The Baseball Report Volume IV Issue 10
August 2, 2000
From The Editor,
The trading deadline passed this Monday at 4pm. This issue covers the trades in full, but we would love to hear your opinions on the trades, and how your team fared. Just send an email to email@example.com subject feedback, and have your opinions published!
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A New Tribe In Town by Josh Murphy
The busiest team in baseball around the trading deadline was the Cleveland Indians. With four different moves, the Indians have completely overhauled themselves for the pennant run by changing 20% of their roster.
For once, the Indians are not in first place in the AL Central. As a result, the Indians front office has decided to retool their club. Here is a breakdown of the trades and how they affect the Indians as well as the other clubs involved in the trades.
The first trade the Indians made was a simple outfielder-for-outfielder trade. David Justice went to the Yankees for Ricky Ledee, as well as two minor-league pitchers. This is a cost-cutting move for the Indians, perhaps to free up some money to re-sign Manny Ramirez , which is now looking more and more impossible.
The Yankees were desperately looking for a power-hitting outfielder and talks for Sammy Sosa and Juan Gonzalez fell through. In Justice, the Yankees got a power-hitting outfielder as well as a potent bat from the left side. In Ledee, the Indians received a young outfielder with a potent bat, a low price, and a bright future.
A few days before the deadline, the Indians, desperate for pitching, traded infielder-outfielder Richie Sexson, two minor-league pitchers, and a player to be named for pitchers Steve Woodard, Jason Bere, and Bob Wickman. This trade gives the Indians two things that they desperately need: healthy arms and a closer.
With Woodard and Bere, they get two healthy starters for the pennant run. With Wickman they finally have a bonafide closer. The Brewers, meanwhile, get a potent bat in the middle of their lineup in Sexson and have a powerful one-two punch with him and Jeromy Burnitz, who was also ironically traded from the Indians in a midseason deal three years ago.
Next, the Indians traded outfielder Alex Ramirez and infielder Enrique Wilson to the Pirates for utilityman Wil Cordero. In Cordero, who is back as an Indian after signing with Pittsburgh in the offseason, the Indians got the utilityman that they lost when they traded Sexson. In Ramirez and Wilson, the Pirates acquire two capable young bats with huge potential.
The Indians then traded Ledee to Texas for first baseman David Segui. Segui provides the Indians with a reliable bat and a solid glove at first base. The Rangers get in Ledee what the Indians originally got in him: a young outfielder with great potential, a good bat, and a low price tag. This will help Texas in the long run since they are out of the AL West race and in the process of starting a youth movement.
These trades have given the Indians a new look and perhaps a new hope for the postseason. The chances of them overtaking the White Sox look slim, but they are still in the hunt for the wild card. Only time will tell if these trades are enough to get the Indians the Wild Card.
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The Key to October by Emily Liner
Every year the trading deadline brings many surprises, but there is always one thing that every team has on their wish list year after year. Relief pitching. A successful bullpen is vital to a successful team, and every general manager knows it.
"The great bullpen gets you through three October series," says New York Yankees'
Manager Joe Torre, who has guided the Yankees to three World Series championships in the past four years.
In 1996, closer John Wetteland, who saved all but four of the Yankees' postseason
victories, won the World Series MVP Award, when he saved all four series victories. Now a Ranger, it was rumored that he would be traded to Atlanta, St. Louis, or Oakland, but he is staying in Texas until the end of this season, when he becomes a free agent.
In 1997, some great teams lost in the playoffs because of their bullpen. In game five of the ALDS, Yankee Mariano Rivera gave up a home run to Sandy Alomar, Junior, and the Cleveland Indians went on to face the Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS. Baltimore reliever Armando Benitez lost twice by giving up four earned runs in three innings. In game seven of the World Series, it appeared that Cleveland was going to win until Jose Mesa entered in the ninth inning and gave up the tying run. The Florida Marlins won in the tenth inning.
In 1998 and 1999, Rivera played a major role in the Yankees' back-to-back World Series championships. In 1998 he made three saves in three opportunities without giving up an earned run. In 1999 he got a save and a win, also with a 0.00 ERA, and won the World Series MVP Award. Jeff Nelson, the Yankees' setup man, also aided in the victories.
The Atlanta Braves have had several wins and losses because of the bullpen. In game five of the 1996 World Series, Mark Wohlers gave up a game-tying home run to Jim Leyritz. In the 1999 NLDS, John Rocker, with a save and a win, helped the Braves beat Houston but getting out of a bases loaded no-out jam. Rocker was the subject of many trade rumors, but remains in Atlanta.
Injuries can destroy a bullpen like water puts out a fire. Houston has gone from first to last place because of pitching problems such as Billy Wagner. In 1999 he broke a club record with 39 saves. This year he had only six saves before needing elbow surgery. Philadelphia's bullpen has also been struggling, particularly because of Mike Jackson's nagging shoulder injuries.
Even this past history plays a part in the 2000 trading deadline. The general managers of most of the playoff-caliber teams were busy trying to find a good arm to put in their bullpen, preferably a veteran or a lefty.
"You could always use another quality, experienced guy in the pen," says San Francisco Giants' manager Dusty Baker.
Two top NL teams, St. Louis and Atlanta, recently made a few veteran additions. St.
Louis traded a prospect to Pittsburgh for reliever Jason Christiansen, and two prospects to Baltimore for reliever Mike Timlin. They will be used to set up for Dave Veres. Atlanta signed reliever Stan Belinda and pulled off a five-player deal with Baltimore, trading outfielder Trenidad Hubbard and two prospects, including pitcher Luis Rivera, for outfielder BJ Surhoff and reliever Gabe Molina. They will help out the shaky bullpen.
Cleveland and Milwaukee pulled off a seven-player deal, which included several pitchers. Cleveland got reliever Bob Wickman and two starters. Milwaukee got four players, including pitcher Kane Davis and pitching prospect Paul Rigdon.
There are some other notable trades as well. In a four-player deal with Tampa Bay, the New York Mets acquired Rick White, who will be used for middle relief. San Francisco and Houston swapped pitchers. San Francisco got Doug Henry and Houston received prospect Scott Linebrick, who might be put in Houston's bullpen. Montreal traded for bullpen help by acquiring Scott Downs from the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Rondell White. Oakland grabbed reliever Jim Mecir and prospect Todd Belitz from Tampa Bay, for two prospects, including pitcher Jesus Colome.
These trades for relief pitching are going to make a huge impact in the season and the playoffs. It all comes down to those few final outs. Relief pitching is the deciding factor in who wins and who loses.
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Playing The Short Hop by Michael Frankel
At 4pm Monday the waiver-less trade deadline arrived, and with it came the end of one of the active trading periods in recent history. The Indians changed 20% of their roster, the Orioles dumped practically their entire roster, the Diamondbacks added an ace, not to mention all of the other action.
The Indians Turnover
While the Indians did make some good moves, none of them were all together great moves. First, there is the trade of David Justice for Rickey Ledee (and two pitching prospects), then Ledee was turned around and sent to Texas for free agent-to-be David Segui. In essence, the Indians traded Justice for Segui and a pair of mediocre at best pitching prospects. That hardly sounds like a good trade, especially when the fact that RF Manny Ramirez may walk away via free agency this off-season, and the Indians have greatly soured on CF Kenny Lofton.
The Indians also traded Richie Sexson in a package to bring back closer Bob Wickman, Jason Bere and Steve Woodard.
In the end, the Indians traded two of their big prospects in Sexson and Wilson. True, they kept Russel Branyon but one has to wonder if they got enough in return. Bere and Woodard are decent pitchers, but in Sexson they traded a 30hr-100rbi guy for pitchers that are not necessarily better than the ones they have (Colon, Finley, Wright, Burba). Indians GM John Hart failed in his attempts at any of the upper level pitches (Schilling, Neagle, Ashby) yet again (see trading deadline: 1995-1998).
The Indians, in the end, may have been better off trading 1b Jim Thome. Thome is a fan favorite in Cleveland, but so is David Justice. The money is similar, and Thome most likely would have netted a bigger return. On top of that, the Indians could have used Sexson to replace Thome at first; both offensively and defensively, and then used the money to help sign Ramirez. Thome's return probably would have been enough to get them either Wickman or Wetteland, and a pitcher similar to Bere and/or Woodard.
The Philadelphia Who?
Before the season began, the Philadelphia Phillies traded for SP Andy Ashby and signed Closer Mike Jackson. Jackson has yet to pitch an inning this season due to injury, and Ashby was abominable in a Phillies uniform. As a result, the Phillies traded Ashby to Atlanta, and sent ace Curt Schilling to Arizona.
But these trades mean more than the Phillies just giving up the next few seasons. By trading Schilling, the Phillies have traded their identity. Schilling was the only player from the NL Champion 1993 Phillies still on the current roster. He has been the player everyone wants to see in Philly for some time now.
From the baseball side, this move has to be questioned as well. Schilling is a player who has taken less money to stay in Philadelphia, and would seemingly stay there as long as the organization displayed a desire to win. With a healthy Jackson, an ever improving Pat Burrell, along with the already solid Scott Rolen and Bobby Abreu, the Phillies may not have been that far off had they kept Schilling.
Now, Daal and Chen are great additions to this team. With Travis Lee added to the offense, this team might not be that far off. In fact, if the front office ever wakes up and realizes that they are not a small market, the Phillies may just go out and sign Mike Hampton or Mike Mussina this off-season. If this happens, and the right guys step up, the Phillies could be playing in October next season.
But, ask any Philly fan and they swear one of the two free agents will not be pitching in Veterans Stadium next season. The Phillies just do not make those moves. So, in the end, fans that have nothing to root for now have even less.
The Baltimore Massacre
The one good thing that happened in Baltimore over the deadline was Peter Angelos finally listening to his baseball people and trading away veterans to bring in young guns. The problem simply was that they the returns were miniscule. By trading away BJ Surhoff, Mike Timlin, Will Clark, Charles Johnson, Mike Bordick, Alan Mills, and more, the Orioles received just one high level prospect in Luis Rivera from the Braves, a pitcher who has already had one arm surgery.
Make no mistake, the Orioles will be big players this off-season now that they have freed up a ton of salary. Unfortunately for them, they were too hesitant on Scott Erickson and missed the chance to dump his salary, and team cancer Cal Ripken Jr. may not retire. Add to that the lack of interest of other teams in Brady Anderson and Albert Belle, and Mike Mussina's likely departure via free agency this winter, the Orioles may be in trouble. Wasting trading chips like Surhoff and Clark may hurt them for a few years more than this August.
That wraps the first ever edition of Playing The Short Hop which will now be a regular column in TBR.
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Last Issue: From where does the term Baltimore Chop originate?
Answer: (submitted by reader YankeeBuzz@aol.com)
In the old days at the stadium in Baltimore the grounds crew used to make the dirt area in front of home plate hard as a rock. The Baltimore players became very adept at "chopping" the ball into the hard dirt in front of the plate. Because the dirt was so hard the ball would bounce high into the air allowing the batter to get an infield hit since by the time the ball came down to the fielder it was too late to throw the runner out!
This Issue's Question: From where does the nickname originate?
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