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Let’s share the worst MLB trade deadline takes we ever had

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Did you think a trade was dumb, and it turned out to be great? Did you get excited about a trade that turned out to be horrible? We’re here to listen, not judge.

Toronto Blue Jays v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Max Muncy is hitting like Willie Stargell, and we’re supposed to pretend to know how this stupid sport works.

But not knowing that a breakout player is going to break out is just one of the ways baseball messes with you. There’s also the shame of completely whiffing on your analysis of a trade or a signing. I’ll keep reminding the world of my awful Nelson Cruz take because I deserve it. There’s something so pleasingly arrogant about snap analysis after a big transaction, and we keep doing it because there is no real punishment for our hubris.

The MLB Trade Deadline is almost here, which means it’s a good time to look back and roast our stupid opinions from years ago. Note that you can’t make fun of the trades that didn’t happen, or your fake trades that seem lopsided with the benefit of hindsight. For example, a couple of years ago, I suggested that the Dodgers should trade Corey Seager and Joc Pederson for David Price, which was dumb. But maaaaaybe the Dodgers would have won the World Series with Price that year. Did you ever think about that, smartypants?

No, focus on the reactions you had to deals at the time. Get it all out. This is a safe space and a judgment-free zone. We all have bad baseball opinions, and it’s time to atone for them.

For example, here are some dumb baseball things that I actually believed ...

The Brewers were going to regret trading Matt LaPorta for a rental

That rental was CC Sabathia, who had one of the truly great post-trade performances in baseball history. After a shaky first start, Sabathia pumped out three straight complete games, and he put up a 1.65 ERA in his 17 starts, which was a big deal back in in 2008. It’s a big deal now, too, but it was DEFINITELY a big deal at the tail end of the Mitchell Report Era.

To get him, though, the Brewers had to give up Matt LaPorta, who was absolutely everything that post-James baseball nerds were trained to love. He was a high-OBP thumper with a high first-round pedigree. Position? We don’t need no stinkin’ positions. Gimme those walks and gimme those dingers. Before the 2008 season, he was the 23rd-best prospect in baseball according to Baseball America. He put up a 1065 OPS in his introduction to professional baseball, and he was crushing the ball in Double-A when the Brewers traded him for a rental.


Turns out that [checks] LaPorta wasn’t the next Jim Thome. After some low-average seasons with the Indians, he pootered out and drifted away. While Sabathia didn’t exactly lead the Brewers to the promised land, I probably shouldn’t have been concerned with the slugger they gave up.

They also traded a player to be named later for Sabathia, but it’s not like that was going to make a difference.

Yu Darvish was going to make the Dodgers unstoppable

This one I actually published, like a dingus. The Dodgers were reportedly choosing between Justin Verlander, Sonny Gray, and Yu Darvish, and I ranked them accordingly:

  1. Yu Darvish
  2. Sonny Gray
  3. Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander was done. Finished. He was a high-4s ERA guy now, and he was owed a lot of money, to boot.

Gray was young and controllable. Even as he was buried under a pile of red flags, that’s the guy the Dodgers would want.

Unless they would want the proven ace, the guy who would benefit most from coming to Dodger Stadium. Yes, even though he was just a rental, this is who the Dodgers needed. This was finally the win-now move they’d been tip-toeing around for years. They were invincible. They am become death, destroyer of postseasons. In his first start with his new team, Darvish was absolutely dominant.

Then Darvish had one of the worst World Series performances in history. Maybe the worst. And it all came after dominance in the NLDS and NLCS. It was so weird.

And it just so happened that the guy I pooh-poohed was the actual correct answer. Justin Verlander molted and became a Cy Young candidate again, right when the Astros needed it most.

Against the Dodgers.

Which seems ironic, at least in an alanistic sense.

The Dodgers probably should have traded for Justin Verlander instead.


The Red Sox were going to regret trading Nomar Garciaparra

The Red Sox did not regret trading Nomar Garciaparra.

The exact trade was strange — a four-team deal with a lotta ins, a lotta outs — but as best as I can figure out, the Red Sox gave up their Face of the Franchise for Doug Mientkiewicz and Orlando Cabrera, which shouldn’t be a sentence that aged well.

And yet, do the Red Sox win the World Series without Cabrera’s strong hitting in the ALCS? If you want to go full galaxy-brain, you could say that you don’t know if the Cubs win the World Series with DJ LeMahieu, who was traded away with Tyler Colvin, who was drafted with the pick the Cubs got after Garciaparra stunk the next year. Not that LeMahieu isn’t a good player, but we’re talking butterfly effect here.

The Red Sox steered into the skid, doing something that looked for all the world to be curse-y, and they came out the other side as big-market bullies with all of the haughtiness that three championships bring. This should have been another example of the Red Sox getting stuck in a vending machine, but it ended up being how they broke free of the vending machine.

Carlos Gomez was exactly what the Astros needed to put them over the top

Not only was Gomez the perfect missing piece for the Astros in 2015, but the Mets were fools for letting a little “physical evaluation” scuttle their plans to acquire him. Even though Gomez was struggling that year, his previous three years were electric and excellent. What were the odds that he was in the middle of a serious, prolonged decline?


To get Gomez, the Astros had to trade away Josh Hader, Domingo Santana, and Brett Phillips, all of whom might help a team in the present and future. We can argue about the merits and demerits of a person who took pride in being an absolute asshole online, but the Astros would quietly like to stuff Hader into a sack and bring him back to Houston, controversy and all. Winning is more important than all that icky stuff, after all, and it always will be. Sports!

Gomez was broken, stumbling to a 670 OPS for the rest of the season and flummoxing the Astros the season after that.

The Mets probably would have won the World Series with Gomez, of course. I have no evidence for this, but I believe it to be true. At the very least, we have one of the most Mets things to ever happen because of Gomez:

Imagine crying because you were going to leave the Mets, not the other way around.

The Giants were absolute morons for giving up John Bowker for Javier Lopez

Ah, my crowning trade-deadline meltdown. I’m proud of it now. Before teams turned the postseason into bullpen-manic late-inning festivals of whiffs, the conventional wisdom was simple: Don’t give up too much for relievers. They’re just not that valuable.

And here the Giants were, dealing a power-hitting, low-cost outfielder for a danged LOOGY. My reaction was calm and measured, of course.

If Lopez is perfect, shutting down lefties with runners on at every opportunity, and if the Giants make the playoffs by a single game, maybe this isn’t a complete debacle. Maybe that would give the Giants some kind of value.

So let’s all just hope for that unlikely sequence of events.

Disgusting. Just disgusting.

The Giants won the division by two games, I’ll have you know. They did so with Lopez being utterly dominant in the regular season and postseason, shutting down lefties, just like he was supposed to. Then he hung around and contributed just as mightily for the Giants next two championships. He was like a special Magic: The Gathering card that you could keep in your sock and play whenever it made the most sense.

I award myself bonus points for a freaking Luke Scott comparison breaking the format of the site.

So, yes, I’ve been dumb. And after the trade deadline, I’ll post something about the “winners and losers of the MLB trade deadline,” and it will be useless trash. My only request is that you click on that link and all of the links that will follow because my kids don’t deserve to pay for my sins, and these clicks are putting a roof over their heads.

Now it’s your turn. What were you excited about that flopped? What did you think was a disaster that turned out a-ok? C’mon, be honest. We’re all sharing here.

Tell us about your dumbest trade deadline opinions. Thank you.