Since I didn’t have the availability of a television set in my office Thursday afternoon, I spent the final hour before baseball’s 4 p.m. (CDT) trade deadline monitoring the tweets of MLB.com’s so-called “insiders.”
Sometimes the trade deadline produces a flurry of deals, other times it elicits little more than a yawn.
Thursday wasn’t a flurry, it was a seismic shift in baseball’s landscape for the rest of the season.
Nearly all of baseball’s available big names were on the move. It started early in the day with Boston ace Jon Lester being dealt to Oakland. Then the Red Sox continued the dismantling of last year’s championship team by jettisoning World Series pitching star John Lackey to St. Louis.
And what would the trade deadline be without the biggest blockbuster that got in just under the wire, Tampa Bay’s David Price going to Detroit in a three-way mind-blower that also included Seattle?
When the smoke cleared, Detroit and Oakland clearly were the winners. The Tigers can now trot out a pitching rotation that includes the last three Cy Young Award winners — Max Scherzer, Price and Justin Verlander. Throw in Annibal Sanchez (who could be a No. 1 for a lot of teams) and Rick Porcello to complete the rotation and my prediction at the All-Star break that Detroit would make the World Series looks better than ever. Oakland also has an array of talented arms from Nos. 1 through 5 and those two teams have left the rest of the American League eating their dust.
Among the big losers were the Kansas City Royals. They did not make any moves at the deadline, which could have included James Shields going somewhere, perhaps for a bat. The Royals are going to lose Shields after this season anyway, so why not get something for him? While losing Shields would have been a big blow, it sends a message in the clubhouse that management is trying anything to improve the team. Shields no doubt would have fetched plenty in return, given how Thursday's other trades played out. These weren't trades for prospects, these were trades of major league players for major league players.
The Royals’ “big” move was dumping backup third baseman Danny Valencia on Toronto on Monday so that Mike Moustakas could try and improve on his sorry .190 batting average without looking over his shoulder.
The Royals' biggest problem is they overestimate their homegrown talent. It was just two years ago they had the best core of young prospects in the game, according to the alleged experts. But too much is made of "potential." Potential means nothing if there's not production once the bright lights are turned on.
There wasn’t nearly the movement in the National League. For all their talk, and the fact they have some talented prospects who are roadblocked from advancing because of the talent on the team, the Los Angeles Dodgers made nary a whimper. There was talk of Price or Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels, as LA could use one more pitcher. You would have thought with their glut of outfielders, it could have come up with some kind of package.
My beloved Cardinals were the NL’s most active team. Their trade of Allen Craig and Joe Kelly to Boston for Lackey reportedly shook up their clubhouse, maybe just the kick in the pants this team needed since it has been rather robotic emotionally in recent weeks. They were tired of waiting for Craig to find his past form and Kelly, while serviceable, is one of many young arms the Cardinals have in their arsenal. Lackey twice has won the final game of a World Series, so he has big-game pedigree. Earlier, St. Louis acquired Justin Masterson from Cleveland and if he can get straightened out, that’s a steal for the Cardinals.
We’re now set up for a wild final two months. I’m guessing the teams that took the initiative and were buyers at the deadline could see their riches come to fruition in October.