July 30, 2006
First and foremost, the Yankees acquired Bobby Abreu from the Phillies along with pitcher Corey Lidle; they gave up a package of four minor-leaguers: C.J. Henry, Matt Smith, Jesus Sanchez, and Carlos Monasterios.
This was obviously a great deal for the Yankees - Abreu is a great player, even though his power has declined of late, and Lidle is possibly the best starter on the market (other than Zito). Taking on Abreu's contract would be a big hurdle for most teams, but not the Yankees. Lidle for his part has a very affordable contract. The more interesting subplot of the deal is what it means for Gary Sheffield - when Sheffield comes back in September, he will now most likely DH. And the money that would have gone towards re-signing Sheffield in the offseason is now tied up in Abreu's contract, so it's unlikely he's in pinstripes in 2007.
For the Phillies, this was mostly a salary dump. I believe that, of the four prospects they recieved in return, only Henry is considered to have big-league talent, and he's still a ways away from reaching the pros (he was the Yankees' first-round pick in last year's draft; he's currently playing in single A). But the money that would have been spent on Abreu next year can now be spent on acquiring some pitching during the offseason, and the Phils have some good pieces to build around for the next 6-7 years in Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.
Another deal - the Cardinals and Indians swapped second baseman; Hector Luna goes to Cleveland while Ronnie Belliard heads south. I'm not sure exactly what Walt Jocketty was thinking here - the two have virtually identical batting averages and slugging percentages, Luna is considered the better fielder, and Belliard is five years older than Luna. But maybe he knows something I don't.
More trade news:
There are only four teams left in the hunt for Alfonso Soriano - the Astros, Twins, Angels, and Dodgers. And the Dodgers seem to be almost out of the running at this point. Jim Bowden is asking for a major-league ready pitcher at this point (along with a couple other decent prospects), and so far nobody has stepped up to the plate yet. But Soriano will be traded - the Nats don't want to let him walk without getting all they can get for him. So this essentially becomes a game of chicken - which team will give up their top pitching prospect first? Or will the Nationals have to go after something else instead? As of right now, nobody knows.
Meanwhile, the Miguel Tejada sweepstakes is just as interesting. There were four teams in the Tejada hunt as well - the Astros, Angels, Dodgers, and Rangers - but it appears now that just the Texas teams are left. The Dodgers reportedly made an offer that was turned down, and they've lost interest. The Angels offered Ervin Santana and Erick Aybar - an offer the O's should have jumped on - but were turned down by the erratic Peter Angelos. Another interesting development came out this morning when Tejada said he didn't want to play third - I believe all the potential trade partners have him pegged as a 3B. Tejada does not have a no-trade clause, so he doesn't have much say in things, though. But my gut feeling is that Angelos will not find a deal to his liking, Tejada will remain an Oriole, and Baltimore will continue to finish at the bottom of the AL East for the rest of the decade.
All Omar Minaya has to do is give up Lastings Milledge or Aaron Heilman, plus a lesser prospect, and the Mets have the best #3 starter in the playoffs - Barry Zito. But right now all indications are that Minaya is content with a Livan Hernandez or a Kip Wells. I think that Minaya will realize that, if they get to the playoffs and end up losing Game 7 of the NLCS with, say, Steve Traschel on the hill, he will get absolutely flamed to a crisp by the New York media. So, despite the fact that the odds are against it right now, I still think Zito ends up in the Big Apple. The White Sox have had some discussions about Zito as well, though I don't know how far those talks went. The D-Backs inquired on Zito, but didn't like what they saw.
The Red Sox have their eye on Julio Lugo, and are reportedly trying to make a big deal - similar to the one that sent away Nomar in July of 2004. They reportedly are willing to deal any of their position players except Manny or Youkilis (or Varitek), and they are looking particularly hard at Lugo and the White Sox starters (Buerhle, Garcia, etc). Theo Epstein loves to deal more than anybody, and right now they'd love to get a starter plus another fresh face in Boston. The young Sox pitchers - Hansen, Lester, Paplebon, - are not going anywhere, however.
Surprise surprise - Nomar is back on the DL! The Dodgers may get Greg Maddux, but right now it looks like they won't get anywhere near the postseason. Wait, who was the idiot who picked them to win the division again? Chipper Jones is out as well, making their trade of Wilson Betemit look kind of foolish (Betemit would have replaced Jones at third).
Coming tomorrow: I have no idea. Sorry to get your hopes up.