DEALS AND STEALS
The July 31 trading deadline isn't the end of dealing. Since 1990
David Cone, Woody Williams, Denny Neagle, Jeromy Burnitz and Jose
Canseco all passed through waivers and were part of August
trades. No-name minor leaguers such as Jeff Bagwell, Moises Alou
and John Smoltz also were traded in August.
The deadline, however, creates urgency and competition among
clubs. That kind of climate makes July the best month for picking
somebody's pocket. Here are the five most one-sided July deals
from the past 10 seasons. Note that none of them led immediately
to a world championship and most of the steals involved getting
an established player rather than a prospect.
1. 1B Mark McGwire from Oakland to St. Louis for P Eric Ludwick,
P Blake Stein and P T.J. Mathews (1997). After the Angels passed
on McGwire, the Cardinals snared the man who would become the
home run king in exchange for three pitchers who faded.
2. P Derek Lowe and C Jason Varitek from Seattle to Boston for P
Heathcliff Slocumb (1997). The Red Sox stole a future 20-game
winner and an All-Star catcher.
3. 1B Fred McGriff from San Diego to Atlanta for OF Melvin
Nieves, P Donnie Elliott and OF Vince Moore (1993). At little
cost, McGriff ignited one of the greatest second-half comebacks
in pennant race history as the Braves caught San Francisco, who
were 10 games ahead on July 22. Two years later they won the
4. 3B Scott Rolen and P Doug Nickle from Philadelphia to St.
Louis for INF Placido Polanco, P Bud Smith and P Mike Timlin
(2002). The Phillies came out of a messy divorce from Rolen with
a fraction of his value.
5. P Kirk Rueter and P Tim Scott from Montreal to San Francisco
for P Mark Leiter (1996). The Giants paid little for Rueter, who
is 91-59 since the deal.
Tom Glavine (6-11, 5.10 ERA at week's end) has a diminished
chance at 300 wins (he has 248 at age 37), a strained rib muscle
and one of the worst teams in baseball around him. But he says he
doesn't regret signing his three-year, $35 million deal with the
Mets, even though his other suitors, the Braves and the Phillies,
are strong contenders.
"It's not like this was a surprise," said Glavine, who added that
owner Fred Wilpon told him that if several veterans didn't bounce
back this season, the Mets would clean house and pump money back
into the payroll in the off-season. "Either you believe in the
decision you make or you don't, and it's not influenced by
winning or losing. The reasons don't change."
Glavine's children see their grandparents, who attend most Mets
home games, more than ever. And Glavine, who never gives in to a
hitter, would not admit to regrets, anyway. Professionally,
though, he's been a misfit of a Met: stuck with an organization
that has not emphasized defense and has too many weaknesses to
turn around quickly.
Yankees G.M. Brian Cashman said getting Aaron Boone from
Cincinnati was a coup because third base is a difficult position
to fill. Ten every-day third basemen changed teams from last
year's trading deadline to this year's deadline; only nine are
likely to play 100 games there for the same team they did last
season. Who's winning the musical chairs? Give the edge to Boston
for finding a gem in Bill Mueller. Here are the most valuable
third basemen this season based on on-base-plus-slugging (stats
Rank Name Team OPS
1. Bill Mueller Boston* .986
2. Mike Lowell Florida .943
3. Scott Rolen St. Louis* .941
4. Hank Blalock Texas .902
5. Corey Koskie Minnesota .885
6. Shea Hillenbrand Arizona* .848
*Played for different team July 1, 2002
Spent part of 2002 in minors
AROUND THE HORN
Dan Miceli ended April with the Rockies, May with the Indians,
June with the Yankees and July with the Astros, which made him
the first pitcher to play for teams in four divisions in a single
year, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The only position
player to do so was Dave Kingman, in 1977.
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