08/01/10 6:56 PM ET
Gammons: The Top 10 Deadline storylines
By / MLB.com
We are all still trying to sort Brett Wallace from Brett Wallach, and wondering if Condominium Kyle Farnsworth (6-foot-4, 230 lbs.) being traded for 5-foot-7 Tim Collins is the biggest size-differential deal in history, even if Collins' strikeout ratio is higher. And we have scores of players to be named later, knowing that Harry Chiti was once the player to be named later for himself.
We do know that since no team took on as much as $5 million at the Deadline, that money will turn the August waiver period into another whale watch, as it were. Meanwhile, here are the 10 most interesting storylines from the time leading up to 4 p.m. ET on July 31:
1. The emergence of the Texas Rangers as a major force in the American League. They awakened on Aug. 1 with the third-best record and the third-best run differential in the league, behind only the Yankees and Rays. General manager Jon Daniels has been so aggressive that he added Cliff Lee, Jorge Cantu, Cristian Guzman and Bengie Molina while the team was bankrupt and had built such a deep, talented organization that he could add four significant pieces and get cash from the Mariners, Marlins and Giants. If the next Rangers owner doesn't appreciate what Daniels has done, perhaps Barack Obama can make him overseer of the National Recovery Act. Remember, because of the Mark Teixeira trade with Atlanta, Daniels has the closer leading the league in saves and an All-Star shortstop. He traded for the player who is close to the best in the league (Josh Hamilton), signed the best DH (Vlad Guerrero) and since this time last year had the ingenuity to put together a rotation capable of winning the pennant with Lee, converted closer C.J. Wilson, Japanese import Colby Lewis and homegrown Tommy Hunter. Yes, Lee is first and Wilson fourth in the AL in Lee Sinins' Runs Saved Above Average.
2. The restoration of the San Diego Padres. Instead of having to hold a flea market just north of Tijuana, they went out and added Ryan Ludwick and Miguel Tejada to bolster the offense around Adrian Gonzalez, with the promise that they will be active in the waiver wars this month to find a veteran starter that can take innings off Mat Latos. Trading Corey Kluber to the Indians wasn't easy for a building team, but they have a chance to win, and Jeff Moorad was willing to spend money to make it. The remarkable thing about the Pads is that they do not seem like a fluke, coming off their 19-11 finish in 2009. They have the best run differential in the National League. They also have the best road record in the league, with Gonzalez hitting .330 outside of San Diego, and Ludwick and Tejada likely to add to their offensive arsenal, as they're 11th in the league in road runs scored.
3. The creativity of Dodgers GM Ned Colletti. It doesn't take Dr. Phil to know the Dodgers have cash issues; in past years, Colletti had to trade Carlos Santana and Josh Bell to have his trade partners pay for the players Los Angeles was acquiring. These Dodgers are thin -- dangerously thin -- and they have added Ryan Theriot, Octavio Dotel, Scott Podsednik, to fill in for the Manny Vacationworld, and, most important, Ted Lilly. Frank McCourt this time did add $3 million in payroll, and Colletti also gave up Wallach and legitimate prospects. But the Dodgers are in a position where they have to try to stay up with the Padres and Giants. On that subject, everyone from Joe Torre to Colletti knows they need Manny if they're going to make the playoffs. Which is why the Manny trade stuff was exaggerated -- the White Sox called on Friday, offered to take Ramirez, said they would not give a player and would take on $1 million of his remaining $7 million contract. When the Rays and others heard the story, they too called. Now, if the Dodgers fall farther on down the road, Ramirez might well be waiver fodder. And who can blame Ken Williams for trying, especially when Lance Berkman rejected an opportunity to go to the White Sox.
4. The Phillies being willing to be the biggest spenders to win again and keep their place as the biggest team in one of the world's greatest sports cities. Ruben Amaro Jr. has been bashed and re-bashed for not holding onto Cliff Lee. Fine. Over. But he admitted his mistake and went out and got Roy Oswalt, he who has the best August-September won-loss record in the game. The race with the Braves, who really helped their depth by adding Rick Ankiel, may come down to the bullpens, and it seems right now as if Atlanta would have the advantage. But get Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino healthy for the final month, with Roy Halladay, Oswalt and Cole Hamels, and September and October can be very interesting.
5. The quiet manner in which the Yankees significantly added quality depth, and did so taking on less than $5M. Is Berkman what he was when he hit 45 bombs in 2006? No, not after the March knee operation, which has affected him from the right side (.551 OPS). But the knee will continue to get better, and even if he isn't a prime power threat, he is a pitch-eater who gives the Yankees another big left-handed bat against the bullpens of the Rays and Red Sox, who have significant issues from the left side and each failed to get Scott Downs. Kerry Wood is expensive, given that he comes with no guarantees in a setup role (Eric Gagne redux?), but given the travails of Joba Chamberlain, he is worth the risk for a team whose revenues top $600 million, more than $200 million greater than those in Boston. Austin Kearns is a reborn role player who allows the Yankees to sit Curtis Granderson against lefties and play Brett Gardner in center.
6. In contrast, the fact that the Rays and Red Sox could not find shutdown seventh-inning relievers. Tampa does reunite Chad Qualls with Jim Hickey; the two had success getting to the World Series in 2005. Jeremy Hellickson will now come up and help in Tampa. Boston couldn't get Downs, refused the price on several other relievers, including Joe Beimel, and now will turn to Michael Bowden and Felix Doubront in the sixth and seventh innings and hope 22-year-old Ryan Kalish, who reminds some of Darin Erstad, can provide life and athleticism until Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia are healthy.
7. The Cardinals now have a postseason rotation with the addition of Jake Westbrook, who should be perfect for Dave Duncan. They get Kyle Lohse back soon, so with Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia they are primed for the race with Cincinnati, and on further, as far as the bullpen holds. A key here is the development of Jon Jay, who freed up Ludwick.
8. The fact that the Nationals held onto Adam Dunn instead of trading him for someone like Edwin Jackson, who next year would be an $8 million fifth starter behind Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Yunesky Maya and Ross Detwiler. Can they sign Dunn? Maybe, but unlikely, but he wants to play in the field, he is a leader and the fans love his hustle and attitude. Getting Wilson Ramos from the Twins for Matt Capps gives them a big-time defensive catcher with 20-homer power. "He may be an All-Star several times," says one AL GM. How many All-Star appearances will Ryan Zimmerman, Strasburg, Ramos, Bryce Harper and Zimmermann make in the next decade?
9. That Ed Wade got Drayton McLane to buy into the fact that the 2005 Astros are dead and buried should encourage Houston fans. Wallace, J.A. Happ and Mark Melancon can play right away, and the Astrsos can see how the kids fill out. They listened on Brett Myers, but the Mets would not budge on trading Bobby Parnell and Ruben Tejada for Myers, so the 'Stros held onto him. Hey, for $8M next season, he is a bargain.
10. The fact that the Mets could not take on any money, not for Ted Lilly (who they wanted), not for anyone, hamstrung Omar Minaya. No one knows the financial strain on the Wilpon Family, and we realize attendance is down, and they are hardly the only large market team to have to monitor their balance sheets. In the end, this season has been a step forward, with the production of the farm system, the return to health of several key players and the restoration of David Wright as the face of the franchise. Now they need Mike Pelfrey to crank out 10 straight quality starts.
The big disappointment is that we didn't see a deal like this: Beimel from the Rockies to the Nats for Sean Burnett; Beimel from the Nats to the Red Sox for Ramon Ramirez; Beimel from the Red Sox to Orioles for Will Ohman; Beimel from the Orioles to the Astros for Tim Byrdak; Beimel to the Pirates for Javy Lopez; Beimel from the Bucs to the Cardinals for Trever Miller and Beimel from the Cardinals back to the Rockies for Randy Flores.
That would be like Harry Chiti being the player to be named later for Harry Chiti.
Peter Gammons is a columnist for MLB.com and analyst for MLB Network. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.