As we begin the week after the Trade Deadline, we now have had a couple of days to sit back and think about the moves that have transpired. It certainly was one of the most (if not the most) hectic trade periods we’ve ever witnessed and so I felt some teams deserved special recognition. Without further ado, here are my MLB Trade Deadline awards:
The “Most Improved/Holy S**** This Had Better Work” Award – Toronto Blue Jays
It’s hard to argue with the Blue Jays transactions, after they acquired arguably the two most marquee players on the market this season. Troy Tulowitzki brings offensive firepower unlike most at a premier position and David Price brings a clear-cut #1 starter-type arm, which the Blue Jays were lacking. Adding Ben Revere was also a great move considering he’s one of the most underrated outfielders – that’s what you get when you play in Philadelphia – and can be a true leadoff bat. However, at 54-52 and currently not even a wild card team (1 game back) it is a huge risk. With Price coming as a ‘rental,’ this season will ultimately be viewed as a travesty should they not even reach the wild card game. It’s the proverbial ‘chips are all in’ situation, where you’re praying for that spade on the river to complete your flush. Because if it doesn’t come, all you got to protect your entire life savings in the pot is a piss poor jack staring at your opponents pair of kings he’s had since the hands were dealt.
The “Michael Keaton Most Underappreciated Performance” Award – Pittsburg Pirates
Until recent memory, the Pirates – along with Michael Keaton – have been tossed aside and forgotten for the past 15 years. Both had a comeback in 2014, marking their respective reemergence to the figurative stages they so obviously were meant to play on. However, this year with the moves the Bucs made at the deadline, they have a chance to flip the script on the academy and take home the trophy. While these moves may have not seemed quite so impactful – considering the rest of the big names floating around – they in fact managed to strengthen each possible weakness they might have. Aramis Ramirez gives them a bat at a position, which has been unproductive due to injuries, Joakim Soria can be the 8th inning man to closer Mark Melancon, and both J.A. Happ and Michael Morse can provide depth. Probably the most important part is the Pirates didn’t have to try to commit suicide – financially of course – to receive the credit they deserve for their efforts.
The “Any Coen Brothers Movie Anti-Climactic Ending” Award – New York Yankees
Any time you sit down to watch an Ethan and Joel Coen film, you know the story will build suspense before being stripped of it in the most diluted way plausible. Well this trade deadline, all I heard was about the amount of action getting ready to take place in the Bronx, concluding with a measly addition of the 2009 draft bust known as Dustin Ackley – sorry M’s fans. While this anti-climax might seem a little less satisfactory than that of a Coen brother’s feature, there is still a chance for positive reviews from Rotten Tomatoes. The Pinstripes currently hold a strong division lead in the AL East (6 games) and look to be headed for a playoff berth, which is not a bad ending. So while their mid-season acquisition won’t turn too many heads, the 2015 path for the New York Yankees appears to be a lit one. Even with the 4th oldest team in the baseball, maybe this isn’t No Country for Old Men.
The “LeSean McCoy I’m Cheap as Hell” Award – New York Mets
This award applies more to a team involved in a trade that didn’t occur, but they deserve it nonetheless. The New York Mets let Carlos Gomez fall through according to Milwaukee Brewers beat writer Tom Haudricort and a source of his, in this manner: “The source said the Brewers then were asked to put some money in the trade to cover part of what’s remaining on Gomez’s contract, including a $9 million salary next year. Considering the talent level of Gomez and his reasonable contract, the Brewers understandably declined to put any cash into the deal. It was only then, according to the source, that the Mets came back and said they were calling off the deal because of concerns over Gomez’s medical records.” Now I don’t know about you, but that seems awfully fishy. It was almost like when the former-Eagles running back LeSean McCoy left a 20-cent tip at a restaurant in Philadelphia, “as a statement.” C’mon man. Unless the waiter hawks a loogie in your tomato soup, you have an obligation – as a man that hauls in 10+ million dollars a year – to drop (minimum) a $10 bill on the table and walk out. It’s like saying Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon along with Saul Katz can’t afford to pay a couple million more to get, in my opinion, the best outfielder available in the trade market. Is it too soon to ask if Bernie Madoff was in on the deal?
The “Inglourious Basterds” Award – Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, Atlanta Braves
A part from the fact that the Dodgers are involved – so the title would automatically fit – this bundle of meaningless talent headlined by Jim Johnson, certainly hammers it home (he gave a game-tying home run yesterday to no ones surprise). The one scene I’m naturally drawn to when analyzing this trade is the underground pub scene where a massive bloody shootout occurs and everyone dies except one guy, who gets shot moments later so it doesn’t matter anyways. The firefight neither hurt nor benefited either side; it was just a massive waste of life. Now while the MLB version of this obviously doesn’t directly represent a loss of life, it just seems like with 13 bodies moving across the country there would’ve been a bigger impact as a result. Yet, only one guy (Mat Latos) is actually being brought on by a ball club to contribute, and in similar fashion to the final victim of the German standoff, will likely be rendered useless after the season anyways.
The “Green (and Gold) Citizen Recycling” Award – Oakland Athletics
If you take a look at the Bay Area, you can’t tell what recycles more, GreenCitizen at 1971 Shattuck Avenue or the Oakland Athletics at 7000 Coliseum Way. The only difference is that one organization uses the process of recycling to create useful materials for its business partners with waste, while the other uses up-and-coming talent. I understand we’re all products of our environment and right now two greedy old geezer owners limit the A’s options, but every time they recycle a team it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow. It doesn’t help that the O.Co Coliseum they’ve been so desperately looking to rebuild/replace serves as the metaphorical recycling center – it smells like one too. Hopefully the new material/talent brought in will be able to get them back to a serviceable/competitive level, however it just seems like it will be a matter of time until fans see those young players get shopped the moment they begin to perform above a certain level.
We all know the feeling of fixing/cleaning/building something that requires long hours of commitment and preparation. Whether it’s pulling pounds of weeds from your backyard, pulling an all-nighter to finish a project due the next morning, or doing pushups day after day hoping to see a difference. No matter how long the rigorous task took, it always seems like someone would just take one look at the finished product and not give it the attention it deserves. Now they may compliment you, even tell you they’re highly impressed, but deep down you can sense they just don’t quite get it. Then after get a few brief moments of glory, poof, it’s gone.
This has been the A’s ‘modus operandi’ (model of operation) for essentially the past 20 years. Unfortunately, whichever player they’ve seemed to develop right in front of our eyes has eventually found success and stardom elsewhere.
This year’s green and gold commodity: Josh Donaldson.
Yesterday, he was announced as the leading vote getter at the 2015 All-Star Game. 14,090,188 different ballots were sent in favor of Donaldson receiving the starting nod at third base, a record number. This display of national affection has truly marked the rise of the once-snubbed catcher who was converted into a corner infielder. In only his third full season in the bigs, it seems like Donaldson is now blooming in the eyes of the media with his image steadily climbing. And it’s well deserved, this was a supposed bust-of-a First Round Pick who fought and clawed his way into the spotlight before taking his play to another level this season. In his first year with the Blue Jays after the blockbuster offseason deal which brought him over, he’s the leader among third basemen with an .879 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), 62 runs scored and 56 RBI, while co-leading with 19 home runs. He’s also 4th in the AL in WAR (wins above replacement).
It’s something all A’s fans hate bring up: the what-if, why me scenarios. Would Donaldson have been to do this in order to prevent the currently not-so-great A’s season? Especially since this particular trade was so difficult to swallow and honestly made the least sense of the Oakland fire sail.
But we shouldn’t use this as a typical feel-bad situation that has followed the franchise for years. I used to hate seeing former Oakland farmhands such as Nelson Cruz, Andre Ethier, and (the worst of all) Carlos Gonzalez get prematurely traded and flourish as All-Stars with other clubs. However, the fans never really got to see those three players for an extended period of time, making the relationship easier to forget about.
With Donaldson it’s different.
This was a guy whose ascendance came exclusively in the confines of O.Co Coliseum. His stellar defense and majestic swing exponentially improved hand-in-hand, all in front of our eyes. In just the span of one year, he went from being Brandon Inge’s back up to an MVP candidate; the season after solidifying himself as the best third baseman in the game. And then just like that, he was gone.
But it doesn’t mean we can’t still appreciate what he’s doing now. In a season where the A’s haven’t picked up as many W’s as hoped for, Donaldson’s performance this season should be celebrated as a victory, not an ignored as a defeat. While the many memories he makes in Toronto will always constantly remind Oakland fans about the fantastic ones he made in the Bay Area, our reaction should be nostalgic.
We all know it wasn’t his fault he got traded, but seeing him have success isn’t a reason to feel poorly towards our franchise. Instead, focus on appreciating the times we got to see him play every day because those were the days representing the hard work. 158 games, two years in a row, Donaldson gave his all on the left side of the infield. Now he’s gone and you can’t alter history, but don’t let your final memory of him be the one where he changed jerseys.
Because that’s how too many A’s are remembered…
And I think that’s what needs to change.