Friday, July 31, 2009

As Trade Deadline passes, Phillies come out winners

As the MLB Trade Deadline came and went today at 4 pm, one thing was for certain: the Phillies were the big winners. Their acquisition of Cliff Lee on Wednesday set the bar that the rest of the National League tried to get to, but none did. The Phillies got the best pitcher of any team at the deadline, and arguably the best player, setting themselves up nicely for a return trip to the World Series.

Let's take a quick look at what other National League contenders did at the deadline:

NL East:
Braves: Acquired Adam LaRoche from the Red Sox for Casey Kotchman
A peculiar trade that isn't much of an upgrade for Atlanta. LaRoche is the slightly better hitter, but this move doesn't really make the Braves any more of a threat.

Marlins: Acquired Nick Johnson from the Nationals for Aaron Thompson
Johnson is a patient hitter, something the Marlins definitely need (see every Jamie Moyer start against the Fish). Not sure what this does to Jorge Cantu, but not a bad move for the Marlins. Not earth-shattering, but not bad.

NL Central:
Cubs: Acquired John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny from the Pirates for prospects

This move shores up the shaky Cubs bullpen, but how much can you trust anyone from the Pirates?

Cardinals: Acquired Matt Holliday from the Athletics for prospects
Like the Phillies, the Cardinals didn't make a move on deadline day, choosing to strike early and sit out the frenzy. Holliday gives them a dangerous lineup, especially when added with their other recent acquisitions of Julio Lugo and Mark DeRosa. Still, the Cardinals are a few pitchers short of being a complete team.

Brewers: Acquired Claudio Vargas from the Dodgers for Vinny Rottino
A minor move for some deep bullpen help.

NL West:
Dodgers: Acquired George Sherrill from the Orioles for prospects
This might be the 3rd best trade by any NL contender after the Lee and Holliday deals. Sherrill was a solid closer for the Orioles and slots in nicely as a setup man for the Dodgers. The Dodgers had several other talks to acquire big-name players, but they failed to get Roy Halladay or Adrian Gonzalez.

Giants: Acquired Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates and Ryan Garko from the Indians for prospects
The Giants offense is terrible, so they made two moves to upgrade it to mediocre. The Giants pitching will be dangerous if they make the playoffs, but there is still no reason to worry about them scoring any runs.

Rockies: Acquired Joe Beimel from the Nationals for prospects
Nice under the radar move by the Rockies. Biemel is a good situational lefty who could give the Phillies lefties some fits.

As you can see, no National League team made any moves that make them significantly better. The Cardinals probably did the most to upgrade their team, but, as we saw in their most recent series in Philadelphia, they still lack the pitching to compete with the Phillies. Probably the biggest moves that should worry the Phillies came in the American League, where the Red Sox were able to land Victor Martinez, a bat that greatly upgrades their offense. That move makes it even more likely that we will see a Red Sox/Phillies World Series this year. With Cliff Lee, the best pitcher traded this year, on the mound for the Phillies, I like the chances of a WFC repeat.

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