2011 MLB Trade Deadline

- By Jason Fryer

July 31st: Through the Years

Here's an update and our 2011 MLB trade deadline grades.

Ok baseball fans, it's that time of year again: the baseball trade deadline. Numerous MLB players will be rumored in trades at the deadline, and some will be traded. Some of the rumored players include: Carlos Beltran, Heath Bell, and Hunter Pence. Though there will be blockbuster trades, there will also be "under the radar" trades that will help lead teams into October and beyond. One example was last year with the San Francisco Giants when at the July 31st deadline they traded for relief pitchers Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez.

These players were significant pieces to help the Giants win the 2010 World Series. Since there will be an abundant of articles projecting where many of the big name rumored players will go by July 31, I wanted to do a history lesson of what I feel were the most significant trade deadline trades of the past 15 years and how they affected all the organizations involved throughout that season and beyond. So, here we go:

Heath Slocumb traded from Boston to Seattle for Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek.

At the July 31st trade deadline, the Seattle Mariners decided to bolster their bullpen in an attempt to go deeper into the playoffs. The Mariners felt that if they had Slocumb in the bullpen, they would win the American League West and reach the World Series. The Mariners needed to win now because their young star player's contracts were about to run out (Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr., and Alex Rodriguez). With Johnson only having one year left on his deal, they knew this might be there last chance to go deep in October.

They decided to mortgage there future for what they felt was a solid set up man. Slocumb finished the season with a 4.13 ERA but the Mariners did reach the playoffs before being eliminated by the Baltimore Orioles in 4 games in the ALDS. As for the players the Mariners traded, they not only helped the Red Sox advance in the playoffs, they did what the Mariners franchise hasn't been able to do for over 3 decades; win a World Championship.

Randy Johnson traded from Seattle to Houston for Freddy Garcia, John Halama, and Carlos Guillen

Remember how I mentioned Randy Johnson was about to be a free agent after the 1998 season. Well, the Mariners decided to switch positions and become sellers. The Astros at the time had a great offence (Crag Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Moises Alou, and Derek Bell), a good bullpen, and a solid starting rotation. The Astros knew if they wanted to have a chance at reaching the Fall Classic they needed a front of the rotation starter.

Randy Johnson was coming off a 20-4 season and finished second for the Cy Young Award. Houston knew if they wanted Johnson, it would be costly and in doing so would have to give up its number one prospect at the time: Freddy Garcia. The Astros decided to go through with the trade, and ended up losing in the first round to the San Diego Padres in 4 games. After the season, Randy Johnson decided to sign a multi-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. As for the Mariners, Freddy Garcia helped them reach the playoffs in 2000 and 2001 and win a record 116 games in 2001.

Randy Johnson
Giants #51 Randy Johnson comes in to pitch in relief in the top of the ninth inning with the Giants losing 2-0 at AT&T Park in San Francisco California

Curt Schilling traded from Philadelphia to Arizona for Travis Lee, Omar Dall, Nelson Figueroa, and Vicente Padilla

This might the second most significant trade of the 21st century (A-Rod to the Yankees being number one). Though there have been bigger trades and maybe even bigger stars involved, this trade rewrote history for many different organizations and changed our view on many different individuals. First the trade, the Phillies realized they had a great player in Curt Schilling and a lot of good young talent (Scott Rolen and Pat Burrell) but they were not close to winning at that moment. So, just before the July 2000 trade deadline, the Phillies decided to invest more into the future with the players they received in the deal.

Unfortunately for the Phillies, none of the players they received in the deal had a significant impact in the city of brotherly love. As for the Diamondbacks and how this trade changed history: if Curt Schilling was not traded to Arizona, the Diamondbacks would not have won the 2001 World Series, Mariano Rivera would have never blown a World Series save, and the Yankees would have had a four peat and won 5 championships in a 6 year span. This trade changed the outlook of multiple franchises.

Manny Ramirez traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Jason Bay traded to the Boston Red Sox, Andy LaRoche, Brandon Moss, and Craig Hansen traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates

Arguably one of the most significant trades of the past 15 years involved one of the most controversial and entertaining individuals of all time. Manny Ramirez had numerously requested trades from the Red Sox. Countless times the Red Sox would tolerate the antics of Many Ramirez, but even for the greats, enough's enough. One night in Anaheim during the 2008 season, Manny Ramirez misplayed a ball in Left Field and then fell over the ball allowing the runner to advance.

While watching the highlights on ESPN, Baseball Tonight showed an image of Theo Epstein shaking his head in disgust, which signaled the end to Manny being Manny in Boston and lead to Mannywood in Los Angeles. This trade allowed Boston to relieve itself from the Manny fiasco, and get back to normality in Boston. As for Los Angeles, this was a great success as they traded prospects that did little in the pro's, received a ton of money in marketing Manny all over the stadium, and made the NLCS back to back years with Ramirez thanks to Manny batting .500 against the Cubs in the 2008 NLDS.

Manny Ramirez
Manny Ramirez of the Rays in action during the spring training game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at the Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida.

Though I felt these were the most significant trades of the past 15 years, I feel there were other significant deadline deals that impacted baseball greatly.

NomarGarciaparra traded to the Chicago Cubs in July 2004. This trade allowed the Red Sox to become a better defensive infield with Orlando Cabrera and Dug Mientkiewicz and helped them win the 2004 World Series. Any time a team wins a World Series after making a crucial trade, it becomes one of the most important trades of the past 15 years.

Mark Teixeira traded to the Atlanta Braves in July 2007. This trade allowed the Texas Rangers to rebuild and lay the groundwork for the Rangers to become contenders again. In this trade, the Rangers Received Elvis Andrus, NeftaliFeliz, and Matt Harrison to help them rebuild there farm system and become a powerhouse team in the future. This was the only time I can remember Bobby Cox and JohnSchierholtz "loosing a trade."

Cliff Lee traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in July 2009. The trade helped the Phillies reach the World Series when no other starter was productive (including Cole Hamels), and laid the groundwork for Cliff Lee to return to Philadelphia in December of 2010.

Cliff Lee traded to the Texas Rangers in July 2010. Just like what he did with the Phillies the year before, the Cliff Lee's midseason trade part II helped the Texas Rangers reach the World Series for the first time in their franchises history during the 2010 season.

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