matter greatly to a large number of baseball fans. They are not advancing their own or society’s interests at the ballot box the way citizens do on election day. Despite the fact that the form of their action here is, technically speaking, a ballot, they are making news in the same way a GM makes a news with a trade, the commissioner makes news with a rule change or a team makes news by winning a World Series.

Would any of these voters — who are credentialed members of the media, by the way, and like to style themselves as truth-seeking members of the Fourth Estate — accept silence from the people who make the news on the beat they cover? Would they be content if the newsmakers whose acts they chronicle demanded anonymity the way they themselves do now? Of course they wouldn’t. And if they got the same silent treatment they’d prefer to give, they’d write one of those petulant little columns they love about players who “duck the press” after a game.

Suck it up, journalists. Act the way you expect the newsmakers you cover to act and own your decisions. Don’t pretend for a moment that you’re not the subject of, and not the reporter of, the story when Hall of Fame season comes around.