Each of the five NL West teams had a chance to make some major changes before Saturday's trade deadline, some did, some didn't. Sometimes it's hard to read between the lines, however about what a team is actually saying about the state of the franchise with its moves. Here's a helpful primer:
The Diamondbacks ended up trading away Dan Haren, Chad Qualls, Chris Snyder and Edwin Jackson for salary relief, lesser players and prospects. That's two fifths of their opening day starting rotation, their opening day closer and one half of their strong catching tandem. That not only says that 2010 is a hopeless cause, but losing Haren in particular also says that the team isn't really expecting to be competitive in 2011, either. Arizona's averaging nearly 10,000 less fans/game than the Rockies this season, so we can probably expect a payroll gap that was close to even two years ago to widen next Spring.
What it says: "This fixing project is going to take awhile."
Literally did nothing at or before the trade deadline. What's interesting to me about this isn't what Dan O'Dowd's saying about 2010, it's the implied assertion that the Rockies will have the best team in the division for 2011 or at least close enough that he feels the needs for next year could be met in the winter. As of this morning, the Rockies and Dodgers are equal in the standings but were polar opposites in their approach to the deadline. While I'm not convinced that some movement of extra parts might have helped the Rockies franchise for now or next year, the calm from the front office is actually reassuring.
What it says: "Don't panic."
Traded away Blake Dewitt, James McDonald and any prospect not at the very top of their list in order to get Ted Lilly, Ryan Theriot, Scott Podsednik and Octavio Dotel. Due to the unsignability of their 2010 draft picks, the Dodgers also aren't going to be restocking their farm system this year as much as the other teams in the division.
As I said was the case with the D-backs in the offseason, stripping away an entire supporting cast of upper level prospects and adding payroll to a cash strapped franchise that's seven games back for one shot at glory isn't a sign of complete confidence, it's a sign of a ticking clock, a bomb that's about to go off behind you. It's clear after these moves that Ned Colletti feels that the Dodgers have to win now, so the real question we should be asking is why, and what exactly is the disaster that he sees on the horizon for 2011. My guess is that it has something to do with the three starting pitchers, two relievers, catcher and left fielder that they'll either have to pay out the wazoo for in the FA market or otherwise severely downgrade the team.
What it says: "PANIC!!!!"
The Padres are actually in an interesting fix, with their attendance/revenue not increasing as quickly as the team's win total should suggest, limiting their ability to make moves to shore up a first place team. Keeping the current roster intact would be tricky enough. For all that, Jed Hoyer was able to do what Brian Sabean couldn't, and added a decent bat in Ryan Ludwick for a couple of prospects after getting Miguel Tejada for relief prospect Wynn Pelzer earlier in the month. If the Padres insist Tejada's a shortstop, it could be trouble for them, but overall, there's not much to not like about these trades from their standpoint, the prospects they gave up were relatively few and relatively unimportant compared to the Dodgers farm torching.
What it says: "We're for real and we're not going away."
For the second season in a row, while in the midst of a pennant chase, Brian Sabean has seemingly traded away prospects for players that don't amount to much, if any of an upgrade on their current team. So when the Denver Post headline writer titles Jim Armstrong's piece: Sabean works his magic again, I see a second rate lounge act rather than some serious wizardry at improving a team. Yeah, Buster Posey helps, but with Pablo Sandoval suddenly mortal, that particular exchange amounts to treading water at best as the Giants still have just one homegrown lineup threat. The real key to their increased run production this season thus far has been Aubrey Huff, and there the Giants are relying on a 33 year old continuing the best season of his career. Should his current 148 OPS+ regress back toward his 115 career mark, and this is probably the safest bet for the last two months, the Giants are in line for a fall from the beanstalk they're currently on.
What it says: "I have no freaking clue what I'm doing here..."
Links after the bump:
I would think one of the signs of sports writing hackery would be that there's nobody else in your profession to back you up in your opinion. I've been reading a lot of trade deadline reactions and so far, just one mentions the Rockies as either a winner or a loser, that's Mark Kiszla. Is there really apathy in Denver to the Rockies? No. To stupendously cut rate sports journalism? Absolutely.
- Helton facing uncertain future with the Rockies - the cold and unsentimental among Rockies fans might drown out the rest of our voices on this subject, particularly if like me, you're still in denial and kind of ignoring it. Todd will come back. He will.
Another sign of sports writer hackery would be contradicting what your own paper says that very same day. Check out the way Kiszla manipulated Jim Tracy's and Carlos Gonzalez's words to make it sound like they were disappointed with what O'Dowd did, and yet just a couple of stories down:
Seriously, Denver Post editors, Kiszla can be a rabble rouser all he wants, but try to keep him honest. Deliberate falsehoods from columnists, whether implied or explicit, drive me up a wall like nothing else.
Oh yeah, and there was a game last night:
- Carlos Gonzalez's walk off blast completes cycle (video, because you should watch it again)
Let's complete the sweep today, fellas.