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Weekend Buzz: Rangers stand tallest after trade deadline

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The Weekend Buzz -- picking the assorted trade deadline winners, losers and dreamers -- while you were offering to trade your local burger joint $10 tomorrow for two cheeseburgers today. ...

Heavyweight champion

The Padres win big by trading for Ryan Ludwick's productive bat and glove. (AP)  
The Padres win big by trading for Ryan Ludwick's productive bat and glove. (AP)  
Rangers: General manager Jon Daniels and Co. were note-perfect. What an absolutely tremendous job of identifying a team that's ready to win now, then executing bold-stroke moves. The additions of ace Cliff Lee, catcher Bengie Molina (back in late June) and slugger Jorge Cantu, mixed in with Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Vladimir Guerrero, Elvis Andrus and the rest of the crew not only salted away the AL West, it turns the Rangers into legitimate World Series contenders. The last-minute addition of infielder Cristian Guzman to plug the second-base hole opened short-term by Ian Kinsler's injury was like a free iPod tossed in after acquiring a snazzy new iMac. And how about this: The bankrupt Rangers even got cash tossed into deals from the Marlins and the Nationals! Funny how nobody's wondering about how this year's squad will withstand the heat of a broiling Texas summer. The Rangers win this July trade deadline in a TKO.

Winners

Padres: Bravo for rookie GM Jed Hoyer, conductor of baseball's Little Engine That Could, in acquiring infielder Miguel Tejada and outfielder Ryan Ludwick while subtracting from neither the integrity of the major-league roster nor the farm system. Ludwick's big bat will complement Adrian Gonzalez and his excellent defense will complement a stellar pitching staff. Now, here's the key with Tejada: Play him at shortstop as long as David Eckstein is on the DL and Jerry Hairston Jr. is at second. Then, mix-and-match Tejada and Hairston at shortstop. Too much time down the stretch will expose Tejada's age and lack of range at short. That happens, I'm coming looking for the Padres later to revoke the "trade deadline winner" status.

Yankees: Filling the cracks in the caulking around the bathtub is never exciting, but it sure prevents future problems. That was the Yanks at the deadline. Lance Berkman shores up the DH slot. Austin Kearns makes them better against left-handed pitching. Kerry Wood, if he stays healthy, has a chance to become the old Joba Chamberlain setting up Mariano Rivera. Because the new Joba has been far too inconsistent.

Phillies: Dear Phillies fans: OK, so maybe we screwed up by trading Cliff Lee. In hindsight, with him and Roy Halladay, we'd probably be leading the NL East by 15 games right now. Oops. What do you want me to say? Apologies aren't easy, but consider Roy Oswalt mine. Keep looking forward, not backward. Love, Ruben Amaro Jr. (Phillies GM).

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti: Squeezed by the divorce of Frank and Jamie McCourt and with a disinterested Manny Ramirez providing seriously diminishing returns, Colletti essentially is doing his job while locked in handcuffs and leg shackles. Poor guy. Rival GMs should start sending casseroles and fruit plates over to Colletti's house the way concerned neighbors do when a local family is down on its luck. Ted Lilly, Scott Podsednik, Ryan Theriot and Octavio Dotel won't put this team over the top. But it's far more community property than the McCourts had a right to expect their baseball people to produce given the constraints.

Twins: Enough with the whining about catching prospect Wilson Ramos being dealt. With Joe Mauer catching, Ramos' future in the Twin Cities was as a Target Field usher. Everybody knew that. Now closer Matt Capps might not be as sexy as, say, Miss Iowa, but the Twins have a chance to win now, and adding Capps makes them better. The argument that Ramos should have been packaged for a solid starting pitcher? That's legitimate. But the Mariners didn't bite on the Lee talks, and Oswalt and Lilly each had the Twins listed on their no-trade. The rest of the market stunk.

Diamondbacks interim GM Jerry DiPoto: Don't want to hear anymore pissing and moaning about how the Snakes got snaked by the Angels in the Dan Haren trade. Hear ye, hear ye: They unloaded more than $30 million and got four pitchers back, including a former All-Star in Joe Saunders. Combined with their take in sending Edwin Jackson to the White Sox, the Diamondbacks, badly in need of blowing things up and starting over, got six pitchers back in deals. And thanks in part to these deals, Arizona's farm system now is stocked with nine of the top 80 picks from last year's draft. Rival executives who dealt with DiPoto came away impressed by his honesty, his direction and his no-nonsense approach. This guy already has put the Diamondbacks in better shape than when he found them and is making a strong case to have the "interim" dropped from his title. Plus, the fact that DiPoto was able to lead someone into the D-Backs bullpen so he could unload a reliever from that toxic mess is staggering.

Giants: Not exactly a blockbuster move adding two relievers -- Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez -- but you can never have enough arms down the stretch, even if you are the Giants. They still could have used a bat, but Buster Posey and, yes, even Pat Burrell have moved this lineup forward.

Losers

Reds: They looked into Roy Oswalt, but he was too expensive. They talked about Dan Haren, but a no-trade clause got in the way. They scoured the market for relievers. In the end, they hope a couple of veterans they've got stashed at Triple-A Louisville -- Russ Springer and Jason Isringhausen -- can help down the stretch. For now, you know the saying -- if you're not moving forward ... you're going backward.

Mets: Come on, even the Marlins added a pitcher (lefty reliever Will Ohman).

White Sox: No Adam Dunn. No Lance Berkman (who shot down the Sox with his no-trade powers). No Manny Ramirez (though acquiring him still might have qualified the Sox for the losers category). And I'd rather have Dan Hudson than Edwin Jackson. But let's wait and see what Sox GM Kenny Williams does in August, because as aggressive as he is, no way he can be done now. Can he?

Red Sox: Um, would you like those margaritas with Salt ... alamacchia (Jarrod)?

Tigers: Jhonny Peralta is OK, but in losing Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen to injuries, the fading Tigers, struggling to keep up with the White Sox and Twins in the AL Central, came out behind at the deadline.

Astros: I can't get over the fact that a team actually gave money ($4 million) to the Yankees in a deal (Lance Berkman). That's like waiting for a red light to change and the panhandler on the corner walks up and gives you money.

Still starved:

Cardinals: Yes, Jake Westbrook aids the St. Louis rotation, but ... this is a team that is to offense what lettuce is to a steak dinner. The Cards have scored one run or fewer in 22 games and three or fewer in 40 of 102. Without Ludwick, the Cardinals better plan on winning a lot of 2-1 games.

Nuts

Rays GM Andrew Friedman: As Tampa Bay was scooping up reliever Chad Qualls from Arizona, scenes from The Hurt Locker kept coming to mind. No, Andrew, don't go near that ... AAAAHHHHH! The Diamondbacks' bullpen is a mine-field requiring the wearing of one of those bomb-squad suits. Going near this mess proves Friedman has the most guts in the game. Now, let's sit back and see whether escaping that toxic atmosphere can rejuvenate Qualls ... and let's check Friedman for post-traumatic stress syndrome.

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