Here are some teams who stepped forward:
Astros: James Click added solid pieces to an already strong team. With Jason Castro out for the season following knee surgery, trading for Christian Vázquez to split time with Martin Maldonado was a smart move.
Maldonado and Vázquez know each other from Puerto Rico and there won’t be a rivalry for playing time. Vázquez’s 25 games of playoff experience were a significant plus, too.
“He was somebody we targeted as meeting our needs,” Click said.
Trey Mancini, a good hitter whose skills were wasted as the Orioles tanked, provides pop at first base. The home run he pulled to left field against the Red Sox on Wednesday was a good sign. Minute Maid Park suits his swing well.
The Astros also picked up lefty reliever Will Smith, who threw four scoreless innings against them in the World Series last season while a member of the Braves.
Smith described his season to date as “not so hot” and is eager to hear what pitching coaches Josh Miller and Bill Murphy have planned in terms of adjustments. Houston’s bullpen needed a lefty and Smith is capable of getting big outs in pressure spots.
Orioles: Mike Elias did not let the team’s success change his plan. He traded Jorge Lopez and Mancini and stayed focused on the future. The Orioles went into the weekend 54-51, which is two more victories than they had all of last season.
Phillies: Dave Dombrowski, always in win-now mode, obtained David Robertson and Noah Syndergaard to improve both the bullpen and rotation. Philadelphia also fortified its defense with outfielder Brandon Marsh and infielder Edmundo Sosa.
Reds: Nick Krall, who deserves to work for better owners, did what the GM of a bad team is supposed to do. He traded players who otherwise would be long gone by the time Cincinnati is competitive again for 10 prospects.
Twins: Adding a starter (Cincinnati’s Tyler Mahle) and two relievers (Orioles closer Lopez and Tigers righthander Michael Fulmer) was just what they needed in a pennant race against the Guardians and White Sox.
You can make a case statistically that Mahle was one of the better starters traded.
Padres: Here’s to A.J. Preller, who’s not afraid to incur the wrath of the Prospect Industrial Complex by trading young talent for major league proven talent such as Juan Soto, Josh Hader, Josh Bell, and Brandon Drury.
The Padres are the only pro team left in San Diego. Why not capture the attention of the eighth-largest city in America while you have a chance?
San Diego owner Peter Seidler is proof that owning a team can be about competitive zeal as opposed to a rigid adherence to “sustainability” or some other buzzword.
Imagine being Bob Melvin? After 11 seasons with the low-budget Athletics, he now manages a team that is determined to win.
Yankees: They improved their rotation by landing Frankie Montas and their bullpen with the additions of underrated Scott Effross and Lou Trivino.
The most interesting deal was sending back-end starter Jordan Montgomery to St. Louis for injured Gold Glove center fielder Harrison Bader.
Bader, out since late June with plantar fasciitis, has time to prepare himself for October. An outfield of Badar, Andrew Benintendi, and Aaron Judge can make a difference in the postseason and allows manager Aaron Boone to keep Giancarlo Stanton at DH.
These were some teams you wondered about:
Blue Jays: The bullpen additions — Anthony Bass, Zach Pop, and Mitch White — should help. But Toronto didn’t chase down the bigger names.
Cubs: Effross has five years of control remaining and was dealt but Willson Contreras and Ian Happ stayed? All that did was create hard feelings.
White Sox: Their big addition was Jake Diekman, whom Red Sox fans weren’t particularly upset about losing given his 30 walks in 38⅓ innings.
Rays: Trading for Contreras — or another catcher — would have been a seismic move. They worked the margins instead. But the Rays typically do not make mistakes.
Red Sox: They’re sellers. They’re buyers. They’re after a playoff spot. They’re preparing for the future. What they have for sure is a confused clubhouse and angry fans.
Trading Christian Vázquez was a puzzling move for Chaim Bloom. The catcher had put together two consecutive solid seasons at the plate while emerging as a team leader.
Bogaerts may be souring on Sox
Xander Bogaerts is very much a product of his native Aruba, which bills itself as One Happy Island.
The Red Sox shortstop lights up every room he enters, literally patting backs and fist-bumping his way around to let everybody know he’s there if you need him. His disposition is always set to sunny.
Until lately. The trade of Christian Vázquez had Bogaerts so downcast that he was careful about what he said to reporters to avoid sparking a controversy.
Bogaerts also sees another season slipping away while he’s in his prime. Based on bWAR, he’s the second-most valuable player on the team to Rafael Devers and the Sox are in last place in the AL East.
It seemed like a good bet when he agreed to a contract extension in 2019 that Bogaerts would finish his career with the Sox. But the odds of that are no better than 50-50 now.
There are only seven players left from the 2018 team. Bogaerts is learning, as Mookie Betts and others did, that you have to look out for yourself.
A few other observations on the Sox:
▪ The Braves signing 25-year-old third baseman Austin Riley for 10 years and $212 million isn’t necessarily a blueprint for Rafael Devers. But it does suggest his yearly value is in the range of $25 million-$26 million.
Are the Red Sox willing to pay that? The clock is ticking.
▪ Jackie Bradley Jr. leaves the Red Sox with a World Series ring, a Gold Glove, an ALCS MVP, and an All-Star selection on his résumé. No other player in team history has done that.
He’s also hit 107 home runs in the majors and made approximately $55 million. Add all that up and he’s in a small group of players throughout the majors who can check all those boxes. Bradley also is one of the best defensive outfielders of his generation.
At 32, Bradley has plenty of baseball left. But a .182/.244/.286 line the last two seasons shows there’s a lot of work to do, too.
▪ Wide receivers and tight ends can have a good catch radius, meaning their reach to pull in a pass. It’s not a baseball term, but Eric Hosmer has a great catch radius at first base and Sox infielders will benefit.
▪ Christian Vazquez is a good man. He spotted Brayan Bello having a little hitch in his delivery on Wednesday and motioned to the Red Sox dugout from the Astros dugout that something was wrong.
It was a groin strain, which landed Bello on the injured list.
“There was a catcher on the other side paying a lot of attention, too,” Sox manager Alex Cora said.
▪ If the series against the Royals is any indication, opposing teams are going to run all over the Sox the rest of the season. Kevin Plawecki went into the weekend having thrown out only 3 of 29 base-stealers.
Committing to Jarren Duran in center field will be an issue defensively, too. His weak, off-target throws will lead to extra bases. The lobs back into the cutoff man will eventually result in somebody turning third and scoring without a throw.
▪ Had a great conversation with Brewers bench coach Pat Murphy about Dustin Pedroia’s candidacy for the Hall of Fame.
Murphy, who coached Pedroia at Arizona State, is not an impartial observer. But he acknowledges Pedroia is unlikely to get in via the BBWAA ballot and would have to find his way in through the Contemporary Baseball Committee.
“Hopefully a committee examines what he did as a player, how he changed scouting and what he meant to setting the culture with the Red Sox,” Murphy said. “To me, if you look at the entirety of what he did, he’s a Hall of Famer. He has three rings and was one of the best second basemen of his time.”
Pedroia does indeed have three rings, although he played only three games in 2018. Still, Murphy makes good points.
Pedroia had a career slash line of .318/.376/.449 after the 2016 season. Playing injured over the final 114 games of his career dropped it to .299/.365/.439.
Jay Jaffe’s well-regarded JAWS system rates Pedroia the 19th best second baseman in history. But only six second basemen have been inducted since 1991, none since Craig Biggio in 2015.
“He’s somebody as a voter you’d have to give a lot of thought to,” Murphy said. “I hope he is considered. He was a special player.
▪ Rest in peace, Wilhelmus Abraham Remmerswaal. The former Sox righthander died July 24 at the age of 66 in his native Holland. “Win” was 3-1 with a 5.50 ERA over 22 games from 1979-80.
He was not the first European-born player in the majors. But Remmerswaal was the first player trained in Europe who went to the big leagues. The Sox spotted him pitching for the Dutch National Team in 1973 and signed him in 1975.
Coverage at the time often referred to Remmerswaal as being “eccentric.” In 1981, he left the Pawtucket Red Sox for several weeks. That prompted this passage from Peter Gammons in the Sunday Globe of June 28: “Remmerswaal is a curious person; he reads Sartre in the clubhouse and speaks six languages, but he also can do the damndest things.”
Remmerswaal eventually returned, but ‘81 was his final season. He went on to pitch and coach in Europe. Alcoholism led to health problems later in his life.
Remembering Vin Scully
As a Mets beat writer from 2002-05, one of the highlights was the annual trip to Dodger Stadium because that meant spending time with Vin Scully.
Scully, who died last week at the age of 94, would have his pregame dinner with the other broadcasters, then come over to our table to chat about the Mets and gather notes for the game.
As a native New Yorker, Scully would often tell us about his playing days at Fordham, calling Dodgers games at Ebbets Field or his friendship with Jackie Robinson.
Sitting at that table was akin to taking a class in baseball history and Scully could not have been a better or more engaging professor.
Scully once played a game against Yale and their first baseman, George H.W. Bush, in 1947. When he started calling baseball games in 1950, 87-year-old Connie Mack was managing the Philadelphia Athletics. Mack was born during the Civil War and Scully had met him.
Scully, speaking extemporaneously, told a story better than any of us could hope to write one. His flair for language was poetic and he was as nice a person as you could ever meet.
“No announcer was a better story-teller,” said Joe Castiglione, who has called Red Sox games since 1983. “He was always so gracious when we spoke. He made you feel like you knew him forever.”
The other memory came years later when the Red Sox played a three-game series at Dodger Stadium Aug. 5-7, 2016. Both Scully and David Ortiz had decided to retire after that season.
The Sox presented Scully with a framed cover of the program from the 1949 football game between Maryland and Boston University played at Fenway Park.
That game was the first called by Scully, who was 22. He was not assigned a booth and worked off a table on the press box roof on a blustery day while wearing a thin trench coat.
Scully was sure he had failed miserably. But he handled the assignment so well that Red Barber selected him to call Dodgers games the following spring. The rest is history.
Ortiz, in full uniform, visited the press box before the final game of that series to spend a few moments with Scully. Scully was surprised and thanked Ortiz profusely and congratulated him on his career.
“You’re the legend,” Ortiz told him.
People around the game are mourning the death of Nicole Hazen, who died Thursday at the age 45 from brain cancer. The wife of Arizona GM and former Red Sox executive Mike Hazen, she had four sons (Charlie, John, Teddy, and Sam) and was a beloved teacher at St. Francis Xavier elementary school in Phoenix. “We remain forever grateful for the love, support and random acts of kindness bestowed upon us for the last two years and four months,” the family said in a statement … Old friend Sandy León was traded from Cleveland to Minnesota at the deadline. He started against Detroit on Wednesday and was 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs. Five Twins pitchers allowed one run and struck out 14. Sudden Sandy is now with his fifth team. He still doesn’t hit much but he’s valued for his defense and ability to get the most out of pitchers … Tigers lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez has returned to the team after an absence of nearly seven weeks because of a marital issue and is building back up in the minors. The Tigers hope he’ll be back in the rotation by late August. Rodriguez will forfeit approximately $4.5 million for his stint on the restricted list … What is it with baseball players? The Yankees held Old Timers Day last weekend but didn’t play the usual game because too many of the players weren’t vaccinated. Meanwhile, it’s a bad look for the Royals that Whit Merrifield didn’t go to Toronto for a four-game series in July, then agreed to get vaccinated once he was traded to the Jays … The ever-puzzling Rockies were the only team not to make a trade from July 1 to Aug. 2 … Happy birthday to Edgar Renteria, who is 46. He played shortstop for the Red Sox in 2005, hitting .276 with 70 RBIs. Renteria was then traded to Atlanta for Andy Marte, who was subsequently flipped to Cleveland in the deal that brought back Coco Crisp. Greg Pirkl is 52. He played two games for the Sox in 1996 and was 0 for 2 as a pinch hitter. Those were his last at-bats in the majors.