Dan's Dugout: Deadline Deals Pay Quick Dividends • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Deadline Deals Pay Quick Dividends

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Contenders that dangled prospects for veterans before the July 31 trade deadline are already reaping rewards.

Yu Darvish is a Dodger

Yu Darvish went seven scoreless in his Dodgers debut

Yu Darvish delivered seven scoreless innings against the homer-happy Mets in his debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Within days of the Detroit deal that sent him to the World Champion Cubs, Alex Avila pounded his first National League home run.

Ex-Met Addison Reed, returned to his customary set-up role, has made Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel even more formidable.

Even Lucas Duda, traded by the Mets for a minor-leaguer, has hit a few key homers for the surprising Tampa Bay Rays.

Although the gulf between the haves and the have-nots has widened, selling teams not only sliced payroll but also added prospects. All of them hope to catch lightning in a bottle as the 1987 Atlanta Braves did in dealing ace starter Doyle Alexander to Detroit for a struggling Class B pitcher nobody ever heard of. Except of course the scouts.

That pitcher was John Smoltz, now a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

John Smoltz is the only pitcher with 200 wins and 150 saves

John Smoltz is the only pitcher with 200 wins and 150 saves

The big winner of Deadline Day was Dodger Blue, now worn not only by Darvish but by two lefthanded Tonys (Watson and Cingrani) who bolstered the bullpen.

Yankee fans had to be pleased that their team landed Sonny Gray, ace righthander of the A’s, and veteran lefty Jaime Garcia, who lasted less than a week in Minnesota after the Braves sent him packing. Since New York also landed New Jersey native Todd Frazier, a slugging third baseman, and versatile reliever David Robertson, general manager Brian Cashman has positioned his club to take the Red Sox right to the bitter end in the American League East.

Of the multitude of bullpen arms that moved before deadline, the Washington Nationals may have won the day with a talented trio plucked from the American League. Both Sean Doolittle, a lefthander, and Ryan Madson, formerly with the Phillies, arrived from the Athletics while All-Star Brandon Kintzler came over from the Twins, a team that changed from buyer to seller at the 11th hour.

Although the Nats have a comfortable lead in their division, their obvious Achilles Heel was a bullpen with more leaks than the White House.

Washington, which has never won a postseason series, will almost certainly face the Chicago Cubs in the first round of the Division Series, while the Dodgers square off against the winner of the Arizona-Colorado wild-card game.

Teams are loading up on lefties to thwart Bryce Harper's lefthanded power Photo Credit: Frank Hyatt/Latino Sports

Teams are loading up on lefties to thwart Bryce Harper’s lefthanded power
Photo Credit: Frank Hyatt/Latino Sports

Chicago’s acquisition of Justin Wilson in the Avila deal was certainly executed with the Nats in mind. Wilson is a quality lefthanded closer capable of disarming Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy, powerful lefthanded hitters who both started the All-Star Game, in the late innings. The Cubs are also getting dividends from Jose Quintana, the erstwhile White Sox star acquired the day after the All-Star Game. It’s no surprise he’s a southpaw too – Theo Epstein thinks ahead.

The Dodgers, absent from the World Series since 1988, are also wary of the Nationals. That’s why they sacrificed prospects to get Cingrani from Cincinnati and Watson from Pittsburgh.

Both the Pirates and Brewers believe they can catch the Cubs in the NL Central, the only one of the three Senior Circuit divisions that remains competitive.

Pittsburgh not only acquired Joaquin Benoit, a quality set-up man, from the cross-state Phillies but used the waiver wire to reacquire versatile Sean Rodriguez from the Atlanta Braves.

At the same time, Milwaukee brought back Jeremy Jeffress, a solid reliever.

Former Brewer Jonathan Lucroy, a catcher coming off a tough first half, returned to the National League with the Rockies, where he will get a shot at being a difference-maker in October.

The Houston Astros, running away with the American League West title, landed lefty starter Francisco

The Houston Astros have a huge lead in the AL West

The Houston Astros have a huge lead in the AL West

Liriano strictly as a reliever and already got some help. But neither Jaime Garcia nor Sonny Gray won their first starts for the Yankees, a team trying to stay close to the front-running Red Sox.

Like the Yankees, the Kansas City Royals are in the close-but-no-cigar category. The Cleveland Indians lead the AL Central but Kaycee remains within striking distance. That’s why the Royals took a chance on Melky Cabrera, a switch-hitting slugger with a checkered career who just might be motivated by the chance to play in October.

This is the last blast for the Royals, a World Series team in 2014 and 2015 but ready for a fall this fall if a half-dozen free agents decide to sign elsewhere.

Elsewhere in baseball:

Pablo Sandoval, who resurfaced with the Giants after his release by the Red Sox, looked awful in the field and at the plate in his first game back after a month in the minors . . .

Justin Verlander has spent his whole career in Detroit so far Credit: Lisa Luevanos

Justin Verlander has spent his whole career in Detroit so far
Credit: Lisa Luevanos

Former Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander has cleared waivers and will be moved by the Tigers if any team is willing to pick up his exorbitant salary . . .

Veteran righthanders R.A. Dickey, a starter, and Jim Johnson, a closer demoted to set-up man, are available for trade by the prospect-hungry Braves . . .

Leo Mazzone says he’d like to return to the game as a pitching coach but believes his unorthodox theories and outspoken nature are handicaps . . .

The autobiography of Al Clark, who spent 26 years in the majors, will come out as a paperback next spring [Called Out But Safe: a Baseball Umpire’s Journey].

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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