The Impact of Early Trades
by Trevor Whenham - 07/21/2006
It's almost trading deadline time in baseball. This time of year is always a big news story. Most often, however, all the buzz and rumors are generated by media members who have to fill time during the dull days of summer.
Big names get thrown around (Willis, Zito, Maddux, Andruw Jones, Garcia, Vazquez, Soriano, Cabrera) and, most often, they don't end up anywhere. Pretty much every decent pitcher on a sub-par team has been rumored to be heading to a contender, and the Yankees are reportedly going to trade for every batter hitting over .260. However, almost everything you read and hear won't happen.
That being said, a few smaller deals have been made that will have an impact on both the teams that traded (or dropped) the players and the squads that have added them. Here's a look at some of the moves that have happened, and the impact they will have on you and your picks for the rest of the season:
Aubrey Huff from Tampa Bay to Houston - With all due respect to Huff, if his is the biggest name to change clubhouses, then you know that the trade deadline isn't exactly firing along yet. Huff is a solid bat, but he isn't the second coming of Babe Ruth. In 63 games in Tampa Bay he had 8 home runs and 28 RBIs while batting .283. In his first game in Houston he jacked a three run bomb out of the park, but he has been dry in five games since then. On the other hand, your grandmother would be an upgrade on offense for the Stros.
Huff plays both corners of the infield and right field. For now he'll play at third for the injured Morgan Ensberg. Even when he was healthy, Ensberg was struggling (.236, though he did have 19 homers). Ensberg might be used as trade bait when he returns, but more likely his bat will be added to Huff's to try and score some runs so that Clemens and the rest of the pitching staff actually stand a chance. Houston has been an absolute betting disaster this year, being way behind on the moneyline on the season. Huff isn't the messiah, but he may help, especially since this team has shown they can get hot late.
Sidney Ponson to the Yankees - Ponson has been in the news the last few years, but it has been more for his criminal activities than his arm. Ponson is almost 30, but he's only had 2/3 of a good season in his career. He was great for Baltimore in 2003 before he went to San Francisco at the deadline and was awful. The O's brought him back, tired of his act after two poor seasons, and dumped him.
The Cards gave him a try, but even a team who needs good starters that badly couldn't handle his act. Now he's landed with the Yankees. The Cards lost his last seven appearances, and he had a mediocre no decision in his first appearance in New York, though the Yanks did win the game (they were -149 faves against Seattle, so they should have won). The Yanks need an arm so badly they can taste it. Shawn Chacon is a disaster, Randy Johnson is not his good old self, and only Wright and Mussina have been decently profitable moneyline bets. Ponson almost certainly isn't the answer, but he's no worse than what they have.
The Reds and Nationals trade eight players - Reds GM Wayne Krivsky is taking a lot of grief for this move. He deserves it. The Reds have been slumping, but they are still in contention in the weak NL Central behind a flawed Cards team. The way to get ready for the race isn't to dump Austin Kearns and his decent bat and have a rookie take his place and bat leadoff. It isn't to trade Felipe Lopez and replace him with Royce Clayton and his lame bat. Clayton has absolutely no power, though his glove is better than Lopez's. Sure, the Reds added two relievers, but they lost one, too. All in all, the Reds got much worse after the deal. The Reds already haven't been a great bet (they are moneyline losers at home), but this looks like a team poised for a freefall. Be ready to strike if their game starts going south.
Bob Wickman to Atlanta - The Braves have bullpen woes. Serious bullpen woes. Take this for example - last night Kevin Barry entered the game in relief and allowed four earned runs in a third of an inning. Ouch. Wickman has 15 saves in 18 tries this season, he saved 45 games last year, and the Braves got him for nothing. Don't look now, but the Braves are the hottest team in the league right now and they are moving right back into the wild card race. They have been a betting dream for a couple of weeks now, and Wickman will only make it better.