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Wednesday, July 31
Trade analysis of deadline deals

By Rob Neyer

Today I'm going to "analyze" the significant trades made since last weekend. As deals are made, I'll add to the bottom of this page ...

Giants get: CF Kenny Lofton
White Sox get: pitchers Felix Diaz and Ryan Meaux
My first thought: "The White Flag, Redux"

This ain't your father's Kenny Lofton.

Lofton's on-base percentage in 2001 was .322, and this season it's .348; those are the lowest OBPs of his career, he's not particularly aggressive on the bases these days, and it's hard to imagine him turning things around now, when he's 35. Still, .348 isn't so bad, and Lofton can still get the ball in center field.

The Giants didn't have that combination before he arrived. In Marvin Benard, they have a center fielder with a decent-enough OBP (.339 this season, .346 career) who can't really play center field. And in Tsuyoshi Shinjo, they have a center fielder with fine defensive skills who doesn't get on base at all (.296 OBP this season, .310 career).

Lofton's not an impact player any more, but the Giants needed to get better somewhere, and now they're a little better in center field.

Cardinals get: 3B Scott Rolen and RHP Doug Nickle
Phillies get: IF Placido Polanco, pitchers Bud Smith and Mike Timlin
My first thought: "Finally"

There's this misbegotten notion that Scott Rolen really isn't so great, after all.

OK, so he's not the next Mike Schmidt. And it looks like he may have peaked two or three years earlier than most players do. Get over it. Rolen may not wind up in the Hall of Fame, but he's still one of two or three best third basemen in the National League. As such, he represents a huge upgrade over Polanco.

I like Bud Smith, but I can't help but wonder if the Phillies would have been better off just taking the two draft picks -- something like the 25th and 35th next June -- they'd have received if Rolen had left as a free agent after this season. (Assuming free-agent compensation doesn't change with a new labor agreement.)

Athletics get: LHP Ricardo Rincon
Indians get: IF Marshall McDougall
My first thought: "Brian Giles"

On November 18, 1998, the Indians traded Brian Giles to the Pirates for Ricardo Rincon.

What's changed?

Well, Rincon is four years older than he was then. And his rising star isn't nearly as bright.

When the Indians acquired Rincon, he was 28, he'd recorded 14 saves the previous season, and he'd never been hurt. Today, Rincon is 32, he's spent two long stints on the disabled list, and he's saved only two games since leaving Pittsburgh.

Red Sox get: Cliff Floyd
Expos get: pitchers Seung Song and Sun-Woo Kim and a player to be named
My first thought: "The fix is in"

In case you didn't follow the story last winter, it's commonly believed that Commissioner Bud fixed the sale of the Red Sox, approving the purchase by a group that promised to support Selig's plans for revenue sharing and a luxury tax.

And of course, Selig is the de facto owner of the Montreal franchise. So when the Expos deal with the Red Sox, it's not unreasonable to assume the doings are shady in some sense.

And they probably are. However, if Selig fixed the sale of the Red Sox, wouldn't it be the Sox who owe Selig a favor, rather than the other way around?

Two weeks ago, it made sense for the Expos to play for 2002; today, it doesn't. So let's give Omar Minaya (and Commissioner Bud, even) the benefit of the doubt. Seung Song and Sun-Woo Kim are both good prospects, so perhaps Minaya is simply planning for the Expos' future. Whatever that might be.

Mets get: RHPs Steve Reed and Jason Middlebrook
Padres get: LHP Bobby Jones, RHP Josh Reynolds, OF Jay Bay
My first thought: "Reunited, and it feels so good ..."

That's Robert Mitchell Jones, who is 30 years old and has a 5.75 career ERA in the majors. As opposed to Robert Joseph Jones, who is 32 and has a 4.28 career ERA in the majors. Both Bobbys pitched for the Mets in 2000, and now they're together again in San Diego ... assuming, of course, that Robert Mitchell is placed on the 25-man roster. He's spent most of this season in Norfolk, and didn't pitch particularly well there.

For his part, Steve Reed has pitched exceptionally well this season. He's got a 1.98 ERA, and there aren't any negatives at all in the rest of his season stats. The odd thing is, he's very cheap: only $500,000 for this entire season, less than Deivi Cruz, and a lot less than Tom Lampkin. The Mets also get Jason Middlebrook, who's got a good arm but will probably never be healthy enough to pitch effectively in the majors.

It's Reynolds and Bay who should make this deal interesting for the Padres, but the truth is that both have possibilities as fringe major leaguers, at best. This looks to me like a deal just to make a deal.

Angels get: OF Alex Ochoa and C Sal Fasano
Brewers get: C Jorge Fabregas and 2 PTBNL
My first thought: "Whither the M's?"

Ochoa's not a great player, but he can hit a little. While the Angels added bench help, the Mariners failed to, and they could use a hitter as they try to fend off the Angels (and Athletics) out West. But what the M's really need is a left-handed hitter, and Ochoa bats right-handed. So while this shouldn't be considered a missed opportunity for Seattle, it may serve as a wake-up call (though one that probably isn't needed, considering the standings).

This deal doesn't mean anything for the Brewers until we find out who else they get from the Angels. But considering who the Brewers gave up, they're not likely to get any real prospects in return.

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