With just a few hours to go before the trade deadline, the San Diego Padres, who entered the year with World Series aspirations, figure to be working the phone lines. The Padres (49-53), who fired Bud Black in June, are seven-and-a-half games out of the Wild Card race.
“Yeah, I do think it’ll be a focus on the Padres today,” former Rockies general manager and current MLB Network analyst Dan O’Dowd said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “They’re in a position now where I think they’ve got to start turning some of the assets they acquired in the winter to assets that they need moving forward. They traded 11 of their top 30 prospects during the winter in the remaking that they did. So I think all eyes will be on the Padres today.”
The Yankees (57-44), meanwhile, have a six-game lead in the AL East, but they may need to make a move or two to be legitimate World Series contenders. That would have been a no-brainer in the days of George Steinbrenner, but, well, times have changed.
“Well, I think they got a really good club,” O’Dowd said, “and I think you try to balance that with the opportunity to try to win this year (versus) developing a core nucleus like they had through their great runs of yesteryear. That’s a fine line to walk. The only way you can get payroll flexibility in this game, which is one of the two most important commodities, is eventually you’ve got to put young players out there not making money to balance that out against all the larger commitments they have.”
Sticking in the AL East, the Blue Jays (52-51) are all-in after acquiring David Price and Troy Tulowitzki this week. Was that the right move for a team that is barely over .500 yet only two games behind the Twins in the Wild Card?
“Yeah, I think in the short-term perspective, they (made the right move),” O’Dowd said. “Like any decision you make, if you go to win now, there’s a long-term consequence to pay for that. But the club hasn’t been to the playoffs in a long, long time.”
The Blue Jays haven’t made the playoffs since winning the World Series in 1993.
“I admire the fact that they didn’t go halfway in the water,” O’Dowd said. “They are now completely over their heads. They’re either going to swim or they’re going to drown, but at least they put themselves in the position to do one of the two.”
Several other AL franchises will have to make that choice today. Six teams, including Toronto, are within four games of the second Wild Card spot.
In general, is it better to make a move with an eye on the postseason, or is it better to sit back, play it safe and see what happens?
“Well, the three most important things a GM has to do constantly is one, you have to have an awareness of your own organization internally,” O’Dowd said. “No. 2, you have to have the ability to see what’s next – not what’s now – and you’ve got to be adaptable. So it’s hard to make a blanket answer to that question because every organization is different, and you’ve really got to have a feel and awareness of what’s going on internally in the organization.”