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Deadline deals a boon to most buyers

Deadline deals a boon to most buyers

It seems that the only way for a contender to have lost at this year's non-waiver Trade Deadline was by sitting still. It's early yet, but thus far the trades have a Lake Wobegon tinge: somehow, they're all above average.

Virtually every Deadline buyer looks like a winner at this point. The teams that struck to improve their clubs brought in players who have thrived. And in nearly every case, those teams have gotten hot or at least continued to play well.

That's remarkable because a significant portion of the time, Deadline deals go bust. Any player, even a future Hall of Famer, can play lousy ball for a couple of months. For all the talk of trading "risk" for a "sure thing," no player is a sure thing over a short enough time span. Not Manny Ramirez, not Mark Teixeira, not CC Sabathia.

And yet all of those players have been outstanding, and the general managers all look pretty sharp.

What's not to like?

These teams looked like winners on Deadline day, and they've kept on winning -- with significant contributions from their new faces.

Brewers: Milwaukee got the biggest prize, and CC Sabathia has been brilliant. The Brewers are 13-6 since the deadline, maintaining their hold on the Wild Card lead. And despite the screams from some quarters, there's really nothing wrong with a 28-year old who has an established record of durability, racking up 110-120 pitches per start.

Additionally, the Sabathia acquisition has shored up another area of weakness on Ned Yost's team.

"The biggest impact Sabathia has had on that club," said an executive from another NL team, "is just what a relief it's giving to their bullpen. That's been one of the things that's been good news for them, is how he's helped them there."

Even the Brewers' second-base situation has been just about perfect. Ray Durham hasn't played a great deal, but he hasn't needed to -- Durham's been good when he's played, but Rickie Weeks has picked it up since Durham was acquired. Since July 20, the day of the Durham trade, Weeks is hitting .278 with a .370 on-base percentage and a .444 slugging percentage.

Angels: It's a bit misleading to give the Angels any kind of grade at this point, since October looked like a given for them even at the Deadline -- and it still does. But Mark Teixeira has clearly energized an offense that needed it. Los Angeles (South) was scoring 4.4 runs per game before Teixeira's arrival. Dating back to his first game in red, on July 30, the Angels have scored 5.5 runs per game -- with a huge boost from Teixeira's .348/.459/.551 line. Especially that middle number, since OBP has never been an Angels strength.

Cubs: Like the Angels, Chicago's place in the postseason looked pretty safe on Deadline day, thanks in large part to a just-completed sweep of Milwaukee. But it was less clear on the day Rich Harden was acquired, and Harden has helped solidify the Cubs' place.

He's been exceptional, and he's taken the ball every five days. Harden is not only helping the Cubs get to October, he gives them a superb playoff rotation -- especially if they go four-deep in longer series. Meanwhile, "throw-in" Chad Gaudin has shined as well, turning in 16 outings of excellent relief.

Red Sox: Boston was a special case on Deadline day, and it remains so. The trade of Manny Ramirez was never about improving the raw ability of the Red Sox's 25-man roster. It was about addressing what had clearly become a problem in the clubhouse, while getting as much as possible in return. Judged by that measure, Boston did brilliantly. Jason Bay has a .347/.398/.573 line in Boston, and the Sox have gone 12-6 since the deal -- averaging more than 6.5 runs per game.

The NL executive remains skeptical, though, granting that while Boston may have been backed in a corner, the talent drop-off is significant. The question is how great the personality issue was.

"Are they a better team with or without Manny? Only they can answer that," he said.

They knew what they were doing

Dodgers: Despite some negative reviews, this club has gotten a boost from its Deadline deal.

Analysts who downgraded the Dodgers' end of the Manny Ramirez deal -- present company included -- missed out on one vital aspect: a motivated Ramirez is still a lethal Ramirez. The slugger's production had declined in recent years, but a change of scenery and a switch to the weaker league have turned him back into a beast.

Ramirez is hitting .406 (somehow, that number seems familiar for a left fielder with Red Sox ties), slugging .710 and has 21 RBIs in 19 National League Games. The Dodgers have even apportioned playing time wisely, with Juan Pierre even more marginalized than before. It would be good to see a Ramirez-Matt Kemp-Andre Ethier outfield every day, but they're coming close.

Most important, the Dodgers are 11-8 since the deal, and their runs-per-game average is up to 4.53 since the deal. It was 4.17 in the pre-Manny era.

"I think the Dodgers have got to be thrilled," said an anonymous AL executive. "Not only has Manny been everything they could have hoped for, the Red Sox are paying his salary. If they make the playoffs, whatever they decide next year [with Ramirez's options], if I'm Ned [Colletti] I'd still be very happy with it."

In spite of themselves

The decisions haven't worked out so well in these cases, but it hasn't mattered because the teams have kept winning just the same.

White Sox: Ken Griffey Jr. has been a non-factor, putting up a .239/.321/.304 line since changing leagues. However, the Sox have roared to a 13-6 record since the deadline, scoring 6.3 runs per game -- thanks largely to an ironic twist. The man whose at-bats Griffey was supposed to eat into, Paul Konerko, has gotten hot after a grim slog through the first four months. The entire Chicago offense is hitting the ball out of the park, with eight White Sox topping Griffey's total of one homer since the trade.

Rays: Who said Tampa Bay needed to upgrade at the Deadline? The Rays very much wanted to add a potent bat to their lineup, and they were unable to do so. Since then, they've lost a number of key players, including potential down-ballot MVP candidate Evan Longoria. And yet even with all that, the Rays have been torrid since the start of August, going 15-5 and expanding their lead atop the American League East.

So far, not so good

In this case, neither the deal nor the team looks all that hot.

Yankees: You might not have heard this -- after all, the Yankees receive very little attention in the sports media -- but things aren't going too well for the Bombers lately. They're 8-10 since the deadline, and the situation threatens to worsen before it improves, given the raft of starting-pitching injuries. Moreover, only one of the Yanks' three deadline acquisitions has really helped out. Ivan Rodriguez has hit almost identically to the man he's replaced, Jose Molina. Damaso Marte's ERA is in double figures. Only Xavier Nady has thrived, getting on base and hitting for power in pinstripes.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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