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Deadline disasters provide good history lesson

Deadline disasters provide good history lesson
As the flurry of recent activity has amply demonstrated, the 2008 non-waiver trade deadline is in the offing.

This time of year, contenders — both real and imagined — are frantically trying to shore up weaknesses, strengthen rosters, and add that player or players who will put them over the top.

MLB roundup

Monday's action

  • Jays' Burnett stops Rays for 12th win
  • Twins draw first blood vs. ChiSox
  • Marlins come from behind vs. Mets
  • Mussina, Yanks get bombed by O's
  • Angels bust out, hang on vs. Red Sox
  • Pads' Maddux gets first win since May
  • Lee lifts Cubs in opener vs. Brewers
  • Beltre homers twice as M's top Texas
  • Astros withstand slam by Reds' Dunn
  • Byrd dominant as Tribe blank Tigers
  • Pujols leads Cards to rout of Braves
  • Greinke fans 11 as Royals top A's
  • Back-to-back big innings carry Bucs
  • Giants' lead holds up vs. Dodgers

More on MLB:

  • Rosenthal: Latest MLB trade buzz
  • Rosenthal: Will Sox deal Manny?
  • Ringolsby: Goose gets his due

Photo gallery:

  • All-Star starters head-to-head

  • Baseball, July 4th style

Already, we've seen big names like CC Sabathia, Rich Harden, Casey Blake, Randy Wolf and Xavier Nady change addresses, and more are certain to follow. Jason Bay? Mark Teixeira? Brian Roberts? Brian Fuentes? Adam Dunn? Paul Byrd? Brian Giles? Jarrod Washburn? Huston Street?

That's but a sampling of the performers who might be on the move in advance of Thursday's deadline. Needless to say, it's an exciting time to be fan and an exhausting time to be a major-league GM.

Of course, when thinking about the deadline deal we most often focus on the guys who will impact the pennant race in the here and now. So it's easy to lose sight of the young players going back to the team in "sell" mode. That's a mistake. More often than you might think, the GM dealing to win now winds up not meeting his goals in the near term and badly damaging his organization in the long term.

Remember the ill-fated Jeff Bagwell-for-Larry Andersen swap of 1990 (which actually occurred during the August waiver period)? And even when the trade pays off in the immediate future, as the Tigers' acquisition of Doyle Alexander in 1987 did (also an August transaction), it can still exact a terrible cost down the road: To get Alexander, the Tigers parted with a native son by the name of John Smoltz.

As the transaction wires begin to sizzle, it's easy to forget how much contenders are risking when they play the deadline game. To probe a bit more deeply into this phenomenon, let's take a look at the 10 most disastrous (disastrous from the contending team's perspective, that is) deadline swaps from the past decade. To arrive at these, we combed through every trade made from 1998-2007 between the last week of June and July 31. To the rankings ...

10. July 30, 2003 — The A's trade Aaron Harang, Joe Valentine and Jeff Bruksch to the Reds for Jose Guillen.

After this trade, Guillen went on to hit an unspectacular .265 AVG/.311 OBP/.459 for A's. Harang, meanwhile, went on to become one of the NL's most consistent starters. At season's end Guillen signed a free-agent contract with the Angels, Oakland's chief division rival, but Harang remains a Red to this day.

9. July 31, 2007 — The Red Sox trade David Murphy, Kason Gabbard and Engel Beltre to the Rangers for Eric Gagne.

We don't know the full dimensions of this one just yet, but it's certainly not looking good for the Red Sox. After his trade to Boston, Gagne was unthinkably bad (6.75 ERA), but Texas' haul is turning out to be fairly impressive. Murphy's having a solid season, Gabbard, once healthy, should be a quality mid-rotation guy, and the 18-year-old Beltre has upside. Doubtless, Theo Epstein would like a mulligan on this one.

8. July 31, 1998 — The Astros trade Carlos Guillen, Freddy Garcia and John Halama to the Mariners for Randy Johnson.

The Astros can't complain about the innings Johnson gave them: a miniscule ERA of 1.28 in 11 stretch-drive starts and a 1.93 ERA in two NLDS starts. However, the Astros were out of the playoffs after the first round, and Johnson bolted for Arizona over the winter. Houston gave up Guillen, who went on to become a three-time All-Star; Garcia, who won 117 games in nine seasons; and Halama, who was a roughly league-average pitcher for almost a decade. That's a high cost indeed.

7. June 27, 2006 — The Dodgers trade Dioner Navarro, Jae Seo and Justin Ruggiano to the Rays for Mark Hendrickson, Toby Hall, and cash.

Hall gave the Dodgers useful part-time at-bats, but Hendrickson did little to advance the cause. As for Navarro, this season he's emerged as one of the game's top catchers, and he's still just 24 years of age. For the Dodgers' efforts, they were swept in NLDS by the Mets. For the Rays' efforts, they'll have a cornerstone catcher for years to come.

6. July 29, 1998 — The Cubs trade Jon Garland to the White Sox for Matt Karchner.

This rare intra-Chicago swap didn't go so well for the North Siders. Karchner gave the Cubs very little in parts of three seasons. As for Garland, for seven-plus seasons he gave the Sox innings and better-than-average ERAs. Considering how much trouble the Cubs have had filling out their rotations over the years, Garland's was a costly departure.

5. July 4, 1998 — The Dodgers trade Paul Konerko and Dennys Reyes to the Reds for Jeff Shaw.

Shaw, a closer, was mostly useful during his time in L.A., but the team never made the postseason. And at a cost of Konerko and Reyes? Konerko is closing in on 300 career home runs, and Reyes has been a capable reliever for 12 seasons. Shaw's career ended after the 2001 season.

4. July 31, 2002 — The Mets trade Bobby Jones, Jason Bay and Josh Reynolds to the Padres for Steve Reed and Jason Middlebrook.

Obviously, Bay is the key to this one. In order to bolster the bullpen, the Mets parted with a young outfielder who's now a career .282 AVG/.376 OBP/.518 SLG hitter (and, coincidentally, one of the prizes of the current deadline). They got good relief out of the deal, but it wasn't worth giving up a player like Bay.

3. July 31, 1999 — The Mets trade Jason Isringhausen to the A's for Billy Taylor.

Isringhausen, after leaving New York, became a dominating closer for the A's and Cardinals, and now he's working on 300 career saves. Taylor, though, logged a ghastly 8.10 ERA during his stay in Queens. But wait — it gets worse, Mets fans ...

2. July 30, 2004 — The Mets trade Scott Kazmir and Jose Diaz to the Rays for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato.

Zambrano was uniformly awful as a Met and is now out of the majors. Kazmir, in contrast, has evolved into one of the best young pitchers in baseball. This year, Kazmir may win the ERA title, provided he logs a qualifying number of innings, and last season he led the AL in strikeouts as a 23-year-old. The Mets will regret this one for the next decade or so.

1. June 27, 2002 — The Expos trade Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, and Lee Stevens to the Indians for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew.

Omar Minaya paid dearly — beyond dearly — for roughly two months of Colon. Colon gave the Expos high-quality innings down the stretch, but they finished 12 games out of playoff position. In the service of making that run, the Expos gave up, most notably, Sizemore (one of the best young players in baseball and already a three-time All-Star), Lee (possibly the AL Cy Young winner this season), and Phillips (a 30-30 player last season as a 26-year-old), who's now a Red. The state of Ohio remains grateful.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: July 28, 2008

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