Deadline Day didn’t bring a flurry of industry-rattling, franchise-making deals.
But in the areas of consistent action and ongoing intrigue, July 2010 delivered for those who love a good baseball trade.
From July 1 through July 31, the following players changed teams: Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Roy Oswalt, Miguel Tejada, Ted Lilly, Lance Berkman and Kerry Wood.
Alex Gonzalez, Yunel Escobar, Jorge Cantu, Edwin Jackson, Matt Capps, Jake Westbrook and Ryan Ludwick, too.
Yes, Adam Dunn is still a Washington National. Barring an August trade, free agency is the next major engagement on his calendar.
Prince Fielder and Jose Bautista stayed put. So did Kansas City teammates Zack Greinke and Joakim Soria. There’s always next year.
Hours after the buzzer, here’s a look at how the July moves shaped the races in each division.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
That was a nice demonstration of the Yankees’ economic clout, now, wasn’t it?
They figured it was time to upgrade, and they did so in ways only they can: Berkman will be a semi-regular designated hitter and backup first baseman, Austin Kearns could become a platoon outfielder and Kerry Wood should add an experienced arm to the bullpen (provided he stays healthy).
The Yankees, with the most wins in the majors, are getting stronger. The Red Sox, with Dustin Pedroia still on the disabled list, aren’t healthy. The contrast is clear, particularly with third-place Boston facing a 7 1/2-game deficit.
The Tampa Bay Rays — second in the division and first in the wild-card standings — pursued Dunn (among others) but didn’t make a big splash. That’s OK. They are playoff-bound as is. And Rays general manager Andrew Friedman will look prescient if Chad Qualls (8.29 ERA with Arizona) benefits from a change in leagues.
PREDICTION: Yankees win division; Rays wild card.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
The Minnesota Twins didn’t deal for the difference-making starter they sought for weeks. And it may be their undoing in the two-month race against Chicago and Detroit.
Minnesota seemingly had the pieces to get Lee from the Mariners. That didn’t happen. Dan Haren and Ted Lilly were also options; both went elsewhere.
Then the Twins made a late push for Brett Myers. The Astros kept him.
The result: The Minnesota rotation includes Scott Baker (5.00 ERA), Kevin Slowey (4.76) and Brian Duensing (1.83, but with only two of his appearances being starts).
The Twins dealt for closer Matt Capps, but the trade merely restored what would have been a strength had Joe Nathan not needed elbow surgery.
Come to think of it, that was a theme in AL Central deadline trades: Edwin Jackson is replacing Jake Peavy for the White Sox; Jhonny Peralta is replacing Brandon Inge for the Tigers. Not a division-changing deal in the bunch.
PREDICTION: White Sox.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
And here we thought bankruptcy was a problem for businesses.
The Rangers led all buyers in substantive deadline deals. Lee, on July 9, was only the start.
By sunset on Saturday, Texas had added four players to its 25-man roster since the beginning of July: Lee, Cantu, Bengie Molina and Cristian Guzman. The Rangers also recouped some prospect depth by trading Jarrod Saltalamacchia to Boston.
Meanwhile, their competition in the AL West has faded. Despite dealing for Haren, the Angels entered Saturday with an 8-16 record in their past 24 games. The A’s, who remained idle at the deadline, are an afterthought in the division race despite having a very similar record to the Angels.
The balance of power in the division is shifting — if it hasn’t already. That will become official once the Rangers get a new owner.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
There was plenty of poker during the past week in one of baseball’s most competitive divisions.
A week or so ago, the Braves and Marlins looked like trade partners. Atlanta wanted outfielder Cody Ross.
Then, suddenly, Florida started winning — including two walk-off victories over the Braves. So the Marlins opted for a buy/sell hybrid, moving Cantu to the Rangers, acquiring left-handed reliever Will Ohman from Baltimore and holding onto Ross, Dan Uggla, Ricky Nolasco and others.
The Braves, forced to shop elsewhere, added outfielder Rick Ankiel and reliever Kyle Farnsworth in a deal with the Royals.
Philadelphia, of course, made the biggest move, acquiring Roy Oswalt from the Astros at a very reasonable cost. The Phillies are now the trendy pick, and they have a knack for late-season surges. Ask the Mets.