The Astros traded away every big piece they had that wasn’t named Carlos Lee or Wandy Rodriguez. In other words, the Astros traded away Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence. Pence went to the Phillies for 3 low-level, high-upside prospects. Hunter Pence is one of the best all-around players in MLB today, and he will provide an enormous boost to an already solid Phillies’ offense.
The Astros, on the other hand, received a lot of much needed talent for their farm system. Houston is going to be a bad team for quite some time, but the Pence trade is an important step in turning things around.
As for the Michael Bourn trade, he was sent to the Braves in exchange for former top prospect, Jordan Schafer, along with some mediocre, mid-to-high level pitching prospects. The Braves really didn’t give up too much for Bourn, whose centerfield defense, and leadoff capabilities will be appreciated in Atlanta. Bourn’s having a career year, so this may have been a bit of a sell-high move by the Astros.
4. Carlos Beltran – OF – San Francisco Giants/New York Mets
Everyone was expecting a fire sale from the Mets, and I’d say they went halfway towards meeting those expectations. After making the first major move of the season by giving Francisco Rodriguez away to the Brewers for a player to be named later, the Mets followed it up with another big move. They traded outfielder, Carlos Beltran, to the Giants for a very highly touted pitching prospect in Zack Wheeler. In order to get Wheeler out of the Giants, the Mets had to send $4 Million in cash along with Beltran. Wheeler might just become the Mets top prospect, but that’s not exactly saying much.
The Mets ended up holding onto the rest of their trade bait, as Jose Reyes and David Wright stayed put.
For the Giants, this is not a move to assure them a spot in the playoffs. They’ve all but got a stranglehold on the NL West, so this is a move to get back to the World Series. It keeps Beltran out of Philly, and adds a huge bat to a lineup that is really missing Buster Posey.
3. Ervin Santana – SP – Los Angeles Angels
I’m not really sure why they bother playing games during week before the trade deadline, but they still do, and sometimes newsworthy things actually happen. On Wednesday afternoon, Ervin Santana threw a no-hitter against the Indians, allowing 1 unearned run in the bottom of the 1st inning. Santana struck out 10, and walked just 1, while throwing only 105 pitches in his brilliant performance.
It was just the 3rd no-no of the year, with Francisco Liriano and Justin Verlander throwing the only other two.
2. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates were in 1st place this week. The Brewers caught fire against the Cubs, and moved back into 1st, but still, the Pittsburgh Pirates were in 1st place less than a week before the trade deadline. For the first time in ages, the Pirates have become buyers. First, they traded a low-level 1st baseman, Aaron Baker, for Orioles’ 1st baseman, Derrek Lee. Lee’s bat will bring some much needed pop to the Pirates’ lineup.
As the weekend passed, it felt like the Pirates had one more move up their sleeve. As the Brewers were completing their second straight series sweep, the Phillies were pushing Pittsburgh under the broom, leaving them 4.5 games out of first. How’s that for alliteration?
Needing a big boost, the Pirates acquired hard-hitting, Albert-Pujols-protecting Ryan Ludwick. What’s that? Ludwick plays for the Padres? He hasn’t been good since 2008? Why is this the #2 storyline of the week? Oh, that’s right, because the Pirates are buyers!
While Ludwick’s .238/.301/.373 line is the worst of his career, his splits show that he’s hitting for a better average, BABIP, and slightly more power on the road. With the Pirates now 4.5 games back, and in 3rd place in the NL Central, this may be too little, too late. But there are still plenty of games to be played.
1. Cleveland Indians
The Indians were able to let their hot start carry them through some rough patches, and remained in 2nd place by the All-Star break. Finding themselves just a couple games back of the Tigers, the Indians made some big moves at the deadline.
First, they acquired Kosuke Fukudome from the Cubs to fill in for injured outfielders Grady Sizemore and Shin Soo-Choo. Fukudome is having a moderate year at the plate (.366 OBP), but has had virtually no power (.363 SLG). His defense has declined quite a bit, but he still has a cannon for an arm. Also, as Tim Dierkes of www.mlbtraderumors.com pointed out, he leads the majors in pitches seen per plate appearance, with 4.34. The Indians will pay roughly $4 Million dollars of his remaining salary, and gave up 2 very mediocre prospects to get him. He should be a pretty solid fill-in while Sizemore and Soo-Choo are out.
Fukudome wasn’t the only move the Indians made this week. Hell, it wasn’t even the biggest. In a Saturday move, the Indians acquired Ubaldo Jimenez from the Colorado Rockies, in exchange for several prospects, including this year’s 5th overall pick, Drew Pomeranz, and 2009 1st rounder, Alex White.
While the Indians gave up some good talent, it was worth it, as Jimenez is under team control through at least 2013 for a very affordable price ($4.2M in 2012, $5.75M club option in 2013, $8M player option in 2014).
The best case scenario is that Jimenez regains his 2010 Cy-Young-candidate form and leads the Indians to 3 playoff appearances. The worst case scenario is that Jimenez pitches poorly or gets injured. But even then, he won’t be eating up the Indians payroll and preventing them from acquiring other players.