Riding the Pine

“We’re not that good. We have to keep playing the way we’re playing and concentrate to win games. To be comfortable, you can’t be comfortable at all–because you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
–Ozzie Guillen, on the White Sox chances of winning the AL Central (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Trade rumors are really starting to heat up, but ESPN.com’s Peter Gammons believes few will be moved. In his latest Diamond Notes, Gammons said “So, while the big market media may cavalierly throw out the names of players on every small- and medium-market team that isn’t clearly in the heart of a wild-card race, the fact is there aren’t the number of teams looking to dump salaries that there have been in normal years.” Normal sellers like the Pirates, Brewers, and Tigers are in a decent position right now; that could change when the deadline gets closer. Another reason for lack of trades this season is how teams are being put together. More mid- to small market teams are using Oakland’s and Minnesota’s systems on how to build a franchise. They focus on using a mix of young players with inexpensive veterans or signing players to short contracts.

The Rumors
AJ Burnett and Juan Encarnacion may be changing teams earlier than anticipated; the Orioles have offered RP Jorge Julio, OF Larry Bigbie and either SP Daniel Cabrera or SP Hayden Penn for the 2 Marlins and a minor leaguer…The Marlins are also talking to another AL (New York? Boston?) team about moving Burnett, who is a free agent at the end of the season…Seattle has been shopping some of their older players; Jamie Moyer, Bret Boone, and Randy Winn are 3 possible players available…San Diego has talked to Seattle about Boone’s availability; they need a fill in at second until Mark Loretta is back…Mark Kotsay’s name has been rumored among many teams; the Yankees, Cubs, and Orioles are interested…The Yankees are actively seeking OF help; they have said that they won’t trade Robinson Cano or Chien-Ming Wang to get help…The Rangers asked for those 2 in exchange for Alfonso Soriano, but were denied…Gary Sheffield has said he would make life difficult for any team that tries to trade for him; this has helped kill a deal with the crosstown Mets for Mike Cameron and Miguel Cairo…The Yankees have also looked at Preston Wilson and Winn…Ted Lilly is not going to be traded, according to his GM.

Manager Hot Seats: Lee Mazzili apparently won’t be back with Baltimore next year…There are still the normal candidates: Joe Torre, Lloyd McClendon, Lou Pinella.

The week that was:
The Good
Rangers Hitters – For the second time this season, the Ranger’s lineup hit at least 8 homers in a game. On Thurday, Kevin Mench hit 3, Mark Teixeira hit 2, and Alfonso Soriano, Hank Blalock, and David Dellucci each added 1. Teixeira’s 2 gave him the AL lead in homers (moving a head of A-Rod). All of these players are worth owning; Mench was one of the age 27 players who were due to break out; Teixeira will be an elite first baseman within a year; Soriano is the top second baseman; Blalock is the same as Teixeira; Dellucci is the most interesting player here, since he isn’t a star. He has had a decent career, but was the type of fantasy player many would have as a back up. Once he was traded to New York, he became a platoon player. This year he has an on base percentage above .400, while only batting around .260. He has become a walk machine, and is getting more playing time as a result. Don’t expect the power to continue all season, but he is worth a bench spot.

Carlos Beltran has started to run; make an offer for him while his value is low…Here comes the Athletics; they have traditionally started playing in July…Jim Edmonds is the leading vote getter in the NL outfield; last week (in which I benched him), 4 of his 5 hits were for homers.

The Bad
The Royals are 3-13 in games started by Zach Greinke; he is 1-9 with a 5.92 ERA…Jason Phillips has be 2 for his last 19; it’s almost time to call Dioner Navarro…Richard Hidalgo has been 0 for 16; I was expecting him to do something in the ALs best hitters park…Carl Pavano is living up to my expectations.

The Ugly
Kenny Rogers – I bet Rogers would like to forget the last couple of weeks. After starting the season almost unhittable, Rogers had come back to Earth. After his last bad start, Rogers didn’t like the way the water cooler was looking at him and sucker punched it. The problem was the water cooler won the fight. Rogers broke his non-pitching hand and was only supposed to miss one start. That was until those 2 camera guys got in his way. At this time, the reason for the altercation was unknown, but Rogers attacked 2 cameramen, throwing the cameras to the ground and sending one cameraman to the hospital. A result from the action was a 20 game suspension, which in pitching terms is 4 starts. I am pretty glad that MLB won’t give me a press pass now.

I would like to thank my brother for benching Travis Hafner this week (7 for 16, 2 HRs, 9 RBIs, 33 points)…Magglio Ordonez is back; watch what he does this weekend before deciding to start him.

Trades
No trades this week.

Rookie Watch:
Ian Snell was called up this week for the Pirates; Snell, who pitched a no hitter in Triple A this year, will be used out of the bullpen and should only warrant a look if he gets to start or if you are in a keeper league…Following Snell up was Zack Duke, another pitching prospect in Pittsburgh; Duke is considered the stronger prospect and will be starting in the place of Oliver Perez…Grady Sizemore has raised his average to .310; pick him up if he is still available…

Injury Watch:
Jim Thome is back on the DL with elbow problems; this is another chance for the Phillies to showcase Ryan Howard…Oliver Perez took the Rogers way off of a couple of starts (Rogers way #1, not attacking the media) after a run in with laundry cart; the broken foot should keep Perez out a month…Josh Beckett left his last start after developing another blister; he has been on the DL 7 times now with blisters, but he says he will make his next start…Ryan Church is on the DL with a ligament sprain in his rib cage; he shouldn’t miss much time…

Upcoming 2 start pitchers:
I’m being lazy right now, so check on Saturday at RotoChamps for the 2-start pitchers.

Links
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This week’s trade was made possible with help from the Ballers. Before the season started, I gave him Joel Pinero for Jason Bartlett. Bartlett was supposed to be the full time shortstop in Minnesota.

Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for a little project I’ve been working on. I will give everyone a few tips on which players to make trades for, and which to avoid for the second half. E-mail or post questions, trade scenarios, and comments. Thanks.