Trading deadline pushes big names out of town and into new threads

by CJ Ryan | 8/3/06 5:00am

In the aftermath of the first of two 2006 Major League Baseball trade deadlines, some of baseball's big names are changing uniforms as well as leagues.

The last time U2's hit "With or Without You" topped the charts was 1987, which happens to be the last time the Detroit Tigers reached the playoffs. Coincidence? I think not.

The Tigers probably won't replicate the staying power of the boys from Dublin, but the team's moves at the trading deadline showed they don't intend to give up the top spot any time soon. On Monday morning the Tigs picked up Sean Casey from the Pirates.

A three-time All-Star, Casey has not committed an error in 491 total chances at first base this season and has posted a .995 fielding percentage at first base during his career.

Casey has strained a right rib cage muscle, but he is expected to recover from in a matter of days. Tigers fans should ignore the injury report and focus their eyes on the box scores. Casey boasts a career .304 batting average and gives the Tigers another left-handed power bat that balances their lineup. Casey is the man that Detroit needs to keep their eight-and-a-half game lead over the defending World Champ Chicago White Sox in the American League Central Division.

Speaking of Chicago, Cy Young Award and 327 game winner Greg Maddux is leaving the Windy City's lovable losers. The Cubs have Maddux headed to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for infielder Cesar Izturis.

Unloading the 40-year-old veteran pitcher who is 9-11 with a 4.69 ERA in 22 starts, is one of the best moves the Cubbies have made this season. The Cubs are 15 games back and second to last in the National League's Central Division. The playoffs are little more than a pipe dream, and the trade brings quality young talent to the club.

Los Angeles, on the other hand, acquired shortstop Julio Lugo from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who will play second base until Jeff Kent returns from the Disabled List, in exchange for prime minor league prospects Joel Guzman and Sergio Pedroza. While L.A. has mortgaged its future, these acquisitions might give the Dodgers the extra something they need to come from last place and take the tight and wild NL West, where it's anyone's game.

In the NL East, the division leading Mets had to fortify their bullpen. Losing Duaner Sanchez, the 5-1. 2.60 ERA middle relief ace to the DL for the rest of the season after he separated his pitching shoulder in a freak traffic accident Sunday night must have shocked the New York front office, but the suits responded quickly and admirably, picking up Oliver Perez and Roberto Hernandez from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for right fielder and slugger Xavier Nady. The loss at the plate will be substantial, but worthwhile. The team has become accustomed to rock solid relief, and the trade should allow the club to maintain the confidence in the bullpen that has been a crucial factor in their success.

The acquisitions of the other team in New York, however, are just ridiculous. The trade everyone has been talking about is the one that is changing the color of Bobby Abreu's and Cory Lidle's pinstripes. While everyone seems to be confident that the trade will end the Red Sox's run at the top of the AL East and start George Steinbrenner's accountant's dash toward the nearest mental health clinic, a third option is possible. The Yanks currently have a handful of big-name outfielders under contract, and the combination of huge egos and limited playing time could wreak havoc on team chemistry.

The Yanks could overcome all that to take the AL East by the end of the season. They were, after all, tied with the Red Sox before Wednesday's games. If things work out that way, however, the only thing that the New York Yankees will have proved with acquisiton of Abreu, a two time All-Star right fielder and winner of the 2005 Home Run Derby, and RHP Lidle from the Philadelphia Phillies for four minor league prospects, is that Steinbrenner's money can buy the most talented assembly of vets in baseball.

The Yanks will foot $4.3 million of Abreu's $13.5 million salary this year, plus $15.5 million next season. The Florida Marlins' entire payroll this year amounts to just under $14.5 million.

While players can still change uniforms until the final trading deadline on August 31, moving big name stars after the initial deadline is tricky business. The waiver wire requirements of August means most of the major moves have likely been made.