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August 3, 2007

Prospectus Hit List

Post-Swaptasm Edition

by Jay Jaffe

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RkTeam
Overall W-L
Week W-L
Hit List Factor
Trend
Comment

1


Red Sox
66-42
4-2
.627
Flat
Going, Going, Gagne: The Sox bolster their bullpen--already leading the league in WXRL--by trading for Eric Gagne, a move that gives them three of the AL's top 10 relievers and takes pressure off Jonathan Papelbon. Theo Epstein and company give up little of immediate consequence, though the departure of Kason Gabbard puts the onus on the rotation--particularly pending returnee Curt Schilling--to stay healthy and effective, lest they need to summon Freddy Krueger, er, Julian Tavarez.

2


Yankees
58-50
4-3
.580
Up
They're 22-11 since June 27 and have outscored the opposition by 76 runs since then as they chew through a soft underbelly segment of the schedule, beating up the league's weaker teams. At the deadline, Brian Cashman hoards his pitching prospects, refusing to part with any to obtain Mark Teixeira or Eric Gagne, and betting that Joba Chamberlain or even Ross Ohlendorf can outdo Scott Proctor down the stretch. Steven Goldman makes a good case that Gagne to Boston does more to help the Yanks' Wild Card chances than to damage their division hopes.

3


Mets
61-47
4-3
.566
Up
The Mets minimally fortify their infield and their draft stockpile by trading for Luis Castillo, but compared to Atlanta's brave moves (sorry), that hardly guarantees another division title. Meanwhile, an abdominal strain sends the abominable Carlos Beltran (.225/.282/.449 since June 1) to the DL, and Pedro Martinez's first rehab start is washed out, the latest development in a rehab that's gone less than smoothly.

4


Tigers
61-46
1-5
.563
Down
No-Town: In the middle of a slide that sees them lose 10 of 14, the Tigers stand pat at the deadline, betting that the returns of Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya are worth more than the acquisitions of Eric Gagne, to say nothing of Kyle Farnsworth. Not that the underperforming bullpen is the team's only problem; Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, and Kenny Rogers all put up ERAs well north of 5.00 in July, and the Gambler is now on the DL with elbow inflammation.

5


Angels
63-44
5-2
.552
Up
Caught short due to Bartolo Colon's injury and Ervin Santana's ineffectiveness, the Angels do a whole lot of nothing at the deadline, bypassing a deal for Mark Teixeira that centers around Joe Saunders, Casey Kotchman and either Nick Adenhart, Howie Kendrick, or Brandon Wood. Kotchman's hitting .419/.429/.581 over his last 10 games, shaking off a dreadful (.123/.174/.185) four-week slump following his concussion, and helping to ignite an offense that's scoring 5.7 runs per game since the break. Helping even more: Chone Figgins (.435/.500/.551).

6


Indians
61-47
2-4
.549
Flat
Mark Shapiro rolls back the clock by reacquiring a mainstay from the Tribe's '90s heyday in Kenny Lofton, and if he does nothing to augment his middling bullpen, at least he's keeping up with the Todd Joneses in that regard. Unfortunately, the Indians are doing little more than that in the standings by losing eight out of 12, though the move to replace the decidedly subreplacement (-10.8 VORP) Cliff Lee in favor of groundballing lefty prospect Aaron Laffey may help.

7


Dodgers
58-50
1-4
.548
Down
With rotation injuries sprouting up like mushrooms--Randy Wolf may be done for the year, while Brad Penny and Derek Lowe narrowly escape DL stints--the Dodgers trade away their most productive third baseman for an overworked reliever, and spend the rest of their deadline arguing internally over which prospects to keep and which to deal without actually pulling the trigger. That this one's so obvious even Bill Plaschke gets it right is a sign that whatever the current regime's faults, they know how to deal in PR. Bad news: Jeff Kent strains a hammy after a .447/.500/.737 July.

8


Cubs
57-50
4-3
.544
Flat
Redheaded stepchild Matt Murton races home with the run that carries the Cubs into first place in the NL Central; they've overcome an 8.5 game lead since June 23rd. While the promotion of Murton is a good sign, this team's failure to further augment an outfield where Jacque Jones, Cliff Floyd, Felix Pie, and Angel Pagan have combined for -0.1 VORP may come back to haunt them. And then there's the still-wretched catching situation...

9


Braves
57-52
3-3
.540
Up
The deadline's biggest winners not only restock their bullpen, they land the big one in Mark Teixeira. In snagging Tex from Texas, John Schuerholz bets heavily on his track record in weeding the keepers from the cannon fodder, and while it will take years to see which of those prospects pan out, the slugger's arrival pays instant dividends.

10


Phillies
57-51
5-2
.535
Up
Fresh off a 9-1 sprint into the Wild Card picture, the Phils stand anything but Pat at the deadline, quickly acquiring Tadahito Iguchi to cover for the injured Chase Utley, patching a battered rotation with Kyle Lohse, and bolstering a beleaguered bullpen with battering Julio Mateo, all at a very minimal cost. Alas, injuries to Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn and team WXRL leader Ryan Madson swell their DL even further, though the just-returned Brett Myers gives them someone who can compare notes with Mateo.

11


Padres
57-50
3-3
.535
Up
Losers of 17 out of 28, the Padres tumble to third in the NL West, further out of first place than they've been since mid-May. Though the moves lack Trevor Hoffman's seal of approval, Kevin Towers shakes things up, firing hitting coach Merv Rettenmund in favor of Wally Joyner, and acquiring Morgan Ensberg, Rob Mackowiak, Wil Ledezma, Scott Hairston, and Shea Hillenbrand for little more than couch lint to be vacuumed later. At the very least, the new guys will shore up the bench and third base, where Kevin Kouzmanoff's been only replacement level with the bat and much, much worse (-15 FRAA) with the leather.

12


Brewers
58-51
2-5
.530
Down
Flat Beer Here: Losers of 10 out of 14--not to mention 34-41 since May 10--the Brewers surrender the top spot in the NL Central for the first time in over three months. Having already made an underwhelming move to acquire Scott Linebrink, the team is quiet at the deadline; their big play is optioning the slumping Rickie Weeks (.156/.303/.233 since returning from the DL in mid-June). That should help, since the platoon of Tony Graffanino and Craig Counsell is hitting a robust .268/.361/.468 since June 1.

13


Blue Jays
53-54
2-4
.522
Down
Josh Towers' squawking about manager John Gibbons doesn't punch his ticket out of town, but his pitching might; he's managed just two quality starts out of his last nine, and with A.J. Burnett about to return, well, the world needs waiver bait. Despite the Biblical plague of injuries that's befallen the rotation, the Jays are fourth in SNLVAR thanks to the strong work of Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan, and Jesse Litsch. The trio's combined 7.2 SNLVAR in 40 starts is virtually on pace with Roy Halladay's 3.7 in 20.

14


Rockies
55-52
4-1
.513
Up
You Get Nothing: Though they've crept into the rearview mirror of the NL West's big three, the Rox are silent at the deadline, the sole NL contender to stand pat. Injury's added to that insult when Rodrigo Lopez hits the DL with a torn flexor tendon in his elbow; the team's third-best starter may be done for the year, though Ubaldo Jimenez's work thus far--back-to-back quality starts against the Padres and Dodgers--offers a glimmer of hope.

15


Orioles
50-57
3-4
.513
Flat
Though they sit out the swap meet, the Orioles make one significant move this week, announcing that interim manager Dave Trembley will finish the year at the helm. Since Sam Perlozzo's firing, the team is 21-17 and hitting a combined .296/.359/.445. Even hotter than the lineup is Erik Bedard, 7-0 with a 2.01 ERA and 11.6 K/9 under Trembley; he leads the league in strikeouts and is fourth in SNLVAR.

16


Twins
55-52
4-2
.513
Flat
A modest four-game win streak carries the Twins back above .500, but they're quiet at the deadline except in dealing Luis Castillo for almost nothing. The inactivity rankles Johan Santana, and if the ace pitcher isn't necessarily qualified to wear the GM hat, his words may constitute the opening salvo of a wrenching divorce from the organization. In lighter news--and this team could use some in the wake of a deadly bridge collapse that postpones a game--Jason Tyner hits his first major league home run in his 1,319th major league plate appearance. His bobblehead was unavailable for comment.

17


Athletics
51-58
2-5
.511
Down
Just 14-29 since June 15, the A's sit idle as the deadline passes. Billy Beane fails to move Mike Piazza--only the latest bungle on that front--and prices potential suitors out of the Joe Blanton market. Not that there's much sense in dealing an innings-eating workhorse who's 13th in SLNVAR and headed towards his first year of arbitration eligibility, but it's worth noting Blanton's put up a 7.20 ERA in five consecutive non-quality starts since his career-high 123-pitch complete game on July 3.

18


Mariners
59-47
5-1
.504
Up
The M's right the ship after a seven-game losing streak, taking series from the A's and Angels to remain in the thick of the chase. They do little at the deadline except jettison Julio Mateo and lose Chris Reitsma for the season, thereby neutralizing a very good bullpen's two biggest offenders. Offensive help is on the way in the form of Adam Jones, 44th on our Top 100 Prospects list and hitting .314/.382/.586 at Triple-A, though designated malcontent/assistant GM Jose Guillen isn't thrilled about it. Hey, if Johan Santana and Trevor Hoffman can gripe...

19


Diamondbacks
60-50
4-2
.481
Down
A 10-1 tear combines with struggles in San Diego and L.A. to allow the Snakes to overcome a 4.5-game deficit and slither into first place. Leading the way is Chris B. Young, who's hitting .290/.364/.609 since the break. Meanwhile, the just-recalled Carlos Quentin strains a hammy, prompting the promotion of 2005 #1 overall pick Justin Upton. Ranked #29 on our Top 100 Prospects list, he's hitting a combined .319/.410/.551 split between High-A and Double-A.

20


Giants
47-59
4-2
.474
Flat
Barry Bonds moves within one home run of tying Hank Aaron, but after taking the circus on the road, he comes up empty in the enemy territory of Dodger Stadium. Since hitting #751 on July 3, Bonds is batting just .169/.410/.339. The good news is that the Giants find a sucker to take Matt Morris' contract off their hands in Pittsburgh's Dave Littlefield. Shoulda tried offering him Barry Zito...

21


Marlins
50-59
2-4
.472
Flat
Far from the madding crowd, the Marlins steer clear from all things deadline. They've got problems of their own, with Josh Johnson headed for Tommy John surgery and Anibal Sanchez filing a grievance over his demotion. At least Hanley Ramirez's shoulder is giving him little trouble; he goes 8-for-17 with 15 total bases in his first four games back, regaining the ground he lost on Miguel Cabrera atop the NL VORP leaderboard.

22


Cardinals
50-55
4-3
.447
Flat
A 15-11 July has the Cardinals' heads filled with visions of sugarplums and a shot at the NL Central, so they refrain from a sell-off and instead landŠ Joel Pineiro, who'll start. "If we plug in a hot starting rotation," says Tony La Russa, "our chance to win gets serious." Uh, Tony, your rotation has a 6.28 ERA since July 1, your run differential is the fourth-worst in the majors, and Pineiro hasn't been a league-average starter since 2003. Perhaps he meant serious, as in upgraded from critical.

23


Rangers
48-60
2-4
.444
Down
It may not be enough to extend a 25-18 run that dates back to June 14, but Jon Daniels does Jarrod Saltalamacchia--from the Braves for Mark Teixeira, gets some immediate help from the Red Sox for Eric Gagne, and returns a rental of Kenny Lofton in time to net another nice bat in Max Ramirez. Not insignificantly, the team nudges aside counterproductive Sammy Sosa (16 homers and a team-high 70 RBI but just 4.3 VORP) in favor of Jason Botts.

24


Royals
48-59
4-2
.440
Up
Closing Bell: Manager Buddy Bell announces he'll step down at the end of the season, and while his .402 winning percentage is no K.C. masterpiece, his club has gone 37-33 since May 12. At the deadline, GM Dayton Moore raids the pantry of his old employer and in exchange for Octavio Dotel and comes back with... Kyle Davies? With a 6.15 career ERA and a K/BB of just 1.37, perhaps he qualifies for Federal Disaster Relief funds made available by Scott Elarton's departure.

25


Reds
45-64
1-5
.435
Down
No Big Lohse: Though their demands for Adam Dunn prove too rich for other teams, the Reds get an adequate return on Kyle Lohse and make a modest value play on Jorge Cantu. The moves not made suggest Wayne Krivsky may be busy during August, with Dunn, Jeff Conine, and Bronson Arroyo as possible waiver bait. Arroyo gets bombed by the Nationals in a career-worst outing, halting a run in which he'd put up a 2.61 ERA via six quality starts out of seven.

26


Astros
47-61
2-4
.424
Down
Call Him Disastro: With scouts in the stands, Jason Jennings summons forth perhaps the worst pre-deadline meltdown of any pitcher in history (0.2 8 11 11 3 0). With that option nixed, Tim Purpura proves himself a Wheeler dealer, but to what end? Trading for Ty Wigginton at the peak of his value merely to finally stick it to history's greatest monster, Morgan Ensberg, when he's at the nadir of his, and in doing so providing Phil Garner with another second baseman he can bypass in favor of the undead Craig Biggio?

27


White Sox
49-59
3-3
.421
Down
Bombardment, Bombardment, Bombardment! The deadline passes with Kenny Williams holding the bag on Jermaine Dye and Jose Contreras, and the latter immediately shows why there were no takers; his ERA is now 12.09 over his last six starts. Contreras' bombing is part of a two-day, 24-run nightmare that sees the staff surrender 13 home runs to the Yankees. The solution--dropping him from the rotation in favor of Gavin Floyd of the career 7.32 ERA--suggests Williams may as well throw skip the middle man and open a gopher farm.

28


Nationals
48-60
5-2
.418
Up
The Nats continue to win--38-35 since May 10, five games better than the Brewers--but Jim Bowden's refusal to deal veterans at the deadline represents another missed opportunity, without the compensatory draft picks to mitigate as they did in the non-trade of Alfonso Soriano. Then again, Dmitri Young, Ronnie Belliard, and friends aren't exactly Type A free agents, and there's no reason to trade Chad Cordero and Jon Rauch--anchors of a bullpen that's fourth in WXRL--merely to fuel some other team's October aspirations.

29


Pirates
44-62
2-4
.405
Flat
Dumb and Dumberer: Dave Littlefield trumps all previous blunders by taking on the remaining $13.8 million salary of subpar starter Matt Morris (0.91 RA+). The move is without justification even given the rotation's 6.77 ERA amid a post-break 3-13 slide, unless you're addled enough to think an arms race is in order simply to avoid finishing last in the NL Central. No big surprise that Littlefield's also left holding the bag on Jack Wilson; who wouldn't want a 29-year-old shortstop hitting .258/.308/.355 and owed $14.5 million over the next two years? Besides the other 29 teams, that is...

30


Devil Rays
41-66
3-3
.394
Up
The Rays cash in their Ty Wigginton and Jorge Cantu chips in favor of several warm bodies who may help a bullpen that's chasing history. They also hold onto Al Reyes, the only Rays reliever without an outstanding warrant for arson. Given that the rotation amounts to little more than Shields, Kazmir and Oy vey iz mir, that's sound thinking.


The Prospectus Hit List rankings are derived from Won-Loss records and several measurements pertaining to run differentials, both actual and adjusted, from Baseball Prospectus Adjusted Standings through the close of play on every Sunday.

Jay Jaffe is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jay's other articles. You can contact Jay by clicking here

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