Guest Author - David Landry
MLB emerged from the All Star break with a legion of contenders, but the trade deadline is where the pack gets left behind. Some teams load up and some throw in the towel. Strong teams can get stronger at the expense of weaker teams seeking to unload payroll. The Yankees exemplify the strong getting stronger, while the Phillies exemplify a team in decline.
What is the trade deadline?
The trade deadline of July 31st at 4pm ET is the last point in the season in which a team can execute a trade without the players named in the trade having to clear waivers. This effectively precludes a team from making blockbuster trade because any team lower in the standings can claim the player. For example, if St. Louis agrees to a trade with Baltimore for Miguel Tejada, Cincinnati could claim Tejada off waivers. Baltimore would rescind the waivers and the trade would be dead.
New York – the strong get stronger
This year there were 15 trades in the last two days prior to the deadline. The Yankees clearly made the boldest move by picking up All Star outfielder Bobby Abreu and pitcher Cory Lidle from the Phillies. When their disabled players are back in a few weeks, opposing pitchers have to face a veritable All Star team: Abreu, Jeter, A-Rod, Giambi, Cano, Matsui, Sheffield, Damon and Posada. This is a new murderer’s row.
The amazing thing is that the Yankees don’t appear to have given up much other than cash. Steinbrenner can afford it. They dealt a couple of lesser prospects to Philadelphia, but retained coveted AAA hurler Phil Hughes.
The Yankees also picked up Craig Wilson from Pittsburgh. Wilson will platoon at first base with Andy Phillips and Jason Giambi. When Sheffield returns, he’ll likely DH, leaving Giambi at first. This move adds a little depth that may come in handy. They gave up Shawn Chacon, who has struggled lately.
Philadelphia – the white flag of surrender flies over Citizens Bank Park
There will be no pennant flying; the Phillies have raised the white flag. This, despite being five and a half games back in the wild card race. In contrast, the Braves, who are six and a half back, loaded up in the hopes of winning the wild card race. With the loss of Abreu, Lidle and Rheal Cormier, the Phillies will drop like a rock.
These moves will have repercussions into 2007. Unless the Phillies make bold moves in the off-season, they stand little chance of competing against division rivals Atlanta and New York. It’s a shame to see a team with such a strong fan base and a beautiful ballyard consign themselves to sub 500 ball. Justin Germano, whom they picked up from Cincinnati in return for Cormier may provide them with a low cost number five starter next year, but overall this is a team with diminished prospects.