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August 2017

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3 Major Takeaways From the Trade Deadline

Written by , Posted in General

In Major League Baseball, you want your favorite team to be either the best or the worst—the last place you want your team to be is in the middle of the pack with no hope on the farm.

Why you want your team to be the best needs no explanation. But, if your team isn’t the best, you want them to be the worst so that they will more quickly become the best.

The trade deadline is always a reminder of this simple baseball fact.

At the trade deadline, the worst teams get better and the best teams get better. Meanwhile, mediocre teams begin booking flights for October vacations and hope to be better (or worse) next year.

I love trade deadline weekend. It is one of my favorite times of the year. Here are the three biggest takeaways I gathered from the last few days:

The Cubs Got Better

The Cubs added Jose Quintana from the White Sox long before the deadline, so I’m not going to focus on him much here. But, he needs to be noted as a major July acquisition that filled an important hole in the hunt for the playoffs.

Less than 24 hours before the passing of the trade deadline, the Cubs added a reliever and a backup catcher, exactly what the team needed, and from the same team!

The Cubs traded Jeimer Candelario (AAA Iowa) and Isaac Paredes (A South Bend) to the Detroit Tigers for Justin Wilson and Alex Avila, a left-handed setup man and a backup catcher.

Of course it hurts to see Candelario go as he was the last Cubs prospect whose name would be recognized by most casual Cubs fans, but we really didn’t have any place to put him anytime soon. He’s a corner infielder, so unless Anthony Rizzo or Kris Bryant get hurt, or worse, leave the team anytime soon, Candelario would have no place to play. It made sense to deal him.

Now, some may question whether or not it was smart to deal him for a setup man and a backup catcher, but when you consider that the Cubs have to play for the present, this move made sense.

Avila is a nice add and is a welcome upgrade over Miguel Montero and Victor Caratini, though I’m betting Caratini will be back in September. As nice as Avila is, the real focus of this trade is Wilson.

Sure, in the 2017 Cubs bullpen, Wilson will only serve as a setup man for the dominant closer Wade Davis, but we have to remember: Davis is only under contract through this year.

Wilson is under contract through 2018. In acquiring Wilson, the Cubs added a solid eighth inning lefty for the rest of 2017 and likely have found their closer for 2018. Davis will probably fetch more money than the Cubs are willing to pay for a closer in the offseason. I’m guessing close to what Mark Melançon got this winter (4 years, $62 million).

Here are some of the details regarding Wilson’s stats from Jeff Todd at MLB Trade Rumors:

Through 40 1/3 innings this year, Wilson carries a career-high 14.3% swinging-strike rate and has averaged 12.3 K/9 — well over any prior full-season mark. He’s also allowing more walks (3.6 BB/9) and home runs (1.12 per nine) than usual, with less grounders (38.4%) than ever before. A general shift northward with his pitch location seems to explain the differences, though it’s hard to say it has made him a materially better pitcher.

A bit from Dave Cameron at FanGraphs:

Wilson appealed to every contender because he’s not a left-on-left specialist. In fact, Wilson’s actually been better against right-handed hitters in his career…Joe Maddon talked about wanting to add a neutral-platoon guy to his bullpen to complement the match-up guys the team already had, and Wilson is exactly that, as he can be used in any situation against any hitter without worrying about a potential pinch-hitter.

He’s not an absolute top-tier reliever. He’s not Kenley Jansen or even Wade Davis. But Justin Wilson is one of the very best left-handed relievers in the game, and should give the Cubs bullpen a significant boost for the stretch run and the postseason. And because he’s under team control for 2018 as well, he’s not just a rental; even with a nice arbitration raise this winter, he’ll be a bargain again next year too.

The Cubs got better at the deadline and filled some serious needs. Now we just have to hope people can continue to hit and that the starters can give at least five or six innings a night without issue.

The Dodgers Are Probably Going to Win the World Series

The Los Angeles Dodgers added the best starting pitcher available at the trade deadline right at the deadline. In exchange for four people few people have ever heard of, the Dodgers added Yu Darvish for the remainder of the 2017 season.

Sure, Darvish’s (say that three times fast) ERA is just over four this year, but he was the best starting pitcher on the market and, with a healthy Clayton Kershaw, gives the Dodgers the best rotation in at least the National League.

The team is on pace to win 114 games and they haven’t lost since Kershaw went on the DL with back tightness.

In addition to adding Darvish at the deadline, the Dodgers added reliever Tony Cingrani from the Cincinnati Reds for cheap, which helps them bolster their bullpen a bit.

The Dodgers really haven’t added any killer bats since last year, so despite having almost the same team as they did in 2016, this team looks like one of the best in all of baseball the last five years.

It’s hard to believe anyone will be able to stop the Dodgers on their way to the World Series, but as we all know: anything can happen in the playoffs.

The American League Is Still a Toss Up

A lot of good deals were made among contending American League ball clubs. The Yankees added Sonny Gray at the deadline, which arguably was as good and important an addition as Darvish was to the Dodgers. They also acquired Jaime Garcia who spent like 48 hours on the Minnesota Twins after being traded from Atlanta.

I wonder if they even told him to come to Minneapolis. It’s nice there this time of year.

The Red Sox added a solid reliever in Addison Reed, filling a need they had. The AL East still seems pretty open, but after their deadline acquisitions it’s hard not to see the Yankees as the best team.

Essentially the entire AL Central except the Indians is rebuilding, so they all got a bunch of prospects.

In the AL West, the only team buying was Houston, and all they added was Francisco Liriano. He will be a helpful addition to the rotation to be sure, but it’s hard to say if he will make any demonstrable difference down the stretch.

Wrapping Up

It’s not smart to over-analyze the trade deadline, but I think with the addition of Quintana, Wilson, and Avila the Cubs pulled into a tie for second place in the National League power rankings with Washington for “team most likely to be runner up to the Dodgers.” That is, if the guys can continue to hit.

In the American League, my World Series contestant at the moment would be the New York Yankees with the addition of two solid starters to the rotation. But, the Astros are a great team and are hanging around as well.

Let me know what you guys think. It will be an exciting second half!

  • Holy shit.. it’s August 1st?

    • Michael S.

      Except in Japan, and some points west of it. It’s August 2nd there.

      • Wednesday, August 2nd. A Tuesday.

      • Wednesday actually.. my apologies.

  • Sherm

    “He’s also allowing more walks (3.6 BB/9) and home runs (1.12 per nine) than usual”

    He’ll fit right in.

  • Dork

    Anything can happen in a short series even if the Dodgers keep winning like they are, there odds of winning it all will still only be 20%.

    • cap’n realist

      Certainly Darvish is a nice addition. The Dodgers are unconscious right now and in danger of the daunting ‘early peak.’ Kershaw is all world. Darvish might or might not be better in LA than in Texas. Wood and Dick Mound? I think the Cubs, and for that matter, pretty much everyone else matches up pretty well at 3 and 4. EITHER way, a team more or less has to get to Kershaw in a short series to beat the Dodgers. And that’s IF Kershaw gets healthy. The Dodgers went all in on 2017. I wish the Cubs had stood pat and waited to move Candelario in the off season when he’d almost certainly have been worth more. Everything being normal and healthy, I like Lester, Arrietta, Quintana, Hendricks at least as much if not more than Kershaw, Darvish, Wood, and Hill. Now the Dodger lineup vs. the Cub lineup is not even close right now…but even the Dodger players are acknowledging that they are n a hot streak…those bats could go cold at any time.

  • Doug S.

    A bit sad to see Jeimer go. Don’t know about the guys we got, as always trusting the FO to be trading for the right reasons.

    • Bryzzo1744

      I like the trade. Wilson isn’t under contract for just this year but next year too. We can let Davis walk this winter if he requests Chapman/Jansen money, and we have Wilson to be our closer next year. This year it’s Edwards Wilson Davis to shorten the game. Jemier is blocked at the MLB level.

  • Bob Ubriaco

    Which begs the question, and I am well aware of the actual contract stipulations that favor the club, when does Kris Bryant receive a contract?

    • Brad Lyerla

      This winter if his agent will deal. And he might not.

      • Bryzzo1744

        I think Bora$$ will go year to year with Bryant. He’s still mad about the service time brouhaha in 2015 and their grievance is still pending.

      • Sherm

        Guys like Boras don’t get “mad” or “even.” It’s not good business. It is in the client’s interest (which is always his primary interest) to keep all options open. What Boras does is fight for as much as he can get for each client – that’s the job. The service time issue is/was all about Bryant’s earning potential…nothing more.

        The grievance, like most of what agents do, is posturing. The GM’s who say “I won’t negotiate with Scott Boras” are also simply posturing. Of course they will. Good businessmen and women don’t let their emotions get in the way of the business at hand.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Except for Reinsdorf, but I see what you’re saying. Boras normally doesn’t like doing contracts like that though. I can see the Cubs buying out the arbitration years say 4/80, and then he will let Bryant hit the open market. But if they want to lock him up long term, the Cubs would have to give him a Gaincarlo Stanton type deal IMO, backloaded, and an opt-out after 5 or 6 years.

  • Brad Lyerla

    Yankees and Dodgers in the fall classic. Reminds me of my formative years.

    Plus, Dork is right. So much that can happen. The math is against any particular matchup.

    • Bryzzo1744

      This is when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn, right?

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        The Yankees and Dodgers had many world series against each other in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Well before your time.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Sorry I was confusing them with the Giants who had not been to the World Series as a CA team until their recent run.

      • Doug S.

        Giants were in the earthquake series around 89

      • That earthquake occurred on a Tuesday.

      • Doug S.

        Swanson hired. CAPS takes the next bus to Iowa.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Hello I’m an idiot. That and 2002. They didn’t win as the SF Giants until their recent stretch. How could I forget the earthquake. When my dad found out how I knew about it, he was mad.

      • Did you know about it because, despite being told not to go visit your uncle in California, you bought your own tickets, got a rental car, and went to the game to show him how serious you were?

      • Bryzzo1744

        I was in high school when that happened, my dad getting mad that that’s how I learned about it.

      • Bryzzo1744

        And BTW the earthquake happened on a Tuesday

      • that’s been previously stated

      • Bryzzo1744

        I didn’t see that. I calculated it when I saw the date.

      • Brad Lyerla

        I came of age when Koufax and Drysdale were the team leaders in the early 60s. They had moved to LA a few years before.

      • Bryzzo1744

        I was confusing them with the Giants.

  • Allan Birmantas

    If the Cubs don’t at least make an honest try keep their closer, they are nuts.

  • Karen Hirsh

    Definitely the Dodgers have the best team in baseball. The Cubs will end up in second place. Looking at the lineup last night , the Cubs do not even have one 300 hitter. They are hitting better but Bryant still swings at bad pitchs, Baez swings at everything and Schwarber should be traded or sent to Iowa again.

    • Seymour Butts

      Well then let’s just forego the games.

  • Colin Kruse

    Kansas City is the sleeper in the American League. I’d love to see a Cleveland-Houston ALCS. The Dodgers tend to choke in October, and they are in a similar position to the Cubs of last year. I think the Cubs will have less pressure on them this time around and could surprise the Dodgers in the NLCS.

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    I guess with 16 runs, a Lester Homer, 2000 Ks, Rondon getting the win, and more there was to much news to get a write up on an interesting game.

    • Sherm

      I was confusing them with the Giants

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        seems to be an epidemic.

      • Michael S.

        At one point I confused it for a football game.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        It’s rare when one team gets two safeties.

      • Michael S.

        It was before the D-Backs got their 4th run in, so a bit more reasonable mistake.

    • Ben

      We hardly hear from joe any more sad day

      • Doc Raker

        Big Toe Joe or Genius Quirky Joe?

      • Sherm

        BTJ was at the 16 run game. I hope he snagged a home run ball

      • Ben

        Genius Quirky Joe seems like he’s a ghost now days

      • Bryzzo1744

        Cowboy/Country Joe

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        Please do not start a discussion about umpires.