Monday, August 03, 2015

Trade Deadline's Winners And Losers

Every major event on the sporting calendar is accompanied by a flurry of "Winners/Losers" articles. Drafts, trade deadlines, free agency periods, you name it, and the MBL non-waiver deadline is no exception. And if you look around, you'll see a ton of pieces mostly spitting up the same points over and over: The Blue Jays, Royals and Astros won, the Phillies got decent value for Hamels, and we're stunned San Diego didn't do anything. (Not entirely true: they added Mark Rzepczynski). But we here at Sportsthodoxy like to dig deeper, and to expose the unorthodox winners and losers. And maybe, just maybe, to frame the debate in terms of obscure late-period Muppets. So without further ado:

Ruben Amaro Jr.: We're not generally a fan of this guy around these parts, but we have to admit, Ruin Tomorrow Junior did a pretty nice job flipping Revere, Hamels and Papelbon for a restocked farm system complete with a lot of major league quality arms and a trio of Top 100 prospect types. Oh, and he got Jake Diekman's terrifying goatee out of the clubhouse as well. So that's a win.

Wilmer Flores: Let's face it, before he got sent back out onto the field sobbing after he thought he'd been traded, you had no idea who this guy was. And when he hit a walk-off homer the next night, well, now everybody knows who he is. Redemption indeed - even if he did end up having to stay with the Mets. (Oh, and we're totally down with the dude crying - he's been with the Mets his entire adult life. Cut a guy some slack, people.)

Alex Anthopoulos: The Blue Jays GM treated baseball like his own personal Yahoo league, getting the best bat and the best arm on the market while dumping a big contract and shoring up both his outfield defense and his bullpen. Is Tulo going to be expensive down the road? Sure. Is David Price only a 2 month rental? Sure. But this is the last year of Antho's contract, and if he doesn't make the playoffs he's going to be joining Amaro at the MLB FanCave next season (Wait. What? They shut it down?) So if you're going to go for broke, you might as well do it in style, and he sure as hell did.

Cole Hamels: Sure, he moves to the AL, and will now pitch in a park that's almost more of a homerdome than CBP in Philly, and in temperatures approaching the surface of Venus. But in theory, the Rangers are going to be contenders next year, he's finally out of Philly, and besides, there's no state income tax in Texas.

David Price: Dunno about the relative merits and flaws of moving from Detroit's big part to Toronto's smaller one, Detroit's insane fans to Toronto's somewhat less rabid ones, and Detroit's defense to Toronto's "gloves are largely optional" approach. But this tweet wins it all.

Every prospect who got traded to a lousy team: Because your path to the majors just got that much quicker, guys.

Jorge Alfaro: Considered a top 50 prospect across all of baseball, the former Rangers catcher is sitting out the rest of the season with an ankle injury. But that's not the real bad news. The real kicker is that he's been traded to the Phillies, whose system eats catching prospects like Carl the Big Mean Bagpipe Eater eats bagpipes. Don't believe me? Ask Tommy Joseph. Or Jason Jaramillio. Or Lou Marson. get the idea. Poor guy is injured walking into this? He's doomed.

Traditional Narrative: At this point, the wisdom of the trade deadline has become dogma. Losing teams should sell off their best players for pennies on the dollar to winning teams because, well, they're losing. This year, the narrative got swapped up. Losing teams with money (like the Phillies) leveraged it to get back better returns. Sucking down a bad contract in exchange for getting more talent in a deal became a thing. Teams that thought they had talent but bad luck decided to hang onto their players and try again next year. And most interestingly, at least one team rejected the idea of simply selling off talent cheap simply because the narrative said so.

Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart: I can understand how having Addison Reed on your roster can make you a little closer-crazy. But putting words in other GM's mouths - even GMs whom all the other GMs think are crazy, like San Diego's AJ Preller - is a great way to get people to think you're not a lot of fun to work with.

The St. Louis Cardinals: Because they win everything else. And because they gave up a solid pitching prospect for Brandon Moss, whose approach at the plate makes him look like a cave troll from the Lord of the Rings movies.

Terry Collins: Regardless of whether the deal was done or not, you don't send the guy with tears running down his face back out there. And you definitely don't go full Donald Trump stream of semiconsciousness trying to explain why you did it.

Grumpy Reporters: There's all sorts of headlines out there about how the trade deadline was anticlimactic, presumably because Godzilla didn't step on Turner Field in the middle of it. To recap, we saw the following: the best shortstop in the game got moved, along with three of the top starting pitchers, two of the highest profile Cuban imports of recent memory,  multiple all-stars, and a giant pile of top prospects. We saw a three team trade go down, multiple trades collapse in the 11th hour, Wilmer Flores crying on the diamond, Tulo homering in his second AB in Toronto, psychodrama in the Nationals' pen, the end of an era in Colorado, the Royals, Mets and Astros adding talent at the deadline, Scott Boras playing doctor, more #LOLMETS, and the long-awaiting Phillies teardown and restock. And you want more? I can understand who energy drink addled adrenaline addicts would be sad because nobody traded ALL THE PLAYERS and San Diego still has a couple of guys left on their roster, but come on, people. At this point it's just passive-aggressive frenemy bullcrap. If the fact that the Yankees and Red Sox didn't do much is your only benchmark for a trade deadline, you're a parochial nincompoop. If the fact that not every player mentioned in trade rumors got moved, I'm sorry, that's the way it is every year because most rumors are just that - rumors. So grow up. Or at the very least, kick your headline writers in the shins, because they're making you look bad.
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