Question: Which major league teams haven’t made a trade in the past month or so?
Answer: The Colorado Rockies, Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds.
One of those teams is not like the others. Colorado and Philadelphia are more than 15 games out of first place in their division. That means the complete list of major league baseball teams who are in contention that haven’t yet made a move to improve is: The Cincinnati Reds
That’s it. That’s the list.
Why did every other contending team make at least one trade? Mid-season acquisitions can fill roster gaps and boost the morale of the club.
Edmund Burke probably didn’t have the St. Louis Cardinals in mind (at least the post-Chris Carpenter/Tony LaRussa Cardinals) when he said it. But his famous warning from a different context still resonates here: All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
Yet the July 31 trade deadline passed. And the August 31 revocable waiver trade deadline passes at midnight tonight and Reds’ General Manager Walt Jocketty has accomplished exactly that.
Do the Reds have needs? Yes, big and small. They’ve had their share of injuries and the active roster is replete with disappointments. Ryan Ludwick, Jonathan Broxton, Sean Marshall, Johnny Cueto, right off the top. Maybe a major trade wasn’t warranted, but the Reds haven’t made even a teeny tiny one. Jocketty hasn’t figured out a way to add a single player that could improve the Reds’ 25-man roster.
Not a relief pitcher with a better strikeout or walk rate than Logan Ondrusek or a lefty with a better track record than Zack Duke.
Not a middle infielder with a better bat than .172/.232/.207 to replace Cesar Izturis.
Not a third baseman with a better bat than .215/.324/.273 to replace Jack Hannahan.
Sure, there are plenty of explanations and excuses. The Reds’ minor league system is relatively short on trade chips. Trading was more difficult this year because of rule changes on free agency and compensations picks. The second wild card slot gives more teams hope to contend. The other teams were making unreasonable demands. Ludwick, Broxton and Marshall will be back, good as new, just you wait. Schottzie ate our homework.
Consider all those rationalizations. Then refresh your memory of the rather short list of contending teams that failed to make a trade. Somehow, other GM’s got something done.
The Detroit Tigers acquired a starting shortstop and front-line reliever. The Texas Rangers acquired Matt Garza and Alex Rios. The Orioles made three trades, so did the Kansas City Royals and the Atlanta Braves. The Pittsburgh Pirates found a starting outfielder and a backup catcher. All told, more than 30 trades were completed.
The Reds’ inaction is a head scratcher. Walt Jocketty is successful, experienced, talented, driven and hard-working. As the Reds’ GM, he’s had his share of missteps, but also many great triumphs. It’s difficult to understand the apparent complacency.
But it looks like the Reds are about to enter the final few weeks of the season with the same flawed roster they’ve struggled with for months.