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Winners and losers of the trade deadline

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As Tuesday’s 4 PM ET non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone, it’s time to play our favorite annual game: naming winners and losers of the trade deadline. This is certainly not an exhaustive list; it’s meant to highlight some teams that made notable progress and those that did not. Without any further ado…

Winners

Milwaukee Brewers

With just a game separating them from first place in the NL Central, the Brewers absolutely needed to make some moves to keep pace with the Cubs. They did by acquiring third baseman Mike Moustakas from the Royals, infielder Jonathan Schoop from the Orioles, and reliever Joakim Soria from the White Sox. The club certainly could have done more to bolster the starting rotation, but that’s still a possibility as teams can make trades through waivers in August. (Teams can also trade players through waivers in September, but those players become ineligible for the postseason roster with their new teams.)

The Brewers’ aggregate .658 OPS from their second basemen ranked 25th of 30 teams across baseball. If they choose to play Schoop full-time there, he will be a noticeable upgrade, even if his .720 OPS this season is quite a step back from last year’s .841 mark.

Moustakas replaces Travis Shaw at third base, allowing Shaw to function more as a utilityman. Even if Moustakas isn’t a strict upgrade over Shaw, he bumps an unproductive player off the roster. So it’s effectively Moustakas over Brad Miller or Nate Orf.

It’s a similar story for Soria, who will often find himself pitching seventh innings for the Brewers. The Brewers’ ‘pen has been quite good, but Soria just stretches that depth even further. The 34-year-old Soria put up a 2.56 ERA in 38 2/3 innings for the White Sox.

Atlanta Braves

The Braves acquired starter Kevin Gausman and relievers Darren O'Day and Brad Brach from the Orioles, as well as reliever Jonny Venters from the Rays and outfielder Adam Duvall from the Reds. While the club acquiesced two top-30 prospects to get Gausman and O’Day, the club otherwise gave up very little. In the cases of Brach and Venters, the Braves gave up international slot money that they wouldn’t have used anyway. So the Braves still have one of the richest and deepest minor league systems in baseball while being very much alive in the NL East race.

Duvall could platoon in either outfield corner, pushing Ender Inciarte out of center and Ronald Acuna into center when an opposing lefty starter is on the mound. Duvall doesn’t have much of a platoon split over his career, but righty-on-lefty match-ups are still something the Braves should want to pursue.

Entering Tuesday, the Braves’ 4.20 bullpen ERA ranks 18th of 30 teams, so the additions of O’Day, Brach, and Venters adds some much-needed depth, especially while closer Arodys Vizcaino and his 1.65 ERA are on the shelf.

Baltimore Orioles

With the 2018 season identified as a lost cause long ago, the Orioles recouped value on many of their to-be free agents, including superstar SS/3B Manny Machado and closer Zach Britton. The club also acquired international slot money, as mentioned, which will allow them to be serious players for Cuban outfielder Victor Mesa. In their recent trades, the club acquired outfielder Yusniel Diaz, Dean Kremer, Rylan Bannon, Zach Pop, Dillon Tate, Cody Carroll, Luis Ortiz, and Jean Carmona. While Ortiz and Carmona have yet to be added to their top-30 on MLB Pipeline, the others aforementioned rank No. 1, No. 13, No. 20, No. 24, No. 6, and No. 14, respectively. The club may not be competitive for a while, but the minor league system has gotten a major boost which will pay off down the road, especially if the club indeed is able to sign Mesa.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers, as expected, went all-in on competing this season, bolstering the roster by acquiring Manny Machado from the Orioles and Brian Dozier from the Twins. Machado was initially slated to play shortstop as per his wishes, but with Justin Turner back on the disabled list, Machado slid back to third base. Dozier, if he can regain his previous form, provides an upgrade over Logan Forsythe and Chase Utley at second base. Machado adds the most impact of any one player who got traded this month and the rest of the Dodgers’ roster is scary good. The Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Giants are all within striking distance of first place in the NL West, but they have their work cut out for them.

Losers

New York Mets

If there’s one thing teams have identified lately, it’s that half-measures rarely work. If you’re not going to be very competitive, then commit to a rebuild. If you want to be a player in the division, then commit to contending. The Mets, going nowhere fast, have a some impending free agents in Devin Mesoraco and Jose Bautista but were unable to trade them ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.  The Mets also have incredible resources in Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, as well as Zack Wheeler, though they are not necessarily under any time constraints to move them. They were able to move infielder Asdrubal Cabrera to the Phillies and reliever Jeurys Familia to the A’s.

While the Mets weren’t likely to get a major prospect for the likes of Mesoraco and Bautista, and the club can still move them through waivers in August, things are a lot less certain. It is quite possible that the club isn’t able to move their impending free agents and simply watches them walk into free agency after the season.

Yesterday, a report indicated that the Mets actually plan to contend next season. If that’s the case, then holding on to their trio of starting pitchers is the right call. However, it’s difficult to see the Mets contending as a likely possibility. Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto have been the only productive regulars among position players (with Wilmer Flores getting an honorable mention). Who knows what the Mets will be able to get from Yoenis Cespedes next year. The bullpen is a shambles. To compete next season, it would seem like the Mets would need to be active players in the free agent market this offseason as well as making some trades to bolster the roster, both of which have not exactly something for which the Wilpons have been known.

Cleveland Indians

The 57-48 first-place Indians desperately needed outfield help, so they got… Leonys Martin? Martin is serviceable, owning a .731 OPS and 1.8 WAR on the season, but the Indians needed to add more of a punch. It’s true that the AL Central is pretty much decided with the Twins and Tigers — second- and third-place, respectively — committed to selling and the White Sox and Royals dead in the water long ago. However, when the Indians find themselves in the ALDS, their outfield depth will be a sore spot.

Entering Tuesday, the Indians’ aggregate .580 OPS from center fielders — split between Greg Allen, Bradley Zimmer, Rajai Davis, and Tyler Naquin — ranked 28th of 30 teams. Their .724 OPS out of right fielders — Brandon Guyer, Naquin, Lonnie Chisenhall, Melky Cabrera, Allen — ranked 20th.

The bullpen is also an issue. The club’s 5.05 bullpen ERA is 27th-best in baseball. The Indians acquired Brad Hand and Adam Cimber from the Padres, but they needed depth. Pushing Dan Otero and his 5.22 ERA out of the bullpen, for example, would have been a big win. There’s still time to do that, fortunately.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals waffled between buying and selling for a while. After dropping the final two games of their four-game series in Miami against the Marlins over the weekend, causing them to dip below .500, the club finally decided to sell, telling teams soon-to-be free agent outfielder Bryce Harper was available. However, the Nationals only ended up trading reliever Brandon Kintzler to the Cubs. Other impending free agents include Daniel Murphy, Kelvin Herrera, Ryan Madson, Shawn Kelley, Jeremy Hellickson, and Mark Reynolds. There’s still time to recoup value, but the Nationals will have to do so via waivers in August, a more complicated process.

The NL East is anything but a sure thing, as the Nationals enter Tuesday only 5.5 games behind the first-place Phillies, but both the Phillies and the second-place Braves (0.5 games behind) made upgrades at the trade deadline. The Nationals, who did next-to-nothing by the deadline, would have to leapfrog both teams. In the Wild Card, they would have to contend with either the Phillies or Braves as well as the Cubs/Brewers/Pirates from the NL Central, and the Dodgers/Diamondbacks/Rockies/Giants from the NL West. Any roster that has Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer has the potential to catch fire, so it is possible that the Nats’ inaction turns out to be a blessing in disguise. But a lot of things would need to go right for them to clear a path to the postseason.

Myles Garrett and Mason Rudolph: meet Juan Marichal and John Roseboro

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Last night the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Cleveland Browns. No one is gonna be talking nearly as much about the outcome today, however, as they are the carnage.

Specifically, the carnage that led to Browns defensive end Myles Garrett getting ejected from the game after ripping Steelers’ quarterback Mason Rudolph’s helmet off, swinging it at him and connecting with Rudolph’s skull as the game came to a close. Things were already chippy as all get-out, but that obviously led to a brawl which will lead to a ton of suspensions, including a possibly record-breaking one for Garrett. For all your analysis on that, check out PFT, obviously.

The incident will dominate the sports shows today because malicious attempts to injure another player with a piece of equipment are pretty rare in professional sports. There was at least one incident in baseball history, however, that was analogous to what went down in Cleveland last night.

It took place on August 22, 1965 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco during a Dodgers-Giants game. That’s when Giants ace Juan Marichal, playing the role of Garrett, took a baseball bat to the head of Dodgers catcher John Roseboro, standing in for Rudolph.

The Dodgers and Giants are rivals, of course, and in 1965 the two teams were in a pitched battle for the N.L. pennant, with the Dodgers leading San Francisco by a game and a half as the day began.

Pitchers in 1965 were a bit more aggressive about claiming the inside part of the plate than they are today, and on that day, everyone seemed cranky. Marichal knocked Dodgers shortstop Maury Wills down with some chin music in the top of the second for, it appears, committing the terrible transgression of bunting for a single in his first at bat of the game. In response Koufax fired a fastball over Willie Mays’ head, sending the ball to the backstop. So everyone was even, yeah?

Nah. Marichal responded in the top of third with an inside fastball that sent Dodgers first baseman Ron Fairly sprawling to the dirt. At that point home plate umpire Shag Crawford issued a warning, indicating that that the next close pitch from either team would result in an ejection. Walter Alston’s Dodgers, though, were a clever bunch. Sure, maybe a close pitch was going to get an ace ejected in a pennant race, but there are other ways to buzz someone’s tower, right?

Pitchers batted in every game back then, of course, and Marichal came to bat in the bottom of the third. Koufax didn’t throw at him, though. Instead, Roseboro, catching for L.A., threw the ball back to Koufax in such a way as to have it sail close to Marichal’s head as he stood in the batter’s box. He later admitted in his autobiography that it was no accident, he was trying to intimidate Marichal.

Marichal flipped out, clubbing Roseboro with his bat, after which all hell broke loose (all photos, and the original caption from 1965, are from Getty Images):

 

Juan Marichal holding bat, John Roseboro attacked, and Sandy Koufax closes in.

 

Roseboro throws a punch at Marichal while latter swings bat and Koufax comes in to try and break it up.

 

On deck batter Giant Tito Fuentes pulls Roseboro away while Marichal wields bat at Koufax while umpire Shag Crawford and Giant coach Charlie Fox try to break it up.

 

Umpire Shag Crawford wrestles with Marichal while Dodgers Jim Gilliam (19) and Koufax come in. Rear is Giants coach Charlie Fox. Marichal falls to the ground on top of Shag Crawford while Giants Orlando Cepeda joins the melee.

 

Umpire Shag Crawford is shown here wrestling with Marichal as Dodgers Jim Gilliam (#19) and Sandy Koufax join in. In the rear is Giants’ coach Charlie Fox.

 

Identifiable L-R: Dodger Jim Gilliam (19); John Roseboro (with chest protector); Giants Orlando Cepeda (30); Cap Peterson (17); Warren Spahn; and Mgr. Herman Franks (3).

Willie Mays was credited with keeping the brawl from getting worse. Roseboro had military and martial arts training and, as you can see in the second photo, he was not slowed by his head injury — an injury that would require 14 stitches — from trying to take Marichal apart. Mays was the one who ultimately pulled Roseboro away and out of the fracas. He even held a towel to Roseboro’s head which by then had begun to bleed profusely. The fight eventually ended, with several players sustaining injuries due to kicks and accidental spikings of hands and legs and stuff.

The incident delayed the game for 14 minutes but the fallout beyond that was pretty tame compared to today’s standards. Marichal got an eight day suspension which, because of scheduled doubleheaders, caused him to miss ten games. He was also fined $1,750, which is around $15,000 today. Roseboro only missed two games due to his injury. The Dodgers would lose this game thanks to a big homer from Mays off of Koufax, but the Dodgers would go on to win the pennant and defeat the Minnesota Twins in the World Series.

There was additional fallout: Roseboro sued Marichal for $110,000 in damages. They’d eventually settle, with Roseboro receiving $7,500 from Marichal.

But there was no lingering bad blood. In interviews after the incident both players admitted that there was much more on their minds in 1965 that might’ve contributed to their aggression on that day. There was the rivalry, of course, and the pennant race. But Marichal had been much more personally distracted by a civil war in his native Dominican Republic that raged in 1965 and would not end until September. Roseboro had been, understandably, affected by the Watts Riots in Los Angeles which had taken place just over a week before this game. When you feel helpless about situation A, you often channel your feelings into situation B and both men said that something like that was probably simmering.

Marichal would play for the Dodgers for two games in 1975, the final year of his career. Roseboro had already retired, but Marichal’s cup of coffee with L.A. allowed them to meet up at a Dodgers old-timers game in 1982. There they posed for this photo: 

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“There were no hard feelings on my part,” Roseboro told the L.A. Times in 1990. Roseboro died in 2002. Marichal was an honorary pallbearer at his funeral.

Let’s check in with Garrett and Ruldolph in 37 years to see how they’re doing.