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Trading Day Amid a flurry of deals, New York and Boston prepared for a pennant race

Aug. 11, 2003
Aug. 11, 2003

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Aug. 11, 2003

College Football 2003

Trading Day Amid a flurry of deals, New York and Boston prepared for a pennant race

A day after his team dropped two of three games to the Red Sox at
Fenway Park from July 25 to 27, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner
concluded a terse statement by saying, "They haven't won anything
yet."

This is an article from the Aug. 11, 2003 issue Original Layout

As last Thursday's trading deadline approached and teams jockeyed
to bolster their rosters for the playoff race, the Red
Sox-Yankees rivalry intensified. In the final week of trades, New
York and Boston made more moves (seven) than the entire NL East,
but it was the Red Sox who came out ahead in this race.

For the season's first two months, the Boston bullpen was a
glaring weakness. It's now a worthy complement to a murderous Red
Sox lineup that Yankees manager Joe Torre calls "the best I've
seen in my eight years." The acquisitions of relievers Scott
Williamson (Reds) and Scott Sauerbeck (Pirates) allows Byung-Hyun
Kim to remain the team's closer. In addition, the Red Sox
improved their rotation by obtaining righthander Jeff Suppan from
the Pirates for middle-infield prospect Freddy Sanchez.

Though the Yankees acquired the only 2003 All-Star who changed
uniforms last week--Reds third baseman Aaron Boone, who hit 13 of
his 18 homers (through Sunday) before June--they did little to
address their real needs: rightfield and middle relief. The
Yankees did add reliever Gabe White, but the 31-year-old lefty
has been on the DL for the last five weeks with a groin injury.
In addition New York moved disgruntled outfielder Raul Mondesi to
the Diamondbacks, leaving Ruben Sierra, David Dellucci and Karim
Garcia to platoon in right.

Though the gap between the Yankees and the Red Sox grew to 3 1/2
games at week's end, the difference in talent shrank. How did
other teams fare? Here are the biggest winners and losers.

WINNERS

A's. Though Cincinnati outfielder Jose Guillen wasn't the player
Oakland truly coveted--it repeatedly tried to land Cardinals
rightfielder J.D. Drew--Guillen joined the A's last Friday as the
team leader in average (.337) and home runs (23). Guillen adds
muscle to the middle of a lineup that's finally heating up, with
shortstop Miguel Tejada (.333 in his last 18 games) and third
baseman Eric Chavez (.338 in 18), who are finally awakening from
their seasonlong slumber.

Giants. G.M. Brian Sabean landed the best pitcher available,
Orioles ace Sidney Ponson (14-6, 3.77 ERA).

LOSERS

Dodgers. No contending team was more desperate for an impact
hitter than Los Angeles. The Dodgers' big catch of the week?
Yankees third baseman Robin Ventura, a .249 hitter who hasn't
batted above .250 in a season since '99. L.A.'s offense, last in
the NL, may be improved with Ventura and the mid-July additions
of Jeromy Burnitz and Rickey Henderson, but not by much.

Astros and Cardinals. While the Cubs added firepower to their
lineup with the recent additions of centerfielder Kenny Lofton
and third baseman Aramis Ramirez in a trade with the Pirates
earlier in the month, Houston and St. Louis failed to address
their most pressing need: starting pitching. Even serviceable
innings eaters would have been notable additions. Astros starters
had lasted an NL-worst 5.4 innings per game through Sunday, and
the Cardinals starters' 4.52 ERA was 11th in the league.

Mariners. For the fourth straight season Seattle held a lead in
the AL West at the All-Star break. And for the fourth straight
season the Mariners, who badly need a third baseman and another
lefthander in the bullpen, failed to acquire an impact player by
the deadline. "The guys in this clubhouse are very disappointed,"
said reliever Jeff Nelson.

COLOR PHOTO: KATHY WILLENS/AP (TOP) Alfonso Soriano and Mueller know the battle in the AL East willbe hard-fought to the end.COLOR PHOTO: CHUCK SOLOMON (WILLIAMSON) Boston bolstered its bullpen with Williamson (left), while Boonegave New York an upgrade at third base.COLOR PHOTO: BRAD MANGIN (BOONE) [See caption above]