- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 1, 2009

Amid the uncertainty, one certainty

Boy, life is going to be tough without the trade deadline.

No more never-ending drama, no more tremor-inducing suspense… and no more pretending that pitchers who put on a new hat in July will put on a championship hat in October.

You see, it’s good fun to play with major league rosters video game-style (Roy Halladay to the Yankees? Sure!), but when the adrenaline from the deadline has faded, history is quite clear about the impact of deadline day.

Especially when it comes to pitchers.

In fact, just about the only thing we really learned about the rest of the season from this year’s deadline is that the Phillies think Cliff Lee can help carry them back to the World Series. Just as we learned last year that the Brewers thought they could ride CC Sabathia to a title.

But in the past three decades, only two pitchers who changed ZIP codes at midseason went on to win a Series game that year: Jeff Weaver with the ‘06 Cardinals and — of course — Joe Blanton last year with the Phils. And those two aren’t exactly Lee or Sabathia.

What that means is none of the stud “horses” who changed teams in deadline deals during that span have gone on to pull a float in a parade that season: Sabathia, Tom Seaver, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, et al. That’d make quite a rotation.

You could argue that this year was different, that Cy Young winners aren’t available every year (though thanks to the Indians, they have been). But the same things were said about Johnson, Seaver and Schilling. Of those three, only Johnson even MADE the playoffs the year he switched teams.

The No. 1 reason for this is that starting pitchers take the field only once every five days. At best, it’s every three days, and you saw what happened to Sabathia last season when the short-rest starts began to pile up. In Game 2 of the NLDS, he walked opposing pitcher Brett Myers and then gave up a grand slam to Shane Victorino, effectively handing the game and a 2-0 series lead to the Phillies.

That night is long forgotten, but it provided a reminder that trading for a superstar pitcher is far from a guarantee of success. Judging by history, it’s a guarantee of disappointment.

He said what?

“We never really came close at all. We were never moved.” — Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi on offers the team received for ace Roy Halladay

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