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  Sunday, April 20, 2014
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xtra xtra!
Wild West, Easy East
By Paul Noonan

     This past MLB trading deadline was sort of neutral.  It wasn’t a blockbuster deadline like other’s have been, but it wasn’t a boring deadline either.  The deadline day itself was not crammed with activity, but the last week had some action.  In the grand scheme, it was the National League teams that made the most waves.  Most of the American League teams made only minor moves, as many are content with what they have.  But in the tight N.L. the wild card contenders especially, made bids to ensure a playoff spot.

             

     Without a doubt the biggest move of the trading season was the one between Milwaukee and Texas.  The Brewers picked up Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix and Fransisco Cordero (plus Julian Cordero) for Carlos Lee (and Nelson Cruz).  The normally quiet Brewers finally made it known they are serious.  While Carlos Lee is a talented player, the Brewers won with this deal acquiring two capable outfielders who are talents both at the plate and in the field.  Better yet, they even acquired Cordero who will shore up their bullpen.  For Texas, it is tough to judge how the trade will effect them.  They get an all- star caliber outfielder in Lee, but gave up two solid outfielders to get him, and a solid reliever.  Texas maybe should have gotten more for Lee, but nevertheless Lee should thrive in home run friendly Arlington.  Normally, move may not be enough to get Texas the A.L. West crown, but since Oakland and L.A. stayed put it may give Texas a chance.  While the Brewers hoped to gain ground with their moves, Cincinatti made a few moves in the hopes of staying ahead in the Wild Card race.  The biggest move the Reds made was adding veteran reliever Eddie Guardardo, but they also picked up shortstop Royce Clayton and added off and on pitcher Kyle Lohse.  If the Reds are lucky Lohse will thrive in the easier N.L. atmosphere and be a more consistent middle of the rotation pitcher.  If not they will get the inconsistent Lohse who can be pretty good and very bad.  Either way, the moves don’t really seem to hurt the Reds and may be enough to keep them atop the Wild Card chase.  In the A.L. the biggest move was by far that of the New York Yankees, surprise surprise.  For the first time in a few years the Red Sox stayed pat, but the Yankees as usual wanted something more.  Many rumors swirled that Bobby Abreu would not be a Philly after the deadline and the Yankees made sure of it as they acquired the slugging outfielder, along with pitcher Corey Lidle, for a bunch of prospects.  Lidle gives the Yankees’ struggling rotation some added depth which they really need.  Meanwhile, Abreu should ease the losses of Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui.  While both outfielders are expected to return by the end of August, give or take, Abreu should be a welcome addition.  Even if both Sheffield and Matsui do return, Abreu could be a valuable DH, or be able to play the field and allow either Sheffield or Matsui the chance to rest and play DH.  Most of all, the power hitting lefty gives the Yankees lineup even more depth, and makes opposing pitchers even more miserable when they face the Bronx Bombers.  The other splash in the A.L. was the Tigers’ addition of power hitting first baseman Sean Casey.  The Tigers have had the pitching all year, now they hope Casey will give them the extra bat should they have a slugfest with foes such as the White Sox, Red Sox, Twins and Yankess down the stretch and in the playoffs.  The most action packed division of all, though, was the N.L. West.  The tightly packed division, last place L.A. is only five games out, should stay that way as the teams prepared for the final stretch.  Arizona and Colorado stayed quiet, but L.A., San Fransisco and San Diego took steps to try and lock things up.  The division leading Padres were looking for some Red Sox magic as they added two former Socks, Scott Williamson and Todd Walker.  San Fransisco also dabbled in the old socks pool by adding Shea Hillenbrand and Mike Stanton.  Hillenbrand is expected to finally give the Giants a legitimate third baseman while Stanton is expected to strengthen their bullpen.  But the biggest moves of all came from L.A.  The desperate Dodgers, who have underachieved so far, made a flurry of moves in hopes of making up some ground in the West and taking the division.  The Dodgers’ big move was adding veteran pitcher Greg Maddux.  Maddux should give the Dodgers the reliable starter they have been looking for.  The Dodgers didn’t settle for just that though, they also added infielder Wilson Betemit who should be a reliable player and finally infielder Julio Lugo.  Lugo is finally getting out of the misery that is Tampa Bay, and the better lineup around him may make his numbers even better. 

             

     There were a few other moves these last few days, that may have an impact as well, but went somewhat unnoticed.  The White Sox added reliever Mike MacDougal who if he can get back to his old form should give them even more depth in the ‘pen.  The Cardinals are hoping to get a little more from their offense in acquiring Ronnie Belliard, the former Indian.  Another former Indian, Ben Broussard, was shipped to Seattle in a pretty irrelevant move for Shin Soo Choo.  The Astros are trying to score more than two runs a game, especially for Clemens, by adding Aubrey Huff.  The Braves helped their struggling bullpen by adding Bob Wickman.  All in all, the deadline failed to live up to the hype generated.  Names like Alfonso Soriano, Miguel Tejada and Barry Zito didn’t go anywhere.  Nevertheless a few teams hope their moves will get them to the postseason.  And some of the other teams hope what they have is already good enough.



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