Alfonso Soriano? Still part of the best offensive infield in the game.
Manny Ramirez? That fell apart quickly, didn’t it?
So on the final day before the non-waiver trade deadline, nobody did anything that will have a major positive impact on their playoff chances. There were your garden-variety tweaks and hole-plugs, some a bit more significant than others. And there were a few salary dumps, too. But this will go down as the trading period that teased more than turned fortunes.
With that in mind, these “winners” and “losers” should be taken in relative terms. We’re not talking Doyle Alexander-for-some kid named Smoltz here:
Oakland A’s: Billy Beane’s work was done long before Sunday’s deadline, giving newcomers Jay Payton, Jay Witasick and Joe Kennedy even more time to contribute to one of the majors’ two sustained season turnarounds. Payton more than adequately replaces Eric Byrnes, while Witasick and Kennedy bolster a reconfigured bullpen that never had Chad Bradford (who was sent to Boston for Payton) this season anyway.
Atlanta Braves: John Schuerholz does it again. He didn’t just plug a hole in the Braves bullpen. He added a power arm in the midst of a dominating season in Kyle Farnsworth. In 42.2 innings for Detroit, the hard-throwing right-hander had six saves, 15 holds, 55 strikeouts and only 29 hits allowed to go with a 2.32 ERA. He gives Bobby Cox the late-inning strikeout capability that currently is missing in the Atlanta ’pen, as well a closer alternative to Chris Reitsma. The Braves did give up Roman Colon, as well as minor leaguer Zack Miner, and Farnsworth is eligible for free agency after this season. But with the way they keep producing pitchers, it’s a price worth paying.
Chicago Cubs: With Corey Patterson currently calling Iowa home, the Cubs need somebody to do what Patterson is supposed to be doing on the north side of Chicago. So they spun Jody Gerut — acquired two weeks ago for Jason Dubois — to Pittsburgh for Matt Lawton, who has his faults, but has a .380 on-base percentage, 39 extra-base hits and 16 steals. Lawton soon could be hitting in front of Nomar Garciaparra, while pitching help could come from Kerry Wood and Scott Williamson coming off the disabled list. Meanwhile, the Pirates get rid of a big salary for a similar, younger and cheaper player.
New York Yankees: Shawn Chacon made a nice debut Saturday, and is young and talented enough to carve out a decent career. But it’s safe to say his rotation-to bullpen-to rotation career path hasn’t gone as well as John Smoltz’s. Hideo Nomo? The pitching-starved Devil Rays let him go, so Carl Pavano can’t get healthy soon enough. And Alan Embree may have more velocity than Buddy Groom, who was dealt to Arizona, but Embree also had a seven-plus ERA when the Red Sox designated him for assignment. But besides Chacon, the Yankees were winners in light of the fact that everybody in their division, as well as wild-card rival Minnesota, did even less.
Boston Red Sox: They apparently got sidetracked by the latest Manny moment, and did absolutely nothing to improve either their rotation or bullpen. That’s a big letdown after talking about Burnett, Danys Baez and Aubrey Huff in the days leading up to the deadline. And it is a lack of activity the Red Sox — currently 11th in the AL in staff ERA — can’t afford given the tightness of both the AL East and wild-card races. You have to think they will try to make a waiver deal or two.
Taking a look at some of the greatest catchers off all time.