This new one game play-in to get to the post season as the official wild card team has now placed a premium on the division title that there hasn’t really been before. Still, despite their injuries, the Yankees look primed to run away and hide with the AL East title and leave everyone fighting for scraps as they continue to plod along into August with their 6.5 game lead over the surprisingly +.500 Baltimore Orioles. So unless something happens between now and the end of the season, the wild card will keep more teams in the hunt longer (and really, just avoiding the inevitable), but perhaps has also altered the trade market in ways that we should have seen coming.
The wild card standings are tight. As of today:
- Detriot and Oakland tied
- Angels .5 games back
- Baltimore 1 game back
- Tampa Bay 2 games back
- Boston 4.5 games back
- Toronto 5 games back
and so on. And I think it’s worth mentioning that the shockingly bad Boston Red Sox as well as the Jose Bautista-less Toronto Blue Jays are both under .500, so it’s tough for me to consider them viable playoff teams. Still, with 2 months to play and about 4 games back, why would the Red Sox want to be sellers at the trade deadline? Crazier things have happened, and they have the talent to make a serious run. I don’t think they will, but who knows. It’s easy for a club to have that attitude, and ultimately, this second wild card has turned sellers to buyers and brought in these other so called contenders who will stand pat, as they’re probably not good enough to make the playoffs but not bad enough to count themselves out.
And that’s what I’m saying – ultimately, with less sellers, the good teams will have a harder time getting better. With a bigger marketplace for sellers to make a trade, they’ll crank up the asking price, and teams won’t pay the outlandish rates, so everybody loses. The crappy teams keep the good player and the good teams go forward with what they have. This wasn’t much of a problem for the Yankees, who don’t have a lot of giant holes, but I’m sure this hurt somebody, somewhere. I believe I read that the Red Sox and Texas Rangers were talking about a blockbuster deal that fell apart because the Red Sox got prospect greedy, and I think that’s going to be the lay of the land going forward. Whether or not this is good for baseball is too early to tell, but I don’t think that keeping false hope alive for a team like the Red Sox does a service to anyone, nor does thinning out the trade market.
It should be noted that the Marlins and the Dodgers did a big deal, and the Yankees did land Ichiro (who is something of a shell of his former self, but still… ICHIRO!)… oh and the Angels got a big pitcher, too…