|It so happens that this guy was traded last year. (Getty Images)|
According to sketchy Internet rumor, the 2012 non-waiver trade deadline is within both hailing and spitting distance. So in the spirit of the season, let's part the gossamer of time and look back, lo, one whole year ago and revisit the most important trades to go down leading up to the 2011 deadline.
For the enthusiast of things ranked, I've ranked these things. In fact, I've ranked them according to my personal notions of importance. Subject to change? Yes, as with all things in this fading world. Given the involvement of so many prospects, it remains to be seen how these pups develop and, hence, how these trades shake out. At this juncture, though, here are the 10 most super-important trades of DEADLINE 2011, which occurred a year prior to DEADLINE 2012 ...
10. July 30, 2011 - The Red Sox trade RHP Kendal Volz and IF/OF Yamaico Navarro to the Royals for SS Mike Aviles.
Volz retired at age 24, and Navarro is a Pirate. Boston, meantime, landed a useful player in Aviles. After the trade last season, Aviles logged an OPS of .775 while manning five different positions. This year, he's been the Sox's every-day shortstop.
9. July 12, 2011 - The Mets trade RHP Francisco Rodriguez and cash to the Brewers for players to be named later. The Brewers later send LHP Danny Herrera and RHP Adrian Rosario to the Mets to complete the trade.
K-Rod was a vital piece of the bullpen down the stretch for Milwaukee (29.0 IP, 1.86 ERA) and in the postseason (one run in 5.0 IP). He's been a disappointment in 2012, but he did his part during the Brewers' impressive run last season. Herrera perhaps has an impressive future in a major-league bullpen, but he underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this season. The 22-year-old Rosario has struggled badly since a promotion to Double-A.
8. July 31, 2011 - The Padres trade RHP Mike Adams to the Rangers for LHP Robbie Erlin and RHP Joe Wieland.
The underrated Adams (2.20 career ERA) has been very effective since arriving in Texas, and he's still a key part of what may be the best bullpen in baseball. Wieland will undergo Tommy John surgery on July 31, but Erlin may be the sleeper of the deal. Erlin is presently sidelined with an elbow strain, but he could a future fixture in the major-league rotation. His outstanding command in tandem with a deceptive delivery have earned (obviously premature) comparisons to Cliff Lee. The Rangers might come to regret parting with a pitcher of Erlin's abilities, provided he gets and stays healthy.
7. July 29, 2011 - The Astros trade OF Hunter Pence and cash to the Phillies for a player to be named later, RHP Jarred Cosart, 1B/OF Jonathan Singleton and RHP Josh Zeid. The Phillies later send OF Domingo Santana to the Astros to complete the trade.
Pence last season hit an outstanding .324/.394/.560 in 54 games after the trade, and this year he has an OPS+ of 110. It's possible that the arb-eligible right fielder might again find himself moved in advance of the non-waiver deadline.
6. July 30, 2011 - The Tigers trade a player to be named later, IF/OF Francisco Martinez, LHP Charlie Furbush and OF Casper Wells to the Mariners for RHP Doug Fister and RHP David Pauley. The Tigers later send RHP Chance Ruffin to the Mariners to complete the trade.
Both sides fared well enough in this one. Fister was stellar after the trade, as he posted a 1.79 ERA in 70.1 innings for the eventual AL Central champs. This season, he's regress to a 4.03 ERA, but he's still been an above-average and stable presence in the Detroit rotation. Pauley was released in spring training after an ineffective post-trade stint with the Tigers.
On Seattle's end, Furbush, currently on the DL with a strained triceps, struggled as a starter after the deal but this season has thrived as the primary lefty out of the pen. Wells has emerged as the regular left fielder for the M's, and he's enjoying a solid season. Otherwise, Ruffin has struggled badly at Triple-A, and the touted Martinez has had a tougher go of it this year at Double-A.
5. July 31, 2011 - The Braves trade LHP Brett Oberholtzer, RHP Paul Clemens, RHP Juan Abreu and OF Jordan Schafer to the Astros for OF Michael Bourn and cash.
Bourn didn't thrive during Atlanta's tragicomic collapse last season, but this year he made the All-Star team and is presently hitting .299/.354/.441 with 28 steals in 36 attempts. And that's to say nothing of his Gold-Glove chops in center. On the flip side, Jordan Schafer, while he's had his moments, has largely struggled this season. Clemens is likely at best a fifth starter, Oberholtzer has fallen apart since changing organizations, and Abreu has a 7.23 ERA this season at Triple-A.
4. July 31, 2011 - The Dodgers trade SS Rafael Furcal and cash to the Cardinals for OF Alex Castellanos.
Furcal replaced Ryan Theriot as the Cardinals' shortstop, which, suffice it to say, made for a substantial upgrade. The switch-hitting vet had a 101 OPS+ after the swap, and, after re-signing with St. Louis over the winter, he's been one of the NL's top shortstops this season (albeit in something of a down year for NL shortstops). As for the 25-year-old Castellanos, he's cut a swath through the high minors and also seen time at second base. He could one day be a regular at the highest level.
3. July 27, 2011 - The White Sox trade RHP Edwin Jackson and INF/OF Mark Teahen to the Blue Jays for RHP Jason Frasor and RHP Zach Stewart. The Cardinals trade LHP Trever Miller, OF Colby Rasmus, LHP Brian Tallet and RHP P.J. Walters to the Blue Jays for RHP Octavio Dotel, RHP Edwin Jackson, OF Corey Patterson, LHP Marc Rzepczynski and cash.
This three-team hootenanny involved some interesting moving parts. Jackson stabilized the Cardinal rotation by posting a 3.58 ERA down the stretch, while Rzepczynski has generally struggled in St. Louis. The other vital piece of this deal, Rasmus, has shown some improvement this season, but he's still coming up short of the breakout numbers he posted in 2010. This one felt more important at the time than it appears in hindsight.
2. July 28, 2011 - The Mets trade OF Carlos Beltran and cash to the Giants for RHP Zack Wheeler.
Beltran certainly did his part (.323/.369/.551) in San Fran, and he wound up signing a bargain contract with the Cardinals. This year, he's been one of the NL's most productive hitters. Although the Giants missed the postseason, it was no fault of Beltran's. The Mets, though, landed a potential gem in Wheeler. Wheeler, who touches triple digits with his fastball and boasts a hammer curve, has thrived at Double-A Binghamton this season despite being generally younger than his peer group. If he rounds out his repertoire, then he'll be a potential frontline ace.
1. July 30, 2011 - The Indians trade a player to be named later, RHP Joe Gardner, C/OF Matt McBride and RHP Alex White to the Rockies for RHP Ubaldo Jimenez. The Indians later send LHP Drew Pomeranz to the Rockies to complete the trade.
The Rockies added two high-ceiling arms in White and Pomeranz. While each has struggled this season, fits and starts are to be expected, especially at a mile above sea level. Gardner probably doesn't have a future, but McBride, while already 27 years of age, has done nothing but hit in his minor-league career. He could be late-20s find at catcher in the mold of Paul Lo Duca or A.J. Ellis.
In other words, the Indians gave a up a lot, but they have not, thus far, gotten a lot back. Jimenez has a 5.01 ERA as an Indian (versus a 3.66 ERA as a Rocky), and his command has completely abandoned him. It's not a good trade from the Tribe's standpoint, but it's an important one.