Trade deadline grades: Introducing the Baldwin Scale
Well baseball’s trade deadline has come and gone. This weekend was a flurry of trade activity — some smart, some dumb, some strange, some clever — with teams doing their best to improve now or for the future — or doing their worst, depending on how far up their butts their heads are currently residing.
But how best to judge all the trades? Well, since we can’t really know how they all work out for months and, in some cases, even years, any grading now would be somewhat arbitrary. And so, I have developed an arbitrary grading system that is equal to the task:
The Baldwin Scale™.
America, the world and probably the whole universe love the Baldwin Brothers — Alec, Daniel, Billy and Stephen. These four brothers, whose successes and failures have been entertaining us all for decades, each have differences in politics, religion and vegetarianism, as well as varying levels of talent, handsomeness and craziness. And it is from these differences that I derive the Baldwin Scale™.
Alec — He’s by far the most successful of the Baldwins. Sure he’s had his troubles over the years with his ex-wife Kim Bassinger and movies like “It’s Complicated” and “The Juror,” but his classic roles in “Beetlejuice” and “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “Along Came Polly” have made him almost a cultural icon. He kills it (hipster slang for when something is done very well) every week on “30 Rock” and has become quite possibly the greatest host “Saturday Night Live” has ever had.
Billy — He burst onto the scene in the early ’90s in “Backdraft” with his handsomey handsomeness and his wicked grin. Then, just as suddenly, he kind of disappeared. Well, he did and he didn’t. He’s totally still alive and he keeps making movies and stuff, but no one outside his family really knows about it.
Stephen — I think most people thought he was going to be a star after “The Usual Suspects,” but then “BioDome” happened, and, well, it’s been a rough road since. He still gets some work, but he’s perceived as being a bit unhinged. He mostly does reality TV shows now and films that you and I will never ever ever ever see, like “Shark in Venice” — yes, you read that correctly. Anyway, it’s kind of a mess, but at least it’s not …
Daniel — Yikes. Drugs, alcohol, arrests — and that’s a slow week. He’s leveled out occasionally, but usually it’s just the scariest roller-coaster ride you can possibly imagine – and backwards. I am completely unable to remember any movie or TV show he’s ever been in even after looking at his filmography. If you came to Hollywood wanting to be an actor and wound up with his resume, you’d be considered a moderate success. But these are the Baldwins we’re talking about here, and this one is definitely the worst-Baldwin scenario.
There’s also Adam Baldwin. If you had to choose a Baldwin to be besides Alec, this is the guy. He’s had a solid film and television career as far back as “Full Metal Jacket” and all the way up to TV’s “Chuck.” But he’s not actually related, so we can’t use him here.
Many general managers did not read my previous column about how to handle the trade deadline, and their teams are suffering for it. I’m not going to name them in order to spare them some embarrassment (really I just don’t know who all of them are and I’m sure you don’t either). However, we all know the team names, so let’s just stick with that. If you feel you must know who the general managers (hereafter referred to as “GM”) are, then you can go to www.google.com and find out. And if you think I should know who the general managers are and that it’s shabby writing to leave that out, then you can go to www.GetOverIt.com.
We’re starting with the bottom of the barrel because I like ending on a high note. So, without further ado, here are the Trade Deadline Baldwins™:
Astros: They had two pretty good players to trade away, but they didn’t get much in return — at all. I’m not sure what happened here, except the same thing that always happens here. Maybe it’s the humidity there — or the smog (said the writer from Los Angeles).
Indians: I warned these guys. Twice. This is not a good team. And they just traded away a bunch of prospects for a cheap, young starting pitcher that the Rockies seemed desperate to get rid of. In the dating world, they call this a “red flag.” In baseball, they call it a “red flag.” On a positive note, they were able to dump the atrocious Orlando Cabrera on the Giants.
Cardinals: In what is widely considered one of the worst trades of the year, they gave away Colby Rasmus and all his star potential for some pitchers. It’s not that they don’t need pitchers, but that’s too much to pay just because Tony LaRussa doesn’t like the guy. And, no, my burgeoning man-crush on Colby has nothing to do with this! The Rafael Furcal pickup is a nice (though slight) improvement.
Dodgers: Nice move getting rid of the quickly aging Furcal for a decent return — and more money for Frank McCourt to spend on psychics. And then they did some weird trade where they gave away a young outfielder with some potential for a young catcher with less potential. And why is Hiroki Kuroda still on this team?!
Giants: They added Carlos Beltran, who will definitely improve their offense. But they gave away too much for him and then got the aforementioned Cabrera, who plays bad defense and offense (but I hear he makes a heck of a latte in the clubhouse).
Orioles: They actually did okay with dumping some players. But two things stand out here. First, they shouldn’t have been signing old guys last offseason. This is a bad team. Let them be a bad, young team. Second, the GM referred to some of the debris they got back in trades as building blocks. Nope. If they were, they wouldn’t have been traded to you.
Diamondbacks: They made a couple of small acquisitions. But this is one of the teams that definitely should have made a move. They have a nice team and they are right behind the Giants, who, yes, have slightly more talent, but who are being guided by two of the dullest people in baseball (World Series championship notwithstanding).
Angels, Brewers: You guys are right there. You didn’t do anything. I don’t pretend to know these teams’ financial situations, but when you’re so close to the playoffs and everyone around you is getting better, sitting around with your thumb in your butt just seems like the wrong move. (Note: Yes, there are other times when the thumb-in-butt scenario is acceptable — but that’s a separate column and probably on a separate website.)
Padres: You almost got into the next category, but you didn’t trade Heath Bell. I will never understand the league’s fascination with closers. This isn’t fantasy baseball, people. The GM’s name is Jed, too, so I feel even worse about this.
Cubs, Rays, Marlins, Twins, Reds, White Sox, Royals, A’s: Dear GMs of these teams. Hello! There were trades to be made. Most of you were out of contention and could have dumped some players to save some dough and maybe get some prospects back. You guys know how this works, right? It’s like this every year and a lot of people are talking about it, so I assume you knew this was all happening. I feel like I shouldn’t have to be the one to tell you this stuff. Regards, Jed.
Yankees: I’m a little stunned they’re in here. They didn’t do anything and they’ve got money (you may have heard) and a lot of prospects to trade that will probably never play for them anyway. And it’s the Yankees! Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.
Mariners: Well, they got rid of Erik Bedard for more than just a bag of baseballs, even though the last time he pitched was somewhat grotesque. I wish they’d done more, but I’ll give them some slack. I like Seattle as a city; they’ve had it rough the last few years, what with the baseball team stinking, the NBA team moving away and then, worst of all, the WNBA team won the championship.
Nationals: They moved some guys and got rid of some payroll. Was there anyone else they could have moved? I don’t know. Does anyone care? I don’t think so.
Rockies: They dumped Ubaldo Jimenez on the Indians. Maybe there’s something wrong with him and maybe there isn’t. Maybe they just got tired of saying his name. If they actually did just trick the Indians with this trade, then they might qualify for an “Alec.”
Phillies: They did their annual fleecing of the Astros. I guess it’s possible that they gave up future all-stars for Hunter Pence, but that’s not really their style, and Pence is a very solid addition.
Red Sox: When you have almost all the money in the world and a decent minor-league system, you can make trade after trade to improve your team. An,d so, that’s what they did. And they didn’t give up much to do it.
Mets: Getting Zach Wheeler from the Giants was a very nice move. That team is an absolute mess, but that’s a lot more than I thought they’d get for Beltran.
Tigers: They made solid improvements to make them just that much better and help them walk away with that terrible division they’re in.
Pirates: I love what these guys did. They aren’t a very good team, but they basically made a couple pickups for PR reasons without giving up any young players worth mentioning. This is what the Indians should have done. No, I will not leave the Indians alone. They’ve brought it on themselves.
Braves: They lost out on getting Pence from the Astros, but then they turned around and got Michael Bourn from them. And since it was the Astros, you know it was for a song — four prospects (who probably won’t ever be anything special) for a legitimate leadoff hitter who can help on offense and help a lot on defense.
Rangers: What do you do when your team’s manager has almost no idea how to use his relief pitchers? You go out and get some really good relief pitchers, so even Ron Washington can’t screw it up. Nicely done, Rangers.
Blue Jays: They stole Colby from the Cardinals in a brilliant move. They should have traded away some of their relief pitchers as well, but at this point I have to assume that’s all by design. These guys are secretly the smartest guys in the room. Yankees and Red Sox fans should be very afraid. Orioles fans, just more of the same pain and suffering for you.
Special thanks goes to the Baldwin Brothers for their help clearing things up. Well, it took a little longer than I thought, but I’m pretty sure I covered every team. I must have counted 14 times. I kept coming up with different numbers every time, but we are definitely in the 28-32 teams range and that’s good enough for me.
We had ourselves quite a herky-jerky, topsy-turvy, helter-skelter Trade Deadline. And there’s another one at the end of this month, so we’ve all got that going for us. Which is nice.