MLB trade deadline results in spectacular arms race

Both the Oakland A’s and the Detroit Tigers went all in and bolstered their pitching staffs as the prepare for the postseason. Of course they aren’t the only two teams to watch in the American League, but suddenly a potential matchup between these two starting rotations has baseball fans salivating.

Billy Beane had already added Jeff Samardzija, and now he adds John Lester. This latest one cost him Yoenis Cespedes so who knows how it will play out, but the A’s will have the arms to compete in October.

But when it comes to mortgaging the future, the Tigers and their 85-year-old owner Mike Ilitch may have the A’s beat as they’ve dumped some great prospects in this mad flurry, capped off with their acquisition of David Price who now heads the most intimidating rotation in baseball. If Justin Verlander is your fourth starter you definitely have a shot in the postseason. We’ll see though if that’s enough.

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Cardinals land Westbrook, Padres Ludwick in deadline deal

July 26, 2010 - Cleveland, OHIO, UNITED STATES - epa02262280 Jake Westbrook of the Cleveland Indians delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees in the first inning of their game at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, 26 July 2010.

In a three-team deal involving the Cardinals, Padres and Indians, St. Louis acquired starter Jake Westbrook, San Diego nabbed Ryan Ludwick and Cleveland received prospect Corey Kluber. The Cards also acquired prospect Nick Greenwood from the Padres.

From MLB.com:

“I’m excited,” Westbrook said. “I’m excited to go to a club contending for a playoff spot and pitch in some meaningful ballgames. That’s why you play the game, for a chance to get into the playoffs, and I’m looking forward to doing that.”

Westbrook was so eager to get in the playoff chase that he actually forfeited some of the trade protection in his contract. He was set to receive a $2 million bonus if dealt, and that was a major roadblock in trade talks, given that Westbrook is already owed nearly $4 million in salary this season.

But Westbrook agreed for that bonus to be lowered. The exact details were not announced, but the stipulation had to be approved by the Players Association.

“It was one of the hold-ups for getting me traded,” Westbrook said of the bonus. “I don’t really want to comment on the details of that, but it was something. Any way that I could help out the Indians, I needed to do that, because I didn’t really feel like I honored my contract as well as I would have liked to, being hurt. It was in my best interest and the Indians’ best interest to do something like that.”

I like this deal for all teams involved. The Cards lost Ludwick, but they’re going to save money (money they’re going to need to retain Albert Pujols) over the next two seasons and they added a workhorse Westbrook. He’s not a great arm at this point in his career, but St. Louis doesn’t need a great arm. They needed an upgrade at the backend of their rotation and that’s exactly what they got today in Westbrook.

Remember when the discussion about the Padres was about whether or not they would trade Adrian Gonzalez at some point before the deadline? Now look at them. They strengthened their bench with Miguel Tejada and acquired an All-Star in Ludwick to boost their offense for the stretch run. Give San Diego’s front office credit – they’re going for it.

According to his scouting report, Kluber lacks big upside, but he has a chance to be a solid back-end starter. The key to this deal for the Indians is that they save money by trading Westbrook’s contract. Westbrook wasn’t going to have a role in the Tribe’s future, so trading him now saves the club money and landing Kluber gives them a prospect that projects to being a cheap major league-caliber starter.

It’s not often that three teams get exactly what they want out of a deal, but I think the Cardinals, Padres and Indians came pretty close today.

Astros trade Roy Oswalt to Phillies for J.A. Happ, two prospects

July 18, 2010 - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America - 18 July 2010: Houston Astros starting pitcher Roy Oswalt (44) delivers a pitch to the plate during the National League game between the Houston Astros and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates Paul Maholm.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Astros have traded starter Roy Oswalt to the Phillies for J.A. Happ, and prospects Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar. Oswalt had to waive his no-trade clause in order for the deal to go through, which he obviously did. (Or else, you know, there wouldn’t be a story.)

Here are some details for the y.o.u.:

The Astros also agreed to pay $11 million of the more than $23 remaining on Oswalt’s contract, which runs through 2011, so the Phillies will owe him about $12 million for a season plus two months. They also can exercise their end of a mutual option in an effort to keep Oswalt for 2012.

Some teams were reluctant to pursue Oswalt, who turns 33 on Aug. 29, in this trade market due to injury concerns. He has been on the disabled list three times since ‘06 with back or hip issues, including each of the past two seasons.

As Rosenthal points out, exactly one year ago, the Phillies traded for Cliff Lee and they went on to appear in their second World Series in two years. Will they strike magic two years in a row? Tough to say. They were six games above the Marlins in the NL East at this date last year and now they’re chasing the Braves by three.

That said, a three-game deficit is nothing with a starting rotation that features Oswalt, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels. The key is whether or not the offense will come around, which it looks like it may.

Oswalt is having his worst career as a pro record-wise at 6-12, but he’s pitched better than the numbers suggest. He should be re-energized by re-joining the pennant race and should be a welcome addition to the Phillies’ rotation. It’s time for him to step up now, though.

Twenty-five random MLB trade thoughts and predictions

With the MLB trade deadline approaching on Friday, I have zero time to waste writing a creative intro that you’ll either a) take the time to read or b) take the time to read.

So I’ll cut right to the chase: I have got about a million random thoughts and predictions (25, actually) bouncing around in this noggin of mine, so I’ve decided to compile them in one heaping pile of organized chaos below. Feel free to add your own thoughts and predictions in the comments section and then we can play a couple rounds of “I told you so!” after the trade deadline passes on Friday.

1. I was close, but wrong with my prediction early last week that the Blue Jays will trade Roy Halladay to the Phillies. They would have traded him to the Phillies, but Philadelphia didn’t want to give up a promising major league starter in J.A. Happ, their top minor league pitching prospect Kyle Drabek, and a promising minor league outfielder named Dominic Brown in order to complete the deal. And who could blame them? That’s one steep price to pay, even for a player of Halladay’s caliber.

2. Instead, I fully believe that Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi was never going to trade Halladay in the first place, unless he was so blown away by an offer that he couldn’t pass it up. Halladay isn’t a free agent until after the 2010 season, so Ricciardi used this past month to gauge what he could potentially get for the ace for next year.

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MacPhail: MLB buyers and sellers

SI.com’s Andy MacPhail put together a small list of MLB teams that should either buy or sell as the trade deadline nears.

Of the teams he discussed (which also include the Blue Jays, Mariners, Orioles and Brewers), MacPhail seems to be way off in his assessment of the Mets:

Mets: SELL
44-48, 9 games back in East, 6 1/2 games back in wild card.
The Mets held on as long as they could without Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado, but once Carlos Beltran joined them on the disabled list, their season was lost. Since all three will not be coming back anytime soon, it’s highly doubtful the Mets will be able to make a legitimate run at the postseason. There may not be much to sell on this team — the core is still very impressive — but dealing prospects or taking on salary with a team going nowhere has burned the Mets before, like in 2005 when they traded stud prospect Scott Kazmir to the Rays for the middling Victor Zambrano.

Just what do the Mets have to sell with all of their tradable pieces being on the DL? They’re obviously not going to trade David Wright, Johan Santana or Francisco Rodriguez, so who would they be able to offer in a trade – Gary Sheffield? Come on.

Unfortunately for the Mets, they’re stuck in a holding pattern right now. Reyes, Delgado, Beltran, John Maine, Billy Wagner and J.J. Putz are all currently on the DL with various alignments and with each passing day, they slip further and further out of contention. They’re just going to have to view this season as a wash and regroup for next year.

One thing is for sure though – they’re not going to be “selling” anything in the next two weeks.

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