July 31, 2006


Final Day

Today, as I'm sure you know by now, is the final day trades can be made without players clearing waivers. And yes, I'm going to write about possible trades again. If you don't like it, well, it's not like it costs you anything to read this, so you really have no right to complain, you greedy pig. And I have a lot of fun following this stuff. Tomorrow...well, I'll probably post a review of the deadline winners and losers. But after that I'm done, I promise.

First, if you're at all interested in the trade deadline, make sure you check out ESPN's SportsNation chat from 12-5 this afternoon - it should have the latest news from all the experts on potential and actual trades. I'm not going to keep up on everything through the afternoon - if you want that, follow the chat and mlbtraderumors.com.

The Tigers acquired Sean Casey from the Pirates for a minor league pitcher.

The Reds got Rheal Cormier from the Phillies to help their bullpen, also giving up a minor league pitcher.

Where will the big names land? Miguel Tejada seems to be staying in Baltimore. Apparently the Astros made a run at him, but two trades were denied. The first: Morgan Ensberg, Adam Everett, and stud pitcher Roy Oswalt for Tejada. The second? Oswalt, All-Star outfielder Lance Berkman and closer Brad Lidge for Tejada. And the Orioles turned them both down! Seriously, is this a joke? If I were the Orioles, I would have jumped on either of those deals as quickly as possible, and if I were the Astros and the Baltimore front office called proposing either deal (especially the second), I would have permanently blocked the Orioles' phone number. That's how ridiculous both deals sound. But the Baltimore front office found a way to turn down both offers, and I can't see anybody beating either of those deals.

According to some sources, the Soriano hunt is down to two teams, the Angels and Astros, though I personally won't count the Twins out either. But there are some new players on the horizon. The first is the Red Sox, who have inquired about Soriano as a counter-strike to the Yankees' Abreu deal. It's pretty likely that nothing will happen on this front. But when Theo Epstein is among the voices talking, there's always a chance that something will get done. The second franchise that has popped onto the scene is the Florida Marlins. Most people are wondering why the Fish would go after Soriano, as they are looking towards next year as contenders, not this year. But Jayson Stark has a different take on things: The Fish have a ton of young pitching prospects, which is what the Nationals are looking for. But most of the teams in the hunt (particularly the Angels) are more loaded with position players in their farm system. So this could turn out to be essentially a three-team trade - the Nationals deal Soriano to Florida for pitchers, and the Fish then spin him off to Los Anaheim for some of their position players.

The third big name who has jumped on the market comes from San Fransisco. And no, he hasn't been indicted for steroid use. But the second-biggest name from the Giants is Jason Schmidt, and he may be on the move. The Giants have lost their last six, and they're looking to get something from Schmidt, who's in his walk year. The Mets are the biggest player, though if they won't trade Lastings Milledge for Zito, they probably won't trade him for Schmidt either. And the Giants are looking for a good package in return. So don't be shocked if this deal doesnt' happen, but there are some other potential suitors out there as well - the White Sox, Rangers, and Red Sox may be interested.

There's only one 300-game winner on the market, but it's still only the Padres and Dodgers who are interested in acquiring Greg Maddux. The Dodgers have been hotter on his tail, but if the Padres trade a pitcher to fill their gaping hole at third, they may try to get Maddux to fill that pitcher's place. Right now it's almost 50-50, and that's if he gets traded (also not a guarantee).

The Yankees don't have anything major up their sleeve. One source said that Pirates RP Roberto Hernandez is all but guaranteed to become a Yankee. But I didn't see anything else about him; other rumors have the Pirates packaging reliever Salamon Torres and 1B Craig Wilson to the Big Apple.

The Red Sox right now are trying to complete one of two three-team deals, both of which would involve the Padres and Mike Lowell. The first would send Lowell to the Pads, San Diego setup man Scott Linebrink and Tampa Bay shortstop Julio Lugo to Boston, and presumably prospects from both teams to Tampa. The second deal would also send Lowell to San Diego, and Colorado first baseman Ryan Shealy would come to Boston along with a pitcher from one of the teams. I don't know what the Rockies would recieve from this deal. Either of these deals would be very good for the Sox, in my mind. The Padres desperately need a third baseman - if these deals both fall through, they will likely go after Cleveland's Aaron Boone (he will probably cost them Linebrink). Although Morgan Ensberg, who has been the Padres' number one choice all along, may be back on the market in Houston.

Here's a funny article: Dontrelle Willis might go to the Cardinals. What's so funny? The Marlins put both Willis and Miguel Cabrera on waivers late last week. The waiver thing is complicated, but the one important effect in this case is that players cannot be traded until their waivers expire. The waivers on both Willis and Cabrera conveniently expire just after the 4 pm deadline. So it's literally impossible for Willis to be leaving Miami.

Arguably the hottest name on the market right now is the Rockies' Ryan Shealy. Shealy is a young first baseman who would already be playing every day in the big leagues except that he has to be behind Todd Helton in the Colorado system. One might wonder why they don't try to move Helton instead, but he has an enormous contract and has been loyal to the Rockie franchise for many years. Shealy has been mentioned in big talks with the Red Sox (see above), and is also eyed by rebuilding teams such as Kansas City or Pittsburgh (who would each presumably give back a reliever in return).

The Rangers need a starter, and they apparently have interest in the Phillies' Jon Lieber. Their main trading chip is Brad Wilkerson, who they have also tried pairing with catcher Rod Barajas to make a deal. But nothing looks imminent on the Arlington front.

Update from Jayson Stark: The A's are now in the running for Soriano. Kinda strange b/c he's not the typical "Moneyball" guy (high OBP), but I don't know how close those talks are.

July 30, 2006


Done Deals

A couple of deals came across the wire today...

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.

July 29, 2006


Odds and Ends

My fingers are still recouping from yesterday's post, so I'll keep things short today. Just some odds and ends to cover around the world of sports.


Trade Rumors:

A few deals went down after my post went to press yesterady. The Brewers acquired Philly 3B David Bell for a pack of peanuts, the Giants acquired 70-year-old Mike Stanton from the Nationals (though they apparently gave up a pretty good prospect in return), and the Braves finally dealt utilityman Wilson Betemit, getting Danys Baez back from the Dodgers. Baez is a solid, not spectacluar reliever, and the Dodgers will play Betemit at third (possibly making Cesar Izturis trade bait).

Miguel Tejada is apparently on the market and he has many suitors lining up. The Angels reportedly offered two great young players - young starter Ervin Santana and AAA shortstop Erick Aybar - and everyone I've heard is saying the O's should jump on this deal. Peter Angelos is more likely to wait and accumulate offers, however, and the Dodgers, Astros, and Rangers all have interest. It would be amazing if the Rangers could add another impact bat before the deadline, but you still won't make the playoffs if you give up 15 runs per game. With the pitching depth in that division, I don't think the Rangers would be assured of a playoff spot, even if they did get Tejada. And you never know what Peter Angelos will do - he could easily pull Tejada off the market, because nobody knows what Angelos is thinking and nobody ever will. They need to rebuild that team around some young pitchers and let Leo Mazzone do his thing - they could probably do that with Tejada, but it might be better to move him.

Yesterday I mentioned that five teams were interested in Maddux, but today it looks like there's just two - the Padres and Dodgers. What seems most likely at this point is that Maddux stays in Beantown; the Pads have a good staff already and the Dodgers need more help than Maddux can provide.

The Phillies are trying a number of strategies to move Abreu, including packaging him with either Jon Lieber or Corey Lidle. The only interested team right now seems to be the Yankees, and from what I've heard they've backed off their demand of Philip Hughes or Jose Tabata. All signs are pointing to Abreu in pinstripes by August.

Apparently Coco Crisp and Trot Nixon are on the market, though I doubt Crisp will be dealt unless the Sox recieve a great offer. Mark Loretta also might be avaliable, as the Sox have young second baseman Dustin Pedroia waiting in the wings.

The Angels need a first baseman, and reports say they've narrowed their search to Sean Casey or Jeff Conine.

Kip Wells helped his stock last night with a 7 IP, 0 ER performance, and may be leaving Pittsburgh by Monday.

The Blue Jays apparently have lost interest in Julio Lugo, and are looking to add a starter - most likely Lidle, Lieber, or Rodrigo Lopez.

The Twins are still talking about Soriano, but are hesitant to deal top pitching prospect Matt Garza, who may be in the big leagues any day now. They still could get a deal done, although Torii Hunter is expected back in the lineup on Monday, which should help their offense out. The Astros like Soriano as well, but don't want to give up either of their top prospects - Jason Hirsh or Hunter Pence.

All Omar Minaya has to do is say the magic words ("Lastings Milledge", or possibly even "Aaron Heilman"), and Barry Zito will be on the next train to Beantown. But right now Minaya isn't biting, and instead is focusing on lesser options such as Livan Hernandez, Jon Lieber, or Kip Wells.


The MLB Induction ceremony is tomorrow in Cooperstown, and Tim Kurkjian has the must-read on how lone inductee Bruce Sutter changed the art of pitching.


According to coolstandings.com (third time in four posts I've linked to this - I'm on a roll!), the chances of my midseason division and wildcard predictions coming true is roughly one in 4.6 million - about the same likelyhood as a pregnant woman having identical quadruplets. So, if we've learned one thing, it's this: When in doubt, take my advice and go the other way.

July 28, 2006


More Trade Rumors

I know, I know, I promised this entry would be on Thursday. But I got my wisdom teeth pulled yesterday, and I was so full of gas/novocain/blood/pain that my writing would have looked like the ramblings of a drunk monkey banging on a keyboard. That's in comparison to my normal entries, which look like the ramblings of a sober monkey banging on a keyboard. Anyways, here are all the latest rumors from around the world of baseball (these date back as far as Sunday, though I've tried to tell you which ones are most recent. And as always, there is no "inside" info, just stuff you learn when you spend your entire day surfing the web.)

First I'll mention that a blockbuster trade was made earlier this morning, as the Brewers sent All-Star OF Carlos Lee (along with OF Nelson Cruz) to the Rangers in exchange for outfielders Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix, reliever Fransisco Cordero, and another prospect. More analysis coming up within this post.

Sources: ESPN.com, mlbtraderumors.com, prosportsdaily.com, SI.com, and cbs.sportsline.com

American League:

Boston - Wily Mo Pena seems to be the big trading chip for the Sox right now. The Indians could be a good fit for Pena, as they will need a power-hitting outfielder if they are to make a run next year. The Tribe also have pitching to give back, though they've been reluctant to part with either Jake Westbrook or Paul Byrd. The Sox have also had interest in Jon Lieber, though I'm not sure he would be a good fit in that park. With the way Corey Lidle pitched last night (8 IP, 0 ER), you have to wonder if the Sox could make a move for him over the next couple days. The Sox have also apparently been in talks for Scott Linebrink of the Padres - this is pure speculation on my part, but maybe there's something there about Linebrink for Mike Lowell? The Pads would have to add something else, I think, but that might happen. Again, I haven't heard any more than the Sox talking about Linebrink, but you've gotta wonder. Also, Buster Olney has said that Theo Epstein is working on a large, multi-team deal - much like the one that sent away Nomar and brought back a World Series ring in 2004. No details on who that would involve, but things will certainly get interesting this weekend.

Yankees - One rumor had the Yanks trading Scott Proctor for Wilson Betemit of the Braves, though I'm not sure why the Yanks would consider that deal - they already have a super-utilityman in Miguel Cairo. Buster Olney mentioned that possibly the Yanks would then send Betemit to the Padres for Scott Linebrink. That all seems moot now that Proctor has become untouchable, thanks to his prowess out of the bullpen recently. The Yankees still need another decent reliever besides Proctor and Rivera, though, and the Pirates have most of the relievers best on the market. Eventually the Pirates' demands will come down, and the Yanks will most likely make a deal for one of them. Another option is the Orioles' LaTroy Hawkins. They're still in the market for a starter - I've heard Kyle Lohse, Miguel Batista, Rodrigo Lopez, Corey Lidle, and Jon Lieber - but a reliever should be their top priority. Also, right now all indications seem to be that if the Phillies will accept a package that does not include top prospect Phillip Hughes, Bobby Abreu will end up in pinstripes by the deadline. If they don't get Abreu, they might ask the Brewers about Kevin Mench - the Rangers had no interest in trading Mench to NY, but the Brewers might have a different view.

Toronto - The Jays have the most interest in Tampa infielder Julio Lugo, but were unwilling to give up two young pitchers, per the D-Rays' demands. They will likely wait until the end of the week, and hope the price comes down by then. Recently acquired reliever Jeremy Accardo has generated a lot of interest, but I doubt the Jays will trade him. Toronto had a lot of interest in Corey Lidle, and that was before Lidle's stellar start last night.

Baltimore - Miguel Tejada is apparently back on the block for the umpteenth time this month. The two most interested teams are the Angels and Astros; however, neither team wants to give up the package of three solid players that the O's are looking for. If Tejada is not dealt before the deadline, look for more talk this winter on where Tejada will go. Another interesting player on the Orioles' roster is Jeff Conine. Conine was dealt from the Orioles to the Marlins in 2003 - you'll remember what happened to the Fish after that. Conine is the sort of role player and clubhouse good guy that many GMs like to target, and right now the most likely landing spots appear to be the Braves, Cardinals, Reds, or Mariners. Reliever LaTroy Hawkins has also generated a lot of interest from teams needing relief help (including the Yankees).

Tampa - The trading chip for Tampa right now is infielder Julio Lugo. Lugo is a free agent at the end of the year, and the D-Rays would like to sign him to an extension before the deadline. However, Lugo is supposedly looking for a contract in the 4-yr, $36-40 million range, and it's unlikely that Tampa will be able to afford that. So they're looking to trade Lugo, and the most interested teams seem to be the Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Mets. The D-Rays were asking for an unreasonable package - two top prospects - earlier in the week, but that may come down by the end of the week.

Detroit - The Tigers remain interested in both Soriano and Tejada, but the asking price for both is a little high right now. The other problem is that both their top pitching prospects, Humberto Sanchez and Jair Jurriens, have had minor injuries over the past week. The injuries are not severe by any means, but other teams could be a little wary of dealing for either one. However, despite the injury, Sanchez is arguably the best prospect avaliable for sellers to get. One source says that the Tigers would move Sanchez in a Soriano deal, and it doesn't look like anybody could top that offer. I also heard Tuesday that the O's asked for Verlander or Bonderman (scroll down) to head a package for Tejada, a ludicrous notion. But another option for the Tigers is a lesser name - David Dellucci. I'm hearing that Dellucci could easily become a Tiger by Monday, and it won't take as much to get him - possibly second-tier pitching prospect Jordan Tata.

ChiSox - Those Soriano rumors we all heard so much about before seem to be dead, as the Sox will not trade either Brandon McCarthy or AAA 3B Josh Fields. It is looking more and more like the Sox will stand pat at the deadline and try to figure out what went wrong with their pitchers in July, but never count out Sox GM Kenny Williams. Buster Olney mentioned yesterday in his blog that the ChiSox are now listening to offers for Freddy Garcia, and they might look to add another reliever before the deadline.

Minnesota - The Twins were considered a frontrunner in the Carlos Lee sweepstakes, but they lost out to the Rangers on him. Lee would have been a great fit in Minnesota - a RH power bat between Mauer and Morneau - but now the Twins have to look elsewhere, possibly to Alfonso Soriano. Minnesota has arguably more prospects than anybody else in baseball, so they are right now apparently the frontrunners in the Soriano Sweepstakes. Pitcher Kyle Lohse has garnered a lot of interest, but with the Twins squarely in the pennant chase and the back of their rotation in shambles, they will probably need to keep him. The Twins were scheduled to call up top pitching prospect Matt Garza to try to catch lightening in a bottle like they did with Liriano, but they cancelled that yesterday.

Cleveland - Cleveland has two of the best starters on the market in Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd, but they most likely will not trade either unless they are blown away by an offer. Aaron Boone is also on the block, and the Indians are probably hoping the Braves decide to keep Wilson Betemit; this would force the Padres to look to somewhere else and possibly overpay for a 3B, even the mediocre Boone. In other news, it looks like the Broussard trade will open up a spot for Victor Martinez at first base - he's been terrible behind the plate this year, and the Tribe want to move him to another position.

Kansas City - The Royals have made some good rebuilding moves so far this year to make themselves better down the road - unfortunately, a .500 team in the NL West would probably finish with 100 losses in the AL Central next year, as pretty much everybody except maybe Chicago will get better next year.

Anaheim LA Angels - The Angels have been extremely interested in Tejada and Soriano from Day 1. But, at the current asking price, there's no way a deal will be done with the Angels. Right now the Nationals are asking for either Howie Kendrick or Brandon Wood (the Halos' top infield prospects), a pitcher from the group of Jered Weaver, John Lackey, and Ervin Santana (all of whom are crucial to LA's pennant run this year), and another prospect. The Angels are not dealing one of those pitchers, and are reluctant to part with their infielders as well. It seems the Halos will focus more on Tejada - the price might actually be cheaper (probably one of the IFs, a second-tier pitcher like Scot Shields, and probably another prospect), and he's under contract for the next three years. If the Angels do get Tejada, they will most likely move him to third base. The O's made an offer earlier - Tejada for Kendrick, Santana, and Shields - which was rejected, but that price may come down soon. The Angels have also looked at smaller-name bats such as the Rockies' Ryan Shealy or the Pirates' Sean Casey or Craig Wilson to fill the hole at first (left when Dallas McPherson injured his back). If the Halos persue a third baseman (other than Tejada), it would likely be Aramis Ramirez or Chad Tracy. The Angels reportedly offered Kendry Morales for Ramirez, but were turned down by the Cubs.

Oakland - Oakland could have interest in the Pirates' Sean Casey, who was expected to go to the Giants until they acquired Hillenbrand. Billy Beane also still has apparently put Zito back on the block, and is trying hard to trade him. Steve Phillips was adamant yesterday on ESPNRadio that Zito would not be traded, but all the news since then has been contrary to that. If traded, he will almost certainly go to the Mets (though it's still possible he ends up with the White Sox, albeit very unilkely). We still don't know what the asking price for Zito is, nor do we know if the Mets are interested in giving up any of their top young players. But right now it seems like the A's are doing all they can to try to find Zito a new home.

Texas - I've heard from more than a few sources that the Rangers would be very interested in Jake Westbrook of the Indians. However, it doesn't seem like Westbrook will be moved unless the Indians get an offer they can't refuse. The Rangers should also be hunting around the other starters (i.e. Lidle, Rodrigo Lopez, Lieber, Redman, etc.), because their pitching right now is terrible. They have easily the best offense in the division with the addition of Lee (especially if Mark Teixeira ever remembers who he is), but that may not be enough.

Seattle - The M's traded for Cleveland first baseman Ben Broussard yesterday, though many people believe they overpaid in giving up highly touted outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. The M's are on the verge of being in contention, but I don't think it's likely that Seattle makes a run (especially with the Rangers adding Lee).

National League:

NY Mets - The Mets need another starter, but the market is awfully thin. They've talked about Livan Hernandez and Tony Armas Jr of the Nationals, but neither deal looks close to happening. They've inquired about Pittsburgh starter Kip Wells, but the Pirates won't give up anybody for less than the net worth of Bill Gates right now. They've talked about Jon Leiber, but I doubt the Phillies want to trade him or Corey Lidle within the division. They made a run for disappointing Pittsburgh starter Oliver Perez. There was apparently a rumor that they were working on an Aaron Heilman-for-Gil Meche deal, but that wasn't true. They looked at Miguel Batista and Juan Cruz of the D-Backs, but neither of them are going anywhere. Yesterday reports surfaced that they checked out Jason Jennings, B-H Kim and Ray King in Colorado (though King's a reliever). Omar Minaya has been careful not to mention it publicly, but it seems now that Barry Zito is very gettable. Reports differ on what it will take to get Zito. Some people are saying that it will take both young OF Lastings Milledge and Heilman to get Zito, which might be a bit steep for a three-month rental. But other reports (including Buster Olney just minutes ago on SportsCenter) say that just Milledge (and maybe a lesser prospect) might get the deal done, which would be a much more attractive option for the Mets. My prediction - Zito ends up in the Big Apple, with only Milledge going west.

Atlanta - Utilityman Wilson Betemit is suddenly one of the hottest commodities in baseball right now. A likely deal involves sending Betemit to the Padres for some desperately needed relief help, probably Scott Linebrink. Rumors had the Braves shipping Betemit to the Big Apple for the Yankees' Scott Proctor, but that seems unlikely now that Chacon appears to be pitching well. The Yankees might pull the trigger on that deal if they get a Pittsburgh reliever, but I don't see it. It's possible that the Braves keep Betemit, especially with Chipper Jones apparently hurting. If the Braves don't get Linebrink, they may try to deal for Ray King - even with last week's Wickman deal, they still have the worst bullpen of any contender.

Philly - If the Phillies decide to accept anything less than top prospect Phil Hughes from the Yankees, I believe a deal will get done to send Abreu to the Big Apple. But I could just as easily forsee Abreu staying put. The one catch with dealing Abreu is that it can't be made right at the deadline - because Abreu wants his new team to pick up his option for 2008, they would need time to negotiate that contract before getting a deal done. So if nothing has happened by Monday morning, it's likely nothing will happen on the Abreu front. The hotter outfielder right now from Philly is David Dellucci, who has a lot of talent but is right now riding the bench often (behind Abreu and Pat Burrell). Dellucci will likely get dealt before Tuesday, and right now I'm hearing Detroit as the best fit for him. I don't think it will take much to get him either. Starters Jon Lieber and Corey Lidle also could be on the move, maybe to the Yankees, Red Sox, or Twins. I've heard recently that the Jays are also very hot on Lidle. And Buster Olney said today that his prediction would be that Lidle ends up in Arlington, but that is far from a done deal. Tom Gordon was on the block at one point, but the Phillies most likely will not pull the trigger unless they get a closer for next year in return.

Florida - Dontrelle Willis WILL NOT BE TRADED. That's pretty much all that has to go here.

Washington - The Nationals got very lucky with how the Carlos Lee trade ended up. Had Lee been on the market until Monday, teams unwilling to pay the Nats' high price for Soriano could look at Lee instead. But Lee got traded right away, and to a team (Texas) that wasn't really interested in Soriano. So it's back to square one for teams that need a corner OF. Jayson Stark has reported that the frontrunner in the Soriano sweepstakes as of right now is the Twins. But there's been so much smokescreening going on this year, you have to wonder how long that will last. The Astros have been hot on Soriano as well, but nothing will get done on that front unless they relent and decide to move Jason Hirsh and/or Hunter Pence.

St Louis - The Cards are looking for a corner outfielder, but I haven't heard them involved in any big names. A more likely scenario is the Redbirds dealing for a second-tier bat, such as David Dellucci, Luis Gonzalez, or Shawn Green. They were very interested in Carlos Lee, but that ship has sailed.

Cincy - The Reds are surprisingly 4.5 games up in the wild card right now. They may look to add another reliever, but things seem to be pretty quiet on the Cincy front.

Houston - The Astros are very interested in Miguel Tejada, but not at the current price. The package needed to pry Tejada from the O's right now would likely involve SS Adam Everett, pitching prospect Fernando Nieve, and top outfield prospect Hunter Pence. And the Stros right now have no desire whatsoever to give up that much talent for a shortstop whose skills are declining, at least in the field. They countered this afternoon with Everett, Morgan Ensberg, and Nieve; I don't know how interested the O's are in that offer. Today, reports surfaced that the Astros have gone into "full pursuit" of Soriano (see sidebar), though I'm not sure exactly what that means. Getting Soriano would most likely mean giving up a package including top pitching prospect Jason Hirsh, though Keith Law said today that he did not see Hirsh as more than a fourth starter in the big leagues. Houston reportedly had interest in Pirates RP Damaso Marte, but the Pirates right now are apparently asking for a fairly large country in return for each of their relievers. So they're not close at all to getting that deal done. Even with the acquisition of Aubrey Huff, it seems pretty clear right now that Morgan Ensberg is not on the block. That is particularly bad news for the Padres, who desperately need a third baseman. There have been rumors that Brad Lidge could be traded, but I doubt that will happen, as the Astros are looking for bullpen help already. And, just in case you're starting to believe some of the talk-show fodder, there is a 0% chance Roger Clemens gets traded. None. Nada. Zilch.

Milwaukee - The Lee deal was a pretty fair deal for both teams - the Rangers get a big bat to make them the AL West favorites, and the Brewers get some players to help them next year - but don't dismiss the possibility of Mench getting dealt to another team if Milwaukee wants to open up space for Corey Hart. Or the Brewers could deal Hart as part of a bigger deal, though that seems less likely.

Cubbies - Once upon a time, it looked like a foregone conclusion that Greg Maddux would head to LA (Dodgers, not Angels). But those days are over, and now it looks like we have a bidding war for Maddux's services. One thing we do know is that Maddux will not go to the AL. But right now I'm hearing that the Dodgers, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and now the Mets are all interested in Maddux. And the value of adding a 300-game winner on your team may be enough to get someone to bid very high for Maddux. Everything I've heard says that the Cub most likely to be dealt is Todd Walker. But I haven't heard of anybody interested in Walker, except the Mariners (who likely aren't interested anymore after the Broussard deal) and maybe the Rangers.

Pittsburgh - The Pirates have a plethora of relievers that interest many contenders (especially the Yankees and Giants), but their asking price until now has been way too high. It seems less likely now that they trade Sean Casey - the Giants were the most interested team until they got Shea Hillenbrand - but I've been hearing that the A's and Angels are both interested.

San Diego - The Padres' dealt for Scott Williamson of the Cubs last week opened up a few options - they need a third baseman, so setup man Scott Linebrink is now potentially avaliable as trade bait. They have apparently talked to the Astros about including Linebrink in a deal for Morgan Ensberg, but it appears that Ensberg is not on the block. Plan B appears to be Atlanta's Wilson Betemit, and Atlanta needs another reliever as well. My prediction is that, sometime within the next few days, a deal gets done involving Linebrink and Betemit. If the Braves decide to pull Betemit off the block, the Pads could look for another third baseman - possibly Cleveland's Aaron Boone. Of course, the Pads could just keep their deep bullpen, which certainly is not a bad thing to have.

Arizona - The D-Backs will likely try to trade one of their old, overpaid corner outfielders - either Shawn Green or Luis Gonzalez. They would rather deal Green - who has garnered interest from the Cardinals, Yankees, and Mariners - but Green has a no-trade clause to all but three teams, and I don't know if he would waive it. They have recieved offers for Miguel Batista and Juan Cruz, but neither is likely to be traded, especially with the Snakes in contention. But I did hear that the Mets are interested in recently demoted closer Jose Valverde. I guess they think they can right Valverde, and it wouldn't take much to get him. I don't see any interest from anyone else, though the D-Backs might still consider him the closer of their future.

San Fransisco - The Giants are apparently looking at the Pittsburgh relievers - particularly Roberto Hernandez and Salomon Torres - and may make a deal if and when the price comes down.

Colorado - Those Ray King for Julian Tavarez rumors seem dead at this point, as the Rockies don't want to take on Tavarez's contract for next year. King for Rudy Seanez still could happen, though I haven't heard anything about it in the last few days (Tavarez and Seanez both pitch for Boston). The more recent interest in King has come from the Braves and Reds. But the name generating the most interest is young 1B Ryan Shealy, who's blocked by Todd Helton in Colorado but may be able to help another team. Among the interested suitors: The Angels, Red Sox, Pirates, Royals, Orioles, and Blue Jays.

LA Dodgers - My, how the Dodgers have fallen. At the All-Star break, they looked like the favorites to win the division (at least that's what I thought), but now they're seven games back and in last place. It looked like they were going to land Greg Maddux, but the Cubbies asked for young OF Andre Ethier in return, who has been the Dodgers' second-best hitter so far this year. The Dodgers still could land Maddux, but it's looking less likely by the day. The Dodgers did pick up some relief help in Elmer Dessens on Tuesday. Reliever Danys Baez may be on the market, but the Betemit-Baez rumors seem to be far from happening.

July 26, 2006


Hall of Links

Today I'm unveiling my Hall of Links - a collection of cool spots around the Web that I like to visit. I'll add to this list as I find more ways to waste my time on the Internet. But there's a pretty solid group of inductees to get this started. So, without further ado: (all links pop up in a new window)

The Sports Guy on ESPN.Com - Bill Simmons is without a doubt the most enjoyable writer on the Internet. He combines sports knowledge with his funny writing style and great jokes to give you a great column. I've tried to pattern my writing style after his because he's such a great writer. If I were to designate a MVL (Most Valuable Link), this would be it. Not that I'm playing favorites or anything.

SportsNation - every weekday there are hourly chats with ESPN experts/personalities. The odds of getting a question in are slim, but you can often get lots of information on a lot of different topics from the chats.

SportsPickle.com - Essentially The Onion, but all about sports. DJ Gallo maintains it all by himself, and he also writes a weekly column on ESPN.Com's Page 2. Very funny stuff.

Coolstandings.com - I referenced this yesterday, but it's an amazingly cool site. It simulates 1,000,000 seasons from today to the end of the year - taking into account just about every variable imaginable - and gives you the percentage chance that each team wins the division or the wild card. Take their predictions with a grain of salt - as of May 8, the Twins had a 0.0% chance of making the playoffs - but it's still cool to look at.

Buster Olney's Blog on ESPN.Com - Olney's blog is officially a must-read every day (as this blog is, I hope!); he gives a ton of knowledge and lots of links in every post. One catch - you have to be an ESPN Insider to read it. If you aren't already and you have 40 bucks to blow, I highly reccomend becoming an Insider - you get the biweekly ESPN the Magazine (which isn't quite at Sports Illustrated's level, but it's still pretty good), archived ESPN content (including old SportsNation chats), and lots of other exclusive content. I already forgot how I ever survived withot it.

Syracuse.com forums - I discovered this last year, and was surprised to see that you can find good discussion about section 2 basketball and football on here. As I've mentioned before, the local media coverage of the high school sports is not very good, so it's nice to have another place to get opinions from. (Scroll down to see the HS sports section).

NYSSWA - This is the organization that puts out the weekly high school sports rankings from around the state. There are some other links to stories on there as well, though few of them are very interesting.

The Dilbert Blog - Okay, this has nothing to do about sports, but it's a funny blog written by Dilbert creator Scott Adams. Not much more to say than that...

Teagames.com - A cool little site with various games to play. I've especially gotten hooked on the Pitch & Putt golf game - I've been playing it practically constantly for the past three weeks, and I still haven't beat -10. You'll notice that a lot of the games are slightly modified versions of the others, but it's still a cool site.

Added 8/31: Dan Shanoff's Blog - Shanoff used to write a daily column every morning for ESPN.Com ("The Daily Quickie"), but then left for unknown reasons. But he started this blog, and most of his readers followed him to the blog. It will simply cover the biggest stories from around the world of sports, and the comments might be worth reading b/c of the number of readers.

Added 9/3: Sidelines - David Filkins and James Allen are the TU's lead football reporters, and they've started a blog to focus exclusively on high school football around the area. It's one of the few sources you can visit to get good high school sports coverage (hopefully this blog is another). And no, my blog's name is not a rip-off of theirs; I came up with mine two months before they did. (I'd like to think they copied me, but I doubt that's true.)

Added 9/19: Girmindl's Ghost - an awesome Shaker hoops blog written by Matt Glassman. Reading Matt's blog last year was basically what inspired me to write my blog this year. He's bringing it back this year, and I can't wait.

July 25, 2006


Random Notes

Some random notes to mention from around the world of sports:

The White Sox traded for Mike MacDougal of the Royals yesterday. This was supposedly the partner deal to the Soriano deal that I mentioned yesterday (to fill the bullpen void dealing Brandon McCarthy would leave), but the Sox were looking for bullpen help even before the Soriano rumors. Ken Williams is now saying McCarthy will not be traded, which would put a damper on the Soriano-Sox trade talks. As always, I'll have a full deadline preview on Thursday.

Harold Reynolds was reportedly fired by ESPN at some point last night. The Worldwide Leader has been quiet so far publicly about this, and as of now nobody really knows the reason. Regardless of why he was fired, Reynolds will be sorely missed - most of the people discussing this that I've read liked Reynolds' work on Baseball Tonight, and I personally agree with them. I always liked Reynolds' work, and it's sad to see him leave.
Update (3:45 pm): Found some rumors on why Reynolds might have been fired; don't know if they're true or not.

Here's a cool site to check out - go to coolstandings.com to check out each team's odds of making the playoffs. The Tigers apparently have a 99.2% chance of making the playoffs, making my midseason predictions look wrong already. What seems surprising is the large edge the White Sox have over the Twins - despite the fact that they're only two games ahead in the standings (and the Twins are hot, while the Sox are slumping), they are listed as having a 15% greater chance of reaching the playoffs. What's even more interesting is that the gap has closed from a 60% differential before the All-Star break. But I'll let you explore the site on your own.

If you're a major baseball addict and looking for some more local blog coverage, you might want to try Jim Margalus' blog on the TU website. I wouldn't call it a must-read, but it's pretty interesting when he posts.

I don't have a link on this, but the Albany varsity basketball coaching job is open right now, with the departure of Doug O'Brey. Coach Black, the JV coach (and the brother of Nisky coach Mike Black), is expected to be the frontrunner for the job. Albany is expected to be a frontrunner for the section 2 AA title next year, along with CBA and Bishop Maginn (but you'll have to wait for winter for my full preview).

Vena Watch: Albany Conquest QB Ryan Vena threw for somewhere in the neighborhood of 260 yards last week, so he'll have to wait until the season finale at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to break the record. He only needs 50-60 yards to do it, so barring an injury or something spectacular out of the W-B defense, Vena should easily break the record.

July 24, 2006



I have a bone to pick with a certain segment of Yankee fans, but first some breaking news - ESPN's Tim Kurkjian reports that the White Sox are "extremely close" to dealing for Alfonso Soriano. The Nationals would recieve a package that would likely include pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who the Sox would replace by dealing for the Royals' Mike MacDougal. I'll have a complete deadline preview (again) up on Thursday, but this would be a huge deal if it goes down - division rival Detroit was previously considered the frontrunner for Soriano. Also, the Padres improved their bullpen by adding Scott Williamson from the Cubs, in return for a couple minor-league arms.

Now, I can't say I've ever really liked Yankee fans (with the exception of a short-lived infatuation with the team in fourth grade), but what's happened over the past week has been completely perplexing to me. Why do all Yankee fans hate A-Rod? It's not like this was hard to see coming - A-Rod has never really had the complete support of the Bronx faithful, even during his MVP campaign last year. But the guy's had one bad (okay, terrible) week, and suddenly everyone in the stadium is booing him? What's up with that?

I've never really understood the custom of booing players on your own team. A-Rod has only four hits in his last 26 ABs, with 5 errors in the past week - he knows he's in a slump. So it's not like you need to tell him he's performing poorly. How does booing him help him play better? If anyone has any reasons, please e-mail me and tell me. I really want to know. And it's not like Rodriguez has been playing terribly all year - his 71 RBIs are top-ten in the league, and his .379 OBP is barely off his career average. And the talk of him being bad in the clutch is ridiculous - he's hitting over .300 with runners in scoring position, and he has just about the same batting average in the postseason as the beloved Derek Jeter (with a slugging percentage 70 points higher).

So why boo A-Rod? The main reason - whether Yankee fans will admit it or not - is that he's not percieved as a "true" Yankee. Why? It's not his contract; if anything, having an enormous contract now is likely a sign that you're a Yankee (Jeter has a contract comperable in size to A-Rod). You don't have to come up in the Yankee farm system to become beloved by Yankee fans (see: Paul O'Neil). You don't even have to have a ring to be a true Yankee - Don Mattingly and Jason Giambi both have never won a title. Why does A-Rod remain an outcast? Your guess is as good as mine.

I'm not saying fans don't have the right to boo - when they pay for the ticket, they do earn the right to cheer, boo, or do whatever else they want that doesn't violate federal laws or common decency. But having the right to boo and feeling the need to boo are two different things. Adults in this country have the right to smoke cigarettes. Does that make it a smart decision? Of course not.

One other question jumps to mind - why have the Yankees been so reluctant to come to Rodriguez's defense? Mike Mussina recently threw A-Rod under the bus. Both Joe Torre and Jeter could ease the pressure on A-Rod by giving him some public support, but so far it's been quiet. I think Rodriguez will right himself sooner or later, but the longer this goes on, the less likely the Yankees are to make the playoffs. This year, he's been easily one of their two most productive hitters (along with Giambi), even with his struggles recently.

And one final note - why do people bother wasting energy about A-Rod trade rumors? Say it with me here: A-ROD WILL NEVER BE TRADED! 1) The Yankees shouldn't trade him - before the season, he was considered the second best hitter in baseball behind Pujols (and possibly Ortiz). Why should one week change our perception that dramatically? 2) The Yankees can't trade him - they would either have to eat his entire contract, or accept a paltry package of players in return. Either way, they'd be dramatically damaging their team. And 3) A-Rod won't go anyways - he has a full no-trade contract, and he's stated that he has no desire whatsoever to leave New York. People say he can't handle the NY pressure, but where were those people during his MVP season last year? It doesn't make sense to me.

July 20, 2006


MLB Trade Rumors

I've decided to make the trade deadline preview a weekly thing. That means that, after last Thursday's post and today's post, I will do one more post previewing the deadline next Thursday, with four days left before the deadline. Things should be even crazier by then. Right now, there's still plenty of rumors to discuss. These are the rumors I've gathered from all the sources I could find, so in my opinion, it's the most complete source around. (Until I find somewhere else I haven't found yet). There isn't any "inside" info I have recieved directly; just a lot of free time spent surfing the web and trying to determine fact from fiction. I'll sort the discusstion by team to make my ramblings easier to read.

Boston - The Red Sox are searching hard for a starter, but there aren't many options. *All-Star* Mark Redman would make a lot of sense in Boston. They also have been interested in the White Sox's avaliable starters, Javier Vazquez and Freddy Garcia. It also looks like they need a reliever - one rumor has them sending Rudy Seanez or Julian Tavarez to Colorado for Ray King. Boston also may move Wily Mo Pena for a pitcher; interested suitors include the Cubs and Nationals.

Yankees - The Yankees have two needs - pitching and an outfielder. There have been many, many rumors about the Yankees trading for Soriano or Abreu (Steinbrenner recently stated that he prefers Soriano to Abreu), but it seems more likely that they deal for a lesser talent. Some of the players the Yankees have shown interest in: Shawn Green (D-Backs), Jose Guillen (Nationals), Kevin Mench (Rangers), and Reggie Sanders (Royals). But it seems like they should focus more on their largest need, which is pitching depth. As Keith Law said the other day, "Torre is going to grind Rivera into a half a pound of cake flour by Labor Day if he doesn't get another reliever he can trust." They have had talks with Pittsburgh about Roberto Hernandez and with Chicago about Scott Williamson.

Toronto - The Blue Jays' main mission at this point is to trade Shea Hillenbrand, who was cut yesterday after a strange dispute between him and the team. Right now, the most likely destination seems to be the Padres, who need a third baseman. Other places he could land include the Angels, Rangers, or Twins. They had been talking about trading Hillenbrand to the Angels Adam Kennedy even before this incident, though those talks have subsided recently. The Jays also may or may not be interested in Tampa Bay's Julio Lugo.

Baltimore - Are the Orioles buyers or sellers? They're way out of the race, and they should try to rebuild and move on, but they have been involved in some talks for bigger names. Peter Angelos is notoriously impatient, and unless they blow things up and try to stock some prospects, they're going to remain at the bottom of the AL East for the rest of the decade. According to reports, Angelos said two weeks ago that All-star shortstop Miguel Tejada will not be traded. But Tejada's name has still been rumored in all kinds of deals, the most recent of which has him going to Houston. They can never decide what to do, and they always make the wrong decision - the Orioles could become the New York Knicks of baseball in a couple years, you heard it here first. The Orioles also are likely to move pitcher Rodrigo Lopez - the Mets are the most likely destination, though they've talked with the Phillies about including him in a deal for Abreu or Pat Burrell. Arizona, St. Louis, San Diego, Texas, and the Yankees have also been interested in Lopez.

Tampa Bay - Right now, Julio Lugo is the only Devil Ray on the market, now that they've traded away Aubrey Huff. Toronto is probably in the market for Lugo, as are the Mets.

Detroit - The Tigers need a left-handed bat. They've been involved in talks for both big names (Soriano and Abreu). Soriano may not be a good fit for the Tigers - he's right-handed, and the Tigers' biggest offensive need is on-base percentage, a stat Soriano doesn't help much in (though Abreu would serve that need nicely). To get Soriano, the Tigers would likely have to trade away top pitching prospect Humberto Sanchez, Jair Jurrjens, plus another player. The St. Paul Pioneer Press said that the Tigers are close to acquiring Abreu, though I believe Jim Leyland said that there had been no talks between them and the Phillies. The Tigers also had some interest in Tejada, though he most likely won't end up there. Another option for the Tigers is to not deal for anybody - they have Dimitri Young returning to their team soon, so they might not need another bat.

White Sox - The White Sox are looking for relief help, but Kenny Williams always has the potential to make some big blockbuster that nobody saw coming. The previously rumored Schmidt-for-McCarthy deal seems dead now, but the Sox are still trying to deal. They have some attractive trade bait in Javier Vazquez and Freddy Garcia, who both have ERAs over 5, but still are arguably the best pitchers on the market. There are not many relievers avaliable now, though they would certainly be interested in Tom Gordon if he were to become avaliable, and they seem to have interest in Pittsburgh's Roberto Hernandez.

Minnesota - If the Twins are going to make the playoffs, they're going to need a corner outfielder, now that Shannon Stewart and Torii Hunter have gone down with injuries (and Jason Kubel hasn't been 100% healthy either). If they do want to deal, Kevin Mench would be a possibility. But, realistically, they're probably going to wait 'till next year and not rush into any deals. There have been many of teams (including the Dodgers, Brewers, Cards and Yankees) scouting Kyle Lohse, though I have no idea whether or not he's avaliable.

Cleveland - The Indians have a lot of pieces that teams might want that the Indians are trying to move. They already dealt Bob Wickman to the Braves for a prospect (Max Ramirez), and Aaron Boone seems to be the other piece they are actively trying to ship. They also may deal 2B Ronnie Belliard or SP Jake Westbrook, but those deals don't seem as likely. One rumor has them dealing Boone to the Dodgers, presumably for some major-league ready prospects.

Kansas City - The Royals are a source of pitching for some other teams to trade for plunder. Mark Redman is the most obvious choice, though relievers Elmer Dessens, Jeremy Affeldt, and Mike MacDougal also could leave. The Royals are trying to package one of their relievers plus Angel Berroa to Colorado for Ryan Shealy.

Oakland - Billy Beane's been pretty quiet so far - a bit too quiet, some might say. Maybe Beane has a large deal up his sleeve, or maybe he's just content with his team. Barry Zito seems to be off the block for now, though they would be tempted to rethink that if the Mets were to offer top prospects Lastings Milledge and Aaron Heilman.

Anaheim LA Angels - The Angels have the pieces to deal for Soriano, but as I mentioned last week, they have a history of never trading their prospects for big names. They have given no indication so far that they intend to break that trend this year. Also, the Angels have OBP issues just as the Tigers do (see the Detroit section for more info), so Soriano might not be the best fit there either. They will likely try to move 2B Adam Kennedy to create space for young phenom Howie Kendrick to play every day, but so far they haven't had much luck.

Texas - The Rangers have been fairly quiet around the deadline, though they have some major holes in their rotation they have to fill if they want to win the division. On paper, the Rangers have arguably the best team in the West, but it's hard to see the Rangers going on a large run with guys like John Rheinecker and John Wasdin pitching every day. They also might trade away Kevin Mench, possibly to the Yankees for Shawn Chacon or to the Twins for a pitching prospect.

Seattle - Seattle has been pretty quiet of late, although they have been interested in Alfonso Soriano. They apparently have the pieces to get a deal done with the Nationals, but a deal seems unlikely - the Nats would demand top prospect Adam Jones in return (along with other prospects), who the Mariners say is not avaliable. Reliever Rafael Soriano is highly coveted, though I don't know if he's avaliable or not.

Mets - It's strange that the most action is revolving around a team that's 11 games in first place. But the Mets need pitching. That's pretty much all there is to it. Omar Minaya will do anything he can to try to get another pitcher in the rotation. Rookie Mike Pelfrey has been pretty good lately, but there's still another rotation slot that needs filling. The Mets have been interested in just about everybody on the block. Livan Hernandez still seems to be a likely name, but there are other rumors floating about. They've been interested in the White Sox's starters, Garcia and Vazquez. They've had talks with the A's about Zito, but they might be reluctant to make that deal (Oakland has requested Aaron Heilman and Lastings Milledge). They've been also hot in talks with Orioles' starter Rodrigo Lopez, which at one point seemed likely but has cooled off of late. They've scouted Miguel Batista and Juan Cruz of the Diamondbacks, though neither of them are likely to be traded. And now it seems like there may be a blockbuster on the horizon: The Mets and Phillies seem to be talking about a deal for Bobby Abreu, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. The Mets would give up top prospect Lastings Milledge, along with some other prospects, to get Abreu.

Atlanta - They already filled their biggest need today with the Wickman deal (with Cleveland), to get another reliever. That could make the Braves the favorite in the wild-card race. I also saw a story about Greg Maddux returning to Atlanta, though I'm pretty sure it was mostly wishful thinking (the story was published in the Daily Southtown, if you want to find it).

Philly - GM Pat Gillick said that he would wait two weeks to determine whether or not the Phillies were a legit contender to make the postseason. He said that at the All-Star break, so they will likely wait another week or so before selling off their high-priced players. Two of the most sought-after players on that team are corner outfielders Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell. The Phillies have said that they will trade one of them, but not both. It might be difficult to get good talent back for either of them though; both players have large contracts. If Abreu gets dealt, he will recieve an extension on his contract for 2008 that would result in a club needing to pay him in the neighborhood of $33 million over the next two years. That price tag might scare away teams, as he's already 32 years old and he mysteriously lost his power about one year ago. But there are still a lot of teams with interest, including the Tigers and the Yankees. The Phils also have the best reliever on the market in Tom Gordon, if they wish to make him avaliable. In some late-breaking news, the Phils and Mets may have an Abreu deal in the works (see the Mets section for more detail).

Florida - The Marlins aren't really involved in any talks right now. Dontrelle Willis is off the block for now, and the Fish are happy with their stock of young players.

Washington - Obviously the biggest player here is Alfonso Soriano. Soriano has been rumored to go to the Tigers, Yankees, and basically everywhere on the West Coast. But, right now, the asking price may be a little too high. They're asking for three good prospects in return for Soriano, which might be too steep a price for a two-month rental. They also may deal Livan Hernandez (likely to the Mets) or Jose Guillen (probably to the Yankees, though that deal now seems unlikely).

St. Louis - The Cards really need to make a move if they're going to advance far in the playoffs (Wait, didn't I pick them to win the Series a week ago? Uggh...). They desperately need starting pitching, and they could really use a left fielder as well. Abreu would be a nice fit for the Cards, though I'm not sure they would want to pay him for the next three years. But don't ever count out GM Walt Jocketty as far as the deadline is concerned - he has made some blockbuster deals at the deadline in the past and could definitely do it again.

Cincy - The Reds already pulled off their big trade last week, and it looks like they'll enter August with pretty much the team they have right now.

Milwaukee - There was a rumor over the weekend that the Brewers contacted the Phillies about outfielder Bobby Abreu. However, there appears to be no truth to those rumors - GM Doug Melvin never even spoke to the Phillies, and the rumor was placed by an executive on another team. The Brewers have decided they're contenders, meaning Carlos Lee will not be traded.

Houston - Some stories broke today about Houston trying to work out a deal for Miguel Tejada. Baltimore's shortstop is supposedly off the block, but who knows what the Orioles are going to do next at this point? The Huff deal may free up Houston to deal Morgan Ensberg, presumably to the Padres. The Astros also are considering dealing for the Pirates' Damaso Marte, who helped the White Sox become champions last year, to bolster their bullpen. They're trying to deal Willy Tavares as well.

Cubs - Greg Maddux is certainly the biggest name being mentioned in trade talks, if not the most talented. Will his good outing yesterday jack up the price too high or will it pique other teams' interest? In a Jerry Crasnick survey (you can't read it unless you're an ESPN Insider), 13 of 15 GMs said Maddux would be traded, with the likely destination the Dodgers (and that was before yesterday). The Dodgers have more than enough talent to get a deal done, and one rumor I saw this morning had the Cubs packaging Maddux with third baseman Aramis Ramirez to LA, presumably for a few good prospects. They also may deal Scott Williamson, possibly to the Yankees. They apparently have interest in the Astros' Willy Tavares (that's just what the Cubs need - another poor-hitting, speedy centerfielder to go with Juan Pierre).

Pittsburgh - The Pirates have arguably the best reliever on the market in Roberto Hernandez, which could bring in some good talent, given the high price the Reds-Nats deal set for relievers and the lack of relievers on the market. Some talks have them sending Hernandez to the Yankees, though talks involving the Yankees are often overblown. Damaso Marte also may be avaliable for contenders looking for relief help. Sean Casey and Craig Wilson are both players who could be moved by the deadline.

LA Dodgers - If the Dodgers want to make a big splash, they certainly have the prospects to make a deal. Their farm system is arguably the most loaded in baseball, along with the Angels and Diamondbacks. They are looking for a third baseman - they have been involved with talks for the Indians' Aaron Boone and the Cubs' Aramis Ramirez. The aforementioned Maddux deal does make sense, and many baseball executives believe Maddux will end up in LA. I wouldn't be so optimistic, however - before yesterday's good start, Maddux was 2-10 with a 6.43 ERA since April. And the Cubs will be asking for a lot in return for the futer HOF'er.

San Diego - The Padres seem like the most likey destination for former Blue Jay Shea Hillenbrand, as they desperately need a third baseman. The biggest problem is that Hillenbrand is a poor defensive third baseman; he's a better fit as a first baseman. The Padres will also have interest in the Astros' Morgan Ensberg, if he's avaliable. Also, I read something this morning in SI.Com's Truth and Rumors about the Padres potentially dealing Brian Giles, though that seems extremely unlikely.

San Fransisco - The Giants gravely need a first baseman. There are no top-level players out there, but there are some servicable players the Giants could deal for. Craig Wilson (Pirates 1B) seems like the most likely option, though there is speculation that they could deal for the Orioles' Javy Lopez, who allegedly wants out of Baltimore.

Colorado - The Rockies are looking for relievers - possible deals include the aforementioned Ray King for Rudy Seanez swap with Boston, as well as trading with Kansas City for Elmer Dessens or Jeremy Affeldt.

Arizona - The D-Backs have talked with the Yankees about trading outfielder Shawn Green, and likely would not demand much back in return, as they're trying to dump Green's $9.5 million contract for next year and open space for prospects. If the Yankees look somewhere else (or even if they deal Green), the D-Backs may try to deal some of their many prospects for another pitcher (such as Jake Westbrook of the Indians), or just bide their time and let their prospects develop. There has been interest in starters Miguel Batista and Juan Cruz, though Arizona will be reluctant to deal either if they're still in contention.

Sources include ESPN.com, msn.foxsports.com, www.mlbtraderumors.com/, www.prosportsdaily.com/mlb/mlbrumors.html, sportsillustrated.cnn.com, and cbs.sportsline.com/.

Wow, I just spent 2 hours and 3,000 words on this post. Hopefully someone reads it...

July 19, 2006


Top Ten NFL

[Note: This is part three in a three-part series. Earlier leagues I covered were the MLB and the NBA.]

Part Three in my series of the top ten players in each league. Today we do the NFL. The NFL is the hardest of the leagues to compare players in, because of the completely different tasks assigned to each position. But I'm doing it anyways, to complete the series.

A quick refresher of the rules:

The top ten are determined by this question: If the NFL folded today, and teams started over and drafted their team from the pool of active players, who would go first? And who would go second? Keep going down the line like that.

Contracts do not matter. This doesn't matter as much in the NFL as in baseball, because most top rookies get a pretty big payday anyways. But I'm keeping it this way to keep it consistent with the other sports, and because I don't have to research all the contracts. Current contracts would be voided, and it would work like the rookie draft in all the sports - you'd get a contract based on where you were picked.

Age does matter. You could pick Brett Favre, but he'd only be around for another year or two. Or you could pick Carson Palmer, and have him for the next 10 years. Who is more valuable?

And a new one for the NFL...

Skill position players only. This means that, right now, I'm only dealing with quarterbacks, running backs, and wide recievers. I don't know where the first offensive lineman or defensive player would be picked, and frankly I don't care. To make things much easier, only skill position players are considered for this list.

On to the top ten. If the league folded today, and you could pick any one player, who would it be? I'm going to surprise you here...

1. Tom Brady

It was a VERY tough decision between Brady and Peyton Manning. The two are the top quarterbacks in the game today, but I went with Brady because he has the rings and he's a bit younger. Manning does have the better numbers, but not that much better. Brady's 26 TD passes were third in the league last year, and he threw for more yards last year than anyone in football (even Manning). And, in football, the numbers are sometimes misleading - a QB surrounded by great WRs and/or a great RB can have his stats inflated because of the talent around him. That's not the case in baseball, where the stats are isolated - it's just the pitcher against the batter. Brady is the pick, though I can't blame you for picking either of the next two.

2. Peyton Manning

All he needs is a ring. Not much more to say than that. He doesn't have a whole lot of time left, however, as he's already 30. After seeing Favre last year, it looks like Manning probably only has 5-6 productive years left.

3. Carson Palmer

Palmer is the youngest of the three QBs (26), and arguably has the most upside. It would be very tempting for a GM to take Palmer with either of the first two picks, but I would wait until #3 to pick him because of the injury he suffered in the playoffs last year. You never know how that might affect a person. Palmer was the only QB last year with more than 30 TD passes, and he was second only to Manning in QB rating. He is surrounded by a talented running back in Rudi Johnson, and he has some great recievers to throw to. What remains to be seen is whether he will end up resembling Joe Montana or Peyton Manning, in terms of titles won.

4. LaDainian Tomlinson

Tomlinson is not the best pure rusher in the league; that title would go to Shaun Alexander or maybe Larry Johnson, after his strong showing at the end of last year. But Tomlinson gets the fourth pick on this list because of his greatness as a recieving option - Tomlinson has caught over 50 passes every year in the league, including a remarkable 100-reception season in '03. Because of his versatility, Tomlinson gets picked first among the RBs.

5. Larry Johnson

Johnson was fourth in the league in rushing last season - and he was only playing full-time for the last nine weeks! LJ's stats over the last nine weeks of the season projected to something like 2400 years, if he had kept that up for a full season. Plus, he's only 26 years old, so he's got an extra couple years on the other running backs.

6. Shaun Alexander

He was the MVP of the league last year, but Alexander is still the last of the Big Three RB's to go due to his age. Alexander's been in the league for six years, and he's been a starter for basically all six. He's not a big guy, so you've got to wonder how long it will take for him to start to break down. I'd rather have Tomlinson's recieving abilities or Johnson's youth.

7. Eli Manning

No, I'm not being a Giants homer here - nobody I know roots harder against the Giants than I do. (Maybe I'm a contrarian - I root against pretty much all the New York teams.) But I think putting Manning here is fair - he needs to work on his completion percentage, but his other stats all look pretty good, and he didn't have great recievers to throw to. Plus, he's only 25, he has that Manning pedigree, and he's proven that he can handle the New York media. Maybe it's a bit of a stretch, but I'm not sure who else would go in this spot.

8. Reggie Bush

Is this too high for someone who's never set foot on an NFL field? Maybe. But I think some GM would be willing to take Bush this high purely on potential alone - if he can continue to play like his college self, he could be the most electrifying player since Bo Jackson. Bush seems like he can combine Deion Sanders' agility, Tomlinson's recieving ability, and a wide reciever's speed. If you're really offended, you can switch Bush with the next pick if you want.

9. Donovan McNabb

McNabb was not good last year, I'll give you that. But, in case you forgot, he was playing hurt for a while. And he made four consecutive NFC championship games without having any real legitimate threats to help him out (remember, T.O. was hurt until the Super Bowl in the year that they finally made it there). The only concern with picking him this high is his age - he'll turn 30 during next season, and he's taken quite a few hits over his careers.

10. Michael Vick

I know, I know, we've heard it all before. You can't win the Super Bowl with a running quarterback. Vick won't win until he becomes a pocket passer. But if you were a GM in the top ten, wouldn't you consider drafting him, just on his talent alone? He's only 26 years old. Wouldn't you want to try to draft Vick, then try to get him a WR to throw to in the second round (remember, he hasn't ever had that)? And, if someone else drafted him later, surrounded him with talent, and won a Super Bowl, wouldn't you be kicking yourself for all of eternity for not thinking of it? I'd give it a shot.

Just Missed:

Steve Smith, Larry Fitzgerald - They're both great talents, but they're both wide recievers. And taking a wide reciever in the top ten doesn't seem right, when they need a QB to get them the ball.

Ben Roethlisberger - His motorcycle incident won't affect his play one bit, but I don't think he's quite good enough to make this list. He did win the Super Bowl last year, but it wasn't really his doing - he had some great players around him (and a great defense) that played a larger part in their championship run.

Matt Hasselbeck - Yes, Hasselbeck is a very underrated player. But, if you could have one player to build your team around for the next ten years, would you really take Hasselbeck over Vick? Really? I don't buy it.

Matt Leinart, Vince Young - Both of them have the potential to be great, and they're both obviously young, but there are too many questions surrounding each of them to take them over a more proven talent.

July 17, 2006


Top Ten NBA

[Note: This is part two in a three-part series. The other leagues I covered were the MLB and the NFL.]

Part Two in my series of the top ten players in each league. Today we do the NBA. The NBA is the easiest of the leagues to compare players in, because everybody has the same basic goal - put the ball in the hoop. In baseball, you have to compare hitters to pitchers, and in football, you have to compare people doing all kinds of different things. Unfortunately, I don't know as much about the NBA as I do the other two major leagues. So if there's anything that seems out of line, feel free to e-mail me and tell me why I'm a moron.

A quick refresher of the rules:

The top ten are determined by this question: If the NBA folded today, and teams started over and drafted their team from the pool of active players, who would go first? And who would go second? Keep going down the line like that.

Contracts do not matter. This doesn't matter as much in the NBA as in the other sports. But obviously, you'd rather pay Chris Paul a couple million instead of paying KG $22 million per year. But, if contracts mattered, then too much of the top ten would be young guys still on their rookie contracts. And those players tend to get new contracts as soon as they can. Contracts would be voided, and it would work like the rookie draft in all the sports - you'd get a contract based on where you were picked.

Age does matter. You could pick Shaq, but he'd only be around for a year or two. Or you could pick Dwight Howard, and have him for the next 15 years. Who is more valuable?

So, if the league folded today, and the Knicks had the first pick, who would they take? With the first pick, Isiah Thomas selects...Renaldo Balkman!

(Note to Knicks fans: If you're feeling homicidal right now, cross out "Isiah Thomas" and "Renaldo Balkman", and replace them with "Joe Dumars" and "Darko Milicic" respectively. That's it - laugh a little, you're not the only ones with problems. The sun will come up tomorrow. Well, unless Isiah Thomas becomes God and manages the Earth like he managed the CBA*. Okay, okay, I'll move on...)

In all seriousness, the first pick is...

1. LeBron James

I know Dwyane Wade impressed people with his performance in the NBA playoffs. Many people who look at the last month and disregard the big picture might make a case to put Wade first. But could you really hand your card to David Stern, with LeBron on the board, and say, "No thanks, I'd rather have Wade"? Over LeBron James? James is the next Jordan in every sense, when talking about off-the-court issues - he's a great guy, he's extremely marketable, and he's the next global icon. You'd really give that up?

2. Dwyane Wade

Wade, then, has to be the second pick. He took that Miami team on his back - he got a couple clutch shots from various teammates, but for the most part it was Wade and four guys watching him. He's proved he can win a title almost singlehandedly, so there's no reason not to take him here.

3. Kobe Bryant

Kobe is a big enough name that your team will certainly get attention, though Kobe is not very well-liked by the public. But he sure can score. Of course he won't look to dish the ball as much, but if your first pick is this high, you won't have much talent around him (assuming it's a snake draft; this team would then get the 60th overall pick in the second round).

4. Tim Duncan

Duncan is getting up there in years, and the game is changing to make power forwards (those without extreme athleticism) less valuable. But Duncan is still Duncan, and it's hard to argue with the three rings on his finger. But his play during the end of the year last year and in the playoffs was a concern - he was basically giving you 15-10's (points, rebounds per game). I don't think you can win a title without Duncan putting in at least 20 PPG.

5. Dwight Howard

Howard averaged 16-13 last year, good enough for second place in rebounds per game. He's stuck on a bad Magic team, so he doesn't get quite the publicity he might if he were on a better team. But he's only 20 years old! He's still got another 4-5 years until he hits his prime.

6. Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk looked like the best player in the NBA until Game 3 of the Finals, when he mysteriously stopped driving to the hoop. But if he can find it again, he's going to be a perennial MVP candidate, because a quick big man who can drive and has a jumper is a great commodity in today's game.

7. Yao Ming

Yao quietly putaveraged 26-11 after the All-Star break last year, until he broke his foot near the end of the year. And, as Bill Simmons points out, most great centers peaked later in their careers (28-30 years old). Yao's only 25. He could go from being a second-tier star to being an MVP candidate one of these years.

8. Steve Nash

He was the MVP award winner last year. Now, most people outside of Phoenix will probably agree with me when I say that LeBron or Kobe would have been a better choice, but nobody has benefited more from the NBA rule changes than Nash - suddenly a running point guard who can dish the ball well in transition and can't play defense is a valued commodity.

9. Gilbert Arenas

Arenas averaged almost 30 PPG last year, and he's still only 24. Plus, Arenas was great in the playoffs last year, basically matching LeBron shot-for-shot. He's certainly not as marketable as the King or anyone else on this list, but he can definitely help you win. And, in the end, that's all that matters.

10. Kevin Garnett

KG used to be arguably the best player in the game, then he suddenly lost it overnight. He's already 30, and since he came straight out of high school, he's an older 30 than some of the college kids would be. But KG has really never had anybody around him to give him any help. If you got a good second scoring option in the second round, KG's team could become a title threat.

Just missed the cut:

Amare Stoudemire - If he didn't miss the full year last year, he would have easily been in the top ten. He probably has top-5 talent, and he's only 23. But, as Simmons also points out in the above linked column, NBA stars never regain their previous form after a full-season injury. It just doesn't happen. We'll see if Stoudemire can break that trend.

Elton Brand - Brand is a great talent, but probably not as good as the others above him on this list. I believe I initially had him at 10, but bumped him off when I thought about how little help KG's had.

Chris Bosh, Chris Paul - We'll see if either of them can develop into top stars. Right now, I don't think either of them are quite at that level yet. When (if?) I do this column next year, one or both of them could easily be in the top 10.

Allen Iverson - I know AI was second in PPG last year, but how much longer can he keep this up? He's taken a beating over the years - he's second among active players in career free throws attempted (behind Shaq), and he's a small guy. I don't blame any NBA teams from staying away from him this summer.

*If you don't know this story, Isiah Thomas owned the CBA from 1998-2000. During that time, the league went bankrupt and eventually folded. Many of the managers blamed Isiah's mismanagement of the league for the league folding.

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