What do You Mean, Your Moving Vans are all Taken? One Day, 5 Deals

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball this Saturday, July 28.

This isn’t how the game used to be played.  Time was, after June 15 major trades didn’t happen.  Somewhere in the years since I fell hard for this great game, the end of July became the time for moves. Baseball at this time of year is a 30-man chess tournament.  Who will give up on 2018 and send whatever they have to the better teams?  Who already did that and is now trying to find anybody to fill their roster.  Who thinks, correctly or not that they’re one or two players away from postseason play in late October and early November.

It started with Manny Machado being traded the night of the All-Star game.  The Orioles then sent Zach Britton to the Yankees, adding coals to the Newcastle bull pen in the Bronx.  Then J.A. Happ called on “Two Guys and a Truck” (yes, that’s a real moving company in Toronto) to get his worldly goods to the Bronx to become the starter the Yankees lacked last year and all of this year.    Then yesterday the dam broke all at once.  Five trades were made as teams continued to sort out who they are or who they will be. Nothing has happened today, but considering this column takes hours to prepare, a deal may happen while I’m writing up what has already gone down.

For starters, Cole Hamels is on the move again. When he was with the Phillies, his final game was a no-hitter against the Cubs in July, 2015.  After that gem   He was sent to the Rangers, and now he’s a Cub. He’s only slightly younger than J.A. Happ, 35 to 34.

Happ doesn’t have a no-hitter on his dossier. The newest Cub has been an All-Star 4 times, the last in 2016. Hamels was MVP of the NLCS in 2008, the year the Phillies won their second World Series. In 2015 he was tagged with the loss in game 5 of the ALDS.  He had put runners on base, then been relieved and Jose Bautista hit his infamous “bat flip” home run off Sam Dyson. Since then Hamels went 15–5 and 11-6. Up to now this hasn’t been a year to remember, as he has a 5-9 record and a 4.72 ERA for Texas.

After the Hamels deal, suddenly the name Presley began trending.  It wasn’t yet another siting of the so-called “King of Rock and Roll.”  This was a Twins’ reliever Ryan Presley who I hadn’t heard of until yesterday.  Suddenly he was more in demand than plywood during hurricane season. Presley, who will be 30 in December has been with the Twins since 2013. His ERA is 3.76 which means more to a reliever than his won-lost record which is 17-16. He toiled in the Red Sox minor league system from 2007 through 2012 when the Twins took him in the rule 5 draft.  He hasn’t looked back. Now, the Dallas native will play for Houston after being traded for two prospects.

Last night saw 3 more deals take place during the night’s games.  First, the Mets sent Asdrubal Cabrera to the Phillies for a AA relief pitcher.  All indications were that since this was the last year of Cabrera’s deal and his play has been spotty, this was about the best the Mets were likely to get for him. His only two All-Star seasons were in 2011 and 2012 while he played for Cleveland.  He bounced around to several teams before landing with the Mets in 2016. When he plays at Citizens’ Bank Park in Philly, the Phillies’ exceptional public-address announcer Dan Baker will have a field day with both Cabrera and his fellow Venezuelan Odubel Herrera. Beyond that, Cabrera is adept at second, shortstop and third when he gives his best.  That had to be a trial to do for the Mets considering how wretched they’ve been these last two seasons.

Next up it was Mike Moustakas’ turn to call for a moving company.  He’s leaving the truly awful Royals who have 71 losses on July 28, and heading to the contending Brewers.  Moustakas will turn 30 during the run the Brewers hope to make in September.  Their master plan is to move Travis Shaw from third to second to allow for their new toy. As a Royal he was chosen to be an All-Star in 2015 and 2017. In 2014 he hit 5 home runs in the postseason.  In 7 games the Royals lost to the Giants in the World Series that year.  Mets fans still get flashbacks of him raking against the Mets in the 2015 World Series, which his team won. He tore his ACL in his knee, wiping out his 2016 season.  However he won the Comeback Player of the Year award in 2017.   Because of his Greek last name, he’s been known as Moose going back to Little League.

The final move came late last night, as the Twins sent Eduardo Escobar to the D-Backs for futures. Escobar has been a Twin since 2012 and was part of their team that lost the wild card game to the Yankees last year. My guess is that they consider an 8-game deficit to the Indians too much to overcome with the materiel at hand.  With the decision made, both Presley and Escobar suddenly became expendable. At least they got 3 bodies for Escobar.  Only time will tell how warm those bodies might be.

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