1.Chase Utley to the…. Dodgers?
Every year there is at least a few waiver wire deals made in August with several contending teams doing anything possible in an attempt to make their team just a little bit better. This trend continued on Wednesday evening when the Los Angeles Dodgers completed a trade for Chase Utley. Yes the Los Angeles Dodgers, who now have a payroll that is about to eclipse 300 million, acquired another position player.
The same Dodgers who traded Juan Uribe for Alberto Callaspo earlier in the year and also traded away recently signed Hector Olivera simply because they had nowhere to play him. Given their surplus in the infield, and their deficiencies elsewhere, this trade really doesn’t make much sense for the Dodgers.
With the injury to Howie Kendrick in the short-term, the Dodgers apparently did not feel comfortable with Justin Turner, Alberto Callaspo, Enrique Hernandez, and Alex Guerrero splitting time between second and third base. This makes a little more sense given the fact that the Dodgers designated Alberto Calypso for assignment following the acquisition of Utley.
In the meantime, Utley will play second base for the injured Kendrick. Once Kendrick returns it seems unlikely that Utley will take playing time from either Justin Turner at third base or Adrian Gonzalez at first base. So at least for the next weeks this trade makes sense. Beyond that, this trade just gave the Dodgers another potentially good or potentially subpar player to find playing time for. All while further ignoring the continuing, glaring weakness that is their bullpen.
2. Marlon Byrd to the…. Giants?
Going along with the previous trade, the Giants, who seemed to be in the running for Chase Utley prior to the Dodgers acquisition of the second baseman, responded to the Dodgers move by acquiring Marlon Byrd to play in the outfield while Hunter Pence recovers from yet another injury. Both Padres rival teams are upgrading during the off-season.
This is another trade that doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. The Giants clearly were in need of some sort of short-term upgrade to play alongside Aoki and Blanco while Pence recovers from injury but Byrd is a below average offensive bat with a low batting average, a low on base percentage, and some significant power. It seems Byrd will be able to provide some punch for the Giants lineup while Pence is injured, and off the bench once Pence does return, but it seems that he is not that much of a substantial upgrade over Perez, Pagan, or Maxwell.
It is hard to question the Giants, who always seem to make the right moves at the trade deadline, but this move seems to not be that much of a game changer for a team with a brutal upcoming schedule and two different teams to catch.
3. Cubs and Pirates in a Wild Card Game
I haven’t really had an issue with the wild card play in game to this point. The game itself is quite a bit based on luck but the play in game allows an extra team in each league to have the chance to make the playoffs and compete for a world series. My real issue with the play in game didn’t really develop until the last couple of weeks.
This situation was always possible with the current setup but it had not materialized until this season. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs are currently the second and third best teams in the entire National League (and would be the second and third best teams in the American League as well). Despite this, as it currently stands, the two are currently destined to play each other in a one game wild card playoff to decide who gets into the divisional round, simply because both teams happen to play in the same division as the juggernaut that is the St. Louis Cardinals.
It seems crazy that one of these teams will have to play a road game and one of these teams will also have to lose before even getting to the divisional round, despite holding better records than two of the other three playoff teams. Obviously a lot can change over the next month and a half but this seems like the likely outcome. If this scenario does play out this way, one of these two fanbases is going to be very upset, and the MLB might have a problem on their hands that will be in need of review in the near future.
4. Ben Cherington Out in Boston
The first domino in the general manager carousel has fallen. Dave Dombrowski was let go by the Detroit Tigers a few weeks back and quickly became the hottest name on the market. His services were connected to the Mariners, Blue Jays and Nationals among others before he was signed on to be the new President of Baseball Operations of the Boston Red Sox.
In response, Ben Cherington apparently resigned his position as the general manager of the Red Sox. Cherington was dealing with a lot of criticism following quite a few questionable offseason decisions as well as a likely third last place finish in the last four years (despite a World Series title in 2013).
It was pretty obvious that his time in Boston was coming to an end and now Dombrowski will take over with the ability to hire a general manager of his own choosing. With the bloated contracts of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, a deep farm system, a dismal pitching staff and a host of other issues, Dombrowski most certainly has his work cut out for him going forward in Boston.