The trade deadline has passed, effectively ending the hopes of many teams for another year as they come to the realization that they are better off dumping their players than trying to compete. The Pirates, as usual, traded anyone of any value. The Orioles, Indians, and A’s were also again on the seller’s side of the ledger. The rich continued to get richer, with the Dodgers acquiring George Sherill, the Phillies dealing for Cliff Lee, and the White Sox getting Jake Peavy.
It is obviously frustrating for fans of teams like the Pirates, who continually give away their players year after year, but it is also frustrating for fans of teams competing with the trade deadline gluttons. If you are a fan of a mid or small market team that is in the division race but not necessarily a buyer, and a rival team gets an impact player at the deadline, it is very deflating. Especially when they seem to do it every year, as is the case for the Red Sox and Dodgers.
In the AL Central the Twins are only two games behind the Tigers, who just obtained Jarrod Washburn, a great addition to their rotation. Meanwhile teams like the Rockies, Rangers, and Twins are forced to stand pat and try and wedge their way into the playoffs with what they have. They compete every night and battle all season only to have the teams around them get a giant shot in the arm with two months to go.
It is fortuitous that baseball has the wild card though, because it does give teams in secondary markets an opportunity to make the playoffs. Right now there are no division leaders that are in mid or small markets, and no division leaders with a payroll below $100 million. In 2008 there was only one smaller market team that won their division, the Tampa Rays; the other division winners were representing Chicago, Philadelphia, and LA.
In addition to every division being led by a $100 million team, there is only one $100 million dollar that is even under .500, the Mets. The $100 million dollar teams include the Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, Tigers, Mariners, Angels, Phillies, Astros, White Sox, and Dodgers. The statement the rich got richer definitely rings true, as six of those teams made major acquisitions
If you don’t think that money equates to winning consider this. Four of the past five World Series have been won by teams in the $100 million club. It doesn’t mean that the team who has the highest payroll always wins, but it does mean that to win you do have to pay.