If you have not read this article by former Dodgers general manager Dan Evans, please do. It is over 4,000 words and meanders a bit, but it provides an exceptional insight into the challenges and procedures at the trade deadline. One can absolutely see what Dan O'Dowd's office must look like today. I'd like to highlight one particular paragraph.
In many organizations, deciding where the team stands at the deadline is the most difficult part of the process. There are 17 teams within five games of a playoff berth today, and herein lies the tough call. Are we a buyer or a seller? This conversation isn't comfortable, as it requires a sit-down with ownership about where you are as a franchise. This is a critical phase, since you need to come clean and then find out what direction ownership wants to take. If you are the general manager, it also is a job review of sorts, since your work is under inspection. This chat requires some preparation, because you have to go into the meeting with a plan. For some GMs in fragile stages of their contracts, it can be the beginning of the end of their employment.
Obviously, the Rockies have had such a poor season that the decision has been made for them. They are sellers, not buyers - but it isn't as cut and dry as that. "Sellers" defines the status of the franchise today, not the direction it is heading in. It isn't whether to buy or sell, but rather how much to sell.
Colorado has seven fewer wins than the Padres and have a 3.5 game lead on the Royals for the 2nd worst record in the league. Dan O'Dowd should hardly be blowing up the roster, but it would be foolish to label anyone except Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez as untouchable at this point. Yet Matt Belisle and Michael Cuddyer seem to be, for all intents and purposes.
In truth, the Rockies have few obvious trade chips in terms of veterans on their final year of a contract. Jeremy Guthrie and Marco Scutaro have already been dealt. Rafael Betancourt and Matt Reynolds are trade targets, and with the strong bullpen, acquiring prospects for either or both would very likely be a positive step.
Ramon Hernandez really should be traded. Despite his poor year, he still has value around the league, and Wilin Rosario's emergence leaves Hernandez without a required role. Sure, he could mentor Wilin, but Hernandez' strength (offense) is not what Rosario needs helps with. Heck, if Hernandez were traded, the Rockies could re-acquire Yorvit Torrealba, who was DFA'd yesterday.
As Bryan Kilpatrick tweeted yesterday, Dan O'Dowd has actually had a good track record with the trades he has made. Measuring the trades he decided not to make is more difficult. Hopefully the eyes, ears and phone lines will be open at 20th and Blake.
One Year Ago
The biggest deadline deal of Dan O'Dowd's career happened one year ago yesterday. Here was the Rockpile one year ago today. One year is not enough time to properly evaluate any trade, so there is no surprise that questions remain on this one. We can note that only Jeremy Guthrie and Ervin Santana have a worse fWAR among MLB qualified starters than Ubaldo Jimenez though. So while Alex White and Drew Pomeranz are far from exciting successes, Ubaldo isn't making the Rockies regret the deal by any means.
Nobody in that trade has been impressive, and neither GM should be feeling cocky. But one year into this type of deal, Cleveland should be having a significant lead.
Dusty Baker is managing the Reds to success despite some unusual moves - Grantland This is a great piece from Jonah Keri that partially provokes several thought provoking questions. Why do several abysmal tactical managers continue to get jobs? Why do some, like Dusty Baker, have success? In nearly 3000 games managed, Baker is nearly 150 games over .500. He was over .500 in San Francisco and Cincinnati, just four games below .500 with the Cubs, which looks more impressive each year. This reflects directly on Jim Tracy. What precisely are the roles field managers fulfill in an organization, which are most important to success, and how do we accurately evaluate them? Good questions posed by Mr. Keri.
Trade History: July 31
2001 - Pedro Astacio for Scott Elarton. Houston.
2000 - Tom Goodwin for Todd Hollandsworth, Randy Dorame and Kevin Gibbs. Los Angeles.
1999 - Darryl Hamilton and Chuck McElroy for Rigo Beltran, Brian McRae and Thomas Johnson. New York Mets.
1998 - Ellis Burks and a PTBNL (Jason Brester) for Darryl Hamilton and Jim Stoops. San Francisco.
1995 - Juan Acevedo and Arnold Gooch for Bret Saberhagen and a PTBNL (David Swanson). New York Mets.
1995 - Acquired Bryan Hickerson. Chicago Cubs.