Why a bad deadline deal can set you back 10 years


This may come as a shock to the black box I’m typing this into but there is something happening besides LeBronicide this summer. It’s called baseball season and in its annual tradition big names are being flung across the country because their crappy teams can’t afford them.

And that tradition wouldn’t be anything if it weren’t for snarky journalists (ahem!) waiting to criticize their every move, look at past transactions with Revisionshades (TM)* and generally make a mockery of the whole process.

Sidenote: was TMing TM’d by FJM? Is talking about Xing X, TM’d by FJM?

So in that tradition let’s strap on those shades and take a look at Cliff Lee who, on Friday, was traded for the third time in 12 months.

Instead of joining the AL West, front-running Rangers Lee should be in his fourth year in Washington (fifth with the organization) with a hefty contract extension in the works.

Here’s what happened. At the trade deadline in 2002, the Montreal Expos (Your Washington Nationals) traded Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and Grady Sizemore for Bartolo Colon. Sacrebleu!

Colon had a sandwich

Bartolo Colon tips the scales.


In their defense the Expos finished second in NL East that year. However, they were nowhere near the Braves (who won 100 games), the NL Wildcard winning, and eventual NL-Champ Giants OR the not-even-making-the-playoffs-ing Dodgers.

Here’s what you lost America’s capitol.

Cliff Lee
Singlehandedly kept the Phillies in the Worlds Series and is in the middle of a third straight dominant season.

Brandon Phillips
One of the league’s best slugging second basemen. Since earning a full-time gig in The Show in 2006, Phillips has averaged 20 dingers, 75 RBIs and 23 steals. That translates to league-average offense at a below-average offensive position, something the Nats could use now while trotting out the no-power Christian Guzman (1 HR) and the offensively offensive Adam Kennedy (OPS+ of 75, league average is 100)*.
OPS+ is a percentile so 75 means he’s about 25 percent worse than a league-average hitter

Grady Sizemore
This might be the worst of them all. Yea, Lee would be great to have right now but Sizemore would have been a franchise player to rally around (not unlike Strasburg) from the get-go. In the four years when Sizemore was healthy and an everyday player (2005 through 2008) he averaged 116 runs scored, 27 homeruns, 81 RBIs, 29 steals and an OPS+ 128. Then again, he’s caught the injury bug the last two seasons and there are those that argue that staying healthy is a skill.

There is a silver lining to all this for us Natstownies (or would it be Natstowners?). These are the kind of deals that made the Expos the least attended team in the National League, got them shipped to Washington and got the D.C. edition back-to-back number 1 draft picks in drafts with once-in-a-generation talents (Strasburg and Harper for a sharper America in 2012, I don’t care what party). But, the Nats simply can not make deals like this if they are serious about contending for any period of time.

For those of you not reading in Montreal I guess you’re only comfort is a half-full glass of wine.

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One Response to Why a bad deadline deal can set you back 10 years

  1. B-Money says:

    Amen son. The implication here seems to be: Is this going to happen to Dunn?

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