Major League Roundup

InsidethePark.com's Ian Levin flips through each team in the bigs and is quick to point out their deficiencies. Now I bet it would upset Ian if we all pointed out his shortcomings. Ya think? Here is to Ian being a kindler, gentler reporter for next week.

Anaheim Angels: (Record: 57-48, Week: 5-2)
Of the serious contenders, the Angels were one of the few teams to make no moves at all. They were players in the Randy Johnson sweepstakes but it appears that Johnson would have blocked any trade to Anaheim had one been agreed upon. Instead of bringing in new talent, the Angels are just hoping to keep their current players healthy. With almost every major player on the team suffering from some type of ailment, they want to see their best team on the field all at the same time. If they can get them out there, the 2002 World Series Champions can make another run.

Baltimore Orioles: (Record: 46-57, Week: 2-5)
The Orioles did not make a move at the deadline either, but there was no need for them to make one. They do not have a major pending free agent that would have garnered much interest and no one was begging to get out. The only situation that could have been cleared up is their second base/leadoff spot. Brian Roberts and Jerry Hairston Jr. can both do the job and there were certainly teams interested. However, this problem would be better solved in the off-season when more teams would be willing to give up something of value. The Orioles are going to play out the season as is and prepare for another big winter.

Boston Red Sox: (Record: 56-47, Week: 3-3)
Perhaps the biggest trade of the deadline came out of Boston. The Sox sent All-Star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs and in return received Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz. The offensive-minded Red Sox sacrificed some of their endless supply of bats to pick up two slick fielders. While many in Red Sox Nation seek Theo Epstein's head on a steak, I believe this trade will work out well. The added defense will help out the pitching, especially sinker-baller Derek Lowe, and the loss of Garciaparra's bat won't hurt much. Look for this trade to spark the Sox and help them push for the playoffs.

Chicago White Sox: (Record: 53-49, Week: 1-6)
With the White Sox falling slowly out of the AL Central and Wild Card races, they decided to make a move geared more for the future. The Sox shipped Esteban Loaiza to the Yankees for Jose Contreras and $3 million cash. Loaiza has not pitched nearly as well as he did last season and Contreras hasn't come close to matching his potential. If the Sox manage to get back in the playoff hunt, Contreras can be sufficient as a number three pitcher, but this trade is focused on next season.

Cleveland Indians: (Record: 53-52, Week: 3-3)
The Tribe may have been quiet at the deadline on the trading front but they have been generating a lot of buzz recently. At one point they were as far as eight games under .500 but the Indians have climbed their way back and is above .500. The team that once ruled the AL Central went through a rebuilding stage but the results are finally paying off. Once they take over the division, they will remain at the top for a while.

Detroit Tigers: (Record: 50-55, Week: 4-3)
While the Indians are on the rise in the Central, the Tigers are slowly fading. Both teams went through a rebuilding process but it is the Indians that came out on top. The Tigers have decided to go a different route since their rebuilding has not completely worked out as planned. They are using their financial resources to acquire talent as opposed to relying on the farm system. Most noticeably, they signed the core of their team, Ivan Rodriguez, this off-season. With a little more success from their farm system and a few free agent signings, the Tigers could be right up there with the Indians for years to come.

Kansas City Royals: (Record: 37-66, Week: 2-4)
In one of the best, yet smallest trades of the deadline, the Royals acquired Justin Huber from the Mets for Jose Bautista. Huber is an offensive-minded catcher with good long-term potential and Bautista was a Rule-5 pick. As part of the Kris Benson deal, the Mets sent Bautista back to his original team, the Pirates. With the Carlos Beltran trade last month and now the acquisition of Huber, the Royals are on their way to a nice future.

Minnesota Twins: (Record: 59-45, Week: 5-1)
In another nice move built more for the future, the Twins sent Doug Mientkiewicz to the Red Sox in the four-team trade and acquired Justin Jones from the Cubs. Jones is a 19-year-old left-hander with outstanding long-term upside, but he has already dealt with some sore shoulder issues. Not only did they get Jones in the deal but they cleared a spot for Justin Morneau. Morneau is one of the top hitting prospects in baseball and is more than ready for a full-time spot in the majors. This deal doesn't hurt the team in the present and is great for the future.

New York Yankees: (Record: 66-38, Week: 5-2)
In what appears to be a trade for the sake of making a trade, the Yankees sent Jose Contreras and cash to the White Sox for Esteban Loaiza. Neither pitcher is considered a starting pitcher in the post-season for the Yankees and would only see time out of the bullpen. Ironically, Contreras would likely have more success out of the pen than Loaiza. When you trade just for the sake of trading, it rarely works out.

Oakland Athletics: (Record: 59-45, Week: 6-1)
The A's may not have made a move at the official trading deadline, but their deadline deal came on June 24 when they acquired Octavio Dotel from the Astros. Dotel has not pitched up to his usual standards for the A's but he appears to be coming around. He has not allowed a run since July 15 and has six saves since then. It looks like he has adjusted to the league change and will likely be one of the best closers in the league from here on out.

Seattle Mariners: (Record: 39-65, Week: 1-6)
Like the A's, the Mariners made their deadline deal on June 27 when they send Freddy Garcia to the White Sox for Miguel Olivo, Jeremy Reed, and Michael Morse. With the Mariners playing for next year, this was possibly the best move they could have made. They received their catcher of the future, center fielder of the future, and an intriguing offensive prospect in Morse. With Garcia off the potential payroll for next season, the M's will have even more money to play with in the off-season and could make a huge splash.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays: (Record: 50-54, Week: 5-1)
Chuck LaMar gets two thumbs up for his dealing this time around. He sent Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato to the Mets for Scott Kazmir and Jose Diaz. Zambrano has a great arm but hasn't been able to harness his pitches so he isn't a huge loss for the D-Rays. Kazmir however has unlimited potential as young lefty with electric stuff. Kazmir has been battling injuries recently but could turn into the steal of the trading deadline.

Texas Rangers: (Record: 57-46, Week: 2-5)
In the blockbuster trade of the deadline, the Rangers acquired Scott Erickson and cash from the Mets for a player to be named later. On a serious note, Erickson will be lucky to make the Rangers as their fifth starter. However, if he can make it on any team, it is the Rangers. If they wanted to continue to hang in the race in the AL West, the Rangers needed to make a big pitching move which they did not. Expect them to continue to fall out of the running for any playoff spot.

Toronto Blue Jays: (Record: 45-59, Week: 2-4)
The trade at the deadline for the Blue Jays was the one that wasn't made. They had an opportunity to trade Carlos Delgado as he is a free agent at the end of the year and he will not be brought back. However, Delgado said that he would only waive his no-trade clause if he was to be sent to a team that would resign him immediately. The Jays were unable to find a team to satisfy Delgado so they will be forced to lose him to free agency.

Arizona Diamondbacks: (Record: 33-74, Week: 2-5)
In the biggest "Trade not made" of the deadline, Randy Johnson is still in Arizona. Johnson had been rumored to be going everywhere from New York, to Anaheim, to Texas, and finally to Los Angeles. In the end, when Johnson finally agreed to be dealt to LA, an agreement could not be made. The D-Backs wanted both Brad Penny and Edwin Jackson and the Dodgers would only give one. With Johnson still in Arizona for this year and next, the D-Backs have something they will desperately need; a ticket seller.

Atlanta Braves: (Record: 58-46, Week: 6-1)
They probably would have liked to do more at the deadline but at least they made some sort of move. They acquired Tom Martin for minor leaguer Matt Merricks. After a great season last year, Martin has been a disappointment this year and is signed for a large amount for 2005. The Braves, and Leo Mazzone especially might believe they can get Martin back to his 2003 form and he can become an asset for the team out of the pen.

Chicago Cubs: (Record: 57-48, Week: 5-2)
Curse of the billy goat, meat the curse of the Babe. In an ironic twist of fate, former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra is now a Cub. After the specifics are worked out, the Cubs lose Alex Gonzalez, Francis Beltran, and Brendan Harris and add Garciaparra. This is a huge trade for the Cubs as they didn't have to touch their rotation and add a true superstar to strengthen their weakest position. Health is now truly the only thing standing in the way of the Cubs and the World series.

Cincinnati Reds: (Record: 51-54, Week: 1-5)
The Reds may not have made a move at the deadline but they'll soon have a big move to make. When Austin Kearns went on the disabled list yet again, Wily Mo Pena stepped in and has played better than anyone could have imagined. Pena is beginning to show the potential that many see in him and could force the Reds to ship either him or Kearns in an off-season deal. There are rumors that they might attempt to move Kearns to third base but that won't happen. One will be dealt in the winter and the Reds should be able to get a nice haul.

Colorado Rockies: (Record: 47-58, Week: 5-2)
Another trade not made that was close to happening was Larry Walker being dealt to a number of teams including the Yankees and Marlins. Walker has proven to be healthy and has garnered a lot of interest due to his immense offensive talent. The Rockies were willing to part with him due to his age and salary and their wealth of offensive depth in the high minors. In the end, the Rockies held on to Walker but he is another candidate to be dealt during the winter.

Florida Marlins: (Record: 52-52, Week: 4-2)
In the most controversial trade of the deadline, the Marlins acquired Paul Lo Duca, Juan Encarnacion, and Guillermo Mota from the Dodgers for Brad Penny, Hee Seop Choi, and Bill Murphy. Almost unanimously, everyone believes that the Marlins made a strong trade. The loss of Brad Penny will hurt but with Josh Beckett, A.J. Burnett, Dontrelle Willis, and Carl Pavano in the rotation, they will be able to absorb the blow. Choi is a young, but not star level talent, and Bill Murphy is a solid but unspectacular prospect. Acquiring Mota gives them a great one-two punch and insurance for Armando Benitez. Encarnacion gives them a solid player used to the team and Lo Duca gives them a team leader and a solid catcher. The controversy comes in on the other side of the trade to be covered in the Dodgers' section.

Houston Astros: (Record: 52-52, Week: 4-3)
Again, it's the trade not made that brings about a lot of interest. The biggest move the Astros could have made would have involved the biggest offensive player potentially on the market. With the Astros slowly fading in the NL race, they had the option to trade Carlos Beltran and get something for him instead of losing him to free agency. Either they did not get the offers they wanted or they decided against dealing him, but Beltran is still in Houston. If the Astros are able to claw their way back into the Wild Card race, they'll be happy they held on to him. But if they can't come close, the move will be questioned all winter.

Los Angeles Dodgers: (Record: 61-43, Week: 4-3)
If you're a traditionalist, you think the Dodgers are morons. If you're more into the new school of talent evaluation, you think the Dodgers are big winners. I'm in the new school boat because I think the Dodgers are much better today than they were a week ago. Sure, they gave up Mota which will hurt their bullpen but they have the arms to hang in there. Lo Duca is notorious for fading horribly in the second half and Encarnacion has been a disappointment all year. The Dodgers picked up Penny who immediately becomes their ace or number two pitcher and also has positive World Series experience. They also picked up an underrated Hee Seop Choi and his .388 OBP. They also used Bill Murphy to pick up Steve Finley who will bolster their offense and outfield defense. In the end, they gave a little but gained a lot. Job well done.

Milwaukee Brewers: (Record: 51-53, Week: 3-4)
Although they were quiet at the trading deadline, the Brewers will likely be anything but quiet come September. The "Brew Crew" owns one of the best farm systems in the game and could showcase their talent next month. We'll likely get a glimpse of Rickie Weeks and perhaps even Prince Fielder. Ben Hendrickson is already being given a chance and J.J. Hardy would have been given the same opportunity had he not gotten hurt. The Brewers will be making noise soon and for a long time to come.

Montreal Expos: (Record: 41-63, Week: 4-2)
Considering that they were a part of a four-way trade and that Orlando Cabrera is a free agent after the season, the Expos picked up a nice batch of players. In exchange for Cabrera, they picked up Alex Gonzalez, Francis Beltran, and Brendan Harris. Gonzalez isn't likely to last long in Montreal with Maicer Izturis close to ready. However, Beltran is a quality arm with a good deal of potential out of the pen and Harris is another high-upside middle-infielder. Especially with the numbers Cabrera had been putting up, this was an excellent move by the ‘Spos.

New York Mets: (Record: 49-55, Week: 2-5)
The winners of the Kris Benson sweepstakes… the Mets! Not only did they pick up a quality arm that Rick Peterson can do wonders with, but the only major leaguer they were forced to give up was Ty Wiggington, who there was no room for anyway. Along with Wiggington, they gave up Matt Peterson and Jose Bautista through Justin Huber. Along with Benson, the Mets picked up Victor Zambrano but it cost the Scott Kazmir. Anything can happen with Kazmir but I like the chances of Rick Peterson making Zambrano into something special. Keep an eye on this situation.

Philadelphia Phillies: (Record: 53-52, Week: 1-6)
The floundering Phillies needed desperately to make a move, but I'm not sure these were enough. They traded a crop of minor leaguers and Ricky Ledee in two deals to pick up Todd Jones and Felix Rodriguez. They've had problems with their center field situation and needed a top of the rotation starter. When healthy, their bullpen has actually been very solid with Billy Wagner, Ryan Madson, and Tim Worrell. Perhaps the addition of two relievers is a hint that Wagner is hurt more than they are letting on.

Pittsburgh Pirates: (Record: 49-54, Week: 2-5)
Both ends of the Kris Benson deal worked out well; the sign of a good trade. The Pirates were losing Benson at the end of the season anyway and they managed to pick up more infield depth and a nice prospect in Matt Peterson. With Wiggington and the rest of their crop of young infielders, one or two are sure to pan out into a nice player. Peterson adds to their depth of solid starting pitching prospects and that should start paying dividends in a few years.

San Diego Padres: (Record: 58-47, Week: 4-3)
The Padres were relatively quiet at the deadline, only making a pair of small moves. They acquired Dave Hansen from the Mariners for a minor leaguer and sent Ismael Valdez to the Marlins for another minor leaguer. The trades shouldn't do much to affect the season outcome for the Padres. The true quality of the Dodgers' deal should hold the fate for the Padres' season.

San Francisco Giants: (Record: 57-50, Week: 2-5)
The biggest moves the Giants made at the deadline involved the bullpen. They sent Felix Rodriguez to Philadelphia but proceeded to call up highly-touted prospect Merkin Valdez. Valdez has a good amount of upside but many believe that even long-term he will be in the pen. For now, he should pitch well enough to make up for trading Rodriguez. Since the league is unfamiliar with him, he could even pull a "K-Rod" on the league and lead the Giants into the playoffs. It could get exciting.

St. Louis Cardinals: (Record: 67-37, Week: 5-1)
The one contending team that didn't make a move that actually has a good excuse would be the Cards. Their offense is spectacular with virtually no holes and their pitching has been surprisingly good. Their most talented pitcher, Matt Morris, has been disappointing so if he is able to get it going he could give them yet another boost. They came into the season as the underdog in the NL Central and with two months to go, it is almost impossible to catch them. Quite a turnaround.

Stat of the week:
Ichiro needed two hits on July 31 to give him the third 50-hit month of his career. Two wasn't enough for Ichiro as he went 3-6 with a home run, three runs scored, and an RBI. The 50th hit of the month was even the home run. His third 50-hit month in his career is the first player to do it since Pete Rose and his second 50-hit month of the season is the first time it has happened since Ducky Medwick over 70 years ago.

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