Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Pudge-y Yankee

Two big trades have gone down since last I wrote:
  • Just today, the Yankees traded reliever Kyle Farnsworth to the Tigers for Ivan Rodriguez. Rodriguez, 36, is hitting 295/338/417. Short-term, Rodriguez may have been the best solution out there for the Yankees. He certainly better than Paul Lo Duca and Gerald Laird. There may have been other solutions out there to fill the Yankees' needs long-term (Saltalamacchia, Teagarden), but apparently the Yanks are focusing on this year (Rodriguez is a free agent after the season), with the apparent hope that Posada can return to catching early in 2009.
    The Yankees do take a hit in losing Farnsworth. Their middle relief has been an issue this season, and Farnsworth was looking like he could be their key setup man. My guess, though, is that this will intensify the Yankees' efforts to trade for another reliever. I doubt they'll be satisfied by just swapping out Farnsworth for Damaso Marte in the 'pen.
    For the Tigers, this move helps solve their bullpen problems without creating a gaping hole. Todd Jones didn't work out as closer (which I saw coming, even if it came two after I first saw it), and the team has forced Fernando Rodney into the role. Rodney may work out, but it's nice to add Farnsworth.
    There is a concern that the loss of Pudge will hurt the Tigers more than the acquisition of Farnsworth. The hole created by Rodriguez's departure opens the door for Brandon Inge, who's been without a position since the team traded for Miguel Cabrera. But Inge hasn't caught regularly in years, although his offense this year has been roughly as good as Rodriguez's (227/320/438). But the main question here is whether the Tigers still see themselves as contenders. Despite the decimation of their pitching staff, they still have a realistic shot in the AL Central against paper tigers Chicago and Minnesota. But as the season goes on and the team fails to pick up ground, it's looking less and less likely that they can fulfill their potential.
  • But the biggest move was the trade that sent Mark Teixeira from Atlanta to Anaheim for Casey Kotchman and pitching prospect Stephen Marek. Teixeira fills a big void in the Angels lineup as the only well-rounded, impact bat on the entire team (Vlad Guerrero usually fills that role, but has lost a step to injury). I thought the Angels were fooling themselves if they thought they could get far in October with this lineup, and apparently, they thought so too. They gave up relatively little for Teixeira, but then the big man is a free agent in the offseason. More importantly, though, is that the Angels now have an exclusive window to negotiate a contract extension that would be a perfect fit for them and "Tex."
    For the Braves, this is official confirmation that their own trade for Teixeira, daring and risky that it was, didn't work out. The Braves gave up a lot (and I do mean a lot) to get Teixiera from the Angels in order to get a slightly better shot at the distant prospect of an NL East crown. I admire Frank Wren for his testicular fortitude, but don't think it was worth the price paid, a price that almost single-handedly gave the Rangers one of baseball's best farm systems. The Braves do get a good first baseman in return in Kotchman, whose greatest feature is that he'll be under the Braves' control for three years, versus just 1/2 for Teixeira. And while Marek does have his warts as a prospect, he does have a live arm and could help the team in the future. Apparently, the Braves just weren't getting many better offers for Teixeira, and considering that they stood to gain nothing but two draft picks otherwise, they did a good job by picking up a mid-level replacement at first base (think of a slightly better Adam LaRoche) and a Double-A pitching prospect with promise.
  • Despite the great acrimony and the rantings of Dan Shaughnessy, it looks like Manny Ramirez is staying put. As awful as the situation has become, there's just no feasible trade that works for the Red Sox.
    One rumor does have Manny and cash going to the Marlins for Jeremy Hermida, Josh Willingham, or a pitcher, perhaps. Such a deal would be great for the Sox in the long-term, but if Manny's absence cost them the postseason this year, Red Sox Nation would revolt. And I'm sorry, but I can't picture any player worth more than $5 mil. in a Florida uniform this year, no matter how much he's subsidized.
  • There's a rumor on that the Twins are pursuing Rich Aurilia. Unless they're "pursuing" him romantically, I don't see how this makes any sense at all.
I'm sure there will be more to come, as I try to keep up with the comings and goings. For the past few years, the July trade deadline has been fiercely anticlimactic; the last real shocker/blockbuster was the Nomar deal back in 2004. But there have been some big moves and some big names moving around this year, and I'm sure we haven't seen the end of it.

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