The Table Is Set, The Pieces Are Moving

The trade deadline has passed, and while some things might happen between now and the waiver deadline of August 31st, we basically know what every team is going to crash with toward the wire. So let’s reset the field, see who’s better off and who is… well, the Brewers.


Cubs: We broke down the Hamels trade here and here, so there’s no need to rehash all of it again. Brandon Kintzler seems to be to satiate Joe Maddon’s unquenched desire for “funk” out of the pen. This has basically happened every season since he arrived, where he’s got to have something goofy instead of yet another power arm to call upon. Look, I get sick of power chords too after a while, but that’s what the game is now. It’s why you’ve sat through appearances by the likes of Joe Smith, Koji Uehara, and one or two others I’m purposely forgetting so I can go about my day with only the normal level of struggle. It’s what you might have thought Steve Cishek was for. Kintzler’s fine. He doesn’t strike anyone out and he’s not getting as many ground balls this year as he has in the past, but he’s not going to maim anyone. I think. After all is said and done the Cubs get someone who they hope is something of an innings-eater/insurance policy in Hamels and more of the same in the ‘pen. Given how hard the pen has been worked, the Cubs need all the arms they can get out there, and that’s what Jesse Chavez and Kinztler are. They still remain the best team in the division, if not the league.

Brewers: Oh man, trying to assess what’s going on with the Brewers is like trying to assess a fight between forest nymphs. The Brewers’ main problems are in the rotation, where Brent Suter just ate it for the season and Jimmy Nelson has yet to come up for air. Chase Anderson is about to have a BABIP dragon sit on his head, and Junior Guerra’s early-season potion ran out.

So they made the middle of their infield defensively farcical.

Yes, the Brewers were getting nothing from Jonathan Villar and Orlando Arcia at second and short. But Travis Shaw has never played second, and Jonathan Schoop has played seven games total at short. Oh, and Schoop isn’t hitting, and his weak contact numbers suggest that a guy who might have run into some bad luck is actually just a guy who isn’t going to hit. The Brewers rotation is still close to a mess, and the bullpen is still overworked. And now they have some six infielders for four spots. It’s depth for sure, but this wasn’t the fire that needed putting out.

Pirates: This is only slightly less strange than what’s going on 80 miles north of Wrigley. While on the surface, Chris Archer is an improvement on what they had in the rotation, the Pirates gave up more for Chris Archer than they got for Gerrit Cole, who’s noticeably better than Archer. Tyler Glasnow still has all the stuff in the world, and Austin Meadows was their big prospect for a while. Archer slots pretty much everyone other than Taillon down a spot in the rotation, which is good. But why not just hold onto Cole if you’re going to do this? It’s not like he’s expensive. The Pirates are better than they were yesterday, but are they better than they were on March 1st? Given how most everyone below the Cubs and Dodgers in the NL is looking for a flotation device, you could see them sneaking into the coin-flip game that used to bet their home.

Cardinals: Oh this is the good stuff. They moved Tommy Pham after trumpeting him as their breakout player last year because he has the audacity to speak the truth about how he was treated. They did this to open up more ABs for Harrison Bader, who has an excellent chance of being the next Randall Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty. And I am here for it. José Martínez just went on the DL, and their hope for the bullpen is, “Well, it’s not the same guys, so that’s good, right?” Fading into the background would be the most apt description.

NL East

Phillies: Kind of have to love this. The Phils are head of their curve and, thanks to the Nationals doing a season-long face-plant, find themselves in first. But they haven’t sold out the plan, and got a major upgrade at catcher by giving up a whole lot of not much. They needed the offensive upgrade overall, as really only Rhys Hoskins and Odubel Herrera have been plus-offensive players. With Aaron Nola, Nick Pivetta, and Vincent Velasquez, you can make a case here for the Phils heading back to the playoffs.

Braves: The Adam Duvall acquisition seems something like a hunch, as he hasn’t really been productive in two years. And he doesn’t play center, where the Braves could use an offensive upgrade from the seemingly allergic-to-wood Ender Inciarte, at least this season. Kevin Gausman probably bumps Julio Teheran out of the rotation, which was six-deep to begin with. But 10 starts out of Gausman doesn’t move the needle much more than a sharp exhale. Darren O’Day is a specialist, but the Braves have tried just about everyone in that role—and I don’t mean everyone in their organization, I mean everyone in the world—so it can’t hurt. Given the lineup, they’re not going anywhere.

Nationals: Are we even listing them any more? Is it perhaps becoming clearer why it took Dave Martinez so long to land a job, despite being Maddon’s #2 for so long? They didn’t trade Harper, they didn’t trade for anyone, and it appears they’re just going to let this car with the bats in the engine see where it can go.

NL West

Dodgers:  I know I’m supposed to lose my mud at the name recognition the Dodgers acquired. Except that Manny Machado doesn’t provide too much more than they were getting at short out of Bruce Banner (aka Chris Taylor) or they would normally get out of third if Justin Turner were healthy. He’s a hell of an insurance policy, I’ll give you. And sure, Brian Dozier allows them to just let Chase Utley to wander out into the woods to die which they should have done two seasons ago. So it’s just about as solid of an offense as you’d want, but there wasn’t that much room to the ceiling to begin with. Dozier isn’t hitting for much power this year, and his line-drive rate has sunk considerably. Playing in Dodger Stadium probably won’t help with that. He’s been getting some rotten luck though, so he could see a bounce. The rotation is unconvincing, as Clayton Kershaw is merely “really good” now instead of “it came from Voltron.” Again, if you want to trust Alex Wood and Kenta Maeda, you go ahead. Also, the ‘pen short of Jansen isn’t going to make you barf either.

Diamondbacks: The D-Backs only chose to bolster their ‘pen, which doesn’t help the half-lineup they currently sport. They probably could have used a starter to move Robbie Ray back into the bullpen or for when Clay Buccholz turns into funny-smelling dust, but they’ll get away with this. The pen needed bolstering just for endurance. Enough to catch the Dodgers? Not unless someone else starts hitting.

Rockies: They didn’t do anything, and I’m not sure why? Oh right, they tied up all their money in things like Wade Davis and Ian Desmond. This is an offense that actually isn’t all that good, masked by the atmosphere it lives in; the rotation has remained remarkably healthy and is going to have to; and the pen still blows chunks. It ain’t happening here, folks.

Lead photo courtesy ESPN

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