Commentary: Trade-deadline busts illustrate why teams should exercise caution
Hold on to your wallets. We have reached the time of year when the media and fans clamor for teams in contention to snag the best midseason reinforcements available.
Teams feel pressure to make moves (and headlines), whether there’s a gaping hole to fill or not. Yet it’s always a seller’s market for the top players available. Teams are going to mortgage the future for a short-term gain that few will realize.
Sometimes you give up talent but get the result you wanted. The Blue Jays sent Jeff Kent to the Mets to get David Cone in 1992, and Cone helped them win a championship. Ditto the Marlins sacrificing Adrian Gonzalez to get closer Ugueth Urbina in 2003.
My guess is a wily stock analyst would move to the sidelines rather than dabble in such a high-risk market, but general managers find the action irresistible. As a public service, we present reasons to move cautiously on midseason trades:
1. Randy Johnson from the Expos to the Mariners in a package of players for Mark Langston, May 25, 1989 — The Expos finished 81-81, and Langston left as a free agent.
2. Doyle Alexander from the Braves to the Tigers for John Smoltz, Aug. 12, 1987 — Trailing the Jays by 11⁄ games
2 at the time of the deal, the Tigers used Alexander’s 9-0 finish to win the AL East but lost to the Twins in the ALCS.
3. Larry Andersen from the Astros to the Red Sox for Jeff Bagwell, Aug. 30, 1990 — Up 6 1⁄2 games, the Red Sox won a weak AL East but the A’s swept them in the ALCS.
4. Heathcliff Slocumb from the Red Sox to the Mariners for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe, July 31, 1997 — Clinging to a half-game lead over the Angels, the Mariners held on to win the AL West but lost to the Orioles in the first round.
5. Johnson from the Mariners to the Astros for Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen and John Halama, July 31, 1998 — The Astros, who had an 11-game lead, won 102 games but lost to the Padres in the first round, with Johnson losing Games 1 and 4.
6. Esteban Loaiza from the Rangers to Blue Jays for Michael Young, July 19, 2000 — Trailing the Yankees by 11⁄ games, the Blue Jays 2 finished third.
7. Bartolo Colon from the Indians to the Expos for Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and Lee Stevens, June 27, 2002 — Seven games behind the Braves, the Expos finished 19 games back.
8. Ben Broussard from the Indians to the Mariners for Shin-Soo Choo, July 26, 2006 — In fourth place but only three games back at the deadline, the Mariners finished 15 back.
9. Casey Blake from the Indians to the Dodgers for Carlos Santana, July 26, 2008 — Blake helped the Dodgers win the NL West and beat the Cubs in the first round, but they lost to the Phillies in the NLCS.
10. Mark Teixeira (and Ron Mahay) from the Rangers to the Braves for Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, July 31, 2008 — Trailing the Phillies by 3 1⁄2 games, the Braves finished third.
Seattle Mariners ace pitcher Randy Johnson had a tough time with the Baltimore Orioles in a 1997 loss, despite a hoped-for boost from Heathcliff Slocumb, brought over from the Red Sox.
The Cleveland Indians sent Bartolo Colon to the Expos in 2002, but his new team just kept dropping back.