Did you hear? Nomar was traded!
Wait, what? The Cubs, Expos, and Twins were involved? Who is the new shortstop?
By the time the dust settled on the eight player, four team July 31 deadline deal, Nomar Garciaparra was a member of the Chicago Cubs, Orlando Cabrera was the new shortstop, and the guy from the Twins with the last name that nobody could spell was now on the team.
This was just one of the many thoughts running through the minds of Red Sox fans at the trade deadline in July, 2004. Nomar's departure was imminent, but at the same time no one really expected one of the faces of the franchise to be traded off. At the same time, nobody could have predicted what the haul that was brought back would offer the Red Sox down the stretch.
Though Cabrera had a bunch of errors, his range improved the shortstop position, and Doug Mientkiewicz shored up defense at first base. More importantly, Orlando Cabrera became a fan favorite and solid offensive contributor as well. Despite not having any prior playoff experience, Cabrera had 11 hits in 29 at bats during the 2004 ALCS. Put simply, the trade from that July changed everything for the Red Sox. The team won 42 games and lost 19 during the rest of the season following the trade.
Orlando Cabrera was involved in a trade where it was sort of like catching lightning in a bottle. After just 58 games with the Red Sox he signed a four year deal with the LA Angels of Anaheim. Over the next eight seasons there were several teams that acquired or signed Cabrera with hopes of catching lightning in bottle again. Cabrera's clubs went on to reach the postseason in five different seasons, but neither he nor the teams that employed him were able to come close to the success that the Red Sox had when they acquired OCab from the Montreal Expos.
The Red Sox unloaded Edward Mujica on the Oakland Athletics for cash considerations or a player to be named later. It's doubtful that a future player to be named later will be the next Orlando Cabrera, or even the next Bobby Kielty. However, you never know. Nobody knew that Cabrera or Kielty would play the roles they did when they first arrived on the scene. Perhaps the Red Sox will luck out once again, and lightning will strike!