Bob Ryan

Deadline’s lack of excitement leaves him unmoved

By Bob Ryan
Globe Columnist / August 1, 2010

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Am I the only one left who thinks there is something unseemly about this July 31 trade deadline?

I realize this is not the most pressing social issue of the day, but it’s just plain wrong. We’re two-thirds of the way through a six-month season. Your team should be your team.

And don’t get me started about September call-ups and the rosters being expanded to 40. Why should the rules change when you get to the most important games of the season? It makes absolutely no sense.

The old deadline of June 15 was a lot more reasonable. The season began earlier in those days, so you were basically talking about locking teams in, with the exception of waiver deals, after two months, not four. What? You don’t give a hoot? OK, I’m done preaching.

Oh, but there is one more thing. In Ye Olden Days, as in the 1940s and ’50s, there was no such thing as interleague trading. So there was much less buzz surrounding the trade deadline. Really, there was no NESN special trade deadline show, as hard as that may be to believe.

The deadline is just that, a deadline. You can make a trade in advance of it any old time, and so top-tier pitching names such as Dan Haren and Roy Oswalt had their new addresses long before yesterday’s 4 p.m. deadline. It’s really a trade season, beginning a week to 10 days before the July 31 deadline.

There is no doubt massive disappointment among the Red Sox faithful. There were no blockbuster deals, only the acquisition of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, plus the addition-by-subtraction expunging of Jeremy Hermida and Ramon Ramirez, the former being designated for assignment, the latter sent to San Francisco. Instead of producing a familiar name belonging to a veteran, Sox management has settled for picking up a catcher who has failed to fulfill his promise and by promoting prized prospect Ryan Kalish from Pawtucket.

The Sox needed a veteran reliever, and they still need one. Theo Epstein was quite obviously unwilling to sacrifice a valued prospect, and you know what? Good for him. Sometimes you just have to accept that it’s just not shaping up as your year, and you simply focus more on the future.

The hated Yankees were a bit more active.

Boss Steinbrenner may be gone, but his spirit lives on. General manager Brian Cashman isn’t fooling around. He wants a second consecutive title, and he has certainly increased that possibility by bringing in Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns, and Kerry Wood, although I’d say he comes with an asterisk attached.

Berkman is the big catch. He’s 34 and he’s not having a good year, but he is going to be very excited to be going from a hopeless situation to the team with the best record in baseball, and he will like batting behind Derek Jeter and in front of Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, etc.

American League fans probably have little idea how productive Berkman has been. The outfielder/first baseman is a switch-hitter who hit 326 homers with the Astros since making the majors in 1999. He drove in 1,090 runs with an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .959. He is very much a Yankees’ kind of guy, because in a year in which his batting average has drooped (.245), he still has a .372 on-base percentage. Yup, they’ve brought in still another look-’em-over guy who will help maintain the standard 3 1/2-hour Sox-Yankees game time. The Yankees have not had a regular DH since Nick Johnson took his expected place on the disabled list in May. They have one now.

Kearns will give them another veteran bat while giving Joe Girardi outfield depth (he’s a four-time league leader in range factor as a right fielder).

Wood, hard to believe, is 33. The Yankees, like the Sox, have had problems getting to their closer, and Girardi has even demoted Joba Chamberlain from his eighth-inning role in favor of Dave Robertson. But expecting Wood to be that man is a reach. The Indians made him available because he’s got a 6.30 ERA with a frightening WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) of 1.60. That’s Okajima territory. But the memories of the 20K Wood of yore are still so vivid, apparently, that the Red Sox were among those with supposed interested.

No major, major name went anywhere yesterday, unless you count Berkman as a major, major name. The great question was the status of Nationals slugger Adam Dunn, who is on his walk year, who would like to stay in Washington, and who has likewise made it clear he would not consent to be a DH. He went nowhere, although the Nationals did send reliever Matt Capps to the Twins, who are still trying to overcome the loss of Joe Nathan. The interesting thing about this move is that Capps was the winning pitcher as the National League won its first All-Star Game since 1996.

At best, there were moderate names bouncing around. Ted Lilly from the Cubs to the Dodgers. Ryan Ludwick from the Cardinals to the Padres, a team that has been the most consistently good team in either league despite the lack of offense to abet truly outstanding pitching. Edwin (No-Hit) Jackson from the Diamondbacks to the White Sox, who can always be counted on to enliven Deadline Day. Stuff like that.

There might have been a hidden gem moving from a Point A to a Point B somewhere. But it wasn’t a day to take your breath away, and that’s all right with me. I’m more into dancin’ with the one you brung north in March. But that’s just me.

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