An SI survey of five baseball executives to solicit opinions on how teams performed before the trade deadline found that the Rangers' moves were universally considered the best, which is no surprise. The Padres were roundly praised, as well, and no one found fault with what the Yankees did, which is to throw their financial might around as only they can. In other words, just what they usually do.
Many of the other teams' moves were well-received, but there certainly was a mixture of opinions about what some clubs did. Here's what the five execs had to say:
Moves: Acquired P Cliff Lee and relief pitcher Mark Lowe from Seattle for Justin Smoak and prospects in a six-player deal; acquired IF Cristian Guzman from Washington; IF Jorge Cantu from Florida; and C Bengie Molina from San Francisco.
Executives' Comments: "The only team that really impacted the pennant race was Texas, with the Cliff Lee deal. He's a true ace, and his number are off the charts"..."I like everything the Rangers did.''
My take: Incredible job by a bankrupt team. No wonder Mark Cuban was so anxious to buy them.
Moves: Acquired Ryan Ludwick from St. Louis as part of a three-team trade; acquired Miguel Tejada from Baltimore
Executives' Comments: "San Diego did well. They got two veteran guys who know how to hit and grind out at-bats. Although I'm not sure Miguel Tejada can still handle shortstop"...."The Padres did well by adding a couple veteran bats to help them and didn't seem to compromise much"...."I like the (Ryan) Ludwick deal for the Padres.''
My Take: Hard to believe the Padres were even in the position of buyers given the low payroll they have and the equally low preseason expectations others had for them. Good for them. Ludwick is the key.
Moves: Acquired P Roy Oswalt from Houston for P J.A. Happ and three prospects
Executives' Comments: "Philly did well. They needed Oswalt. He's still very good, especially in the National League"...."I don't think Oswalt is on the upswing of his career. Trading (J.A.) Happ had to be a tough decision. He's cost efficient and a pretty good pitcher"...."I don't think they should have ever traded Cliff Lee. But if they get healthy, they should be pretty dangerous.''
My take: I'd rather have Lee and Happ than Joe Blanton and Oswalt on their long-term deals, but they did enhance their chances at getting back to the postseason by adding Oswalt.
Moves: Acquired 1B Lance Berkman from Houston; acquired relief pitcher Kerry Wood and OF Austin Kearns from Cleveland in separate deals
Executives' Comments: "The Yankees do what they do. We'll see how the players they got adjust to New York, of course.''
My take: The Yankees opened their wallets but these deals only cost them a bit over $5 million, which is chump change for them.
Moves: Acquired P Dan Haren from Arizona for P Joe Saunders in a five-player trade; acquired 3B Alberto Callaspo from Kansas City for P Sean O'Sullivan
Executives' Comments: "I think they're on a downward cycle where they finally don't have many prospects. Haren is still a good pitcher. But it seems like they've started the cycle where they're patching things together from other teams. They've got the money to get impact players from free agency, so they'll be all right. But the (Joel) Pineiro injury really hurt them. Haren and (Jered) Weaver are great. But Trevor Bell isn't getting anyone out"...."The Angels appear to be out of it. But Haren at $13 million a year isn't bad.''
My take: I liked the Haren deal at the time. But the injuries make it seem superfluous now that they are so far back in the AL West race.
Moves: Acquired C Wilson Ramos from Minnesota for relief pitcher Matt Capps; Traded IF Cristian Guzman to Texas for pitching prospects Tanner Roark and Ryan Tatusko.
Executives' Comments: "I love what Washington did. I'm a big Ramos fan"...."I think they did pretty well to get Ramos for Capps".... "What they did with Capps is good. They turned him into a very good prospect. What they did with (Adam) Dunn is a sin. They had the most attractive trade piece and kept him. Kenny Williams (of the White Sox) is the most aggressive GM in the game and he acquired a pitcher (Edwin Jackson) to set himself up for a (Dunn) trade. It can't be him''...."I don't think there were many head scratchers, but Dunn (staying) was one."...."If (Ramos) hits, it might be big for Washington. It was a very good process. The signed him as a nontender and turned him into something worthwhile.''
My take: There seems to have been a split over what to do about Dunn, but it made little sense to hold him now when they could have re-signed him anyway as a free agent (so far there don't appear to be talks going on with him). But of course, the Ramos deal was boffo for the Nats.
Moves: Acquired relief pitcher Chad Qualls from Arizona for a player to be named later
Executives' Comments: "Tampa Bay didn't have to do too much"...."They probably should have gotten a bat. But they have a very good team as is.''
My take: Those comments are exactly right. Knowing Tampa Bay, Qualls will actually pitch better there than he did for the Diamondbacks, for whom he had an 8.29 ERA.
Moves: Acquired P Joe Saunders from Los Angeles of Anaheim for Dan Haren in a five-player deal; Traded Edwin Jackson to Chicago White Sox for pitching prospect Daniel Hudson; Acquired OF Ryan Church, IF Bobby Crosby and P D.J. Carrasco from Pittsburgh for C Chris Snyder in five-player trade; Traded relief pitcher Chad Qualls to Tampa Bay.
Executives' Comments: "They did well with the players they moved. We have great reports on Hudson. They had something like a draft at the deadline. Very good job"...."I like what (new GM Jerry) DiPoto did. He was very decisive. If DiPoto were running the Nats, he would have found a trade for Dunn.''
My take: They did very well to get the prospects they got, but it's a bit surprising there wasn't more action on Adam LaRoche, a solid hitter who is a big second-half performer
Moves: Acquired SS Alex Gonzalez from Toronto for SS Yunel Escobar as part of a five-player deal; Acquired CF Wilkin Ramirez from Detroit; Acquired OF Rick Ankiel and P Kyle Farnsworth from Kansas City as part of a five-player deal.
Executives' Comments: "I like what the Braves did. There's a bit of risk in the guys they got, but these guys are both better off in the NL. As long as they're not relying on Ankiel to be their starting center fielder or Farnsworth to be their main eighth inning guy, they should fit in well"...."I don't know about Farnsworth. And Ankiel has a chronic ankle thing. But they look like the team to beat in the National League"...."Farnsworth and Ankiel should be OK in that city.''
My take: Adding Ankiel makes sense since they had issues in the outfield. Farnsworth is a lon shot to make an impact, although he did have his best year in Atlanta, posting a 1.98 ERA and 10 saves after being brought over at the 2005 deadline. No surprise that Royals GM Dayton Moore dealt with the Braves, for whom he used to work.
Moves: Acquired P Will Ohman from Baltimore for P Rick VandenHurk;Traded IF Jorge Cantu to Texas for RHP Omar Poveda and Evan Reed
Executives' Comments: "I don't think Florida got too much for Cantu. They needed a left-hander, so Ohman was a good move.''
My take: Their moves usually wind up very well for them. It's amazing that they are at least on the fringe of the race every year and never give up.
Moves: Acquired relief pitcher Matt Capps from Washington for C Wilson Ramos and LHP Joe Testa
Executives' Comments: "Capps is an average major-league closer. He's above average as a set-up man. But as a closer, he's only average.''
My take: They needed to upgrade the bullpen, and Ramos was blocked by reigning AL MVP Joe Mauer. So, pretty well played.
Moves: Acquired 3B Brett Wallace from Toronto; Traded P Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia for P J.A. Happ and three prospects
Executives' Comments: "Houston did what it had to do. It's been a long time coming. They still have a lot of rebuilding to do.''
My take: I congratulate them for getting started on their rebuilding.
Moves: Acquired Scott Podsednik from Kansas City for C Lucas May and RHP Elisaul Pimentel; Acquired P Ted Lilly and IF Ryan Theriot from Chicago Cubs in five-player deal; Acquired relief pitcher Octavio Dotel from Pittsburgh for P James McDonald and OF prospect Andrew Lambo
Executives' Comments: "I like what the Dodgers did. Though, I still think McDonald has potential"...."(Jamey) Carroll, (Rafael) Belliard and Theriot are all pretty much the same player. Dotel was the only experienced guy out there.''
My Take: Lilly gives them a veteran presence and Podsednik is a useful player, especially with the uncertainty surrounding the health of Manny Ramirez. Dotel is solid, though his clubhouse rep is spotty. It's amazing how much activity the Dodgers have every July with no money to spend.
Moves: Traded P Kerry Wood and OF Austin Kearns to New York Yankees in separate deals; Traded P Jake Westbrook to St. Louis as part of a three-team trade; Traded 3B Jhonny Peralta to Detroit for LHP Giovanni Soto
Executives' Comments: "They saved some money. I don't think they got back much. Everything goes in cycles.''
My take: Everything they do makes sense. But they need to cycle back pretty soon.
Moves: Traded 1B Mike Jacobs to Toronto
Executives' Comments: "They were the least aggressive club to deal with. Any deal you talked about, they wanted you to take back Luis Castillo. Or if it was a bigger deal, you had to take back Oliver Perez. I don't think anybody's going to take Oliver Perez or Castillo"...."The Mets didn't do anything and needed to.''
My take: They Mets didn't want to repeat the Scott Kazmir trade of 2004 in which they dealt a well-regarded prospect for a mediocre big leaguer (in that case, pitcher Victor Zambrano) so they turned down a chance to add Dotel for Class-A pitching project Robert Carson and Lilly for catching prospect Josh Thole and one other player. Not sure any deal would have helped them anyway and Oswalt wouldn't have been worth it. But too much time appears to have been wasted trying to dump Perez when they need to decide whether to just release the struggling southpaw starter.
Moves: Acquired P Jake Westbrook from Cleveland and traded OF Ryan Ludwick to San Diego in a three-team, four-player trade
Executives' Comments: "Westbrook's a good pitcher. And they gave up a good hitter to get him (in Ludwick)''
My take: They have faith in young outfielder Jon Jay, so it makes sense to give up Ludwick. The AL-to-NL switch may help Westbrook.
Moves: Acquired relief pitcher Ramon Ramirez from Boston; Acquired P Javier Lopez from Pittsburgh for P Joe Martinez and OF John Bowker
Executives' Comments: "I'm sure they're frustrated they didn't get a hitter. But Ramon Ramirez will help their pitching staff. And Javier Lopez is having a very good year"...."I'm sure the Giants are frustrated that they didn't get a hitter, but maybe they'll pick someone up on the waiver wire.''
My take: I agree, they have to be frustrated after looking into everyone and getting no one for their lineup. But for the most part, they seem to be rolling along. With Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, their pitching staff is pretty darned special.
Moves: Acquired P Sean Gallagher from San Diego; Acquired C Chris Snyder from Arizona for OF Ryan Church, IF Bobby Crosby and P D.J. Carrasco; Acquired P James McDonald and OF prospect Andrew Lambo from Los Angeles Dodgers for relief pitcher Octavio Dotel; Acquired P Joe Martinez and OF John Bowker from San Francisco for P Javier Lopez
Executives' Comments: "They did a good job. Chris Snyder should be a nice veteran presence, and they didn't have to give up much.''
My take: Maybe it's a good job, but the end of their 17- (soon to be 18-) year losing streak isn't in sight.
Moves: Acquired 3B Jack Hannahan from Seattle; Acquired C Jarrod Saltalamacchia from Texas; Traded relief pitcher Ramon Ramirez to San Francisco
Executives' Comments: "Saltalamacchia was a centerpiece in the deal (that sent Mark Teixeira from Texas to Atlanta in 2007). He's still developing as a hitter. Catchers develop later than other positions. He seems over his throwing issues.''
My take: Getting Saltalamacchia can't hurt Boston, which appears snake-bit this year with all of their injuries, most recently to Kevin Youkilis.
• The Yankees did come close to getting Mike Lowell in a three-way trade with Texas and Boston, but the Rangers and Red Sox wound up settling on the Saltalamacchia deal instead. WEEI reported on the Lowell possibility first.
• The Blue Jays and Yankees talked about Jose Bautista but Toronto is said to have wanted Brett Gardner and Joba Chamberlain, at least hypothetically. Others say talks never got serious, as the Jays don't like to trade within their division. They are believed to have sought at least Jonathan Sanchez from the Giants.
• Neither Jose Bautista nor Dunn is seen as having any chance to clear waivers. Bautista is under contract for 2011 for $6 million but Dunn is a free agent.
• Nice note: The Marlins, along with Food for the Poor, launched "Homes for Haiti,'' a month-long fundraising initiative aimed to build much-needed housing in Haiti. Marlins catcher John Baker, along with members of the Marlins front office traveled to Haiti to spearhead efforts. That is a great cause.
• MLB has to be thrilled Mark Cuban's group didn't beat out Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan to buy the Rangers. The winning bid was $593 million. MLB usually gets to pick its owners, but in this case they breathed a sign of relief. Cuban has done well with the NBA's Dallas Mavericks but he's often been critical of the league, a fact not lost on MLB commissioner Bud Selig, who occasionally corresponds with NBA commissioner David Stern.