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Friday, August 1, 2014

Integrity of the game undermined by trades during the season.

Austin Jackson was in center field in Detroit yesterday afternoon when he was pulled from the game.

Thursday, July 31, 2014, 1:08pm, Comerica Park
Attendance: 41,306, Time of Game: 4:01
White Sox 7, Tigers 4

In the top of the 7th inning right after Paul Konerko had been hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in the go ahead run (5-4) and with Gordon Beckham coming up to bat, Jackson was replaced by Rajai Davis.

Why was Jackson removed?  Jackson had just been traded.  In the middle of a game.

July 31, 2014: Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Detroit Tigers to the Seattle Mariners. The Detroit Tigers sent Willy Adames (minors) and Drew Smyly to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Tampa Bay Rays sent David Price to the Detroit Tigers. The Seattle Mariners sent Nick Franklin to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Pulled during a game and the incident was shown on the MLB Network.  And while the body counts mounted the media people and former players mindlessly continued to handicap the trade deadline moves without considering the fundamental implications of trades made during the season.

Jeff Samardzija trade should not have been allowed. Nor the 1997 Mark McGwire trade. No trades during the season should be allowed.  Sunday, July 6, 2014

Jeff Samardzija - July 5, 2014: Traded by the Chicago Cubs with Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics for Billy McKinney (minors), Addison Russell (minors), Dan Straily and player to be named .

Mark McGwire - July 31, 1997: Traded by the Oakland Athletics to the St. Louis Cardinals for Eric Ludwick, T.J. Mathews and Blake Stein.

2013 World Series (4-2): Boston Red Sox (97-65) over St. Louis Cardinals (97-65)

Starting pitchers for Boston:
1. Jon Lester - traded July 31, 2014
2. John Lackey - traded July 31, 2014
3. Jake Peavy - traded July 26, 2014
4. Clay Buchholz
5. Lester
6. Lackey

Peavy - July 26, 2014: Traded by the Boston Red Sox with cash to the San Francisco Giants for Edwin Escobar (minors) and Heath Hembree.

Lackey - July 31, 2014: Traded by the Boston Red Sox with Corey Littrell (minors) and cash to the St. Louis Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly.

Lester - July 31, 2014: Traded by the Boston Red Sox with Jonny Gomes and cash to the Oakland Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes and 2015 compensation draft pick.

Jon Lester June 29, 2009
by Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons
The issue is not whether any of these moves are good for the team in the short or long term.  The issue is the integrity of the game.

Starting tonight the Red Sox host the Yankees in a three game series in Boston.  The Red Sox will probably be considerably less competitive than they would be if they still had Lester, Lackey and Peavy.  How is that fair to the Baltimore Orioles who are in first place in the American Conference East trailed by Toronto (1.5), Yankees (5), Tampa (7.5) and Boston (12.5)?

Boston has obviously given up on the 2014 season.  Since the start of the wild card tournament system in 1996 the only previous champion to sell off players during the next season was the Marlins after both 1997 and 2003.  Boston is the first established team to do so.  What a disgrace.

Maybe Cubs fans expected as much this season but how many Red Sox fans bought season tickets and expected to see their star pitcher, Jon Lester, traded with two months remaining in the season?

And what if Lester leads Oakland to the 2014 championship?  What will have been affirmed? Lester will be a free agent after the tournament and could even return to Boston.  Maybe the closest the Major Baseball League (MBL) has come to this was in 2008 when CC Sabathia was a rental player for the Milwaukee Brewers and led them into the tournament, then signed with the Yankees for 2009 and led the Yankees to their only championship since 2000.

This is the legacy of Allan Huber "Bud" Selig, whose former Milwaukee team benefited from its rental of Sabathia.  Trades during the season had been going on before he became commissioner in 1992 but it is now out of control.  Worst of all, I seem to be the only person who thinks it's a terrible system.


Homers On My Mind said...

I think there is some truth to what you're saying. The system in baseball regarding the trade line should be checked to a certain degree in order to preserve a competition for the remainder of the season. Here are some thoughts about tweaking the system, but they all kind of revolve around tweaking how it relates to the draft:

1. Determine the subsequent years compensatory first round picks after the trade deadline. For example, when teams like the Cardinals get a compensatory draft pick prior to the trade deadline, they essentially get a free chip to trade during a competitive year. Do not make these draft picks available until after the trade deadline (or, just make these non-compensable on the trade market).

2. Coincide the trade deadline with the date for determining next year's draft selection. For example, a July 15th trade deadline would be the same point in which teams with one of the locked draft picks would be determined. This would limit a mediocre team from trading top prospects (i.e. David Price from the Rays), so that they remain competitive for the remainder of the year, while ensuring fans of quality baseball.

*** Overall, baseball is interesting, b/c small market teams are theoretically unable to sign top-talent free agents. What teams like the Rays/Royals/Marlins/A's have to be in constantly developing young talent under small contracts is impressive. However, teams like the Royals and the Marlins are eligible to receive to extra first round picks in a given draft. Essentially, these teams should always be able to have a strong farm system and when all of the prospects come together they will have a chance at the WS/the playoffs. In a year where one of these teams is good, they can get a free trading chip which is like drawing an ace, which teams that may have a down year but have a free agent are willing to gamble on.


Essentially, what I am trying to say is that the MLB ensures that large market teams generally win the World Series. Small market teams can ocassionally compete. And middle-of-the-road market teams are just mediocre (think Houston or the White Sox). When teams like this are in the World Series, they deserve a tip of the hat.

Unknown said...

You are wrong. In your assessment that you are the only one who objects. I agree with you wholeheartedly. These trades are in keeping with the universally-accepted notion that baseball is a business, not a game allowing the citizenry to express good-natured geographic loyalty and rivalry in an over-arching national context. The game is sick because the culture is sick. And both are dying.