The trade deadline is one of the most exciting times of the baseball season. It forces teams to make decisions and trades, and it outlines the future for many teams. The Cubs and Phillies are both dealing some of their best players, looking to rebuild. The Giants are acquiring players for the now. Whatever the strategy may be, it is the climax of the season for many teams. Are they going to look to rebuild and be content with losing for a few years in order to build for the future? Or are they going to go all out this year, looking for the one and done? The trades are sometimes minor, other times shocking. If you ask a 10 casual baseball fans to name 5 players on the Mariners, almost every list would start with Ichiro. He has been their stalwart, the cornerstone of the franchise for 11 years. A perennial All-Star, he was traded like extra baggage. Most fans would probably throw in Felix Hernandez, and a few baseball nuts like me could probably name Mike Carp, Justin Smoak, Franklin Guitierrez. But this is Ichiro we’re talking about. And he’s not the only one. Hanley Ramirez, Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino. Big names are being dealt this deadline. Some teams decide to play it safe, shopping a relief pitcher for a couple of average minor leaguers. No risk, no reward. At the same time, the Giants shopped their best pitching prospect for a 2 month rental of Carlos Beltran, and they didn’t even make the playoffs. In late July, teams have their needs clearly established, and that’s the smartest move. Don’t go for the gold, don’t tiptoe around, just get players you need. The Giants did that, and it’s working out alright. A 35 year old middle infielder who was at best average in his prime for your top second base prospect doesn’t look all that great up front, but it fills a need, as Pablo Sandoval is hurt again and Ryan Theriot can manage for the next couple of years. The Pence trade could turn out to be dynamite for them if Angel Pagan rediscovers his stroke. He was hitting over .300 at one point and although it has dipped to .275, he is very streaky. An outfield of a red-hot Pagan, Melky, and Pence looks very promising for the Giants. Hanley could work out well for the Dodgers, if Dee Gordon proves he’s not ready for the big show yet. Gordon’s fielding needs serious work, putting it mildly. The Yankees need speed and the top of the order and if old Ichiro shows up, the first 6 batters of their lineup is the 2008 All-Star team. So who knows? These trades will have a big impact, whether it’s now or 5 years down the road.