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NEWS | Aug. 14, 2009

MLB trade deadline's biggest winners

By Airman 1st Class Patrick McKenna Capital Flyer sports writer

1. St. Louis Cardinals acquired Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa:

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak recognized the Achilles heel of his team was offensive support for Albert Pujols, and did not waste any time to try and remedy that. He went out and made three deals that immediately transformed the Cards into serious contenders to take the National League pennant.

St. Louis acquired infielder Mark DeRosa from Cleveland on June 29, and reeled in the best hitter available, outfielder Matt Holliday, almost a week before the deadline. For good measure, they also brought in shortstop Julio Lugo for a bag of balls (sorry Chris Duncan fans).

Since acquiring Holliday, the Cardinals are 11-6 and have opened up a four game lead over the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.

Adding that much offensive fire power to a team that boasts one of the best starting pitching duos in the NL (Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright) will make this team very dangerous come playoff time.

2. Philadelphia Phillies acquired Cliff Lee:

The defending World Series champs didn't have to make any moves to ensure they'd make the playoffs. They have the second best record in the National League and one of the best offenses in baseball. But the Phillies decided standing pat wasn't good enough if they want to get past the Dodgers and repeat as champions.

While they tried their best to obtain Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays, the Phillies were not willing to include all of their top prospects in the deal. In the end, they walked away and turned their sights on the second best pitcher available, Cleveland's Cliff Lee.

In acquiring Lee, last year's American League Cy Young award winner, Philadelphia not only got a very good pitcher, but one that is signed next year at a bargain price of $8 million.

Getting Lee at that salary for not one, but two pennant races gives the Phillies an opportunity to do what no team has done since 2000, repeat as World Series champions.

3. Boston Red Sox acquired Victor Martinez:

The biggest weakness for the Red Sox was, and still is, their third starter behind Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. While they did nothing to improve that chink in their armor, they did make a nice move to help solidify inconsistent offense by acquiring Victor Martinez from Cleveland.

Martinez (who is signed for relatively cheap money next season) is a powerful switch hitting catcher who can also play some first base. That versatility is exactly what the Red Sox needed.

Not only can Martinez start at catcher a few times a week, giving veteran Jason Varitek a breather, but when he plays first base, Kevin Youkilis will slide over to third, thus giving manager Terry Francona the option of starting either Mike Lowell or David Ortiz at designated hitter. That offensive flexibility will make Boston's bench much more rested and effective.