Do teams tend to overpay for bullpen help at the deadline?
Baseball lore preaches that a team “can never have enough pitching,” but we rarely hear the same thing said about hitting, perhaps because of a sister proverb, “Baseball is 75 percent pitching.” Pitcher fragility plays a big part, of course. But sometimes one poor start or relief outing will cause a team to press for more pitchers: a marginal arm blows up, and suddenly the team needs assistance. When a hitter goes 0-for-4 or 1-for-5, on the other hand, the line is common enough that we don’t bat an eye.
Well, that was underwhelming. According to Retrosheet transaction logs and MLBAM’s count of this year’s crop, there were fewer big-league trades made this July (19) than in any other season since 1996. Prior to this year, the average number of July trades per seasons the last round of expansion was 30.
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Why weren't the Phillies sellers this season? We can find one explanation at the 2006 trade deadline.
And here I was ready to write an obituary for the Phillies dynasty.
It’s been more or less over for a while, and “dynasty” might be a little linguistically liberal for a team that won five consecutive division titles and the 2008 World Series. This group will always be the one that brought crowds in the 40,000s to Citizens Bank Park and gave the Phillies a place in their city’s sporting landscape to ensure financial security and then some in the looming television negotiations.
Ranking the prospects who changed teams at the deadline.
The forecast called for a prospect-heavy deadline, with rumored deals involving proven major league talents like Cliff Lee and Jake Peavy who were expected to fetch some big names in the minor league world. However, the main haul in the Jake Peavy trade turned out to be young, major league ready talent, not names that appeared on the mid-season top 50. And despite a lot of words getting wasted on the possibilities, the Cliff Lees of the world were not turned into prospect treasure.
This led to a very lackluster deadline, with the Matt Garzatrade responsible for moving around the most impact talent, while the majority of deals were centered around fringe prospects or relief arms that aren't easy to get excited about. While the book isn't written on any of the players, the minor leaguers who changed hands this summer are unlikely candidates to change fortunes, and without the dream of a high ceiling or high impact, it's hard to sell the reality of average-at-best skill-sets to fanbases that were anticipating a brighter tomorrow. I tried to anyway. Because I'm a good person.
Updated with links to the latest trade deadline transaction analysis.
At Baseball Prospectus, we'll be bringing you analysis of every trade and transaction up through Wednesday's 4 PM ET non-waiver trade deadline. Check back here for the latest links to our coverage, in chronological order.
Hi, I’m Brian Sabean, you may remember me from winning two of the last three World Series titles with my San Francisco Giants ballclub. We’re having a tough time defending our title here in the Bay Area as we sit in last place with a 46-59 record. I usually love this time of year as I pore over the rosters to find that perfect veteran asset to turn ouir club from contender to champion, as I did with Javier Lopez in 2010 and Marco Scutaro a year ago. But I’m not an idiot, and it has become abundantly clear to me that it is not going to be our year.
A WARP-based look at the GMs who've had the most and least success on the trade market over the past two decades.
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Tim Malone is an ex-engineer/ex-Angeleno with degrees from UCLA and UW in Bioengineering and Biostatistics who lives in the Seattle area with his family. His likes include coconut, peanut butter, tools, and conversations with strangers. His dislikes include runny eggs, bad champagne, mindless repetition, and conversations with strangers. The return of Major League Baseball to Seattle warms his soul.