This post was almost 1,000-plus boring words of Diesel's take on the trade deadline. That would have been bad for everyone. I hated it, and the fact that I had been tinkering with it for four-plus days makes me a bad blogger. This fine site almost became the worlds most fitting memorial to Pepe's unflinching ability to inundate us all with irrelevant Phillies news.
But here's what the trade deadline told us, more than anything:
Most GMs are bigger bitches than Nancy Grace.
Yeah, I'm treating two independent definitions of "bitch" as one in the same for a not-so-clever quip. I don't care. The bottom line is that your 10-year-old cousin could have done a better job of running the Reds, Twins or Royals (to name a few of the offending teams) this past week.
The trade deadline is when we get to see GMs put on their man pants, or whatever facsimile of man pants those GMs have. As usual, my boy Kevin Towers put on a show, picking up a small bounty of arbitrage for pennies on the dollar. My not-boy John Schuerholz threw his junk on the table by swinging an old-school, prospects-for-established-stud trade that might very well be questioned down the road (Texas GM Jon Daniels deserves equal credit for getting excellent prospects back for Teixera). Omar Minaya gave Minnesota's Terry Ryan a taste of Pelican Bay hospitality with his swindle of Luis Castillo for a used scorebook. Fuck, even my little whipping-boy, Pat Gillick, proved to us that he's been paying attention the few years or so, by picking up two undervalued vets for virtually nothing, in the process keeping the Phillies' playoff hopes alive. It's like the ship tilted to the aft, and all the brains slushed in the direction of the NL East.
But for every GM that proved he was willing to actually pull the trigger on something to make his team better, there were three that cowered in the corner like Oliver Twist after he got caught licking the porridge pot. Please, step to the front of the line, Wayne Krivsky. You too, Terry Ryan. Bill Stoneman? Yessur! And, finally, welcome to the club Brian Cashman; after years of proving that there was no horrible deadline decision you weren't willing to make, you instead failed to address your blatant bullpen needs in a market flooded with relievers. In-fucking-credible.
I'm not arguing that GMs should make moves for the sake of making moves — Dave Littlefield's inspired acquisition of retarded exepensive/shitty Matt Morris is proof that discretion is often the better part of valor — but I am arguing that this is still a man's game. And it seems to me a lot of GMs spent the better part of the last two weeks doing ye old "tuck the junk" whenever the issue of making a trade came up. It should be a cold day in hell when the Yankees don't make a move to better themselves when the trade deadline approaches, but Brian Cashman has apparently allowed criticism of the team's spendthrift ways to convince him that Eric Gagne wasn't worth an overrated pitching prospect like Ian Kennedy. Wayne Krivsky, who has made little secret of his disdain for the swing-and-miss proclivities of left fielder Adam Dunn, decided he'd be better off neither shitting or getting off the pot when the time came to swing a deal. Terry Ryan managed to piss off his best player by both waving the flag with the Castillo trade and not make moves to get better in 2008 by holding onto impending free agent Torii Hunter, a player who's likely to earn close to $20 million/year with his next contract, and not have a penny of that come from the Twins. It's hard for me, a humble, sarcastic blogger, to fathom how these proud men could allow themselves to look like such idiots when the spotlight shines the brightest; at least the rest of us try to make it look like we're working when corporate makes a visit to the office.
When people like my friend Big-C start pining for a salary cap, I often argue that it won't do anything to better promote competitive balance. It is times like the last week that, I feel, conclusively prove my point; competitive balance has nothing to do with salary restrictions, it has everything to do with the massive imbalances in ability we see in major league front offices. The Reds will be bad the next two years because Krivsky didn't move Dunn when he had the opportunity; the Twins will lag behind the Tigers and Indians in the forseeable future because Ryan didn't want to admit to himself that Hunter, a fan favorite, was a lost cause. Meanwhile, teams like the Dodgers will continue to spot the Padres an immediate competitive adavantage by doing nothing while Towers sifts through the waste pile and improves his team — the Padres all but locked up the West this past week, slump or no slump — until the moribund San Diego farm system is allowed to recover, and begin providing the long-term dividends the Dodger farm system could be providing right now.
There was a time, for all of us, when it seemed that poker was a game of pure luck. Many of us grew up, however, and realized that there was a way to make yourself a better poker player, through an understanding off odds and a willingness to take a gamble every so often, provided the potential payoff was worthwhile. But those of us who learned the game noticed that others never got better; they still sat there, chasing three-card flush draws and inside straights. If this year's trade deadline proved anything, it's that I'd love to play poker with more than half the GMs in the major leagues, provided they wouldn't sick their wives on me after the fact, demanding the money back.