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      And now, the losers.....
    Florida Marlins
    Give up:        Get:
    Brad Penny Paul LoDuca
    Hee Seop Choi Guillermo Mota
    Bill Murphy Juan Encarnacion
    Abraham Nunez Rudy Seanez
    Travis Chick Ismael Valdez
    In their big trade with the Dodgers, the Marlins helped to patch their weakest spots, but at what cost?

    With LoDuca on board, their catching will improve by as much as the Dodgers has weakened, but I'm not sure the mainstream media and Marlin fans understand how big of a loss Penny and Choi will be.

    Choi's will be replaced at first by Jeff Conine, but essentially Choi's production is going to be "replaced" by Encarnacion's .235/.289/.417 line. The Marlins got anywhere from 5-10 runs worse on offense, but got that veteran leadership from LoDuca and the playoff experience from Encarnacion that they were sorely missing.

    No doubt, Mota will shore up a bullpen that was struggling, and will help even more than Urbina helped last year, but without Penny, their rotation is now filled with a number of question marks. Josh Beckett has had blister problems all year, A.J. Burnett hasn’t yet returned all the way from Tommy John surgery, Dontrelle Willis has been maddeningly inconsistent all year long, and their most consistent starter after Penny, Carl Pavano has a long history of serious arm injuries. After watching last years playoffs, one might think they only need a healthy Beckett to win the World Series, but for the Fish to even make the playoffs they need all four of these guys healthy and effective.

    On top of making their big league roster worse, the Marlins also threw in a good left-handed pitching prospect in 23 year-old Bill Murphy, who has a 113/59 K/BB in 103 2/3 AA innings this year. Murphy only needs to refine his control and he could be a solid major league pitcher.

    Summary:Marlins fixed their most gaping holes, but turned relative strengths into weaknesses. All the talk of the Marlins coming out on top has me incredibly confused, and at best they treaded water.
    Grade: C-

    New York Mets
    Give up:        Get:
    Ty Wigginton Kris Benson
    Scott Kazmir Victor Zambrano
    Justin Huber Bartolome Fortunado
    Matt Peterson Jeff Keppinger
    Jose Diaz
    Jayson Stark likes these deals. So does this wacko, and apparently this king of all nutjobs does as well. Maybe that should tell me all I need to know.

    Before going any further, I would like to point out that the Mets are in fourth place in the NL East. They sit 8 games behind Atlanta for the division and 8 ½ games behind San Diego for the wild card. There are 9! teams ahead of them in the wild card race and three in the division. To make the playoffs, not only will the Mets need to play "Amazin" baseball, but they will need no less than three teams ahead of them to help out the cause by not playing well. Why are the Mets making a playoff push at 49-54 and the Pirates are in wholesale mode at 49-53? In fact, why is a team with the fourth WORST record in the NL trading away their three top prospects? Did they not read about my (among others) enthusiasm for their future?

    I would say for sure, with my confidence in Rick Peterson that Zambrano will be a better pitcher with the Mets. He is going to have to be real, real good, however, to offset the loss of one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.

    How good is Kazmir? I've heard plenty of people say that if the Mets brought him up right now, at the age of 20, he could be as good as Zambrano. I'm not ready to go that far, but he'd certainly walk less batters.

    The deal essentially boils down to one thing: It doesn't matter if Kazmir blows out his arm tommorrow and Zambrano magically learns to control his pitches, its still a bad deal. You don’t trade elite prospects for mediocre major leaguers, no matter how talented they are. You don’t trade a guy like Scott Kazmir unless someone like Randy Johnson is coming the other way.

    Kris Benson is another guy with great stuff. Depending on who you ask, that great stuff is either gone forever, or has started to return over the last two weeks. All I know is that the Mets just pawned off their #2 & #3 prospects for two months of Benson. Lets say he turns into a 3.50 ERA type pitcher, is it even worth that. The Mets obviously want to re-sign Benson after the year is out. Then why give up the prospects? Why not just wait until he is a free agent and go after him heavily. Then, the worst case is that you miss out on Benson and have to settle for someone like Matt Morris, whose performance level is already established well above that of Benson.

    Even if you believe they will re-sign Benson. Even if you believe Peterson will be able to make a Clement-like transformation with Zambrano. Even if you think Kazmir, Peterson, and Huber will all flame out. Even if all that comes true, you still have to understand that this Mets team will not make the playoffs in 2004. These trades represent a clear shift in an organizational philosophy that seemed sound only 48 hours ago. The Amazin' Mess is back! Witness the return of Jeff D'Amico and Shawn Estes Mets fans, and enjoy the climb back to .500. I also heard Mo Vaughn is looking for a new contract and has lost a lot of weight.

    Summary:The Mets give up way too much to get two mediocre pitchers, and will be counting their prospects in October rather than playing. Randy Johnson might not have been able to take this team to the playoffs.
    Grade: F

    Boston Red Sox
    Give up:            Get:
    Nomar Garciaparra Orlando Cabrera
    Matt Murton Doug Mientkiewicz
    Henri Stanley Dave Roberts

    Ah, yes, the Red Sox. How could I forget this travesty. I can honestly say that the only good thing about Saturday for Red Sox fans is that these two trades make David McCarty redundant, and he will no longer be leading the team in pinch hit at-bats.

    I can understand the trade for Dave Roberts. Trot Nixon might be out for the season, Stanley is not ever going to be a star, and at worst Roberts gives you depth off the bench, and a pinch runner.

    What I fail to understand is dealing away Nomar Garciaparra and not getting back more than Cabrera and Mientkiewicz. The trade was obviously done to improve the defense. Undoubtedly, it worsened the offfense, but by how much? Take a look at some numbers:
                      2004      BEST
    Cabrera -2.2 425 40.3
    Mientkiewicz 3.0 371 47.2
    Total: 0.8 796
    Garciaparra 15.9 169 59.6
    Cabrera and Mientkiewicz have been two of the worst major league regulars this season. Despite being hurt for the first half of the year, Nomar has already far surpassed their production levels in 625 less plate appearances! Even the career years of both players have fallen well short of the worst full-season of Nomar's.

    If the Red Sox are gambling that Cabrera and Mientkiewicz will rebound from here on out, I'd say that is a pretty big gamble to make with a team that is already good enough to win the World Series. At best Cabrera returns to form and you have David Eckstein, but more likely he keeps hitting like Pokey and makes himself incredibly redundant on this team.

    I don’t even see how the defense is all that much better. Sure both have won Gold Gloves, but Cabrera has never really been the same since he hurt his back in 2001, and Doug is 30 years old with a range factor that dropped each of the past three years. If you go by UZR, Cabrera is only marginally better than a healthy Nomar, and while Mientkiewicz is 10 or so runs better than Millar at first, putting Doug at first moves Millar to right. Millar in right is a worse experience than having Manny in right. Any gains in the infield are offset by the comedy of errors in the outfield.

    And why Dave Roberts then? Where is Millar supposed to play? Does he become a pinch hitter and platoon partner for Ortiz against lefties? That completely wastes his bat. I would assume he gets regular playing time, but split between RF/1B/DH. In that case, Doug won't even be playing everyday, and in all likelihood, he shouldn’t be considering the way Millar has been hitting lately.

    In that case, you just gave up one of the best SS in the game for a Pokey Reese clone and a part-time defensive first baseman. How does this make the team better?

    It doesn't even make the team better in the future. Obviously the Red Sox weren't going to re-sign Nomar, but Cabrera is also a free agent, and won't be cheap as he already turned down a 4 year/$30M contract offer from the Expos. Doug is signed next year for a little over $4M and his baseball skills appear to be deteriorating rapidly. What a waste.

    This trade makes absolutely no sense. The upside is for Cabrera and Mientkiewicz to miraciously return to their career year production levels and the Red Sox improve. The downside is they maintain their current level of performance and the Red Sox are a much worse team offensively and only marginally better defensively.

    Incredibly, and maybe with the sole intention of pissing me off, the Red Sox felt the need to send a good hitting OF prospect in Matt Murton and cash to the Cubs. What? As if you didn’t already give enough up? That part of the deal is like letting someone sleep with your girlfriend and then giving them a six-pack and a handshake when they were all done. It's inexcusable.

    Theo should have said: "No Clement, no Nomar." and left it at that. If he couldn’t work out a deal, fine. Leave the team as it is and move on. Instead, Theo undersold himself, got less than fair value for Nomar and will forever be remembered for this trade.

    Someone better inform Theo that his grace period in Boston is over. People give you the benefit of the doubt for awhile, but when you screw up, they don’t let you off the hook until years after you leave. I have liked almost all of Theo's moves, so I was apt to defend him when he traded Freddy Sanchez for Jeff Suppan, or when he failed miserably getting arms for the bullpen in 2003. At least those times he learned from his mistakes. This time, he can't go back, and he needs to be held accountable. This is an awful move no matter how you look at it and there is no excuse.

    Summary:Only the Mets look like bigger idiots right now, and as a Red Sox fan, I am embarrassed by that fact.
    Grade: D-

    As always, email Curt to tell him he's wrong, but don't mention the Red Sox or you're liable to get hurt.