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Five Losers at the 2010 MLB Trade Deadline

The trade deadline usually brings hope to teams who make good deals and improve their ball club enough to be serious playoff or World Series contenders.

On the other side of the coin, the trade deadline also leaves some fans scratching their heads, wondering why their team didn’t make the deal for a big bat or arm.

Let’s take a look at the five teams who left us scratching our heads on Saturday.

Check out my 5 winners article here:

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Five Winners at the 2010 MLB Trade Deadline

The MLB trade deadline has come and passed and we are left with a bunch of teams who have improved, a bunch of teams who are stockpiling their minor league systems and some other teams who just decided to stand pat.

A trade at the deadline can be key to a team’s ability to make the playoffs and perform well in the playoffs, so keep these deals in mind when we reach October.

Let’s take a look at the five teams who got the most out of this year’s trade deadline.

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MLB: Are the Texas Rangers Built for Playoff Success?

Fresh off two straight one-run wins against their division rival Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Texas Rangers have boosted their lead to seven games in the AL West and sport a healthy 57-40 record in 2010.

While some fans have been surprised by the great play from the Rangers in the first 97 games this season, there were a lot of experts out there who predicted a division championship for Texas this year.

With the Rangers looking more and more like a playoff team every day, the question starting to enter my mind is this: If they get there, are the Rangers built for success in the playoffs?


The main thing you need to have success in the MLB playoffs is great starting pitching. The Rangers helped their cause with a trade for Cliff Lee a couple of weeks ago, and he has already impressed in his three starts with the team.

A playoff rotation of Cliff Lee, Colby Lewis, C.J. Wilson and Tommy Hunter may not sound impressive to a fan of any other team in baseball. Outside of Lee, those names aren’t really recognizable as good/great pitchers in the AL. Looking at the numbers, you come to a different conclusion.

We all know what Cliff Lee has done this year. He averages more than eight innings per start and leads the AL in WHIP (0.92) and ERA (2.56). His proven success in the playoffs can only be a plus for Texas if they get to October.

Colby Lewis isn’t a big name, but he is having a great season after spending the last two in Japan. Lewis ranks eighth in the AL in strikeouts (117 in 122.2 innings) and has a great 3.52 ERA, impressive 1.14 WHIP, and staggering .216 opponents’ batting average. How’s that for a No. 2 pitcher on a staff?

After pitching as a set up man for the last three or four years for the Rangers, C.J. Wilson made the transition to the rotation this year and is dominating in a different fashion there. Instead of striking a ton of people out, Wilson is trusting his defense. It is paying off: Wilson leads the league with a .203 opponents’ batting average to go along with his 3.03 ERA.

If the playoffs started today, 24-year old Tommy Hunter would most likely be the fourth starter on the Rangers staff. In nine starts this year, Hunter has a 2.09 ERA, and .623 opponents’ OPS.

Even though this rotation isn’t littered with names that everyone knows, they could match up well with just about anyone in the playoffs.

Lineup and Bullpen

Starting pitching is a big part of the playoffs, but you’ve also got to have an offense to win ballgames in October. This shouldn’t be a problem for the Rangers, considering they sent four hitters to the All-Star game (nearly five with Michael Young losing in the final vote).

Right now, the batting order is Elvis Andrus, Michael Young, Ian Kinsler, Vladimir Guerrero, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Bengie Molina, Chris Davis. and Julio Borbon.

That’s about as balanced of a lineup as you are going to get in baseball right now with speed coming from the top and bottom of the order. Michael Young and Ian Kinsler get on base at a very high rate. Guerrero, Hamilton, and Cruz are each dominant run producers. Molina can surprise with some pop. Davis is still adjusting but has shown flashes of brilliance.

Even if you look past the offense and starting pitching to find a possible flaw in this team, it’s really hard to find fault with the way the bullpen has pitched this year.

Their collective 3.24 ERA is second in the AL (only behind Minnesota) and their opponents’ .232 batting average is also second-best in the AL (behind Tampa Bay).

Relievers Darren Oliver, Darren O’Day, and Alexi Ogando each have ERAs under 2.00. Frank Francisco has the most strikeouts for any reliever in baseball. Neftali Feliz is tied for the league lead in saves at 27.


Since I just ran down the whole roster for the playoffs without any obvious flaw (besides maybe first base), it’s clear that the Rangers are a legitimate great team in the regular season that is built for success in the playoffs.

The trade for Cliff Lee solidified that conclusion for many people, and for good reason. Lee gives the team a type of ace it has never had and this team looks focused and ready to finally give DFW baseball fans something to cheer about in October.

As the marketing campaign in the area states: It’s Time.

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Top 10 AL MVP Candidates

For this slideshow, I’m going to try and take the meaning of MVP (Most Valuable Player) as literally as possible.

Yes, some guys may have better stats that the top ones on this list, but I have ordered my top 10 based on how much the player’s team would be hurt if he was taken off of it.

Let’s get the discussion started.

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The Top 20 Players in the MLB in 2010

With the All-Star break concluding yesterday, I thought it would be a good time to look at the best players in baseball through the first three months of the season.

I decided the best way to do this objectively was to use the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) stat that is used on many sites, including the one I used (

WAR is a stat that measures how many wins a player is worth over a replacement level player, or a player that any team can plug into a hole whenever is needed (think a AAA player filling in for an injured player).

This stat is calculated in a complicated way, but it has been proven to be a worthwhile.

On the pitching side, WAR doesn’t put too much weight into wins and instead looks at peripheral numbers like strikeouts, walks, and home runs per nine innings, ERA, FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, or how a pitcher would perform with an average defense behind them), innings pitched, etc.

Instead of looking at just offensive statistics for position players, it also takes into account what they do on the defensive side of the ball.

Think of it this way. A run saved on defense is just as valuable as a run produced on offense. Even if a player is hitting .220, he can still be valuable to his team if he is playing the best defense in the league at his position.

Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) is the stat that quantifies defense, taking into account throws, range, and errors that each fielder makes. It’s a complicated formula and not extremely reliable in all areas, but it is a good start and gives us a good framework for who is good on defense.

If you want a more in depth look at UZR, go here:

A number above zero means that a defender is above average while a number below zero means that a defender is below average. Simple enough.

Just to make sure I have this clear, these rankings are based on the WAR stat on and not my personal opinion. Let’s check them out.

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MLB All-Star Break Power Rankings: All 30 Teams

We are at the break in the 2010 MLB season; a much needed break for some teams.

It has been a year full of surprises, great pitching and not too much negativity surrounding the sport unlike the previous decade with the steroid issue.

Here are your power rankings for the first half of the season.

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Cliff Lee Trade: What Does It Mean to the AL Playoff Picture?

The Texas Rangers shook up the race to October in the AL when they swooped in yesterday and acquired the best pitcher on the market, Cliff Lee.

It looked like the New York Yankees had done everything but sign the paperwork to trade for Lee yesterday, but Jon Daniels and his staff sweetened the pot enough at the last minute to close the deal with the Mariners.

The Rangers front office packaged Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, and two other prospects in a trade to get Cliff Lee and right-handed reliever Mark Lowe.

Looking forward, this trade has serious implications on who will make the postseason and how those teams will fare playing baseball in October.

Before the trade, the Rangers had a fairly good chance of winning the AL West (90 percent according to Baseball Prospectus), so this trade doesn’t really take the Rangers from non-contender to contender, but it does improve their chances in the playoffs.

Their potent lineup combined with a starting rotation of Cliff Lee, the surprising Colby Lewis, CJ Wilson, Tommy Hunter, and Rich Harden/Derek Holland looks very solid going forward and that top three or four looks really good for a playoff run.

The other main effect this trade has on the landscape of the AL is the way it severely damaged the Angels’ chances at winning a fourth straight division title.

The Angels have already been a bit of a disappointment this season, as they currently sit at 47-42 and 4.5 games back in the division. They have also given up more runs than they have scored this season and don’t really show any signs of heating up any time soon.

The Rangers transformed themselves from a playoff team to a serious AL championship contender by adding an ace to the top of their rotation, and the rest of the AL should take notice.

Assuming the Rangers get to the playoffs, how would they rank among the four teams that make the playoffs from the AL?

The Yankees are still probably the best team in the league, but the Rangers closed the gap quite a bit with the trade. The Yanks probably shouldn’t be considered the clear favorites in the AL anymore, but they probably still slightly have the best chance to represent the league in the World Series.

With the trade, the Rangers probably sit at the second slot in the AL, especially with the guys at the top of their rotation to go along with their lineup.

Colby Lewis has been a solid number two pitcher this season and should match up well with any other number two in the playoffs. The same thing can be said for CJ Wilson and the number three spot.

The other teams that rank below these two leaders include the Red Sox/Rays and then the AL Central contenders.

There is still a long way to go in this season, but it looks like the Rangers joined the Yankees at the top of the AL and it looks like they have both separated themselves from the pack.

The Red Sox could be in that upper echelon when they are healthy, but we will see if they can get everyone back in time to make a run.

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The 34 Players Who Should Make the All-Star Team for the AL in 2010

We are nearing the halfway point for the MLB season, which means it’s almost time to play the All-Star Game.

Who deserves to make it over the guys that will make it just because of their name? Which players are having the most under-the-radar seasons?

Check out this slideshow to find out the 34 players who will be making the trip to Anaheim in a couple of weeks to represent the AL in the All-Star Game.

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Knocking it Around: Ranking the AL Lineups from 14 to 1

Although pitching has dominated the headlines and the landscape of Major League Baseball this season, there have still been some fairly potent lineups in the first two and a half months across the league, mainly in the AL.

They say pitching wins championships, but it doesn’t hurt to have a good offense to go with a good rotation, and as evidenced by this list, having a good offense usually means you have a good team.

So which offenses are the worst in the AL? Which ones have room to improve? Which ones are over-performing? Check it all out in this all-encompassing ranking from number 14 all the way to No. 1.

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Race for 2010 AL West Crown Down To Rangers and Angels

Riding an eight game winning streak with all eight wins coming on the road, the Texas Rangers have taken the largest division lead in baseball (3.5 games) over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the AL West. They hold the fourth best record in all of baseball.

Still, the division seems like it will come down to the last week of the season with a two team race between the Rangers and Angels. The Angels have won the AL West crown in five of the last six season. Texas still has to overcome some demons of their past if they want to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

This division no longer looks as mediocre as it did 30-40 games into this season because of the hot play by both the Rangers and Angels lately. I expect the team that wins this race to make some serious noise in the playoffs.

Let’s run down the parts of the division race that will decide who wins the division when we reach October.

Pitching Rotation

The starting rotation used to be the strength of the Angels and the main weakness of the Rangers. However, that disparity in staff ERA that we have become so accustom to seems to be leveling out this season.

The starting rotation’s ERA for both teams is nearly identical to this point in the season. The Angels have posted a 4.24 starting staff ERA while the Rangers linger a hundredth behind at 4.25.

Finally, pitching has arrived in Texas. Possibly the best off-season signing for any team this year was Colby Lewis joining the Rangers rotation. Coming back from a two year stint in Japan, Lewis is 7-4 with a 3.07 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 90 strikeouts in 93.2 innings. He is leading the solid, but not spectacular Rangers rotation.

CJ Wilson is looking fine in the second spot in the rotation with a 3.41 ERA and near career low 1.23 WHIP. Past him, Texas has had some injury concerns with Derek Holland and poor performances from Rich Harden and Scott Feldman. However, the depth in the minor league system and at the major league level have allowed the Rangers to weather that storm.

Looking ahead, the Rangers seem to have a fairly solid rotation of Lewis, Wilson, Feldman, Hunter and Holland/Harden. If they can all perform to their talent level, the Rangers could be sporting a top 3-5 rotation in the AL.

The Angels have also got some disappointing efforts from their rotation. Apart from Jered Weaver, who looks like a bonafide ace, and Ervin Santana, no other member of the Angels starting staff has posted an ERA under 4.45. This is a far cry from past seasons, which had rotations headed up by John Lackey and Bartolo Colon.

The Angels rotation has stayed completely in tact from the beginning of the season with just one spot start from Matt Palmer thrown into the mix. The main issue here is performance. They need Scott Kazmir, Joel Pineiro and Joe Saunders to pitch more successfully, like they have in recent seasons.

Whichever team finds themselves with better bounce back performances from the back of their rotation will probably find themselves with a division championship when October rolls around.


We all know about the terrible injury to Kendry Morales that has hurt the Angels offense dramatically. Erick Aybar also went down with a awkward looking leg injury about a week ago and has yet to return to the lineup.

Losing those two key members of their lineup for an extended period of time can’t be good for LAA’s offensive production of the future. However, they don’t seem fazed by it right now. The Angels are currently playing their best baseball of the year, even with those two key injuries they have sustained on offense.

The other side of the coin is a completely different story. As stated earlier, each member of the Angels rotation has made each one of their starts except for one late spot start from Matt Palmer. The whole rotation can’t stay this healthy all year, can it?

Coming into the season, injury risk was a big concern for the Rangers. The biggest concern, Rich Harden, has been very healthy this year, but his performance has left a lot to be desired.

Other players like Nelson Cruz (two DL trips already), Josh Hamilton (only one healthy year out of three big league seasons), Vladimir Guerrero (can his old body hold up?) and Ian Kinsler (bum ankle) have serious injury concerns as the season moves along.

The Rangers bullpen has also been fairly overused this season, especially near the back end where the power arms are located. Could we see a couple of them fizzle out at the end of the season?


This is a very key aspect of the division race. The Texas Rangers are in a ridiculously soft spot of their schedule right now, as they only face one team above .500 (the Angels) all the way until the All-Star Break.

The script flips after the break because they will face a stretch where they play 23 out of 42 games on the road. This includes 19 games against division rivals and 19 games against the top three teams in the AL East and the two best teams in the AL Central.

The Rangers obviously have to face some very tough teams in August and September and also play a lot on the road at the end of the year (20 of last 32 games are on the road). They must pick up their play in that time if they want to earn the division title.

The Angels have a lengthy 12-game home stand coming up next, including nine tough games against Texas, Los Angeles and Colorado.

Opposite of the Rangers final stretch of games, the Angels will finish the year easily against well under .500 teams in September, except for match-ups with Tampa Bay and crucial head-to-head match-ups with the Rangers.

Head-To-Head Match-ups

Besides the starting rotation, this is probably the biggest factor that will decide the race. The Rangers and Angels have only played twice this season (Rangers lead series, 2-0), so they have an astonishing 17 head-to-head games left.

When these two teams duke it out, all bets are off. They will be playing a lot of key games around the trade deadline and late in September.

Those games will be some of the best games in all of baseball to watch at any time during this season. These two teams don’t like each other at all. With a playoff spot on the line, expect the intensity to be ramped up to an all-time high.

Trade Market

Which team will be able to make the right move when the trade deadline rolls around?

The Angels will probably be in the market for a starting pitcher to help the front of their rotation because of the poor performances from Kazmir and Saunders.

Another position they will be looking to help out is first base. Mike Napoli is filling in at the moment. However, if LAA could go out and pick up someone like Paul Konerko for the stretch run, the race for the title could be flipped on it’s head.

The Rangers are currently bankrupt and owned by the MLB. However, it is looking more and more likely that the sale will be done by the trade deadline. Boy, would that help the Rangers out a ton.

The organization is currently ranked as having one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball, so the ammo to make a big time trade is certainly there.

The big name pitchers on the market like Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee and possibly Dan Haren each have a shot at landing in Texas when the trade deadline passes. A trade of that magnitude would represent a huge shift in the balance of power in not just the AL West, but the entire AL.

Bottom Line

This race is going to be a really fun one to watch, especially with all of the key head-to-head match-ups that we will see late in the season (seven games between the two teams in September and October).

It’s hard to tell who will win the division as we currently see the two teams constructed right now. After the trade deadline, there will be a much clearer view on how this race will play out.

As evidenced by past Angels teams, you can never count LA out of the division race. However, this Texas team seems just a little bit different from the ones that have trotted out there the last 10 years without winning a division title.

I can’t wait to see how this plays out!

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