Another Deadline Bites the Dust — and Shapes October’s Playmakers

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Another Deadline Bites the Dust -- and Shapes October's Playmakers Too much smoke, not enough fire. All too often, that's the story of baseball's annual trade deadline.

Every year, the media amps up the hype surrounding the game's biggest
stars, spreading rumors about franchise-changing deals. And every year,
it seems, we're in for a disappointment in one way or another.

This year, it was Roy Halladay. We spent all July wondering where Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi would ship the premier pitcher in the American League, suspecting all the while that the answer might be nowhere.

In the end, Halladay stayed put. So, too, did Adrian Gonzalez.

But that doesn't mean we didn't see plenty of deadline drama. Most
notably, these are the teams that will feel the impact of the past week
as they embark down the stretch run:

Winners
1. Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox' goal this month was to land a marquee bat without giving up the farm — Theo Epstein wasn't about to play it fast and loose with the team's valuable young arms. The Sox reportedly tried to swap Clay Buchholz for the Indians' Victor Martinez and were rejected, but the ideal trade for Boston was one that kept both Buchholz and prospect Michael Bowden.

Somehow, they managed just that. The Sox' trade that landed Martinez at
the deadline was an absolute coup, as it took nothing more than Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price to
lock up one of the best-hitting catchers in the game. The Sox' offense
will be bolstered in a big way by Martinez's arrival, and it came
surprisingly cheap.

2. Philadelphia Phillies: Much like the Red Sox, the Phils
needed to make a big splash without giving up too much. They were
originally pursuing Halladay, but when Ricciardi's asking price
wouldn't come down, they looked elsewhere.

They got their Cy Young winner in Cliff Lee, and they landed him without giving up any of their top trading chips. They kept J.A. Happ, one of their best young arms. They kept Kyle Drabek, the best pitcher in their farm system. And they kept Dominic Brown, the star outfielder blazing his way up the Phillies' minor league ranks. Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson was all it took to lock up Lee. Big win for the Phillies.

3. St. Louis Cardinals: It's been a big month for the Cardinals. They entered the summer with serious questions about their offense. Aside from Albert Pujols, they were unsure about who'd be able to produce at the plate down the stretch. But in adding Mark DeRosa, Matt Holliday and Julio Lugo in separate deals, the Cards didn't have to give up much, and they're now in a position to make a run at the NL Central title.

Losers
1. New York Yankees: The Yankees' pitching rotation is
legitimately four-deep, but the team really needed to lock up a legit
fifth starter in order to solidify its shot at making the playoffs. Sergio Mitre has been unreliable so far, and he's not the kind of guy the Bronx Bombers want to depend on down the stretch — but Brian Cashman failed to pull the trigger on a deal to bring in anyone better. Jarrod Washburn would
have been a perfect fit, but it wasn't meant to be for the Yankees. The Tigers grabbed him instead. Looks like the Yanks are destined to
tread on thin ice with their current rotation.

2. Toronto Blue Jays: Let's face it — the Jays have no shot at making a run at the AL East. Unloading Roy Halladay (and unloading Vernon Wells'
bloated contract as well) was their only hope — a rebuilding effort is
long overdue. But because Ricciardi stayed stubborn with his high
asking price for Halladay, the Jays were never able to make a deal. The
Phillies, Dodgers and Red Sox were all begging to dump quality
prospects into the Jays' laps, but the Jays wouldn't have any of it.
After Halladay's gone and they're left with nothing, Ricciardi will be
sorry.

3. Texas Rangers: The Rangers have been working for years to
fight their way out of the AL West cellar, and now they're finally
knocking on the door of first place. Their Achilles' heel, though,
continues to be their inexperienced, young pitching staff, and GM Jon Daniels had a chance to improve the Rangers' situation with a big trade at the deadline. Names like Halladay, Lee, Washburn and Jon Garland were
being thrown around, but the Rangers sat on their hands and did
nothing. They're still chasing the Angels for first place in the West,
and that chase would have been a whole lot easier had the Rangers
landed one more starting pitcher.

Roy Halladay is staying put, but that doesn't make this trade deadline
entirely uneventful. The biggest name may not be going anywhere, but
some others almost as big will certainly alter the course of this
season.

The deadline brought good news for the Red Sox and bad news for their
rivals. So in New England, it's been a good week. But the news isn't
just along the eastern seaboard — around baseball, pennant races are
reversing course.

This home stretch is going to be fun. Let's play ball.

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