Back on March 12 of this year, Aaron Gordon and I decided we'd had enough.
Sportswriters were asking questions they couldn't possibly answer about the upcoming baseball season and, even more galling, they were answering those unanswerable questions with the aid of their own intellect and without the greatest predictor of future events mankind has yet conceived of: the Magic 8 Ball.
We decided to rectify that. The results were inspiring. The Magic 8 Ball foretold Grady Sizemore's return to greatness, the Yankees missing the playoffs for the second straight season and the Rangers going 0-162.
It also foretold that Sizemore was finished, that the Yankees would make the playoffs, and that the Rangers would end up 162-0. As long as you count the right answers, and only the right answers, the 8 Ball was perfect.
It is that perfection I seek to point directly at the trade deadline. Sportswriters are asking questions. They need help! Who will be dealt? Where will they go? What will the return be?
These are all unknowable questions. Unless you have a Magic 8 Ball. And I do.
It's go time.
MLB Daily Dish asks: Will the Red Sox trade ace pitcher Jon Lester?
The Magic 8 Ball Says: My Reply Is No
Expecting the Red Sox to trade Jon Lester is just silly. The human capacity for self-delusion is overwhelming. It's like presenting an award to Donald Trump, pointing him towards a podium and expecting grace, competence and clarity. Reading that sentence, such an expectation sounds ridiculous, and yet it happens all the time. The Red Sox want to believe they can win this season. They won last season, and the names on the backs of their jerseys are mostly unchanged. So, of course it can happen again! Forget the standings, forget the statistics, forget the objective reality, and focus on the fact that the team has won eight of its last 10 headed into Wednesday night. They removed a renowned obstreperous burden in clubhouse by cutting A.J. Pierzynski, a move that coincided with this small stretch of winning, and that rolls into a narrative as huggable and desirable as a small child's teddy bear at night. My point: the Red Sox need Lester or the monsters in the closet will get them.
So no, of course the Red Sox won't trade Lester. He's the ace of the staff for
a team that fancies itself a contender. And contenders don't trade ace pitchers, even when the contender has all but stated the pitcher won't be re-signed and even when the contender is only contending for a spot in a coin flip game or, more likely, a berth in the imaginary playoffs. "Welcome to Fenway Park for the first game of today's playoff series, where the Boston Red Sox face the monsters from the hall closet."
"Gosh, Magic 8 Ball, that was profoundly negative. It's entirely possible the Red Sox will re-sign Jon Lester, in which case it makes sense to keep him."
Well, yeah. That's possible. Sure. I guess.
The Orioles are in first place, but they still kinda suck. Peter Schmuck questions if they should add talent?
The Magic 8 Ball Says: As I See It Yes
If you were to liken the Orioles to an actor, it might be Steven Seagal. He kicks a little butt from time to time and he plays the lead in a lot of movies, but all that is really incidental to the fact that he's kind of awful. The Orioles are the same way. They're traditionally bad (as in the last few decades) but every once in a while they kick some butt (Chris Davis, Adam Jones) and every so often they find themselves as the lead actor in a movie you won't see unless you're departing from O'Hare after 10 p.m.
This year they're sort of okay, and that's good enough for first place in the suddenly diminished AL East. Why not double down on the best hand at the table? Well lots of reasons really, but let's ignore them and yes absolutely double down, Orioles! Their rotation sort of stinks and Kevin Gausmann alone probably won't get it done so how about adding someone else? Sure! And a starting catcher would be nice, now that Matt Wieters has taken his talents to the big operating table in South Beach. With the Yankees and Red Sox essentially dead in the water (though it appears neither knows this yet) and the Rays possibly about to sell and the Blue Jays doing some serious Blue Jaying, the time to strike is now, and it almost doesn't matter how great or lousy Baltimore's roster is.
Think about it this way: if every other movie released in 1988 was like Showgirls, Above the Law would have won the Oscar for Best Movie. Even so, there's no harm in picking up a better Key Grip and upgrading the catering. Almost anything is worth it if it lets them break a table over someone's head while they're not looking just one last time.
Jerry Crasnick wonders if Cliff Lee will be traded, or is he too old, rusty, and expensive?
The Magic 8 Ball Says: Signs Point To Yes
Cliff Lee is old and looks older. He has a old guy beard complete with white specks like salt spilled on a wood table, a gaunt face that brings to mind a high school English teacher, and a fastball that should probably have the word "fast" removed from the title. And like many old people, he's occasionally flatulent. But that's not in and of itself an undesirable package. Independent of financial issues, Lee is probably a very desirable pitcher. But Lee is in no way independent of financial issues. Lee's presence is very financially dependent, with about $10 million more due this season, $25 million next season, and either $27.5 million in 2016 or a $12.5 million buyout.
So trading him will be more about the money and less about the player. Can the team that trades for Lee afford him, will they take on the entirety of his contractual obligations, or will the Phillies be forced to kick in money, and if so, how much? These are great questions, but sadly I didn't ask the Magic 8 Ball any of those great questions. I only asked if he will be traded and the Magic 8 Ball, being the most literal of any of the spherical predictors of future events, answered that question. So the 8 Ball thinks Lee will be dealt, but as to the financial implications, we'll probably need a Magic Ball with a larger number. Do they make a Magic 8,000 Ball?
A group of MLB.com columnists (or is it a gaggle?) ask the eternal question, will David Price be dealt?
The Magic 8 Ball Says: Yes Definitely
The Rays are one of the more analytical front offices in baseball. They won't be taken in by a simple winning streak. They have computers and calculators and probably even computers with calculators! They'll look at the number of teams ahead of them in the standings and how far behind that group they are. They'll then assess their chances of reaching the post-season, and weigh that against the high quality prospects that they'd surely receive in return for David Price … and pull the trigger. Sure there might be some back and forth internally, but when the option to acquire some franchise talent is presented and compared to making an improbable run to what would likely be, at best, a wild card berth, the Rays front office will wince, throw back the rest of their tomato juice, and say yes. I'm sure of it. How do I know? A Magic 8 Ball told me.