ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.
You know what this trade deadline exemplifies, more than anything else?
There are fewer suckers in baseball than there used to be.
Baseball front offices have been getting smarter for years, thanks to the advent of statistical analysis and the changing dynamic of a general manager from "former player" to "well-educated administrator." It's more difficult to rob fellow GMs blind than it used to be.
We have some losers on our annual "Trade deadline winners and losers" list. But we have considerably more winners. So without further ado . . .
1 Texas. For a bankrupt team, the Rangers sure did move and shake. GM Jon Daniels, a Queens native, used his massive inventory of talented minor-leaguers - one he had built up in the last four seasons - to acquire ace Cliff Lee and complementary pieces Jorge Cantu and Cristian Guzman.
2 San Diego. They are the penny-pinching Padres no more, not after taking on Ryan Ludwick and his salary (and big bat). Wow. At this point, you'd bet on Adrian Gonzalez staying with the Padres through next year, too. Miguel Tejada could get energized by returning to a pennant race.
3 Dodgers. They could regret giving up some of the minor-league pieces for Ted Lilly, Scott Podsednik and Ryan Theriot. But with the organization's long-term status in doubt, thanks to the McCourts' divorce and Joe Torre's impending free agency, kudos to them for going for it. Lilly and Podsednik should help.
4 Philadelphia. They'd still be better off with Cliff Lee than with Roy Oswalt, and who will ever understand why they traded Lee last December? Nevertheless, the Oswalt trade represents a nice recovery, and they didn't really give up much of consequence.
5 Angels. They're pretty much toast this year, yet they picked up Dan Haren for a song, and Haren gives them a frontline starting pitcher under control through 2013.
6 Yankees. They undoubtedly improved their roster, on paper, by scrounging through other teams' trash. The bet here is that one or more of Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns and Kerry Wood helps in October. And that the team now will hit a momentary dip as it attempts to integrate all of its new players into the mix.
8 St. Louis. Ludwick for Westbrook isn't exactly a fair swap. Then again, that's not the full swap. The Cardinals get prospect Nick Greenwood and some dough, and you just know that after about a week at the Dave Duncan Advanced School for Pitchers, Westbrook will look like a Cy Young Award candidate.
9 Cubs. They did well for themselves in the Dodgers' deal for Lilly and Theriot.
1 Houston. Teams besides the Phillies were miffed about how much money the Astros gave to Philadelphia to help pay for Oswalt. And the Phillies' National League competitors were upset over how little the Phillies gave to get him. The return from the Yankees on Berkman underwhelmed, too.
2 Arizona. Their Haren trade screamed "financial desperation!" A very low return for a very good pitcher.
3 Minnesota. Ramos went from a trade chip for Lee to a trade chip for Capps. That's not good.
4 Atlanta. Seems as though the Braves gave up an impressive stock of prospects for an outfielder who doesn't get on base enough in Ankiel and a thoroughly unreliable reliever in Farnsworth.