MLB Trade Deadline Winners and Losers: The Yankees are the Yankees Again

The rich got richer. The Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers made big moves while the Astros, Red Sox, and other contenders sat back and watched.

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The rich got richer. That was the theme for this trade deadline. The Yankees, currently leading the AL East and playing great baseball right now, made a huge splash by trading for Oakland A’s ace Sonny Gray. The Dodgers, who have the best record in baseball, added all-star Yu Darvish and acquired bullpen help all just hours before the deadline. The defending world champion Cubs also made big moves, going out and getting Jose Quintana, a reliable backup catcher in Alex Avila, and Tigers closer Justin Wilson. These teams are in great shape to win this year and went out and solidified their position by adding marquee names. Other teams in contention failed to make any major moves to address their key weaknesses and because of that, you will see the gap between these teams and their main contenders likely widen.

Now let’s look at the Deadline Winners and Losers.

Winners

New York Yankees

The biggest winner at the trade deadline this year must be the New York Yankees. After being big sellers at the deadline only a year ago, the Yankees have made a quick turnaround to being the biggest buyers in 2017. The trading frenzy began early, a week and a half before the deadline, when the Yankees filled several holes by getting Todd Frazier to man 3rd base and bullpen help in the form of David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. Frazier appears to be heading towards the end of his career, seeing his average drop mightily since 2014, down to a shade above the Mendoza line (.200) this season. However, he still plays solid defense and brings a veteran position to a position that previously had been a liability all season for the Yankees. The biggest piece in this trade is the guy least known, Tommy Kahnle. Kahnle has an electric fastball averaging 97.97 MPH this season and a phenomenal ERA of 2.34 so far in 2017, which is down to 1.42 in 7 appearances for the Yankees thus far.

Next, they added veteran lefty Jaime Garcia to their rotation which was crucial after losing Pineda for the season. As previously mentioned, the big move came on the day of the deadline, acquiring Sonny Gray from the A’s. The great thing about this trade is Gray (6-5, 3.43 ERA) is not simply a rental, but is under team control until 2020. The Yankees did pay a steep price for Gray, trading three top prospects. However, the price was smaller for their other acquisitions, and all in all, the Yankees avoided trading their best prospects, so they did not sacrifice their future through these trades. The Yankees now have 6 starting pitchers for 5 spots, depth which could be huge should they lose another arm to injury. They added quality depth to the ‘pen. They also added a proven third baseman in Todd Frazier. Through these deadline acquisitions, the Yankees seem poised to challenge the Astros in the AL and potentially win the whole thing this year.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers, who already have a stellar rotation, added to their strength by adding all-star Yu Darvish from the Rangers. This team already has the best record in baseball, and a rotation which includes Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, and Rich Hill, with Kenley Jansen closing the door. However, anything can happen in the postseason, so the Dodgers made sure to leave as little to chance as possible. If those four starters stay healthy, what team in the NL has any chance of matching up with them? Darvish is a rental, so the Dodgers did not have to give up as much as the Yankees did to receive Gray, giving up a trio of prospects, the best being the Dodgers’ 4th ranked prospect, infielder Willie Calhoun. The Dodgers also bought low on a few relief pitchers, Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani, who should help bolster the bullpen if either can benefit from a change of scenery and return to past form. The Dodgers were already the best team in baseball and did not have to make any deals at all. But, by adding a top-of-the-line starter, the Dodgers have to be the team to beat in the MLB and I would be surprised if this team does not come close to winning 105-110 games.

Image result for yu darvish gif(Yu Darvish)

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs made the first big splash of the season getting Jose Quintana from their cross-town rival White Sox. At the All-star break, the Cubs were 2 games below .500 and several back of the Brewers in the NL Central. So, they acted early and traded for the White Sox’s ace. They gave up a haul to receive Quintana, but with a big league team loaded with youth, it is easier to trade away prospects. Quintana has turned in 3 straight quality starts since joining the Cubs, and the team now sits 8 games above .500 and 2.5 games ahead of the Brewers in the NL Central. Last night, they also added a quality backup catcher in Alex Avila to fill in for Miguel Montero who was designated for assignment because he criticized his pitchers after not throwing out a base stealer all season (link below). Lastly, they received Tigers closer Justin Wilson who has been a shutdown lefty all season, with 55 strikeouts and a 2.68 ERA in 40.1 innings. The Cubs did not expect to find themselves in a divisional race before the season, but took the proper steps to making sure they won that race by strengthening an aging rotation and addressing several smaller needs in the process.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2718549-miguel-montero-reportedly-to-be-dfad-after-critical-comments-of-cubs-pitchers

Losers

Houston Astros

The best team in the AL appeared to be perfectly content with their roster at the trade deadline, only making one minor move by adding Francisco Liriano (5.88 ERA) to their bullpen. While arguably their three biggest threats to winning a World Series are all sitting on the Winners list above happy with their additions, the Astros did nothing. Their lineup is deadly and needed no additions, but their rotation definitely needed some help. After Dallas Keuchel, the Astros have Lance McCullers, who had been very bad lately before being placed on the DL last night. After that, the Astros have several guys who have pitched well this season, but are unproven in the playoffs and one must question if their better-than-expected performance can continue. This comment becomes especially true when looking at the team’s monthly ERAs, which have increased from 3.38 to 3.60 to 4.79 to 4.99 in the past four months. The Astros are a very good team and could still win the World Series with the players currently on the roster. However, for a team with ZERO World Series victories, you would hope they would not sit back and be complacent with this great opportunity to get their first. Especially when looking at the additions by the teams on the list above.

Baltimore Orioles

This has to be the weirdest Trade Deadline team in the MLB. They were buyers, but not big enough to dramatically help the team. The Orioles sit 6.5 games out of first in the AL East, and 5.5 games behind the second wild card. They are in 4th in the East and there are three teams ahead of them in the wild card race, and are tied with two more. The Orioles are projected to have a 4.9% chance of making the playoffs and only have 76 wins this season. But, they still trade for starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson and infielder Tim Beckham. Hellickson is a rental for a team with a subpar rotation, and they must view Beckham as a replacement for Hardy moving forward. These moves will simply not get them over the hump. To make this situation even weirder, the Orioles controlled two of the most desired relievers on the market in Zach Britton and Brad Brach, but did nothing with them. The Orioles have one of the worst farm systems in the MLB and are not good enough to make the playoffs this season. But instead of trading their short-term assets to improve that farm system and build for the future, the Orioles decided to go for it? I guess? This franchise seems to be in disarray with no clear plan for the future. Best of luck to you, O’s fans. Could be tough sledding for a while.

Image result for zach britton sinker gif

And Zach Britton is stuck doing this for an irrelevant ball club.

Boston Red Sox

It is tough to put the Red Sox in this losers category, as I really did like their additions. They addressed a major hole at 3B by adding Eduardo Nunez who has been on a tear since joining the club. They also added a stud back-of-the-bullpen arm in Addison Reed. However, they did not address their rotation, which looms large with David Price on the DL again with elbow issues. Outside of Sale and Pomeranz, this rotation has been lackluster at best. Porcello has not been good this year, sitting at 4-14 with a 4.55 ERA. Fister pitched great last night filling in for Price, but his season statistics make that appear to be an outlier. The Red Sox needed to add a big time starter if they wanted to make a strong push at the World Series this year. Meanwhile, their AL East rival Yankees added Gray, and improved their team drastically more than the Red Sox, meaning it looks like the Red Sox will be left trying to hang on to a wild card spot down the stretch.

Tim Tebow: Stage Set for for Big League Debut?

Tim Tebow is one of the most unique phenomenon in sports history. The Heisman who became a bust. The bust who was forced out of the NFL and into broadcasting. The broadcaster who needed sports so badly he picked up baseball. Striking story! It seems like a modern-day version of a Gladiator quote. I could not imagine anything greater than Tebow’s career having a poetic, Gladiator-esque storybook ending. This would obviously be Tebow getting promoted to the MLB and becoming just another big leaguer. Is this a possible scenario though, or merely a pipe dream? Should his growth as a hitter and outfielder continue, a September call-up when rosters expand may not be out of the question. It won’t happen this year, probably not even next year. But some day, if the Mets are out of playoff contention by September, the value from the publicity stunt will simply be too great to ignore.

A minor leaguer interviewed for this blog who faced Tebow while at Columbia was quoted as saying “He hustles while on the field, but he still looks like a football player. A lot of his actions are stiff especially when he throws. He has a lot of power which you can see in batting practice but his swing is long and stiff right now.”  This indicates that Tebow is easy to beat on inside fastballs right now, and baserunners are not afraid to challenge his arm from the outfield.

Looking at Tebow’s stats with the Class A Columbia Fireflies of the Mets, it would appear that it was merely a pipe dream. Tebow batted .220 with only 3 HRs and 23 RBIs through 64 games and 214 ABs. Tebow was also striking out 29% of ABs which is widely considered as terrible. But for some reason, GM Sandy Alderson decided this play was worthy enough of a promotion to High A St. Lucie. Alderson claims it was because of advanced metrics, such as his chase rates and exit velocities drastically improving since he first began the season. These statistics generally indicate a higher batting average, which Alderson hopes will follow soon for Tebow. He also mentions that Tebow’s OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) is twice as high at home as it is on the road, so playing at St. Lucie should bring added comfort and production for Tebow.

These reasons all seem like ways to confuse the common fan and use stats they do not understand to avoid questions regarding the true motives behind the promotion. Tim Tebow makes the Mets a lot of money. Darren Rovell of ESPN reported a 30% increase in attendance so far this season for Columbia, and attendances double the norm for road games. This weekend, the Florida Fire Frogs are taking the Tebow experience so far as to sell $50 souvenir bottles of dirt from home plate where Tebow will stand.

The New York Mets own the St. Lucie Mets, unlike the Columbia Fireflies. This means all this additional revenue that Tebow brings in from ticket sales and marketing promotions will flow directly into the pockets of the Mets organization, instead of being split between the Mets and the Fireflies.

However, whatever the real reasons for the promotion might be, Tebow has made the most of his opportunity. Through 22 games and 72 ABs with the St. Lucie Mets, Tebow has batted .306 and seen his slugging percentage increase from a mere .336 to .514. He has managed to maintain an above average walk rate of 11%, while cutting his K% from 29% to 18%, which is generally considered a slightly above average percentage. While 72 ABs is still a small sample size, it indicates that there has been some growth in Tebow’s approach and discipline at the plate. For example, early this season, many teams shifted their infield for Tebow to pull the ball, but since then, Tebow has shown the ability to hit the ball to all parts of the field.

Below is a link to a video of Tebow’s walk-off homerun around a week ago for St. Lucie which also mentions his 11-game hit streak which reached 12 games before ending on July 15th. As you can see in this video, the infield is no longer shifted for Tebow to pull the ball, and this home run is hit to the opposite field, indicating power to all parts of the field, not just pull-side.

https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/07/13/tim-tebow-hits-walk-off-home-run

In my opinion, the chances of Tim Tebow becoming a productive everyday player in the MLB is slim to none. However, if he continues to show growth in his abilities and approach at the plate, it is very realistic to think that Tebow could continue to rise through the farm system for the Mets. If his growth continues, I would honestly be shocked if Tebow never plays in the MLB for a team out of contention in games that do not matter. What better way to convince fans to come to games that are meaningless than have one of the most discussed athletes in recent history running around on the field?

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