CLEVELAND, OH: Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez #30 of the Cleveland Indians pitches during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
A month's worth of perspective. Oh, what some teams would do at the trading deadline to see a month into the future. Heck, they wouldn't even need to see anything except a simple set of standings from September 1st. Just a quick peek at the ol' games-back column. Some GMs would give their first-born for a quick peek. That's not saying much because their first-borns spend their days texting their thumbs raw and listening to the rap music. But you get the point.
That's not how it works, though. July 31st comes quickly, and teams have to decide what they're willing to give up for some help for the next two months. And on or around September 1st, there are a few GMs who have some serious buyer's remorse. It's not as simple as looking at which teams fell out of a race. The Cardinals fell out of their race, but they didn't give up a prospect of note for Rafael Furcal, who wants to re-up with them. The Pirates acquired Ryan Ludwick and Derrek Lee before losing eleventy-six games out of eleventy-seven, but they were avoiding the mass alienation that might have come with a stand-pat strategy.
There are teams who almost certainly wish they had a do-over, though. Here are three teams who might have approached the trading deadline just a little differently if they knew what they know now.
San Francisco Giants
Let's get the obvious one out of the way. The Giants traded their best pitching prospect -- one of the better pitching prospects in baseball, actually -- for two months of Carlos Beltrán. It seemed like a decent idea until Beltran went on the disabled list with a strained everything. And then when he came back, he exhibited a penchant for not doing anything with runners on base. He's raking in September, but it's too late for the fading Giants.
Even worse might have been the decision to give up anything at all for two months of Orlando Cabrera, who has hit worse since coming over from Cleveland, which is hard for a quadruped with four working limbs to accomplish. He's also been inconsistent with the glove, which is completely unacceptable. Cabrera making errors reminds me of the Mitch Hedberg joke about tightrope walkers. That's, like, the whole point of your existence.
Ubaldo Jimenez wasn't a rental. That was the idea. He's signed for two more years at a below-market rate, and it's hard to acquire pitchers like that. But helping the Indians in 2011 was a big, big reason why the Indians wanted Ubaldo.
He's been a confusing pitcher so far with the Indians, posting a 5.27 ERA (that's bad), but striking out 10 hitters for every nine innings pitched (that's good), while allowing seven home runs in 41 innings (that's bad, and the home runs contained potassium benzoate). The book isn't closed yet -- it's barely been pitched to the publisher yet -- but considering that the Indians are struggling to stay over .500 now, you have to believe they're wondering what the future would look like with Alex White and Drew Pomeranz.
This is the team that's here not because they lost after the deadline, but because they didn't stop winning. They didn't stand pat at the deadline, acquiring Brad Ziegler and Jason Marquis, but they were pretty reserved. They were contending a little ahead of schedule, and they didn't want to make any ridiculous moves that would compromise the organizational blueprint. Made sense.
But now they're not contending with the Giants. They're contending with the Brewers, Braves, and Phillies. Knowing that, it's possible that they might have wanted to upgrade in a big way. Nuts to Brad Ziegler, hello Mike Adams. Thanks for the fifth-starter memories, Marquis, and let's see if there's a way to weasel into those Edwin Jackson discussions. Those players might not be a perfect fit, but if Arizona knew they were going to make the playoffs, it's possible they would have made a larger deal.