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Trading Deadline Moves

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Many teams in the playoff hunt improved themselves, but did they do enough?

By JARED BYRD

Well, now that the non-waiver trading deadline has passed, I'll offer my musings on how the current playoff contenders fared in regards to improving their teams.

- San Francisco: Giants G.M. Brian Sabean basically was quoted as saying "the future is now." He was willing to take the risk of giving up young players and prospects for established veterans who strike fear into opposing players and provide valuable postseason experience. (After all, they need someone who will come through in the clutch in the postseason - judging by Bonds' playoff stats, it probably won't be him). So Sabean got 1B Andres Galarraga from Texas, RHP Jason Schmidt and OF John Vander Wal from Pittsburgh. He also picked up ex-Cardinal LHP Jason Christiansen, as well as former Phillie RHP Wayne Gomes (okay, so not every move is great). But respect Sabean for stepping up to the plate and taking a chance.

- Chicago: 1B Fred McGriff finally gave in, and left the Devil Rays to join a contender ... amazing how cash can change someone's opinion entirely. In addition, the Cubs got OF Michael Tucker and 2B/OF Delino DeShields to bolster their bench this July, though DeShields was actually signed after being released by the Orioles. RHP David Weathers will help bolster a solid bullpen.

- Arizona: I'm not too high on RHP Albie Lopez, and not just because he played for the Devil Rays. If he's so great, why did Cleveland let him go after the 1997 season, when pitching was their weakness? Because he wasn't that good. C Mike DiFelice provides a solid backup to Damian Miller.

- Houston: They laid low until the last 24 hours before the deadline, when they acquired RHP Mike Williams and RHP Pedro Astacio. But how good will Pedro be at hitter-happy Enron Field when he was ineffective at Coors Field?

- Philadelphia: Acquired Todd Pratt from the Mets for Gary Bennett, in a swap of backup catchers, as well as LHP Dennis Cook and RHP Turk Wendell. For the most part, Wendell has been awful (reminding me of another former Phillie who wore #99), and Cook has been away from the team longer than he has been with the Phils. IF/OF Felipe Crespo is a solid pinch-hitter off the bench, and he pretty much does what IF Kevin Jordan does, except he can switch-hit and play the outfield. By the way, why is Jordan on the Phillies now anyway?

- Atlanta: Imagine ... you've made the playoffs every year since 1991 (except for 1994, for obvious reasons). You've only won one championship. Your team is not as dominating as it used to be. So what do you do as your blockbuster move? Trade for light-hitting SS Rey Sanchez? Guess Atlanta's not going to win this year (again!) ... Signing 1B/3B Ken Caminiti was a gamble, especially with his injuries and lack of production with Texas, but it has paid off. Fans in Atlanta are saying "Rico who?"

- Los Angeles: With injuries to several starting pitchers, the Dodgers picked up RHP James Baldwin from the White Sox, giving up three prospects, and also acquired RHP Mike Trombley from Baltimore. LHP Terry Mulholland, who pitched for the Pirates earlier this year, was also picked up for the stretch run.

- New York: Resisting the trading of first base prospect Nick Johnson (Larry Bowa's nephew), the Yanks pried away LHP Sterling Hitchcock from San Diego. This came after signing OF Gerald Williams earlier this year, following his release from Tampa Bay and RHP Mark Wohlers being picked up from Cincinnati.

- Cleveland: Picked up OF Milton Bradley, who should probably stick to board games. I guess G.M. John Hart became trigger-shy on a potential deal after the John Rocker fiasco.

- Minnesota: The Twins' starting pitching was struggling, so they made the gutsy move of trading OF Matt Lawton to the Mets for RHP Rick Reed, and later picked up RHP Todd Jones from Detroit to improve their bullpen.

- Seattle: Surprised to see that they made no moves, such as trading for Toronto outfielders Shannon Stewart or Jose Cruz Jr. But when you've got a record like Seattle's, would you be in a hurry to make moves?

- Boston: Acquired RHP Ugueth Urbina from Montreal. But the biggest "acquisitions" may be getting SS Nomar Garciaparra, C Jason Varitek, OF Carl Everett and RHP Pedro Martinez, among others, back from the disabled list.

E-mail Jared Byrd at jbyrd002@yahoo.com.

This article was written August 1, 2001.

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