Sunday, August 03, 2008

Take solace, the LaRoche boys are back together

I'm not willing to put money on it, but I'm guessing most reading this don't think having Andy LaRoche at third and Adam LaRoche at first makes the Pirates a juggernaut for the foreseeable future. I will say that caveat was overlooked in all the coverage of the MLB trading deadline, but I guess it's understandable since this was the first time ever three future Hall of Famers were traded in 24 hours. I think Tim Kurkjian had a stat saying the only other time a trio of Hall Famers were traded in the same season was during the dead ball era.

And all of this doesn't even include Mark Teixeira getting traded to the Angels.

Clearly, the talking heads of the world have had their say about this trade. Everyone seems to think the Tigers got fleeced in giving up Pudge for Farnsworth straight up, Ken Griffey wasn't really a necessity for the White Sox, the Dodgers got a nice power bat in their lineup, the Pirates did what the Pirates do and sold off all their assets and started over again, and the Red Sox may have cost themselves the playoffs depending on how Jason Bay performs.

My belated opinion is one of wonder over how the Red Sox could just give up Manny Ramirez, no matter how many ground balls he chooses to not run out. I tend to agree with all of the above thoughts, and anyone saying Jason Bay can be the same player as Manny Ramirez (like say, Theo Epstein) is in for rude awakening when the Sawx don't make the playoffs. You just can't replicate performance in the clutch, and whenever Manny came up in a big spot, he usually delivered. Even the greatest player of our generation, Alex Rodriguez, can't seem to replicate the clutchness factor that the Red Sox seem to have de-valued beyond belief.

But what struck me most about this deadline was the sheer number of marquee trades that made it through baseball hierarchy. It's a trend that sort of emerged during this NBA season, after names like Jason Kidd, Shaquille O'Neal, Pau Gasol, Ben Wallace, Larry Hughes, and Mike Bibby were traded away. Hell, even the NHL trade deadline has some significant moves like Marian Hossa to the Penguins, Sergei Federov to the Capitals, and Brian Campbell to the Sharks. After so many years of rumored trades falling through, it appears as if general managers are more and more ceding to the fans and actually going for it. Hopefully it's more than just a one-year phenomenon and a sign that the days of Bill Simmons calling the NBA the "No Balls Association" are behind us.

Now, I've spent the past couple of days trying to figure out why this happened this year and I haven't come up with a definitive answer. Back in the day, you never saw anything like the blockbuster deadline deals that we've seen in the past several months, and I haven't seen a general indicator that suggests that these big time trades are a sign of things to come.

But something interesting came up in conversation with Graham yesterday. He mentioned an article in the Sports Business Journal, which I can't link right now because you have to be a member, that basically says Manny's new agent, the infamous Scott Boras, orchestrated this trade because Manny's old deal was signed under his prior agent. See, if Manny were stuck with those cumbersome $20 million options that the Red Sox seemed inclined to exercise, Boras would not have seen one iota of money since he wasn't the agent that negotiated the original deal. Now, with Manny a Dodger and those options out the window as part of trade stipulations, Boras gets to go into the winter with a clean slate to make a bunch of money for himself.

That Scott Boras is at it again.

So it got me thinking that maybe it's the evolution of the agent that have made these big time trades more and more prevalent. But I'm going to have to go into more depth on this, maybe try and sneak my way into interviewing a couple GMs and get their take on the whole issue. I definitely think the agents are a reason these trades began spinning, but I also can't get past thinking these huge trades were also a product of circumstance and sheer luck.

For now, let's just hope Manny's fantasy value doesn't hit the shitter now that he's part of a mediocre offense in a pitcher's park.

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