Overall, the trades leading up to Wednesday’s non-waiver deadline can be described in one word: anti-climactic.
Cliff Lee and Michael Young stayed put in Philadelphia. Former National Michael Morse stayed in Seattle, even though Texas and Pittsburgh were looking for right-handed power. It turns out there was no market for the Twins’ Justin Morneau.
It’s strange that Bud Norris, traded from Houston to the Orioles Tuesday, will be pitching against his former Astros team in his first American League start Wednesday night for Orioles. It is the second year in a row the Astros have pulled off a trade like this. Last July, the Astros traded pitcher Wandy Rodriguez to the Pirates. After the trade, Rodriguez stayed a day in Houston and then pitched his first game for the Pirates against the Astros in his old home park.
Now here’s my two cents on the deals:
* The Rays picked up the best reliever in the game, Jesse Crain of the White Sox, but the weird part is this: He’s on the disabled list with a shoulder strain. The Rays are counting on their medical staff to get him ready for the final two months, and if he comes back in his All-Star form, he’ll join a rock-solid bullpen. Crain will help cut the workload of Joel Peralta, a key for the Rays down the stretch.
* The Tigers were thinking ahead when they got shortstop Jose Iglesias from Boston. Iglesias will take over if Jhonny Peralta, the Tigers’ shortstop, is suspended for his possible involvement in Biogenesis. Iglesias is a top-notch defensive player and was once the Red Sox’s future shortstop. He doesn’t hit, but the Tigers have enough offense anyway. ... Also the Tigers acquired reliever Jose Veras, who is a good story because he signed late with the Astros, became a closer for the first time and then got traded to a World Series contender. He’ll pitch the seventh inning for the Tigers.
* The Orioles acquired pitchers Scott Feldman, Norris and Francisco Rodriguez, not an easy accomplishment. But given the team has used 22 pitchers this season, they are going to need all the depth they can get. And the addition of Norris means Jason Hammel doesn’t have to rush back from the disabled list. The Orioles might have good depth for the final six weeks.
* If Jake Peavy stays healthy - and that’s been a question with him for years - the Red Sox got a huge boost to their rotation. Peavy, the 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner, has just come off the disabled list because of broken ribs, but the Red Sox were in need: Jon Lester is inconsistent and Clay Buchholz is hurt. They need more than just John Lackey, Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront.
* The Yankees needed the right-handed power of Alfonso Soriano, who last played for the Yankees in the 2003 World Series. The Bronx Bombers have been anything but the bombers in the last two months. Soriano hit eight home runs in July and he’ll hit some home runs in pinstripes, but let’s face it: The Yankees are still too old to make a serious run at the playoffs.
* The Braves came close to getting the Yankees’ Phil Hughes, but it didn’t work out. They added lefty reliever Scott Downs, who made a good first impression with his new teammates. He was the winning pitcher in his first game Monday night even though he arrived at Turner Field 10 minutes after the game started. Braves catcher Evan Gattis had to ask Downs what he threw because he had never seen him pitch. For the record, Downs’ best pitch is a sinker.
* The biggest steal was by a non-contender, the Padres, when they picked up starter Ian Kennedy from the Diamondbacks in a deal that included reliever Joe Thatcher. Kennedy, 28, received NL Cy Young votes in 2011 when he was 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA. This year, Kennedy’s ERA is at 5.23, but Padres manager Buddy Black says that Kennedy is just an adjustment or two away from returning to form.