July 31, 2007
Four fairly significant deals went down Monday afternoon, and as the clock ticks until the 4 p.m. EDT trading deadline, we take a look back at each of them and one forward to what might come Tuesday.
Deal: Atlanta acquires first baseman Mark Teixeira and left-handed reliever Ron Mahay from Texas for catcher-first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia, shortstop Elvis Andrus, right-handed starter Nestali Feliz and a prospect to be named later.
Spiel: Now this is how blockbusters should work. Before the words $200 million contract crept out of agent Scott Boras' mouth, Rangers GM Jon Daniels put Teixeira on the market. Had he waited until the winter, the soaring prices for free agents only would have scared teams off Teixeira, figuring him as nothing more than a one-year rental. By bringing him in now, Atlanta allows itself to convince Teixeira that he needn't chase the biggest contract. With Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur, Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson in place, he can be part of the core that keeps the Braves in contention with the New York Mets, even if their payroll is half of what the Mets could spend in coming years.
Winner: Both. The Braves now trot out the National League's scariest lineup and got Mahay to replace Wilfredo Ledezma as their lefty specialist. The Rangers got a stud in Saltalamacchia, a potential star in Andrus and probably two arms to complement fast-rising Eric Hurley and 19-year-old Kasey Kiker.
Spiel: Kansas City GM Dayton Moore certainly remembers May 21-June 4, 2005, when Davies allowed two runs in his first 23 1/3 big-league innings. Moore was the Braves' assistant GM back then, and his familiarity with Davies allowed him to overlook shoddy performances for two years' running and pull the trigger (pending all the players in the Teixeira deal passing physicals). Atlanta, meanwhile, took a piece that seemingly didn't fit -- even if Davies is only 23 years old -- and turned it into Dotel, who will pitch high-leverage innings, could possibly close should Bob Wickman falter and will get them a draft pick as a free agent this offseason.
Winner: Atlanta, by a slim margin. Moore's goal is to restock a barren Kansas City organization with arms, and Davies' changeup makes him a potential steal. But without results, he's a crapshoot, whereas getting Dotel shores up the Braves' pen and keeps him away from other contenders.
Deal: Philadelphia acquires right-handed starter Kyle Lohse from Cincinnati for left-handed starter Matt Maloney
Spiel: After all their injuries -- starters Freddy Garcia and Jon Lieber, plus All-Star second baseman Chase Utley -- the Phillies have won four straight, nine of 10 and sit three games back of the Mets in the NL East and one game behind Arizona for the wild card. With Brett Myers and Tom Gordon back, their bullpen is suddenly dangerous. In other words: The Phillies might have needed one guy to push them toward the playoffs, and Lohse, though inconsistent, could be him.
Winner: Philadelphia. The move allows the Phillies to rid their rotation of J.D. Durbin. Though Maloney puts up good strikeout numbers, walks have troubled him.
Deal: New York Mets acquire second baseman Luis Castillo from Minnesota for catcher Drew Butera and outfielder Dustin Martin
Spiel: The Mets went shopping for a second baseman after Jose Valentin broke his leg and settled on Castillo, who can't run like he used to. His range, accordingly, has suffered, but he plays a clean second and should turn plenty of double plays with Jose Reyes. Were the Mets smart, they'd bury him at the bottom of their lineup, because he doesn't get on base enough to warrant a slot in their No. 1 or 2 hole.
Winner: Neither. Castillo is just a fill-in. Butera immediately gets buried behind Joe Mauer and Martin will report to Class A. The Twins must have felt they were better than the potential draft pick from Castillo's impending free agency.
Spiel: While this one went down Saturday, it begged a quick analysis. Because here Astros GM Tim Purpura had one of the best commodities on the market in Wheeler -- a reliever who, despite his numbers this season, has proven his postseason mettle -- and all he got was an infielder with a little pop and no position? Purpura flinched, and Devil Rays GM Andrew Friedman fleeced him.
Winner: Tampa Bay. If they choose to spin Wheeler, the Devil Rays can get plenty more than Wigginton.
• The reported Jermaine Dye-to-Boston deal makes us wonder: How bad is David Ortiz's health? Yes, the Red Sox seem permanently soured on Wily Mo Peña, who would join a pitcher – though not Manny Delcarmen or Justin Masterson, as Gordon Edes writes – to get the free-agent-to-be Dye.
• Toronto continues to dangle Troy Glaus, and while teams are offering more than Pittsburgh did last week, it still hasn't been enough to entice GM J.P. Ricciardi. If Glaus stays healthy – always a challenge – his $12.75 million salary next year isn't terribly prohibitive, and he's got an even better $11.25 million player option for 2009.
• Relief help is out there if teams want to pay the right price. Dodgers scouts have been tracking Washington's Chad Cordero and Jon Rauch, and while they'd be happy to offer shortstop and Futures Game MVP Chin-Lung Hu, the Nationals haven't bit, even with Felipe Lopez sporting a .639 OPS. Coming into this season, the Dodgers weren't completely sold on Hu, long known as a great-glove, no-hit prospect. His bat, however, has caught up this season, and Kansas City was considering him in the Dotel deal.
• It also was weighing an offer of outfielder Wladimir Balentin from Seattle. The Mariners, one source said, were devastated when Atlanta got Dotel, particularly after the news that Chris Reitsma will miss the rest of the season after another elbow surgery.
• As colleague Tim Brown reported, the starting pitching market, on the other hand, is dead. When Kyle Lohse is the big catch, that says all you need to know.
... AND FLY
Do yourself a favor and visit the Web site of Cowboy Joe West, better known as umpiring crew chief Joe West. He's got a new record coming out, and a sample from his previous one can be heard by clicking here.
In case you'd prefer not to, a sample of the lyrics:
You can't run with the big dogs if you act like a puppy
You can't swim with the big fish if you splash like a guppy
You can't run with the stallions if you trot like a colt
You can't tighten that lugnut if you don't have the bolt
Jeff Passan is a national baseball writer for Yahoo! Sports. Send him a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.