The trade deadline is here, and, like you, I'll be welded to MLB.com and the MLB Trade Rumors and Twitter all day today. There's always a moment, after a trade is completed, when reality shifts, when you have to clear your head and adjust to the oddity of, say, Kerry Wood on the Yankees, or Randy Johnson on the Astros, or Nomar Garciaparra on the Cubs. That's my favorite part of the trade deadline. For a few days in July, real baseball turns into fantasy baseball.
But what the trade deadline doesn't do, as much as we all try to convince ourselves that it does, is have much say in who wins the World Series. Whoever ends up holding that trophy in late October, on the average, either didn't make a huge trade at the deadline or, if they did, the trade had nothing to do with their championship. (Or sometimes even led them further away from it.)
Let's take a look at the last 10 World Series winners and see what they did at the deadline. You might be surprised.
2013 Boston Red Sox
On July 30 last year, the Sox, a half-game out of first place in the American League East, traded Francellis Montas, Cleuluis Rondon and Jeffrey Wendelken (none of whom have yet to play beyond Double A) to the Chicago White Sox for Jake Peavy. They also sent shortstop Jose Iglesias to Detroit, helping facilitate a deal that sent Avisail Garcia to the White Sox. In other words, they sent out their starting shortstop -- to make room for Xander Bogaerts -- and brought in a back-of-the-rotation starter. Peavy ended up with four wins in 10 starts during the regular season but was knocked around in the ALCS and the World Series, finishing 0-1 with a 7.11 ERA. Suffice it to say: The Red Sox winning the 2013 Series had little to do with Peavy.
2012 San Francisco Giants
This is one of the bigger deals you'll see on this list: In a tight NL West race, the Giants sent Nate Schierholtz, Tommy Joseph and Seth Rosin to Philadelphia for Hunter Pence just before the trade deadline passed. The Phillies had traded for Pence at the 2011 trade deadline but had fallen to the Cardinals in the NLDS and were now shipping him somewhere else. Pence has turned out to be a vital long-term acquisition for the Giants, but it's worth pointing out he wasn't great in 2012 after the trade, hitting .219 down the stretch and .210 in the postseason. Again: The Giants winning the 2012 Series had little to do with Pence.
2011 St. Louis Cardinals
The strange thing about the deadline move the Cardinals made was that they shipped out a young, cost-controlled starter in Colby Rasmus for a bunch of spare parts, most of which weren't even signed beyond that season. Manager Tony LaRussa was openly feuding with Rasmus at the time of the trade, so when the team shipped him to Toronto (along with Trever Miller, Brian Tallet and P.J. Walters) for Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, Mark Rzepczynski and Corey Patterson, it looked like a move made out of spite rather than a desire to improve the team. The trade was wildly panned at the time -- ESPN's Keith Law said, "The Cardinals, meanwhile, have made a terrible organizational move by allowing their aging manager to run off the best hitting prospect the team has produced since drafting Albert Pujols. … The price was just too high, and tells us that their internal emphasis is on their manager instead of their players." -- and looked particularly bad when the Cardinals played under .500 ball for the next month. But we all know what happened after that: The Cards caught fire in September, sneaked into the playoffs and then pulled off one of the most amazing playoff runs in baseball history. (Something Dotel, Jackson and Rzepczynski played a huge part in.) Tony LaRussa retires a champion, Colby Rasmus turned out not to be any sort of superstar. The one trade everyone hated was the one that ended up giving a team a title.
2010 San Francisco Giants
The Giants merely tweaked their bullpen at the deadline in 2010, bringing in left-hander Javier Lopez from Pittsburgh for Joe Martinez and John Bowker. Lopez turned out to be terrific for the Giants, not just that year but for the next four, and he gave up just one run in nine appearances in the postseason. Still: We're talking about a total of 5 2/3 LOOGY innings here. You don't win a World Series because of a LOOGY.
2009 New York Yankees
The Yanks' one July trade was to bring in Jerry Hairston from Cincinnati for bench help. Hairston hit .237 the rest of the season and .222 in the playoffs and was barely noticed. Alex Rodriguez was fantastic, though, and led the Yankees to the World Series title, but apparently no one's supposed to remember that ever happened.
2008 Philadelphia Phillies
Two weeks before the deadline, the Phillies traded Adrian Cardenas, Josh Outman and Matthew Spencer to Oakland for Joe Blanton as an innings eater down the stretch. Blanton went 4-0 in Philly after the trade and ended up winning Game 4 of the World Series. But you won't find many Phillies fans who will claim their team won the World Series because they brought in Joe freaking Blanton.
2007 Boston Red Sox
The only player the Sox brought in that July was Eric Gagne, which is pretty hilarious. This trade is mostly known for what came out later, that Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein knew about Gagne's PED connections but happily traded for him anyway. (Which is fine, of course, considering teams are trying to win championships, not shouting contests with sportswriters, but this was a big story back in 2007.) Gagne was wretched for the Sox in the regular season and the postseason and was out of baseball a year later.
2006 St. Louis Cardinals
On July 5, completely out of rotation options, the Cardinals traded for Jeff Weaver, who had a 6.29 ERA for the Angels and had essentially become the laughingstock of baseball. All told, he wasn't much better for the Cardinals in the regular season -- a 5.29 ERA and the highest walk rate of his career -- and the team fell apart in September, nearly costing themselves the NL Central. Once they made the playoffs, though, they inexplicably took over, particularly Weaver, who had a 2.42 ERA in five postseason starts and was dominant in a Series-clinching Game 5 win over the Tigers. Weaver had been awful for years and was awful for years after he left, but for one October, out of nowhere, he was Cy Young. Baseball is so strange.
2005 Chicago White Sox
The Sox traded for Geoff Blum on deadline day, not exactly setting the baseball world on fire. He batted .200 the rest of the year and had two at-bats in the playoffs. Fortunately for the Sox, one of them was this one:
2004 Boston Red Sox
This might be the most famous trade on this list. The Sox, stunning everyone, shipped out franchise legend Garciaparra, to the Cubs (the team that had just missed the World Series the year before) and received, in a multi-team trade, Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz. In another, minor deal, they brought in Dave Roberts from the Dodgers for Henri Stanley, who never made the majors. You may have some memory of Roberts, Cabrera and Mientkiewicz from the 2004 postseason. Epstein said at the time: "We lost a great player in Nomar Garciaparra, but we've made our club more functional. We weren't going to win a World Series with our defense." This deal, too, was panned at the time: Check out this Baseball Think Factory thread on the deal. My favorite: "I know Garciaparra wasn't to popular in the club house this year but I wonder what effect if any, trading All-Star of his caliber will have on team morale." I think team morale worked out all right for that team.
We obsess over the trade deadline, but history shows us the biggest trades are the smallest ones, and the worst ones the best ones. But mostly: It shows us the vast majority of deadline deals, when it comes to who wins the World Series, don't matter at all.