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.

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.