We're not talking Beltran-to-the-Astros here. This isn't the stuff of Big Unit-to-Houston. (Houston, we have a...history of making unprecedented and ultimately fruitless blockbuster moves at the trade deadline!)
These late-season acquisitions, on paper, and on the Internet, and on the lineup cards of major league managers, seemingly have little to do with the MLB playoffs. And yet, in the David Eckstein-sized sample of the playoffs, each of these nominal roster-fillers has a chance to have, well, an Ecksteinian (2006 World Series MVP!) playoff moment.
Each of these players were signed, promoted, or traded for in the last two months.
Alejando De Aza,
Acquired from the White Sox for two minor leaguers, De Aza is now a part of the team with the big biggest division lead in baseball. Just a year removed from a near-20/20 season (17/20), De Aza is a fine fourth outfielder.
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Though he's only dinged 7 long-balls on the year, the two he cranked on Tuesday reminds us that his 17-homer power is just a year in the past. De Aza's speed makes him a good late-inning pinch-running option as well. Buck Showalter will find creative ways to use De Aza come playoff time.
Beckham, the formerly hyped first round pick, arrived in Los Angeles in late August. The majors' best team does not have any glaring holes in its lineup, so manager Mike Scioscia will deploy Beckham as a platoon infielder and lefty-hitting specialist off the bench (Beckham's batting 90 points better against lefties).
While his inconsistent play cast him out of Chicago, Beckham's bat is still dangerous. In a lineup featuring Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Howie Kendrick, Kole Calhoun, and the entire cast of Angels in the Outfield, that opposing pitchers have to face Beckham in the 8th or 9th hole (or as a late-inning pinch-hitter) ensures he'll get plenty of good pitches to whack at.
Bethancourt was up with the big club for three weeks earlier in the summer, gaining valuable experience, and showing why he is Atlanta's catcher of the future. Already the best defensive catcher the Braves have, and with a bat better than Gerald Laird's, the rookie has started meaningful games during the Braves' wild card chase.
Expect to see Bethancourt catching in Texas this weekend, as Fredi Gonzalez deploys Evan Gattis as the team's DH. If the Braves are to somehow make it to, and advance past, the one game wild-card playoff, Gonzalez would be wise to consider leaving Bethancourt on the playoff roster.
Sure, Pierzynski -- signed by the Cardinals in late July as Yadier Molina insurance -- is old. Molina will, of course, catch every single inning of every Cardinals playoff game for the duration of human existence. But can't you just see the Pierzynski coming off the bench and hitting a home run in, like, the eighth inning of an NLCS game? I can already hear Joe Buck's smugly gleeful call.