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August 1, 2000

The Daily Prospectus

Too Much Good Stuff

by Joe Sheehan

After the disappointing trade deadline of 1999, at which more trades didn't happen than did and the biggest name to change addresses was probably Juan Guzman, the events of the past four days serve as a reminder of what an exciting deadline period can feel like. It was a non-stop adrenaline rush for seamheads, with nearly 30 deals going down and almost every team getting in on the action.

(For in-depth analysis of every deadline deal, read Chris Kahrl's Transaction Analysis. He'll go into each and every trade, tell you who won and what it means for the teams and players involved.)

The usual suspects were active, as the Indians, Braves and Mets moved aggressively to fill holes, both real and perceived. But lots of other teams got involved, too. In fact, 16 teams made deals to add veterans in an effort improve their team for the remainder of 2000. That means that 100 games into this season, more than half the teams in baseball felt they were close enough to a playoff spot to invest talent and money into improving their chances. Remember that next spring, when the Chicken Littles are telling you that just nine teams have a chance to make the playoffs.

What was fairly impressive about the spate of deadline deals was how the teams in the hunt held on to their best prospects. The best young players to change hands were a pair of arms, the A's Jesus Colome and the Dodgers' Randy Dorame. Both have pitched well at Double-A and below and both are B pitching prospects, but they are pitching prospects. While I know BP's Oaklandcentric members were upset to lose Colome, getting Jim Mecir is a clear win for the A's. Mecir has quietly been very effective for the Devil Rays and gives the A's a reliable bridge from their rotation to Jason Isringhausen.

The worst deal of the day appeared to be the Dodgers' pickup of Tom Goodwin, a glorified defensive replacement who cost the team not only Dorame, but a better center field option in Todd Hollandsworth. Goodwin doesn't push the Dodgers any closer to the D'backs or Giants and, in fact, may well short-circuit an offense already carrying a light-hitting shortstop in Alex Cora. Goodwin is 27th among MLB center fielders with a .238 EqA, and that factors in his excellent performance on the bases, 39 steals and just seven times caught. He's a poor hitter, poor enough to cancel out any defensive gain.

The best deal? Well, the Cardinals filled a hole in grabbing Will Clark from the Orioles, and they didn't give up much. Similarly, the White Sox upgraded their catcher slot by sending the O's some expendable arms for Charles Johnson, none of whom figured in Chicago's near future.

The Indians' crazy Friday moved them from one extreme to the other. Their deal with the Brewers netted them three pitchers they can use--one of them, Steve Woodard, with significant upside--in exchange for the extremely overrated Richie Sexson, a player they were never really sure what to do with, anyway.

But then they traded Enrique Wilson and Alex Ramirez, two bench players with some upside, for Wil Cordero, a mediocre right-handed hitter no defensive value and two-plus years to go on a silly contract. They also dealt Ricky Ledee for two months of David Segui. That deal probably helps them this year, especially if Segui gets a lot of time at first base. Segui, by the way, has now been the property of four teams in about 13 months.

The three deals together accelerate the aging process of the Indians. It may be enough to get them into this October; it certainly will be more than enough to keep them out of many Octobers to come.

Looking for a sleeper trade? The A's picked up first baseman Mario Valdez from the Twins in exchange for backup catcher Danny Ardoin. Valdez hasn't been able to catch a break with the White Sox or Twins, but he was hitting .366/.460/.618 at Salt Lake in the Pacific Coast League. He's also a good defensive first baseman. Given the A's success with underappreciated players--Matt Stairs, Frankie Menechino--it's not hard to envision Valdez getting some playing time in Oakland and adding to Billy Beane's significant list of achievements.

Altogether, it was a great couple of days to be a baseball fan, with plenty of speculation and fulmination and enough actual action to keep you from feeling cheated.

And best of all, the Yankees didn't do anything stupid.

Joe Sheehan can be reached at jsheehan@baseballprospectus.com.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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