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By Joe Kazmar
For the Record 

Kaz's Korner

MLB's trading deadline separated contenders from pretenders

 

Last updated 8/3/2021 at 3:17pm



During the final two days of Major League Baseball’s annual end of July trading deadline, when the clock struck 3:00 p.m. Friday and no more deals could be made, there were 32 different trades which moved 80 different players, including 10 who made the All-Star Game two weeks ago.

The Chicago Cubs and the Washington Nationals sold off several of their high-dollar, low-producing players and picked up young prospects—mostly high draft choices from the minor leagues—who have started their careers on the right foot production-wise in an effort to get a flying start with their respective rebuilding programs.

The World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers acquired future Hall of Famer right-hander Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner from the Nationals for four prospects and also got left-hander Danny Duffy from Kansas City and cash for a player to be named later.

Washington also dealt closer Brad Hand to the Toronto Blue Jays for catching prospect Riley Adams and traded outfielder/designated hitter Kyle Schwarber to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Aldo Ramirez. The Oakland A’s also acquired catcher Yan Gomes and infielder Josh Harrison from Washington for three prospects. The Nats also sent Jon Lester to St. Louis for outfielder Lane Thomas.

The Cubs traded of their top sluggers—third baseman Kris Bryant to the Giants plus Anthony Rizzo and cash to the New York Yankees for two prospects—to highlight their “fire sale”.

Chicago also dumped shortstop Javier Baez and pitcher Trevor Williams to the Mets for outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong and shipped closer Craig Kimbrel and his dazzling 0.49 ERA and 23 of 25 saves across town to the White Sox for second baseman Nick Madrigal and right-handed reliever Codi Heuer.

Most of the first-place teams and those in the running for a wild card berth shuffled players around to shore up apparent weaknesses divulged during the first half of the season.

Our Houston Astros suffered during the first half from an inconsistent bullpen but second-year general manager James Click fixed that problem by trading for four relievers including a couple of closers without mortgaging the future.

What’s amazing is that the Astros are still contenders for the post-season and even the World Series despite losing the likes of stars like George Springer, Gerrit Cole, Josh Reddick, Will Harris, Dallas Keuchel, Marwin Gonzalez and Charlie Morton over the last couple of years plus not having injured Justin Verlander for the last two seasons.

And while Manager Dusty Baker was factoring the four new relievers onto his roster, the likes of the Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, White Sox, Red Sox, New York Yankees all added future Hall of Famers and much bigger names. Even the market-challenged Tampa Bay Rays added a bigger name than the Astros did.

Baker now has Kendall Graveman, Rafael Montero, Yimi Garcia and Phil Maton added to his list of relievers to select before calling on All-Star closer Ryan Pressly in the ninth inning for the critical final two months of the season.

“Coming into this deadline we felt very, very good about our offense and we felt very good about our starting pitching and I think that Ryan Pressly has been one of the best relievers in the game,” Click told the Houston Chronicle last weekend. “We felt like the area that we needed to address was the middle of the bullpen.

“If our offense continues to perform at the level that it has, I think we have put together a roster that should be very, very capable of competing for a World Series championship,” Click concluded, sounding somewhat like Dallas Cowboys idiot owner Jerry Jones.

The one deal Click made that I vehemently disagree with was trading starting outfielder Myles Straw to Cleveland for reliever Phil Maton.

Straw worked his way into the starting lineup by improving his batting average nearly .100 points, by being the fastest Astro on the roster and leading the team with 17 stolen bases, not to mention being one of the most popular players in the clubhouse. I like Chas McCormick, who will take Straw’s place in centerfield, but his puny .239 batting average doesn’t impress me.

KWICKIES…

And while on the subject of the Astros, they signed 17 of their 19 draft choices, with only two high school draftees opting to go to college.

Vanderbilt’s ace pitcher Kumar Rocker, who was one of only two pitchers to defeat Orange native Chad Dallas at Tennessee, did not come to a monetary agreement with the New York Mets, who drafted him in the first round last month. Word is that the Mets pulled back some of their offer and Rocker’s agent told them to go fly a kite.

Former Chicago Cubs Kris Byrant (Giants), Anthony Rizzo (NY Yankees) and Javier Baez (NY Mets) are all off to flying starts with their new teams.

New Houston Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor is impressing his coaches and teammates with the team leadership ability of a veteran and his work ethic. He is replacing Deshaun Watson, who demands to be traded but can’t find an NFL team that’s willing to take him and his 22 lawsuits.

Former Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond has been forced to quarantine by the Minnesota Vikings due to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols. According to league sources, Mond is vaccinated and if his positive case is asymptomatic, he will be able to return as quickly as 48 hours with two negative tests taken a day apart.JUST BETWEEN US…

The 2021 high school football season officially began Monday for the five Orange County teams, who all kick off their respective seasons Aug.27. Two teams have brand new coaches—Eric Peevey at Little Cypress-Mauriceville and Cody McGuire at Bridge City—while Josh Smalley guides Orangefield, Jeff Mathews begins his 22nd season at the helm of the Vidor Pirates and Cornel Thompson hopes to extend the West Orange-Stark Mustangs consecutive district championships to 12.

 

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