Well, here we are. We’ve got two editions of the wind up this weekend, with today’s focusing solely on this week’s craziness. The 2015 edition of Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone. Plenty happened.
Below you won’t see much in terms of winners and losers per se, rather just an abundance of commentary. So stick around, and above all else, let us know in the comments how you think your team did. While I’ll attempt to concentrate on the big names, there’s plenty that follows, regardless of notoriety.
Who’s Laughing Now?
It was pretty fun while it lasted, right? Poking fun at the Houston Astros until the sun came up, looping multiple gifs that in turn made us feel better about ourselves, and finding it difficult to believe just how bad the Astros had been. Perhaps those days are gone for a while. And honestly, that’s a really nice thought.
It started with starting pitcher Scott Kazmir, who they acquired last Thursday for a couple of minor league players in Jake Nottingham and Dan Mengen. Kazmir’s resurgence began with Cleveland in 2013, and has only continued over the past two seasons with Oakland. In 52 starts dating back to last season, he holds an ERA of 2.82 to go along with a 3.21 FIP and 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings. In two starts with the Astros thus far, he’s yet to allow a run over 14.2 innings pitched.
That wasn’t all. Houston also acquired outfielder Carlos Gomeza��who is under contract through next season at a very reasonable rate of $9 milliona��along with starting pitcher Mike Fiersa��who is controlled through 2019a��from the Milwaukee Brewers in a six-player trade. It was a nice get for the Astros as they continue to make their unforeseen push towards the 2015 playoffs, even if Gomez’s numbers haven’t been what they were over the past two seasons.
Entering Friday he held a line of 262/328/423 with eight home runs and only seven stolen bases. Between 2013 and 2014 he slashed 284/347/492 with 47 home runs and 74 stolen bases, so they’ll be hoping for more of the former from here on out. As for the 30-year-old Fiers, he currently holds a 3.89 ERA to go along with a 3.79 FIP and an impressive 9.2 strikeouts per nine. More on the Brewers in a bit.
Underdogs No Longer
This has been apparent for the entire season, but the Kansas City Royalsa��not unlike the Astros, though to a much smaller degreea��are no longer baseball’s punching bag. After an incredible run to the World Series that left the tying run just 90 feet away last season, many expected a down year for the Royals after losing James Shields.
Not only that, but the talented Yordano Ventura has had a rough 2015. Still, the Royals remain the best team in the American League and are running away with the AL Central. Remember when they didn’t bat an eye last season during the trade deadline? Not this time. First they acquired Cincinnati’s ace Johnny Cueto for a trio of left-handed pitchers. The 29-year-old is most definitely a rental but a dandy at that, as his ERA hasn’t finished above 2.82 since 2010 (3.64). This year that number resides at 2.62 with an FIP of 3.14 while averaging 8.3 strikeouts per nine. This move solidified the fact that Kansas City was all in for 2015, while the following move simply padded that position.
With outfielder Alex Gordon out of commission a little while longer, the Royals felt the need to add another, and then some. Enter Ben Zobrist, who can play all over the infield as well as outfield if need be. Don’t be surprised to see him slot in for the struggling Omar Infante at second base as the rest of the season rolls along. Like Cueto, Zobrist is a free agent at the end of the season, but his switch-hitting at the plate and versatility in the field is something they will cherish the rest of the season.
The 34-year-old is slashing 264/349/439 on the year.
Blue Jays Claim two of the Bigger Prizes
If you didn’t think Toronto was all in, think again. Acquiring shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was just the beginning, but do you realize how strange that sounds? They paid the price to bolster their offense, but they weren’t done there. Tulowitzki, 30, is still one of the best shortstops in baseball when healthya��particularly at the plate. It will be interesting to see how he hits being away from Coors Field consistently, but he owns a 276/349/468 line on the road with 82 home runs in just under 2,200 plate appearances. Better yet, he’s under contract through 2020.
Remember when David Price was supposed to go to the Los Angeles Dodgers? Well, the Blue Jays weren’t having any of that when they took him from Detroit on Thursday. Price is more than likely a rental, but continues to shine and provides help in the Blue Jays playoff pusha��even if it results in only a wild card berth. At the very least, we know who’d be starting that elimination game.
Price, 29, is striking out 8.5 batters per ninea��down from last year’s mark of 9.5a��but holds a 2.53 ERA and even 3.00 FIP. Tulowitzki didn’t necessarily make them playoff hopefuls; their offense was already just fine. They needed a man to lead the line, and they got one in Price.
Toronto ended their week by picking up Philadelphia outfielder Ben Revere, a 27-year-old who isn’t eligible to become a free agent until 2018. On the season he’s slashing 298/334/374 to go along with 24 stolen bases. What a week it was for the Blue Jays.
Milwaukee’s Rebuild Begins
Since Mark Attanasio took over the Brewers in 2005, they’ve always gone with the ‘we’re going to be competitive every year’ approach. Now, he’s not a bad owner. The fact that he cares so much about winning is nice, but sometimes he meddles in free agency when they haven’t really been in position to compete (see: Lohse, Kyle and Garza, Matt). Other times, and this is the most frustrating trait he seems to possess, Attanasio has been unable to take a step back from day one and say ‘Okay, we need to rebuild.’
That transition began Thursday night when the Brewers traded Gomez and Fiers to the Astros for four prospects: Brett Phillips, Domingo Santana, Josh Hader and Adrian Housera��ranked No. 2, 7, 14, and 21 in Houston’s system respectively by mlb.com. Only Santana has MLB experience, albeit minimal, but the oldest player coming back in this trade is 22 years old.
Parting with Fiers, 30, may have been difficult, but according to general manager Doug Melvin it got them Phillips who was previously said to be untouchable. It’s amazing what player control on the cheap will do for you, hey? For some local flavor on the trade, check out Brew Crew Ball and Reviewing the Brew. For Brewers fans understanding the team’s situation and acknowledging that trades like these needed to be done, Thursday and Friday were good days. The Gomez trade was the most notable, but on deadline day Melvin had one more crucial move to make: shipping Gerardo Parra.
Parra, 28, is having a career year just before he enters free agency. The man who was originally brought over as a fourth outfielder last season is slashing 328/369/517 with five triples, nine home runs, and nine stolen bases. If you thought there was a chance Milwaukee would keep Parra after the season ended, there was this from Melvin:
a�?After trading centerfielder Carlos Gomez, Melvin took a run at signing Parra to a contract extension. ‘He wanted to test the market. We weren’t surprised. We didn’t even engage in anything. We just asked the agent if he would have interest in a quick negotiation.’a�?
So they sent Parra to Baltimore for Zach Davies, a slender 22-year-old pitcher who could find his way towards the back of the Brewers rotation as early as next season. Through 101.1 innings at the AAA level this year, he’s holding a 2.84 ERA, striking out 7.2 batters per nine, and walking 2.9. They’re not quite done yet in terms of shipping pieces, but this week was an important one for Brewers ownership, and they passed.
Despite the Drama, Mets Get Their Bat
We don’t need to discuss the failed Gomez for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores trade any further. It didn’t happen, it’s over. Instead the Mets nabbed a rental from Detroit in the form of outfielder Yoenis CA�spedes, who’s having his best season since his rookie year (2012), slashing 293/323/506 with 28 doubles and 18 home runs.
The Mets desperately needed a bat and got a good one, but there’s plenty more help that’s needed on the offensive end. They’re only one game back of Washington in the NL East, but I don’t know if they can hold on until the end. As has been the case all season, the pitching staff will be the difference.
Earlier in the week they took Tyler Clippard off Oakland’s hands. As you’ll see later in the program, there’s nothing to scoff at when it comes to adding bullpen help. Clippard, 30 and also a free agent after the season, has a 2.79 ERA and 3.91 FIP while striking out 8.8 per nine. He saved 17 games this season for the Athletics but will slot into the setup role going forward.
A Future of Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish
A plea from baseball fans everywhere: stay healthy, Yu Darvish. Of all the teams in on Philadelphia’s stud Cole Hamels, it was the Rangers who emerged victorious in the sweepstakes. Going the other way they sent six playersa��including four prospects: catcher Jorge Alfaro, and pitchers Alec Asher, Jerad Eickoff, and Jake Thompson.
The best part about receiving Hamels, 31a��other than his numbersa��is the fact that he’s team-controlled through 2019. With him coming over, there’s still hope for the wild card in Texas yet. They currently sit three games out. On the season Hamels has tossed 128.2 innings with a 3.64 ERA and 3.21 FIP. He’s striking out 9.6 per nine while walking 2.7.
Now, imagine a one-two rotational punch of Hamels-Darvish. Sure it’s not Clayton Kershaw-Zack Greinke, but it would get the job done.
Bryce Harper, Jonathan Papelbon, and the Same Team
Finally, the Phillies were able to move closer Jonathan Papelbon. As for the player’s mentality, Papelbon has to be feeling pretty good. He’s gone from the worst in the NL East to the best, and he’ll even get to close games in Washington, too. He has converted 18 saves on the season with a 1.59 ERA and 2.95 FIP. Most impressively, while his velocity continues to drop he still manages to strike out plenty of batters: 9.1 per nine along with a walk rate of 1.8.
Lastly, you no longer have to imagine Papelbon and Bryce Harper playing for the same team. It’s reality! Think of the interviews, think of the attitude descriptors, and for the love of all that is sacred think of the narrative.
Odds and Ends
Imagine being the name announced after the Mets/Brewers saga played out and ultimately fell through. That was the reality for pitcher Joe Blanton, who was sent from Kansas City to Pittsburgh for cash. Over 41.2 innings of work the 34-year-old holds a 3.89 ERA, 3.54 FIP, and has struck out 8.6 batters per nine while walking only 1.5.
Wait, the Boston Red Sox were able to move Shane Victorino? Who cares what their record is at this point; that’s outstanding. The 34-year-old is a free agent at the end of this season and has only played in a combined 65 games since 2014, slashing 253/311/335 along the way.
Not sure what to make of this trade between the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, and Miami Marlins. In this order: the Dodgers added a couple more arms to their rotation, the Braves were worried about Alex Wood’s long-term health but took on a 30-year-old HA�ctor Oliveraa��a player with injury concerns of his own who hasn’t played in the majors yet, and the Marlins dumped salary. Plenty of names took part in this deal (13), but there isn’t a whole lot here to love, really. At the very least, it was entertaining.
The Reds continued their steps towards a rebuild of sorts, by sending starter Mike Leake to the San Francisco Giants for a couple of prospects. Leake, 27, holds an ERA of 3.56, an FIP of 3.88, but doesn’t strike out many battersa��only 5.9 per ninea��while walking 2.2. He is a free agent at the end of the season.
If only you would have just retired out west like you wanted, hey Dan? At least now there’s the potential for a playoff run. Dan Haren, now a Cub, holds a 3.42 ERA but that appears to be a bit fluky with his 4.57 FIP.
Do the Dodgers even like to keep the guys they sign or trade for?
You can never have enough relief help in a pennant race, and the Pirates can say they did a much better job than the St. Louis Cardinals in acquiring that. Then again, did they? Joakim Soria seems to have been very lucky this season as well, what with his 2.85 ERA and much, much higher 4.81 FIP.
More relief help in the exciting NL Central, whether it be for a chance at the division crown or a wild card spot. Tommy Hunter has been just fine: 3.63 ERA and 3.32 FIP over 44.2 innings while allowing just three home runs.
The Brewers gave them $3 million along with a hard-throwing reliever, but I believe they’ll be content with letting the big man go. It’s been a fluky season for Jonathan Broxton. He’s throwing as hard as he ever has, but his ERA is a staggering 5.89 and he’s allowed 24 earned runs in just 36.2 innings. Then again, his FIP is 3.65 and he’s striking out 9.1 batters per nine, so what’s really going on here?
Well, you could have done way better than the injury-prone and inconsistent Brandon Moss, Cardinals, especially in trading the promising Rob Kaminsky. Then again, you own the best record in the league, so we could let it slide. That said, Moss is slashing 215/286/404 with 15 home runs and 107 strikeouts in 377 plate appearances. Fellow Cardinal Mark Reynolds is slashing 225/306/386 with nine home runs and 90 strikeouts in 301 plate appearances. So essentially you acquired a slightly more powerful Reynolds, while keeping Reynolds, by parting with a young prospect who has plenty of upside. It’s an odd move.
And this was an odd deadline in certain ways, but an extremely fun one. I hope you enjoyed it.