Teams are entering the stretch runs of their respective pennant races. Some are winning their divisions, while others are either pushing their division leaders or contending for a wild-card spot. But for every successful team, there are many more that frankly suck.
Whether those teams are contending for playoff spots or stinking up the joint, virtually everyone looks to be involved at the trading deadline. Contending teams mortgage their future for the present, while sucky ones unload their best players for prospects and build for the future.
The two teams that stood out the most for me were the Oakland Athletics and the Detroit Tigers. While both teams made big strides to try and separate themselves from the rest of the American League, I thought the A’s were more aggressive and perhaps landed the biggest fish in Jon Lester – and giving up stud Yoenis Cespedes.
For one thing, the A’s needed to do all they can to stay ahead of the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West. Before the trade the A’s and Angels are by far the two best teams not only in the American League, but in all of baseball. The Angels can mash the hell out of the baseball. And while the A’s can mash the baseball as well (they have the largest run differential in baseball), they really needed a quality starter to not only quell those bats in L.A. but to advance past teams like Detroit and advance to the World Series.
What was really telling was how desperate A’s GM Billy Beane has become. He is normally a “build a team through the farm system” type of guy, often relying on sabermetrics and analytics. In trading for Lester – and not being assured of keeping him after the season – Beane is truly ALL in. It’s World Series or bust for Oakland.
Speaking of Detroit, getting starting pitching David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays was huge as well. He gives the Tigers one hell of a starting rotation with Price, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer, and Rick Porcello (one of my fantasy pitchers). Adding Price puts the Tigers in the “best teams in the American League (and all of baseball)” conversation.
Trades like the ones made in Oakland and Detroit are what make the MLB season very exciting. It’s going to be fun watching the A’s and Tigers (and Angels) battle it out for American League supremacy down the stretch – and perhaps into October.
Now on to football season…