While most of the country was busy on Wednesday celebrating National Orgasm Day, baseball fans were focused on the Major League Baseball trade deadline. It’s quite fitting since focusing on baseball is a common way for men to delay unwanted, premature … um … finishing.
The trade flurry that usually explodes right before the deadline was absent this year, leaving most baseball fans somewhat unsatisfied at what turned out to be an unhappy ending.
Many teams didn’t really do anything – just lying there, lifeless, waiting for it to all be over. The day wasn’t completely wasted as many teams did make some decisive moves that their fans found very pleasing.
Maybe the league’s general managers just felt too much pressure or maybe they were nervous. These things happen when it comes to decisions about whether you are in or out of the playoff race.
Since we can’t really know how all these trades will work out for months and, in some cases, even years, any grading now will be somewhat arbitrary. There’s also the possibility that teams will make moves in August that help them finish with a strong burst.
Some of you who have been reading my jibber-jabber for a while might remember a few years ago when I was faced with the problem of how best to arbitrarily grade each team’s performance at the trade deadline. I was equal to the task and concocted a grading system jam-packed with arbitrariness that would do the job.
The Baldwin Scale™.
The Baldwin Brothers – Alec, Daniel, Billy and Stephen – are as beloved a group of brothers as has ever existed. 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 – The most successful of the brothers Baldwin. Sure, he’s not perfect. He’s getting less and less discerning about what roles he should be playing, and he seems to be one of those people who just don’t understand how technology works and how it can be used to make you look terrible in the media. Of all the Baldwins, he’s the one you want to be – especially if you’re into marrying super-hot, young yoga instructors.
Billy – The busiest of the brothers Baldwin. By the time you finish reading this column, he will have started and finished filming two movies. You may not ever see his movies, but there are whole generations of Filipino and Malaysian children that are huge fans of his work. And why shouldn’t they be? He’s still got that handsomey handsomeness that makes Supreme Court Justices overturn California’s Prop 8.
Stephen – The most disappointing of the brothers Baldwin. He exploded onto the scene in The Usual Suspects and then imploded just as quickly. He’s actually been making a lot of movies lately. If you don’t believe me, just check the $1 bin at your local gas station. Sure, he’s not lived up to his potential, but at least he’s not …
Daniel – The most disastrous of the brothers Baldwin. This article also serves as my annual “Is Daniel Baldwin still alive” Google search. Yes, he is. I can only vaguely remember seeing anything he’s done, but truthfully I might just be thinking of Alec. But, he has worked, and if you came to Hollywood wanting to be an actor and wound up with his resume, you’d be considered a moderate success. But his off-camera shenanigans are significantly less desirable.
While grading the teams, as is the tradition, I’m not going to name each team’s general managers because no one cares. 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 do your own Google search and find out. And if you think I should know who the general managers are and that it’s shabby writing to leave these kinds of details out, then you probably don’t like my writing and haven’t read this far anyway.
As before, let’s start with the bottom of the barrel, because I like ending on a high note. Without further ado, here are the Trade Deadline Baldwins™:
The Daniels – Like Daniel himself, these teams disappointed me and pretty much everyone else in many various ways.
Pirates: The last couple years I have applauded Pittsburgh’s restraint at the deadline – Ben Roethlisberger could learn from them. But this year the Pirates have one of the best records in baseball, and it seems like they have the kind of team that won’t collapse in a fiery inferno like last season. It’s time to make a move with all those young players you’ve been saving. Also, I think if they had made a move, the Cardinals and Reds would have also made moves. Thanks for ruining Christmas, Pirates.
Phillies: The GM for this team just hasn’t been the same since the Astros fired their GM, who was really just a Phillies employee in disguise, shipping quality players off to Philadelphia for pennies on the dollar. The captain of this Titanic seems to have no idea they’ve hit an iceberg and thinks the water swirling at his feet is condensation from his ice cold Coke.
Marlins: This team’s owner should be Frank McCourt’ed by the league, but instead just gets to run amok – probably because no one really cares in Miami (or cares about Miami). Stop dumping quality players like Ricky Nolasco for salary relief. If money’s a problem, you could just lie to the city of Miami to get them to give you hundreds of millions – oh, wait, you already did that.
Mariners, Padres and Twins: Maybe I’m cranky because of the frustration of a the trade deadline and National Orgasm Day both not working out well for me, but these teams have players with no future value to their team that can be traded to playoff contenders. Eat the money for the contracts and get some prospects, because you are eating the money for the contracts anyway.
The Stephens – Some good, some bad, mostly bad. Maybe not quite fire-able, but, yeah, just go ahead and fire them.
Brewers: I almost lumped these guys in with the Mariners, Padres and Twins, however, they traded away the mediocre Francisco Rodriguez for a possible solid third baseman. This is a team that needs to pull the plug completely and restock for future seasons now that their steroid connection has been shut down.
Yankees: A lot of the New York attention this year has been on Mariano Rivera’s retirement, Derek Jeter’s injury and Alex Rodriguez’s diabolical steroid cartel. The Yankees are fielding a team of All-Stars … from 2008. Maybe they could have traded for Jason Giambi or Michael Young. And why the hell didn’t they sign Manny Ramirez?!?!
Giants: It looks like this team is headed for its second non-playoffs season right after a championship. They have valuable assets that they could trade for potential future assets, but the GM and manager aren’t fans of “young” players, so I guess it doesn’t matter anyway.
White Sox: They were able to dump Jake Peavy’s contract and get a possible All-Star outfielder, but this sinking ship has a lot of players who are taking up room. If you’re rebuilding then rebuild.
Blue Jays: Two years ago, I had these guys as Alecs and called them “the smartest guys in the room.” Last year, they dropped off and were Billys. They made huge moves in the off-season and none of them paid off. Cut your losses and make some trades. Be gentle with them though. Some day I’ll explain how the entire league changed its Collective Bargaining Agreement just to stop Toronto from being so gosh darn smart.
Nationals and Royals: Both of these teams have a shot at making the playoffs. Both of these teams have holes that need to be filled. Neither of these teams made any significant trades. You can play it safe all you want, but hardly anyone else did anything and that’s even more reason to make a move. For the most part, if “everyone’s doing it,” it’s wrong.
Rays, Indians, Cardinals and Reds: These are all possible/probable playoff teams, and they should all consider themselves lucky that I didn’t list them as Daniels. I’m reminded of the line from Tombstone: “You gonna do somethin’? Or are you just gonna stand there and bleed?”
The Billys – These guys did okay. Not great. Just okay. They could have done more, but a confluence of external and internal factors kept them from being great.
Orioles: I like the idea of picking up Bud Norris, and it looks like they gave up some talent, but likely not much they’ll regret. Is it just me or does it seem like these guys should have done just a bit more? One more bat or one more starting pitcher or both.
Diamondbacks: It’s almost like they just gave up on the division. The Dodgers are playing so well that it looks like it would be tough to catch them. Arizona acquired a lefty pitcher for their bullpen. Okay. That’s it?
Angels: They made a couple of nice moves to get some younger players into their awful farm system. They could have dealt one or two more, but the real win here is they didn’t try to contend – though they got some help in their decision-making process by Albert Pujols’ foot injury. If they had dumped Erick Aybar on the Cardinals, then they’re in Alec country.
Tigers and Athletics: They each acquired a middle infielder. They each look like they’re headed easily for the playoffs. They each look like they’ll be weak in the playoffs. In their defense, there aren’t a lot of “holes” to fill, but let’s talk about upgrades, people.
Rangers: They traded for Matt Garza and got fleeced a bit by trading away 18 years’ worth of young quality players for two months of one pitcher who can only start every fifth day, doesn’t bat and doesn’t shoot lasers from his eyes. Also, they’re probably going to lose Nelson Cruz for 50 games for his Biogenesis suspension and they already are short a bat. There were rumors they might trade back for Michael Young or trade off Matt Garza. You know what? These guys are Daniels. Trade for Michael Young? My apologies to the rest of the Billys.
Dodgers: Sure, they got Ricky Nolasco and that’s all they really needed. However, that trade was more about the Marlins being run by the worst people in the world. If you head out to the basketball court with your friends and decimate a team of special needs kids, you need to dial it down on the high fives. So, the Dodgers get points off for degree of difficulty.
Rockies and Mets: You guys get a pass this season. You don’t have anything worth trading, so your trade deadline was distraction-free, allowing you to celebrate National Orgasm Day in the manner that you saw fit.
The Alecs – There may have been some mistakes along the way, but I’m pleased with the overall results.
Boston: Trading Jose Iglesias for Jake Peavy was smart move for all teams involved. The Tigers and White Sox got what they needed and the Red Sox got a potential top-line starter if Jake can stay healthy.
Cubs: When you are out of contention, you trade everything that ain’t nailed down. Okay, maybe not everything. These aren’t the Astros. The trade with the Rangers for two months worth of Matt Garza has all the makings of a repeat of last year’s disastrous Angels’ Zack Greinke trade.
Braves: They are just barely an Alec. They acquired lefty specialist pitcher Scott Downs, but this is one team I’m sure will still be trading into August. They’re in first place – despite the B.J. Upton nightmare – and they probably need one more starting pitcher, but I think the GM is slow-playing this and seeing what other players become available.
Astros: Prospects coming in and veterans going out. You have to figure that they’re just about done with the demolition aspect of their reconstruction. I’m not saying every team should do this every year, but there’s no shame in rebuilding – whether it’s a terrible team or even worse, a mediocre team.
As always, special thanks goes to the brothers Baldwin for existing and thereby helping clear things up at the trade deadline. Also like last year, this all took a little longer than I thought, but I’m assuming you made it this far if you are reading these words that I have typed.
Overall, it looks like everyone got just a bit more Daniel-y and Stephen-y than last year – which is bad for those teams, their fans and baseball in general. I understand that baseball trades are not just for my entertainment, unlike the Baldwins. However, baseball teams that have a chance to improve themselves at the trade deadline need to do what it takes to make sure their team has a happy ending.