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Chin music: Trade deadline breakdown

Chin music: Trade deadline breakdown
It's been a rollercoaster for yours truly of late. After squeezing the life out of the Cards in a four-game sweep at Busch Stadium, my beloved Brewers were just dismantled at Miller Park by the Cubs.

I'll entertain all arguments that Rickie Weeks literally threw away a win on Monday night while failing to turn a double play. I'll admit the Cubs played an excellent series, while making their former teammate Jason Kendall look washed up defensively. Tack the shortcoming in this series against the Cubs on top of the ongoing Brett Favre saga - which is unavoidable no matter where you live - and it's hard to envision the dog days of summer ever coming to an end in this neck of the woods.

Think about getting offered $20 million not to do your job. Heck, think about getting just 18 months of your salary to become a quitter and work on your golf game for a little while. You'd also be able to look for employment elsewhere once the well runs dry - unless your skill set completely deteriorates by then. It's tempting, but it's also a complete embarrassment to your organization. Imagine how upset you'd be if you were an underpaid member of the same organization seeking a raise for yourself (such as Ryan Grant) but your employer was low-balling its offers for your services, while offering someone who voluntarily left the company six months ago a hefty sum not to come back. Perception is nine-tenths of the law, and your organization appears to be 90 percent.

Since my teams are simultaneously in the process of humiliating themselves, the MLB trade deadline is supposed to be a nice Thursday afternoon buffet of entertaining change.

2:57 PM EST - In what seems to be an ongoing trend in sports media coverage, the overhyping of every possible event increasingly leaves me with an undeserved sense of disappointment. Just a couple of hours ago, I was thinking about how I could sink the rest of my NL Tout Wars FAAB budget into Casey Kotchman or Casey Blake (and have something left over), while the rest of the league battles it out for Manny Ramirez after his trade to Florida. The countdown clock is approaching the one-hour mark, so maybe things are about to heat up.

3:21 PM EST - Finally! A legitimate "big trade" just 40 minutes before the deadline. Tampa Bay gets Jason Bay from Pittsburgh for Jeff Niemann and Reid Brignac. As a Bay owner in the NL Tout Wars, his value gets a nice little boost with the move to a contender capable of giving him more opportunities and protection in their lineup. You could also make a good argument that he'll simply get more at-bats playing in the AL, so his 2008 and 2009 value gets slight bump up. For those with the second-highest FAAB budget or the No. 2 waiver priority in AL-only leagues, Bay is a very nice silver medal to owners who don't have enough bankrolled to land Mark Teixiera.

Niemann is a great addition for the Bucs, as it has become painfully clear their 2008 Opening Day rotation isn't the four-man wrecking crew they once thought it was. Niemann should help stabilize the No. 2 or No. 3 spot for them much sooner than later, while the Rays are able to trade away excess here for at least one season and two-plus months of Bay. Perhaps the Jack Wilson lovefest in Pittsburgh is nearing a conclusion, though Brignac (just 22 years old, .257/.304/.429 at Triple-A) could still benefit from additional seasoning at Triple-A if the Pirates can't find a take for Wilson. All things considered, it's a good trade for both teams where all three players receive short and long-term boosts in value.

3:33 PM EST - Suddenly, this deal has slipped from "all but official" to "conflicting reports." At least the news scrolls are still reminding us that Favre has chartered a plane to Green Bay ... because we all care.

3:59 PM EST - The Brewers have officially wet the bed in this series. Throw your three best starters against your biggest rivals' over the course of four games and get swept at home (it's 6-1 late). Corey Hart was one of the Brewers' most consistent offensive players before the All-Star break (deserving of an All-Star spot IMO), but 2-for-12 with six strikeouts in three games against the Cubs is pine-worthy, and that's where he spent today's game. He'll need to be a presence in big games to protect Prince Fielder and take advantage of having Braun and Fielder in front of him in the order.

4:07 PM EST - The deadline technically passed seven minutes ago, we'll see what deals - if any - leak through with confirmations going forward. Hopefully the Bay trade actually sticks as initially proposed, if it doesn't, today's deadline was a huge bust. In fairness, there have been plenty of big names moved already - CC Sabathia, Rich Harden, Mark Teixeira, Casey Kotchman, Xavier Nady, Pudge, Jon Rauch, Damaso Marte and now today, Ken Griffey, Jr.

4:45 PM EST - In a quick twist of fate, Jason Bay's now headed to Boston (cha-ching for Bay owners!), Manny Ramirez is headed to the Dodgers and Andy LaRoche has a major league job lined up in Pittsburgh. A lot of different angles here, but I'm particularly happy if I'm a Red Sox fan as the $7 million they're paying away plus the pro-rated portion of Bay's $5.75M 2008 salary isn't bad, considering they're losing the "Manny being Manny" charade, upgrading their defense and locking up a very good left fielder for 2009 at a mere $7.5 million. Given that other clubs knew the Red Sox wanted to get rid of Manny, it's pretty much the best-case scenario.

The Dodgers win here, primarily not by having to pay Ramirez with overpriced bench players in Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones gobbling up payroll. LaRoche wasn't a part of their plans with Blake DeWitt on board, while prospect Bryan Morris entered the season as the team's 12th-ranked prospect according to Baseball America. As an upgrade over Pierre and Jones, Baseball Prospectus' Joe Sheehan figures Ramirez should create approximately 25 more runs for the Dodgers over the final two months. That could be enough to push them over the top in the soggy NL West race.

Pittsburgh adds another decent piece to the minor league system in Morris (he's still at least two years away from the majors), while getting a potential regular third baseman for years to come in LaRoche. Craig Hansen carried a closer-of-the-future label after being a first-round selection by the Red Sox, but at the very least, he should help out as a set-up man in Pittsburgh and there's no guarantee that the Pirates will hold onto Matt Capps beyond the 2009 season. Brandon Moss will likely serve as the Pirates' fourth outfielder, which basically is his ceiling even in Pittsburgh, with Andrew McCutchen, Nate McLouth and Steven Pearce penciled into the outfield. That said, he'll have more opportunities to play in Pittsburgh and Adam LaRoche may not be back next season, so Pearce could play first base and Moss could stick, but it's far from guaranteed. Consider it an added bonus the Jack Wilson lovefest is still in tact.

5:01 PM EST - Favre is going to be a member of the Bears by the end of the day. I can feel it. That's the cherry on top of the "Chicago buries Wisconsin" sundae.

5:34 PM EST - Giving some thought to the White Sox's addition of Griffey and how it impacts the rest of the team. Any hope of a late-season resurgence from Paul Konerko could be crushed. Manager Ozzie Guillen was already considering a reduced role for Konerko anyway (Ozzie said he was planning on "getting drunk and thinking about it"), but now it's a simple matter of too many guys at too few positions. If Griffey is going to play center field, Nick Swisher is going to play first base and Konerko is the likely odd-man out.

As for the Reds, they had little to gain by keeping Junior around, but Danny Richar is a somewhat intriguing option as a utility man. Nick Masset isn't more than a long-reliever/spot-starter type, so it's hard to get about excited about the return.

The Mariners seem to have received a decent return for Arthur Rhodes, but only if you're in a keeper league and also are willing to look beyond the shelling that Gaby Hernandez has taken in the Pacific Coast League this season. Things have gotten much better since his demotion back to Double-A, and I'll take a 22-year-old with a 71:30 K:BB ratio between those two levels over a 38-year-old lefty reliever who has struggled with consistency throughout his career; especially if I've taken over a relatively bare cupboard from Bill Bavasi.

5:56 PM EST - Contemplating my final strategy for the Tout Wars FAAB extravaganza. I've got the third-largest sum of money to spend (tied with another owner) and since I'm almost certainly going to lose on Ramirez and Kotchman, I think making a push for Blake and Hansen (while saving a little bit of FAAB for post-deadline callups) might be my only reasonable course of action. I might be able to bid the farm for Kotchman, but I'm not convinced that he'll be that much more productive than Blake where I'd be wise to pass on potential double-digit saves over the final two months. Better to help in multiple categories, since I need to make up ground anywhere possible and there aren't any speedsters available to make a multi-point leap in the standings with a handful of steals the rest of the way.

Article first appeared 7/31/08

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: August 1, 2008

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