Jayson Stark
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Tuesday, August 1
The deal is this: There are winners and losers

B.J. Surhoff got traded. Alfonso Soriano didn't.

The Yankees made a million headlines -- and no deadline deals. The Orioles made a million deals -- but what do they have to show for them?

The transactions column can rest up for a few days now. Another trading deadline is history. So let's take a look at the big winners and losers of the pre-deadline frenzy:

The Winners
YANKEES: Even without making that one final move, no team did better over the last few weeks than this team. On the one hand, they were able to take on players making about $17.5 million this year. On the other, they gave up 10 players to get what they wanted -- in a series of fair, brilliantly thought-out trades.

David Justice, Jose Vizcaino and Glenallen Hill have combined to hit .324 (60 for 185), with eight homers, 31 RBI and 37 runs scored. Denny Neagle is 2-0, 2.25 ERA, allowing only 12 hits in 24 innings and averaging eight innings a start.

And because the Yankees didn't wait until the deadline to spring into action, those guys have already made a huge impact. The Yankees are 19-9 since announcing the Justice trade, 11-6 since the Neagle deal.

"The Yankees did a great job," said one AL front-office man. "It just goes to prove that if you've got a trade you like early, just make it. Everyone holds on, holds on, trying to get more -- and a lot of the time, they're left holding the bag. The Yankees didn't wait, and it really paid off."

The Yankees did make last-minute runs at Pedro Astacio and Matt Clement -- and kept plugging on Surhoff until it became clear that the Orioles wouldn't have traded him to the Bronx for Derek Jeter. But when the phone lines died, they were still the team to beat. So what else is new?

INDIANS: Richie Sexson and Enrique Wilson have spent their careers as human trade rumors. And when those trades finally happened, there was no Curt Schilling or Randy Johnson to show for them.

But this is a different year in the life of this franchise. And those deals filled in pieces the Indians had to have to make a serious run at the wild card.

Tempting as it may have been to shop Manny Ramirez, a team constructed like this -- playing to 81 straight sellouts a year -- can't ever appear to give up. And by trading for Bob Wickman and Jason Bere in particular -- plus Steve Woodard, David Segui and Wil Cordero -- the Indians at least gave themselves a chance to sneak into the tournament through the wild-card entrance. And if they get there, they're dangerous.

"The key, to me, is Bere," said one scout. "If he pitches well, they've really made themselves better. And last time I saw him, he threw great. I think he's come back almost to what he was when he broke in."

Ricky Ledee for a two-month lease on Segui tells you one thing: The Indians weren't that dazzled by Ledee.

BRAVES: Everyone assumed the Braves would deal for a closer. But with John Rocker throwing strikes again, Mike Remlinger healthy and Kerry Ligtenberg getting better all the time, they realized their biggest hole was a dependable lefthanded bat. And B.J. Surhoff was just about an ideal fit for this team, in every way.

They've already gotten Andy Ashby straightened out, throwing back on top. And he's 3-0, 0.78 as a Brave. Now add in Surhoff's bat, versatility, professionalism and relentless approach -- and there's no team in the National League better than this one. As always.

METS: They never did make that one blockbuster deal GM Steve Phillips hungered to make. But they stole Mike Bordick. And Rick White and Bubba Trammell are pieces that help a team win, at a very affordable price (Jason Tyner and Paul Wilson).

"Paul Wilson's pitching well," said an NL scout who saw him recently. "But at this stage, he's going to be just a middle guy or a fifth starter. And I've never been a Jason Tyner fan. If he could ever get stronger so he could hit the ball to the gaps, then it's a different story. But at this point, all he can do is run. And he can't play center field every day. So I like what they did here."

DIAMONDBACKS: You can question whether they needed another bat. But Schilling alone makes them one of the big winners.

With Matt Williams still hurting, they can be pitched to. But if Schilling and Johnson make 24 more starts the rest of the way, "how many four and five-game losing streaks do you think they're going to have?" wondered an AL exec. "None."

The Losers
ORIOLES: For all the moves the buyers made, the biggest story of the deadline frenzy might have been the biggest seller of them all -- the O's.

"They finally convinced (owner Peter) Angelos to change that team," said one NL executive. "But the question of the day, after all this, is where are the Orioles headed now? I can't think of a team that's given up this many key players -- DH, first base, left field, shortstop, catcher, closer. That's six positions. That's a lot of holes to fill."

And the universal consensus is that the Orioles did an abysmal job of filling them.

"That's a lot of chips," said one front-office man, "and not a lot coming back."

"I'm shocked by Baltimore," said an NL scout. "I don't know what the hell they've gotten back for all the players they moved. I look at the names, and I just don't see it."

Of the 14 players the Orioles got in return for all their moves, just one -- pitcher Luis Rivera (from Atlanta in the Surhoff trade) -- is viewed as a high-ceiling prospect. And he's been hurt. Then there's Chris Richard, the first baseman who came from the Cardinals in the Mike Timlin deal, whom a couple of scouts said they "like a little." Melvin Mora can be a useful player -- "but he's an extra guy."

If Cal Ripken retires and Mike Mussina signs elsewhere, this team has a chance to be the Witness Protection Program All-Stars next year.

RED SOX: If Rolando Arrojo can get on a roll, then the Red Sox improved. But that's a big-time "if." Other than that, they just shuffled bodies, released one of their most popular players (Mike Stanley) and couldn't reel in any of the more significant players they chased.

"They added salary -- but to me, that's all they did," said one AL exec. "They added $9 million in payroll, and they stayed kind of the same team. Seems to me if you're taking on $9 million, you want to do more than just maintain the status quo."

An NL exec said: "I don't understand their thinking on taking (Mike) Lansing's contract -- unless they thought Massachusetts was including that in the funding of the new ballpark."

So if any of this is going to have an impact, Arrojo is going to have to transport himself back in time to the first half of his rookie year (when he was 10-4) -- because he's 16-30 since.

"I'm not sure Arrojo is a pennant-drive kind of pitcher," said one scout. "I think a lot depends on Pedro's influence on this guy, because there have always been questions about his drive and work ethic."

REDS: You can't argue with the players they got in the Neagle deal. You can even understand why they made it. (They were nine games out and two games under .500 after losing four of seven to the Cardinals in a 10-day span in late June and early July.)

But in retrospect, if they'd known Mark McGwire would go down and that gap would be down to four games this fast, that's one deal they'd probably like to unmake.

"It just seemed like they pulled the plug a little early," said an AL front-office man. "I know they liked what they got and they did it. But Neagle would look pretty good in that rotation about now."

The Jury's Out
BLUE JAYS: They added Steve Trachsel, Mark Guthrie and Esteban Loaiza -- and didn't have to give up Chris Carpenter or Roy Halladay. But they struck out on Schilling, Andy Ashby, Pedro Astacio and others. And the baseball people we talked to weren't sure how much better they were than before.

"I think Guthrie will help them," said an AL front-office man. "But I'm not a big Trachsel fan. He's a 50-50 proposition: Good game, bad game, good game, bad game. And Loaiza's the same way."

WHITE SOX: They were able to get Charles Johnson and Harold Baines without significantly changing their mix or giving up any of their best young players. So the White Sox sure didn't get worse.

But do they need one more big-time experienced arm to get them through October? The people we talked to think so. And one scout even said that while Charles Johnson is an offensive upgrade at catcher, "he might be the wrong guy to handle a young pitching staff. In Baltimore, Mussina and Erickson pretty much called their own games. But this staff needs a catcher to guide them through the game. And I'm not sure that's this guy's greatest strength."

CARDINALS: There's nothing wrong with what the Cardinals did. It's the story beneath one of those moves that raises the red flags.

If they're trading for Will Clark, said an NL exec, "that tells you they're really worried about McGwire."

Clark is "actually swinging the bat better than he has in a couple of years," said one scout. And Jason Christiansen "has a chance to really help them" as a lefthander out of the 'pen. Mike Timlin, who knows? And Carlos Hernandez is an improvement behind the plate. But if McGwire doesn't return, "that's an offensive piece they can't replace," said one scout.

MARINERS: They've been looking for another outfield bat since spring training. Four months later, they wound up with . . . Al Martin?

They couldn't get the guys they really wanted -- Juan Gonzalez, Jeromy Burnitz, Johnny Damon. They couldn't even get Dmitri Young. So Martin, in the words of one scout, was "their consolation prize."

But this is still one of the deepest teams around. "And they didn't give up any of their pitching," said an NL scout, "which is their strength." So this is still a very formidable club.

ATHLETICS: They made one tremendous move in picking up Jim Mecir from Tampa Bay.

But the A's had hoped to do more. They almost had John Wetteland and David Segui at one point. Then they hooked up with the Reds, Rockies and Blue Jays on the final day to piece together a four-team extravaganza that would have brought them back Scott Williamson from Cincinnati. Only that one fell apart, too. And several teams turned down Matt Stairs for pitching at the deadline.

So Mecir makes them better. But are they good enough to hold on?

GIANTS: They didn't set out to do much. And they didn't do much. Doug Henry for Scott Linebrink. That's a wrap. But they'll probably add Joe Nathan to their set-up crew. And they might just win, anyway.

DODGERS: Ismael Valdes and Tom Goodwin. They're an upgrade on Erig Gagne and Devon White. But are those the kinds of moves that springboard a team to rip through the stretch drive on the way to October? You've got us.

Jayson Stark is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Jayson Stark archive

Stark: Surhoff a 'great fit' for Atlanta

Starting over: O's deal Surhoff, Clark before deadline

Cubs acquire Expos' White; trade H-Rod

Trade roundup: Martin to Mariners