- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Taking into consideration the names that moved and the teams that got them, it’s possible there hasn’t been a baseball trade deadline this active and this influential to the course of the postseason this decade.

For the second year in a row, the Indians traded a reigning Cy Young winner to the National League - and he landed with the defending world champions. Another former Cy Young winner moved from the NL to the AL, joining a team he had rejected a trade to earlier this season.

Matt Holliday, possibly the prize of this year’s free agent class, landed with his third team in a year, and the Pirates effectively infused the market with an entire lineup’s worth of mid-priced talent.

After that whirlwind week, we’re here to help you sort out the winners and losers from July’s swap meet and what it will mean to the postseason.

THE WINNERS:

Phillies - They got the front-of-the-rotation starter they needed when they landed Cliff Lee from the Indians and added another bench contributor in Ben Francisco. With Lee joining Cole Hamels and the NL’s best lineup, the Phillies might be the favorites to go back to the World Series. There might not be an organization that has worked the new model of success better than the Phillies. They’ve built a contender by drafting and keeping homegrown talent (Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Hamels), filling out a lineup with dangerous and underrated contributors (Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth) and developing a deep farm system. Is anyone a couple hours down Interstate 95 watching this?

Red Sox - Not only did they strengthen their lineup with Victor Martinez, they made an underrated defensive acquisition in Casey Kotchman, the kind of move that echoes what Theo Epstein did in preparing the 2004 Red Sox for a postseason run by getting Doug Mientkiewicz and Orlando Cabrera. They lost Justin Masterson but didn’t give up Clay Buchholz, whom the front office loves. If the pitching staff holds up, this team looks primed for a long October.

Indians - Yes, they dumped Lee and Martinez, but they got an impressive haul of prospects to add to the ones they got for CC Sabathia last year. It has been a stunning turn for the Indians, who were one game away from the World Series in 2007. But they’ve positioned themselves to be one of the up-and-coming teams in the AL a few years down the line.

THE LOSERS:

Padres - Speaking of teams that have gone on a freefall since 2007, how about what has happened in San Diego? The Padres missed out on a wild-card berth in 2007, then proceeded to become one of the blandest and worst teams in baseball last year. They’re at it again this year, having traded Jake Peavy to the White Sox for the second time this year (after he rejected the deal the first time). While the package they got for Peavy might help down the road, their need for salary relief didn’t leave them a whole lot of leverage.

Blue Jays - Let’s see: You’ve got multiple teams banging on your door with offers for Roy Halladay - your pricey, top-of-his-value Cy Young winner - and he’s going to hit the open market after the 2010 season. And you hang on to him? J.P. Ricciardi better know what he’s doing. The Blue Jays’ belief is that Halladay can make them a contender in 2010. If that happens, great. If the Blue Jays don’t contend and Halladay walks, they might be looking back at this trade deadline as a missed opportunity.

Pirates - The Pirates’ massive sell-off stripped a long-suffering organization of a handful of promising young players, albeit ones soon due for pay raises. The NL Central is full of mediocrity right now, and another year or two might have allowed the Pirates to ride players like Nate McLouth, Freddy Sanchez and Adam LaRoche to a winning season and meaningful September baseball. It’s too early to tell if the bulk shipment of prospects coming back in the Pirates’ 10-player sale will turn this team in the right direction, but it certainly postpones the date that might happen. Enjoy the Lombardi Trophy and the Stanley Cup, Pittsburgh. The Commissioner’s Trophy won’t be landing for a while.

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