Baseball's non-waiver trade deadline was a mad dash to the finish Monday at 4 eastern. Here are a few thoughts.
No question the Tribe made themselves better. Their deal for closer Andrew Miller can pay off big time in October. Predecessor Cody Allen is decent, but he isn't Miller. When you combine the jolt the pen just received with baseball's best overall rotation you have a championship contender.
It was a bummer the Indians didn't get Jonathan Lucroy, but they did improve their depth with Rays outfielder Brandon Guyer. Guyer is a lefty killer who also displays a unique talent for getting hit by pitches. He's leading baseball in taking one for the team despite less than full-time at bats. He paced the AL in that category last season as well. Guyer is a middling defender, but his production against southpaws fills a void, no question.
After many fits and starts, Jay Bruce has finally been traded. Coming back from the New York Mets is infielder Dilson Herrera and lefty Max Wotell. (Has the Reds organization found a Moneyball-like market inefficency in left handed pitching?) Herrera is having a nice year in Triple A, hitting .276 with 13 home runs and 61 RBI. Yes, his walk rate is down, but so is his strike out rate. Scouts say his defense isn't good enough to play short, and he's likely viewed by Reds' brass as a replacement for the aging Brandon Phillips at second. Despite some brief stints in the big leagues in 2014 and 15, Herrera is still just 22.
Wotell is 19 and a 3rd round selection of the Mets in 2015. In his second season of rookie ball Wotell has displayed a nice strikeout rate, but is also wild as hell. You really can't say much about a 19 year old.
New York Mets
The Mets are hoping they can replicate last season's surge when they added Yoenis Cespedes at the deadline and he went wild, pushing them all the way to the NL Pennent. Bruce is having a great bounce-back year, but this isn't a perfect fit. With sniper glove man Juan Lagares on the DL, they have to mix & match Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto in center with Bruce and Cespedes on the corners. Manager Terry Collins has been known to stick Cespedes in center as well, but that's because Collins is a lovable old dummy. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Mets outfield defense sucks right now.
There's a rush to go ahead and ticket the Rangers for the World Series, but let's slow our roll here just a hair. Yes, Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Beltran give the Rangers' already clicking offense a nice boost, but the Rangers failed to address their rotation at all. (Getting 31 year old Lucas Harrell from the Braves last week does not count.) Cole Hamels is a fine pitcher and so is Yu Darvish. What sort of work load can Darvish handle coming off Tommy John though? A.J. Griffin has been decent, but just off the DL himself. Martin Perez stinks. Does this assemblage beat the Tribe in the ALCS? No way.
Out in the pen they added Brewers closer Jeremy Jeffress. He won't close with Texas, at least not initially. He's had a decent year, but his strike out rate is pretty lame for a 9th inning guy.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are going to send Aaron Sanchez to the bullpen soon to save his arm and with that they've sent their hopes for a deep playoff run away with him. Sanchez is the real deal. Francisco Liriano (Pirates), Mike Bolsinger (Dodgers) and Scott Feldman (Astros) are not.
As an aside, the Blue Jays gave up on Drew Hutchison yesterday, shipping him off to Pittsburgh in the Lirano deal. Yes he is frustrating, but he's still only 25 and has displayed great strike out stuff in the past. Pirates pitcher whisperer Ray Searage can't wait to get his hands on him, I guarantee you that.
Los Angeles Dodgers
L.A. finally had enough of of Yasiel Puig's tired act and lack of production and acquired outfielder Josh Reddick and pitcher Rich Hill from trader Billy Beane and the A's. Reddick has some wallop from the left side, but what the Dodgers are hoping for most is a return to defensive form. Speaking of hope, if L.A. can somehow squeeze two months of starts and the post season out of oft-injured Rich Hill they'll be ecstatic. Hill is currently fighting a blister. Without Clayton Kershaw for an unknown period though the Dodgers will kneel and pray for Hill.
San Francisco Giants
People are ripping the Matt Moore deal, but I still think Moore can be a really good major league pitcher. At 27 he's still youngish and pitching in that chilly and mammoth park out on the Bay can't hurt. Still, Matt Duffy and minor leagers were a lot to give to the Rays.
I'm not sure what they're thinking bringing in Wade Miley from Seattle. Miley has shown flashes including this past Saturday in Chicago, but he's gotten pulverized this year too giving up an alarming 1.45 home runs per nine. Some of that is bad luck, but some of that is a 7% jump in hard hit rate. That won't play in Camden Yards at all. Still he's better than Ubaldo Jimenez I suppose. I'm better than Ubaldo Jimenez.
New York Yankees
I won't pretend to be close to an expert on prospects, but I do know it was time. Time for the Yankees to bite the bullet and commit themselves to a real, lasting, youth movement. Hey they see the Red Sox all the time with Betts, Bradley Junior, etc contributing at their tender ages. The Cubs no doubt have made an impact on their thinking as well. You can't win by going shopping every January any more, not with every other club locking up their top young talent through their most productive years. The Yanks are living with that dumb A. Rod contract every day. Buying a team is over. Developing and keeping your own talent is the way. Stocking up by trading relief pitchers is brilliant. Smartest thing I've seen the Yankees do in a long time. You can find kids that throw 100 miles per hour and besides you kept Dillon Betances who is a straight- up witch.
Sigh. Another year sliding into the abyss. Oh well, almost Seahawks time!
Brian Phillips the morning drive time DJ for CD102.5 FM in Columbus, OH. He plays in three fantasy baseball leagues.