Wow, talk about contenders making star-power acquisitions: Cliff Lee to the Phillies, Victor Martinez to the Red Sox, Jake Peavy to the White Sox, George Sherrill to the Dodgers, Nick Johnson to the Marlins ... the Marlins? Yep, even the Fish were buying at this deadline.
Let's try to make some sense of it all:
St. Louis Cardinals: They can't say general manager John Mozeliak is afraid to make a deal any more. In fact, he has made three nice ones recently to transform the top of the lineup and expand the possibilities for Tony La Russa's unmatched lineup tinkering acumen. Matt Holliday is the perfect fit both short-term and long-term in St. Louis, Mark DeRosa is the kind of guy you want on a playoff team, and nobody can get more out of a versatile Julio Lugo than La Russa.
This is an above-average team in all three facets, and one that has the best player on the planet, and a manager in the final year of his contract. That adds up to a win-now situation, and the front office has acted accordingly.
Boston Red Sox: Right guy, right spot; that's Victor Martinez. Right enough that the Red Sox re-thought their acquisition of Adam LaRoche, and sent him back to Atlanta for Casey Kotchman, who fits as the Doug Mientkiewicz-like bench acquisition in 2004.
Martinez likely will catch some, DH some, and play some first base, which will move Kevin Youkilis to third base, cutting into injury-plauged Mike Lowell's at-bats. For the Red Sox to be only fifth in the AL in runs scored and sixth in home runs at this point just doesn't seem right. So they added the best bat out there other than Holliday, and didn't have to give up Michael Bowden or Daniel Bard.
Philadelphia Phillies: You can argue that Cliff Lee isn't Roy Halladay. But the deal is win-win in this regard: They got the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, who despite a losing record is pitching well of late, and will get the benefit of changing leagues. And the Phils didn't give up any of the top young players the Blue Jays were seeking in a Halladay package — J.A. Happ, Kyle Drabek and Dominick Brown.
San Francisco Giants: After a couple of years in post-Barry purgatory, the Giants have a legitimate chance to get to the post-season as the wild card, and smartly are going for it. So adding Ryan Garko, and especially Freddy Sanchez — an underrated bat and defender — are gambles worth taking. Especially when you consider that if the Giants do get to the post-season, they will be the team nobody wants to face in a five-game division series.
And it's not as if the cost of getting Garko and Sanchez was excessive, either. Jonathan Sanchez stays in the rotation, and catcher Buster Posey remains the organization's elite position-player prospect.
Minnesota Twins: There are reasons why Orlando Cabrera keeps getting traded to contenders for stretch runs — he's a gamer, an excellent defender and clutch hitter, who just so happens to be red-hot of late. So the Twins broke their usual pattern and made a significant mid-season addition from outside their organization.
Cabrera is on a one-year deal at $4 million — affordable even for the Twins, who have gotten much too little from both of their middle-infield spots this season. They gave up a promising A-ball shortstop in Tyler Ladendorf, but he's three years away, and the Twins have Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan in their superstar primes right now.
Atlanta Braves: Here's your NL wild card dark horse, and after addressing their rotation issues from within — emerging Tommy Hanson and soon-to-be-returning Tim Hudson — they brought back a familiar face to help bolster the middle of the lineup in LaRoche. He's not a star, but he's better than what the Braves have been running out there, especially power-wise.
Taking a look at some of the greatest catchers off all time.