It is very easy to say that teams who acquired a big pitcher/hitter are the winners of the trade deadline. Sure that general manager may have made their team better, but at what expense. Did he sell the future of the franchise at an attempt at a World Series this season? Let's take a look at the real "winners" of the 2009 MLB trade deadline.
Biggest Winner- Pittsburgh Pirates
To the uneducated fan, what the Pirates did in July made no sense. They traded their most recognizeable players for prospects that many have not heard of. However, what Neal Huntington accomplished at the deadline was remarkable.
Huntington was able to ship off one of the most overpaid players in the game in Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez. Wilson was sent to Detroit, along with starter Ian Snell. What was even more incredible was that Huntington was able to acquire decent talent in return. He was able to pry 1B/C Jeff Clement away from the Mariners, along with former Cub Ronny Cedeno and three minor leaguers. Clement is a solid bat that will help the franchise in Pittsburgh turn it around.
Huntington also sent off 2B Freddy Sanchez to the San Francisco Giants. In return, he received the Giants fourth best prospect in pitcher Tim Alderson. Sanchez was also making a hefty contract this season. He was due another $2 million this season, along with an $8 million team option next season that the Pirates would not have exercised.
They then shipped reliever John Grabow and pitcher Tom Gorzelanny to the Cubs for Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio, and minor leaguer Josh Harrison. This is a great package for them to receive for Grabow who is a free agent at the send of the season. Hart and Ascanio have great arms and come very cheap for the Pirates. I was a little surprized that they traded Gorzo who was having a great season in AAA and still has potential to return to all-star form.
I personally thought that they could have got a little more for Adam LaRoche. Hunter Strickland has potential to develop into a solid major league pitcher, but Argenis Diaz doesn't seem like he can hit at all.
The fact of the matter is that a team like the Pirates cannot afford to make mistakes with large salaries. They got rid of Wilson, Sanchez, and Grabow and got talent in return. You can't field the same team season after season and expect something to change. The Pirates look like they are in the right direction after these moves. The main reason this franchise was set so far back was former general manager Dave Littlefield. The Pirates got rid of him and seem to have a savvy GM in Neal Huntington. At least he understands baseball a little bit.
Honorable Mention- Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians parted with two of the biggest chips this deadline in Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez.
They first sent Lee and LF Ben Francisco to the Phillies for Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson. The Indians were unable to get J.A. Happ in the deal, but instead replaced him for Knapp. Knapp is currently in the lower stages of the minors but has all the makings of a stud. All of the others in the trade have great potential and could be the cornerstone for the Indians franchise for years to come.
The second trade fell after the Lee trade was done. The Indians sent Victor Martinez to the Boston Red Sox for Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone, and Bryan Price. Masterson was putting together a great season for the Red Sox mostly out of the bullpen. He has shown an ability to start, which he has done 15 times for the Sox over the past two years. Hagadone is starting in AA and pitching very well. He is averaging 11.5 K/9 while posting better than a 2-1 K-BB ratio.
The one trade that I think they should have made was Carl Pavano. He is a free agent that leaves at the end of the season and may not even reach type B status. If he is unable to, the Indians wouldn't receive a sandwich pick (pick between the first and second rounds of the amateur draft) in next years draft. It seems foolish to not get anything for Pavano. There had to be interest in him and his 4-1 K-BB ratio. I saw he threw eight innings of one run ball last night for the Tribe. He may still be able to clear waivers and be traded this month.
If there has been one thing the Indians have been short of, it has been pitching. With these two trades, they secured a solid future on the mound. They gave up two cornerstones of the franchise and have been criticized greatly for this. They were good moves that Indians fans will like in the future.
Later today I will be posting my biggest losers of the trade deadline.