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Mistakes Were Made

I think there was a lot of questionable decision-making going on at this deadline.

One can question whether Jim Bowden had his apparent drinking problem under control when he held on to Alfonso Soriano.

There's a possibility that the Nationals will be able to sign Soriano long-term with the money coming in from a new stadium and a new owner. The problem is that, in case their management hasn't noticed, Soriano's efforts have entirely failed to make the Nationals a contending team, as they are 17.5 games behind the Mets and 9 games behind the Wild Card-leading Reds. So, basically, the third worst team in the NL is spending a bunch of money to assure that they will try to keep this bad team together? Trading Soriano for prospects could have developed two or three quality starting pitchers or a couple young position players. Instead, they got nothing and two draft picks won't mean much.

One can wonder what kind of a joke machine Jim Duquette and Peter Angelos are putting together in Baltimore, where Angelos, the club's owner, doesn't realize that they stink. He also doesn't know anything about baseball, as he nixed trades to bring quality pitchers like Ervin Santana and Roy Oswalt aboard and opted to keep his high-paid ironman shortstop around.

This blunder was compounded by the fact that rumors swirl about Tejada's intensity and his willingness to play for a noncompetitive club in Baltimore. Although I am far from a gambling man, it would not surprise me if Tejada wound up being dealt from waivers. His contract is pretty big and unlikely to be claimed, given the teams that sit below the Tejada bidders in the standings.

One must wonder, though, fandom aside, whether Omar Minaya and his staff looked at peripherals for pitchers. They acquired an arm in Roberto Hernandez who was dependable last year for the Mets with an 8-6 record and a 2.58 ERA in 69 and change innings. Unfortunately, this year Hernandez's stats look pretty similar in a bit more than half a season: 0-3 with a 2.92 ERA. The problem? ERA is a terribly ineffective measure for any pitcher, especially relief pitchers. DIPS (Defense Independent Pitching Statistics) ERA is slightly better. Last year? Hernandez had a DIPS ERA of 2.78. That's very good. This year? His DIPS ERA is an average 4.16.

Hernandez has been, simply put, worse than he was last year. He's walked more, given up more hits and more home runs (per innings pitched), and seen all his peripherals decline.

Hernandez had a K/BB ratio of 2.18 last year, near a career best. This year? 1.38. Other statistical declines include his OPS against going from .627 to .759. That's a pretty steep increase. Bert, his admirable performance last year notwithstanding, is an interesting acquisition to say the least.

That's to say nothing about the other player acquired in the deal, Oliver Perez. For a second there, we believed that Omar made a shrewd move and packaged the enigmatic lefty with professional spare part Heath Bell to acquire solid setup man Scott Linebrink. Linebrink was untouchable last year but has regressed somewhat this year.

Perez is a joke of an awful pitcher, a guy with a great arm and a head full of rage and ego. Slick Rick told me personally that he could be fixed in ten minutes.

He had only one full season of good production, where he stunned for the Pirates in 2004 with a career high strikeout rate and a career low walk rate after being acquired along with Jason Bay from the Padres in late 2003 in exchange for Brian "Thank God Marcus Wasn't Talking About Kissing Your Brother" Giles.

This year, he was 2-10 in fifteen starts for the Pirates with just atrocious numbers. He allowed a ton of hits and a ton of walks, as evidenced by his sky-high WHIP of 1.83. That's just south of Russ Ortiz land.

And Minaya gave up a starting rightfielder with power a long way away from free agency? As much as I detest X's indifferent play in right field, and I really do, I think the Mets should have instead of Perez tried to grab one of the other Pirate setup men, like hard-throwing lefty Damaso Marte, Hernandez comparable Salomon Torres, or lefty closer Mike Gonzalez.

This move also pushes Firstings Milledge into the starting lineup or at least in a semi-platoon with Endy Chavez. I'm not sure he's ready for that, as he proved earlier this season by his rather low .287 OBP.

On another note, I'm very worried about the news with Duaner Sanchez. I am always skeptical about injuries off the field, especially since the Mets are citing a taxicab for injury woes for the second season out of three. Remember when Kaz Matsui slept wrong and scratched his cornea?

Remember when Mo Vaughn and Satoru Komiyama came down with mysterious injuries way back when?

What was Sanchez doing out at one in the morning anyway? After we heard stories of the Mets' wild partying earlier this year, involving the words "body shots" and "Jorge Julio" in the same sentence, you have to worry that this team's success might be going to their heads. Let's keep it Rated-G, boys.

It's hard to say that the Mets didn't have a net loss from this deadline, especially since the deal made in the offseason was now Mike Cameron for Roberto Hernandez, who were both on last year's team. And yes, I consider Oliver Perez useless. Don't forget that he has to clear waivers to go to the minor leagues as well. So yes, Mike Cameron was given away.

I put together a list of winners and losers at this deadline.

1. New York Yankees
-They did the only thing their front office is good at (taking on other team's bad contracts) in nabbing Bobby Abreu and getting Cory Lidle as a throw-in. They also got rid of Shawn Chacon, the equivalent of a bag of dog poo, while acquiring versatile bat Craig Wilson in return.

2. Detroit Tigers
-None of the teams chasing them made any moves of significance, while they added singles machine Sean Casey to replace the slumping Chris Shelton. I'm not in love with Casey, but he at least provides something of a left-handed threat that they were lacking.

3. Texas Rangers
-They nabbed Carlos Lee on Friday while grabbing a semi-capable starter in Kip Wells and a left-handed power pinch-hitter in Matt Stairs. This is further good news because the A's, Angels and Mariners, who were linked to Alfonso Soriano, were unable to do anything.

1. Washington Nationals/Baltimore Orioles
-Collectively, what are they doing? They both held on to players who aren't going to help them much, seeing as they are eons away from contending. They both should have taken whatever pitching-heavy packages they could get. It's also shocking that the Nats couldn't find a way to get anything at all for Tony Armas, Jr. or Livan Hernandez.

2. St. Louis Cardinals
-They made a headscratcher of a move on Sunday, dealing 2B Hector Luna for the much more expensive and less successful Ronnie Belliard. I tell all the kids that just because he looks like Manny Ramirez and grew up in the Bronx, like Manny, it does not mean he is capable of hitting like Manny. He's overrated. All of this happened while they stood pat with their mediocre starting pitching, atrocious left field production and bullpen, and Albert Pujols underwent MRIs. This team is treading on very thin ice.

3. Boston Red Sox
-I just have trouble endorsing a team that starts Kevin Youkilis, Alex Gonzalez, Trot Nixon (who is DLed, so it's actually Gabe Kapler and Wily Mo Peña in right) and Coco Crisp every day for the AL Championship. That's not to mention that Jason Varitek has been massively underperforming. They were also linked in a ton of blockbusters, but were unable to do anything, including upgrading the mediocre middle relief.

Let it be said that while the Mets will easily coast to a division title the rest of the way, it's tough to see these moves and the Sanchez news helping them at all.

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