The most amusing thing to me during the major league baseball version of Black Friday was that, during all of the frantic wheeling and dealing and speculating and analyzing, the hottest team playing ball was the Philadelphia Phillies, possessors of the lowest winning percentage of them all. Back when Nixon was vice president, these kinds of shenanigans did not exist. In those days, the Yankees would figure out where they needed some help and then simply raid other teams’ cookie jars for a relief pitcher or pinch hitter and then go on to win another pennant. I’m glad those dark days are long gone, but one has to admit that things have gotten a bit silly with regard to player transactions before The Trade Deadline.
The media frenzy over the supposed presidential ambitions of real estate white shark Donald Trump has been equal parts amusing and terrifying as well, but one thing that Trump’s Folly has done that is good is the unambiguous presentation to all who care or don’t care that it’s all about money and everything else is bullshit. The politicians can talk about freedom, human rights, the constitution, whatever—-wealth is power and real power doesn’t even need lawyers.Therefore, Trump can do the baseball world a big favor if his presidential bid falters by offering to become the commissioner of baseball. Then, baseball fans would be know beyond a shadow of doubt that the same rule applies to sports. This might be disillusioning to many of us but bear in mind that at least half of the speculating and analyzing leading up to Black Friday had to do with contracts, potential free agency, big market, small market, blah blah blah. I truly wish that this side of sports was confined to the business pages but I am in the distinct minority here,apparently: everybody wants to play GM, not baseball. A former GM was one of the leading analysts for Black Friday on the ESPN telecasts. Teams used to talk about five year plans and developing players to fit their ballparks et cetera but now we have half year plans, many of which are quite confusing.
For instance, the Oakland Athletics. In the times when the Yankees were supreme, the then Philadelphia or Kansas City A’s were sneeringly referred to as the Yankees’ farm team, an easy source of future stars for New York in exchange for much needed cash or players the Yanks no longer wanted. Today’s A’s are the farm team for any number of contenders. The trade of Scott Kazmir to the Houston Astros helped facilitate the sudden reversal of roles for the two teams as Oakland plummets to the bottom (while still making big money) and Houston soars to the top. The whole Moneyball thing has been a gigantic fraud and Billy Beane should have been played in the movie by someone more like James Mason than Brad Pitt. This followed helping the Toronto Blue Jays move into contention by sending them Josh Donaldson in the winter. Where have you gone, Yoenis Cespedes, Jon Lester, and so many others? Off to win games , my dear. And what is up with Detroit? Still in contention while Miguel Cabrera is disabled, with a very solid team that would contend next year for sure even if they didn’t make the playoffs this year, the Tigers gave up, sending David Price to the grateful Blue Jays only twelve months after acquiring him from Tampa Bay. Toronto had a great week, also relieving Colorado of its when’s he going to get hurt angst about Troy Tulowitzki and adding Ben Revere to lead off for good measure. Kansas City added to Beane’s reputation as a philanthropist by taking Ben Zobrist off his hands just as Zobrist was getting healthy and productive.
Baltimore made what may be the best addition of them all, obtaining Gerardo Parra from the Brewers. They won’t be missing Nelson Cruz so much now. The Mets almost became a real team by adding Carlos Gomez as the Brewers, not really that bad a team now that Jonathan Lucroy is back, showed a mysterious lack of patience. The Mets still need a legitimate lead off batter but they can be taken more seriously now that they have Cespedes and Juan Uribe. It is strange that both the Dodgers and the Braves have dealt Uribe. Maybe it’s because he looks older than he is. Uribe is a good third baseman with a strong arm and a dangerous hitter who will let Mets fans feel better about the apparent loss of David Wright.
With David Murphy, David DeJesus, and Shane Victorino all now in their clubhouse, the El Monte Angels have depth in the outfield. Their disappointing starting pitching has me ready to abandon my prediction of an A.L. West title, especially with the improvement of the Astros, but their lineup looks good without Josh Hamilton.
As for Jonathan Papelbon going to Washington, that would have been fine except for his insistence on being The Closer. No team needs that kind of egotistical crap.
Cole Hamels to Texas is puzzling to ponder both because one would have thought that the Dodgers, Yankees, or Giants would have outbid the Rangers and that Hamels himself would know better than to go where flyball pitchers do not fare so well. The Giants made a good, modest addition with Mike Leake.
So the dog days are here and everything is still mostly unpredictable. Let’s all go count our money.