All of the coverage over the past 48 hours has focused on the teams that
made moves, either to win this year or in years to come.
What I find interesting is the teams that stood pat.
Of the 30 major-league teams, just five sat idle over the past week. Of
those, one is the best team in baseball, two are edge contenders for the
postseason, and two are out of contention and should be focusing on the 2002
season. Let’s take them one at a time:
Seattle Mariners: By far the most interesting case is that of the
Mariners, who have the best record in baseball and can begin setting up
their Division Series rotation. Despite their chasing the single-season
record for wins, though, the Ms have shown some vulnerability of late, in
the absence of Edgar Martinez.
Since their DH went on the disabled
list July 16 with a strained left quad, the Mariners have scored just 4.5
runs per game, well below their average of 6.0 prior to the injury.
Martinez is the Ms best hitter, and a critical part of a lineup that already
carries too many non-contributors in Dan Wilson, David Bell,
Al Martin, and Carlos Guillen. As good as the Mariners have
been, they really could use one more hitter to play third base or left
field, even after Martinez returns. They elected to hold on to their
pitching depth at the deadline, but it would not be surprising to see them
dip into it in August to make a waiver deal.
Anaheim Angels: The Angels are floating around the fringe of the
American League wild-card chase on the strength of a strong, albeit largely
unknown, rotation, one that ranks third in the AL according to Michael
Their bullpen, other than Troy Percival, is just as anonymous and just as effective,
also ranking third in the league.
Like the Mariners, the Angels could use another bat. They’ve been getting by
on offense thanks to some random performances by players like Benji
Gil (.308 EqA) and Shawn Wooten (.295 EqA), but they desperately
need a first baseman or DH with power and plate discipline. Unlike the Ms,
though, the Angels don’t have much to offer in trade, the result of years of
terrible drafting and a lack of investment in overseas talent development.
As they did last year, the Angels will likely stay around the edge of the
wild-card race, never getting closer than three or four games but never
having the extended losing streak that would knock them out of contention.
The franchise continues to sit in baseball’s purgatory: mid-payroll,
mid-talent, and mid-performance, all adding up to seasons of semi-contention
and fan apathy.
Florida Marlins: The Marlins’ refusal to do anything at the trade
deadline was perhaps a reaction to the team’s ill-timed four-game losing
streak. They remain just 6 1/2 games out of the wild-card, and the same
distance behind the Braves in the NL East, so they clearly can still be a
factor over the next two months.
The Marlins have just one glaring hole, right field, where Eric Owens
has been one of the worst regulars in the league.
In the absence of
Preston Wilson, though, Kevin Millar has gotten regular
playing time and done what he’s always done: hit. His ..315/.362/.535
performance has been a big part of the Marlins’ surge over .500. When Wilson
returns, Owens should be returned to the fourth-outfielder role for which
he’s suited, with Millar keeping his regular job.
The Fish could use another bat off the bench, as well as a power arm or two
in the bullpen, but it appears that Dave Dombrowski is disinclined to trade
prospects for those types of players. It’s hard to argue with that strategy,
especially when you see the exorbitant prices paid for middle relievers like
Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays were involved in the juiciest rumors
over the past few days, with talk of three-way and even four-way deals
flying. In the end they did nothing, and are left with a dysfunctional
One of the Jays’ problems appears to be that they wanted too much. In at
least one case–their efforts to trade Shannon Stewart to the
Twins–their asking price was astronomical, two of the organization’s top
prospects. Given Stewart’s limitations, cost, and the prices paid in trade
for comparable talent, it’s no wonder that the Jays found themselves on the
outside looking in at 4 p.m. yesterday.
Cincinnati Reds: The Reds did make one deal in the post-All-Star
sending Alex Ochoa to the Rockies for Todd
Walker. Deals involving Dmitri Young and Pokey Reese never
materialized, however, and the Reds remain caught in the awkward position of
trying to move from non-contender to contender while not alienating their
best, and most mercurial, player, Ken Griffey Jr.
The notion that the Reds would somehow be stripping their roster by trading
players the caliber of Young and Reese is laughable. Young is a decent
hitter, nothing more, while Reese is a defensive replacement masquerading as
a regular. If they’re among a team’s best players, that’s a sign that the
team isn’t very good. Jim Bowden needs to grit his teeth and get what he can
for the two.
Finally, I’d like to pass along our sympathies to the families and friends
of Gerik Baxter and Mark Hilde. The two young players–Baxter
a Padres prospect, Hilde an A’s draftee–died Sunday when Baxter’s truck
blew a tire as they drove through the Mojave Desert.
Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by