Hey! Remember the 2000’s? It was a crazy time! When the decade began, we didn’t know who Tom Brady was, LeBron James was only 15 years old and Sue Bird hadn’t even won a collegiate or professional championship yet. It was also the start of 10 years of narratives in Major League Baseball that deserve a retrospective. So, let’s go back to examine five trades that occurred in the 2007 offseason that would shape the next five World Series matchups.
The Houston Astros trade Brad Lidge and Eric Bruntlett to the Philadelphia Phillies for Geoff Geary, Michael Bourn and Mike Costanzo on November 7th, 2007
The 2007 Phillies won the NL East but were swept by the Colorado Rockies in the NLDS. Philadelphia had a devastating lineup with Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and a certified ace in Cole Hamels. But the ‘07 team had a lackluster bullpen they needed to shore up if they wanted to take the next step in their quest for a championship.
Enter Brad Lidge who had saved 123 games while striking out 561 hitters in 401 innings with the Astros.
The Minnesota Twins trade Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett and Eddie Morlan to the Tampa Bay Rays for Brendan Harris, Delmon Young and Jason Pride on November 28th, 2007
The Tampa Bay baseball team had never won more than 70 games in the first 10 years of its existence. It takes a big move to escape that kind of downward spiral, which is what the Rays did. Tampa traded Delmon Young, a former #1 overall pick who had just finished 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting, for Garza and Bartlett.
Both players would become vital pieces to a deep postseason run, while Young would be a 1 WAR player over four seasons in Minnesota.
The Florida Marlins trade Miguel Cabrera & Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers for Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Cameron Maybin, Dallas Trahern, Eulogio DeLaCruz and Mike Rabelo on December 4th, 2007
The 2003 Florida Marlins won the World Series with the help of two pivotal rookies in Willis and Cabrera. The Marlins averaged less than 79 wins over the next four seasons and upcoming pay raises forced the team to deal their emerging stars.
The Tigers had lost the 2006 World Series but needed to add some young firepower to their roster in order to remain a championship contender moving forward.
The San Diego Padres trade David Freese to the St. Louis Cardinals for Jim Edmonds on December 14th, 2007
Edmonds played eight seasons in St. Louis, hitting 241 home runs with a .285/.393/.555 slash line and 37.9 WAR. He also won six Gold Gloves. However, after the 2007 season the Cardinals clearly felt the 37-year-old was on the decline and dealt him for a young player in Freese who wasn’t even viewed as a top 100 prospect.
The Cincinnati Reds trade Josh Hamilton to the Texas Rangers for Edinson Volquez and Danny Herrera on December 21st, 2007
Hamilton was the #1 overall pick by Tampa Bay in the 1999 draft. Off-field issues delayed his development for several years before he eventually ended up on the Reds. He had a solid rookie season in Cincinnati hitting 19 home runs in 90 games with a .292/.368/.554 slash. The Reds then chose to deal Hamilton that offseason for Volquez, who would win 17 games for Cincy in 2008.
THE WORLD SERIES EFFECTS
2008 – The Philadelphia Phillies (w/ Brad Lidge) defeat the Tampa Bay Rays (w/ Matt Garza & Jason Bartlett)
The Rays-Twins deal was a decisive win for Tampa Bay as Bartlett became their starting shortstop throughout the season and even finished 18th in AL MVP voting. But the main piece was Garza who won 11 games during the season and really turned it on in the ALCS vs. the Boston Red Sox. Garza got the win in Game 3 and then pitched a gem in Game 7 going seven innings with 1 earned run and 9 strikeouts.
The Phillies 07 trade proved to bear a bit more fruit though as Lidge dominated in the postseason. Lidge saved 9 of the Phillies’ 11 playoff wins and didn’t allow an earned run in the NLCS nor the World Series. He also got the save in the deciding game of the World Series and had the special moment of throwing the last pitch of the season.
2009 – The New York Yankees defeat the Philadelphia Phillies (w/ Brad Lidge)
Ok, so that didn’t last long. As baseball has seen time and again, a deep playoff run can have a negative effect on a player’s follow up season. This happened with Lidge in 2009 when he went 0-8 with a 7.28 ERA. He saved 31 games but blew 11 saves as well.
He seemed to have turned it around in the postseason securing three saves and a win across five appearances in the NLDS and NLCS. Then came the pivotal Game 4 of the World Series with the Phillies trailing 2 games to 1.
Lidge entered in the top of the 9th with a 4-4 score and got two quick outs. The wheels fell off as the next batters went single/hit by pitch/double/single and three runs came home for New York. The Phillies would take Game 5, but the series ended in Game 6 with a 7-3 Yankees victory.
IMPORTANT NOTE – THIS IS THE ONLY WORLD SERIES THE NEW YORK YANKEES HAVE WON IN THE PAST 20 YEARS
2010 – The San Francisco Giants defeat the Texas Rangers (w/ Josh Hamilton)
Obviously, this Series didn’t work out for the Rangers, but Texas would not have reached the first World Series in franchise history without Hamilton. The 2010 season was his career high point as he was the AL MVP with a .359/.411/.633 slash line.
Hamilton hit 4 home runs with a .350/.536/1.000 slash in the ALCS. But in the World Series he went 2 for 20 and Texas lost the series in five games.
2011 – The St. Louis Cardinals (w/ David Freese) defeat the Texas Rangers (w/ Josh Hamilton)
Hamilton and the Rangers returned to the World Series the following season, but another player stole the show. David Freese had a solid yet unspectacular regular season for the Cardinals in 2011, hitting 4 home runs in 70 games with a .765 OPS. But the postseason was a different story.
Freese was the NLCS MVP as he hit 3 home runs while putting up a .545/.600/1.091 slash. To confirm, in the six games of the 2011 NLCS David Freese had a 1.691 OPS. Then in the World Series Freese was again the MVP with a .348/.464/.696 slash.
His biggest moment came in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 6 with the Cardinals trailing 3-2 in the series and 7-5 in the game. There were runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 outs and Freese was down to his last strike vs. Rangers closer Neftali Feliz, who had saved 72 games combined in 2010 and 2011. Then Freese did this…
2012 – The San Francisco Giants defeat the Detroit Tigers (w/ Miguel Cabrera)
Cabrera had 21.9 WAR in his first four season as a Tiger, but it took until 2012 for his team to make it to the Series. He was the driving force in the AL that season as he won the MVP and the first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Cabrera had an .837 OPS vs. the Giants, but the Tigers offense only produced 6 total runs during the four-game sweep (even being shutout in Game 2 and Game 3). This is not a particularly fascinating write-up, but it was not a particularly fascinating World Series either.
All of these trades in the winter of 2007 didn’t involve the eventual World Series winners. But it’s clear the trajectory of the next five World Series were all changed by moves made between Halloween and Christmas. It’s fair to save the Hot Stove might have burned the hottest during those few months in 2007.
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