Ahh MLB's trading deadline. It has to be one of the easiest times to be a baseball writer.
"Team X leads the player Y sweepstakes!!!!!!"
"Here's some cockamamie trade scenario!"
Or, in Jayson Stark's case, "The trading deadline totally sucks."
So before we get too close to that onrushing deadline, and before we all get too carried away with rumor-mania, we'd just like to slip in the following public-service announcement, to remind you of exactly what the trading deadline really is:
And as well all know, Stark is the king of all that is over/underrated in baseball.
There's no commodity teams chase harder at the deadline than starting pitching. And it's mind-boggling how rarely it gets them anywhere. Consider this:
• The last two starting pitchers acquired at midseason to win a World Series game were Jeff Weaver (picked off the scrap heap), for the 2006 Cardinals, and Mike Torrez (a relic of another era), for the 1977 Yankees.
• And the last two pitchers traded on Deadline Day (July 31) to win any kind of postseason game were Oliver Perez (a reclamation-project throw-in), for the 2006 Mets, and David Weathers (as a set-up reliever), for the 1996 Yankees.
This distortion and abuse of stats is truly awesome. Last dude to WIN a POSTSEASON game.
C.C. Sabathia could go 16-0 with 800 Ks for the rest of the regular season, pitch five no hitters in the playoffs (all loses, due to errors) and the Brewers could lose in game seven of the World Series 1-0 and you know who didn't step up and win a playoff game? Sabathia. Peice of crap.
So remember, friends, there's no assurance that trading for a C.C. Sabathia is going to give your team any better chance of winning the World Series than trading for, say, Tim Redding. And that's a fact.
Let's pull over the Crazy Bus on the way to Madness Town, Stark has lost his damn mind.
You're really saying that Sabathia gives the Brewers the same exact chance to win the Series as Tim fucking Redding? Really? You, Jayson Stark, are saying this?
"And that's a fact." That makes me so mad. He could have just left it at "Tim Redding." But no, Stark is pissed and everyone should know it. "That's a fact, motherfuckers! Who would win in a fight, Tim Redding or God? Trick question, Redding IS God."
I would love to have an alternate reality where the Brewers trade for Sabathia (we'll call this reality "Earth") and one were they trade for Redding (this one: Starkatopia) and Stark and I would have a bet on who will win the Series. The teams would (of course) replay the rest of the 2008 season 1,000,000,000 times to remove any outliers (see what I did there Stark. Sample size - know it, love it).
I would bet on the Earth Milwaukee Brewers every single time. And probably steal a lot of Stark's money. Which I need.
The reason, said [Rockies GM] O'Dowd, is simply that those starting pitchers only get to play every five days. So "just look at the number of starts a starting pitcher is going to get by the end of September," he said. "It's probably 10. So if the guy doesn't dominate in eight of those 10 starts, it's a disappointing trade."
I have to call bullshit on this assumption. Dominate in eight of 10? I would take "dominate" in 4-5, "pitch very good" in 3-4 and "quality starts" in the rest. O'Dowd wants eight one-hitters with 12 Ks each or that trade sucked.
Position players are different, he said, "because they can blend into the mix." And bullpen arms, in the right role, "can make a big difference."
We're going to take a stroll down a road I like to call O'Dowd's Crazy Math Lane.
Starters playoff innings (rough estimate): 10 starts, ~6IP/start = 60 innings.
Reliever "making a big difference" innings: ~1IP every game (resulting in arm explosion), assuming the team plays the max amount of games = 19 innings.
My brain: whaaaaa?!?!!?!?!?
Even if a reliever goes Keith Foulke in 2004, pitching like every game and essentially ending his career, that's not even close to the innings a SP would give you. But they would "make a big difference" so they count for triple.
And by the way, we can assure you O'Dowd really believes that, even though the only kinds of players he has on the block this month are (coincidentally) bats and relievers.
Could it be because no one wants his mediocre SPs? And "bats and relievers" is like 80 percent of his roster, so whatever.
But those monster starting-pitcher deals? They create "a tremendous amount of pressure," he said. "And not many guys are able to handle that."
But relievers who are accquired to close for a new team against hitters they have never faced, with all eyes on them in ninth, have no pressure at all. Eric Gagne was as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce.
"The reason is there isn't a perfect team out there," said Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski. "So what happens is, as soon as you make one deal to address your biggest need, it creates another need."
The Brewers just traded like three prospects for Sabathia. Exactly what need was created there? The need to have awesome dudes in your farm system? Most playoff trades involve prospects. I am beggining to wonder the mental state of these GMs...
Or even when those deals work, you can still get flat-out unlucky.
Behold the first intelligent remark in this article.
Ask former Astros GM Gerry Hunsicker, now a senior vice president for baseball operations in Tampa Bay. He made two of the best midseason deals of the past decade -- snagging Carlos Beltran in 2004 and Randy Johnson in 1998.
Neither trade got his team to the World Series, even though it definitely wasn't their fault.
Conclusion: this article is utterly pointless.
Beltran hit eight home runs in that postseason alone -- but Roger Clemens couldn't hold a one-run lead in Game 7 of the NLCS. And Johnson had a 1.93 postseason ERA, but his team scored two runs total in his two October starts -- "so we lose two low-scoring games in the first round," Hunsicker said, "and we go home." Hunsicker has been asked "100 times" if he would make those deals again. He would. But that doesn't mean he still isn't haunted by how they turned out.
He's haunted by the result of the games, not the deals themselves. He said he would do them again every time. Again, pointless article. Let me re-write it in like eight words:
Sometimes deadline deals work out. Sometimes they don't.
And you'd have a sidebar of those that did and those that didn't. Done and done.
Best part about all this? Stark then goes into like a 8,000 word rundown of a billion different trade scenarios. At least he stuck with his media criticism angle.