Friday, July 31, 2009

Deadline Deliberations Deliver Delicious Drama, And Pizza

The non-waiver trading deadline in Major League Baseball passed a couple hours ago, and in contrast to recent years this one actually had some spice. If I have one request of you, the educated House of Georges baseball fan, it's this: be aware that trades will still get made for the next month. Don't be that guy, the one that wonders aloud in a week why the Cubs acquired some dumpy reliever from the Padres. We've been over this.

There was also some news that popped out yesterday, news about a couple of fringe utility guys that may or may not have played for my favorite ballclub, allegedly testing positive in a fake survey test back when steroids were totally legal. I have no idea about any of this, I don't really follow baseball very closely.

WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THE RED SOX? Glad you asked, this team doesn't get nearly the attention lavished upon such large-market juggernauts as the Pittsburgh Pirates and Asheville Tourists. Boston pulled off the deal for the most immediately impactful player, Indians catcher Victor Martinez. After a sluggish '08, V-Mart has rebounded with an All-Star campaign this season (although he's slowed noticeably in the second half).

Martinez will take over nominally from Jason Varitek as the Sox starting catcher, although I doubt he'll don the tools of ignorance more than four times a week. He'll also spell Kevin Youkilis at first and Large Papi (Winstrol-free since 2003!) at DH, as well as providing even more insurance for gimpy Mike Lowell (Youk can slide to third). If that ain't enough versatility for ya, Martinez is also a switch-hitter with power and can recite many Jeff Foxworthy comedy routines. Good guy to have around.

In case you thought Sox GM Theo Epstein was only good for big-boy serious deadline moves, he also provided quite a bit of slapstick over the last few weeks. He designated Julio Lugo for assignment in anticipation of cutting him, except the Cardinals were actively looking for a strikeout-prone shortstop with hands of stone. So Theo shipped Julio to the Lou in exchange for Chris Duncan, who's equally awful only younger and able to get sent down to the farm. Enjoy Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Theo traded a couple of disposable prospects to Pittsburgh for Adam LaRoche, one of the uglier active big-leaguers (even uglier than Duncan and Lugo). Today he capped off this spree with a final swap of LaRoche for Atlanta first-sacker Casey Kotchman, who's closest comparable player is Adam LaRoche.

All in all, not a bad haul, although an actual shortstop would have been nice. I'm ecstatic that Martinez only cost the Sox Justin Masterson and some parts, leaving the franchise's best pitching prospects (Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Michael Bowden and Oil Can Boyd) wearing crimson hosiery.

As for that business from yesterday, I'll leave my comment to Craig Calcaterra, who's not even a Boston fan:

You're not surprised, so please don't pretend you are. The only people who will truly surprise you to be associated with steroids are Derek Jeter, juniors Cal Ripken and Ken Griffey, and dudes like Jason Tyner and whatnot (though guys like him shouldn't surprise you).

You've not been betrayed, so please don't claim to be. You enjoyed the baseball of those years and nothing of value has been taken from you as a result of recent revelations. While it's totally legitimate to be turned off and disappointed and generally depressed about all of this, if your sense of trust has been so violated by all of this steroids business that you actually feel the need to claim "betrayal," you probably need to examine if you're still a fan or not.

And you know this one is going to come up like crazy, so let's be perfectly clear: the Red Sox' championship in 2004 is not tainted. At least no more tainted than the outcome of any other championship won by any other team in at least the past 20 years, not to mention the awards and the regular season games and everything else, so please don't even go there. Baseball had a steroids problem. Not just the Red Sox, not just the Yankees, not just the Orioles, Rangers or A's. As such, to the extent one uses this latest news as a means of singling out the Sox, one is simply showing that they see the entire world through rivalries and not reason.

Now, with that out of the way, you may resume your regularly-scheduled outrage.


COME ON. WHAT ABOUT THE YANKEES OF NEW YORK CITY? If you insist. Those crazy Bombers got their mitts on utilityman Scott Hairston, who'll share a bench with recently added Eric Hinske.

THE BAY-RAYS WON THE AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST LAST YEAR, DID THEY HELP THEMSELVES AT THE DEADLINE? Tampa tried unsuccessfully to reacquire the "Devil" in their name, thinking it would give them the additional cruelty needed to make a push for the playoffs. Unfortunately, Satan has a full no-trade clause and refused to play on the Gulf Coast of Florida. He'll continue protecting A-Rod in the Yankee lineup.

DID TORONTO EVER TRADE ROY HALLADAY? To say that BJ's GM J.P. Ricciardi overplayed is hand would be a colossal understatement. He asked for a king's ransom for Doc, which is understandable--Halladay is arguably the best pitcher on Earth. But when the bidding war involving the richest teams never materialized (it would have been problematic for Ricciardi to deal within his division to the Red Sox or Yankees anyway), J.P. was unable to land a suitable package from the handful of contenders remaining. The Phillies really wanted him, but they refused to part with all four of their best prospects. The Dodgers, Angels and Rangers also had lines they would not cross.

So Halladay stays put, and Ricciardi is now fucked. He'll be lucky to get half the prospect value this winter when he picks up talks again, and for what? So Halladay can pitch August and September of this season for a team that doesn't want him and fans that don't care? Dumb.

ISN'T THERE ONE MORE TEAM IN THIS DIVISION? Indeed there is, it's the Baltimore Orioles. For a team that once again totally blows, they sure are playing it smart. The O's reaped a fortune in talent when they dealt Miguel Tejada and Erik Bedard a couple years ago, and at this year's deadline they flipped George Sherill (filler from the Mariners in the Bedard deal) to the desperate Dodgers in exchange for a pair of nice prospects. The Baltimore system is loaded with good young arms, the first wave of which was seen Wednesday when Chris Tillman started against the Royals. Catching all those freaks is Matt Weiters, a 6-5 leviathan of a catcher who may someday hit 50 home runs. In a single game. The outfield corners are set for a decade with Adam Jones and Nick Markakis. All they need is a trained assassin to dispatch of Melvin Mora and Aubrey Huff and you've got a scary club on the horizon.

BUT WHAT OF THE REST OF BASEBALL? SURELY MORE ROSTER MOVES WERE MADE TODAY YOU CAN WISE-ASS-I-PHIZE ABOUT?!? Patience, little man. I'll be back with the rest of our deadline happenings soon. Perhaps even by the end of the season, when Midseason Report Cards are due.


Cecil said...

Captioning that photo:

Manny: So that needle must have been *at least* this long.