Riding the Pine

“The sun has been there for 500, 600 years . . .”
–Outfielder Mike Cameron after Mets teammate Carlos Beltran lost a ball in the sun against the Dodgers last week (New York Daily News).

This was actually prepared by Friday morning, but with work and Happy Hour that turned into Happy Night, I wasn’t able to get it up until now.

It’s a busy time to be a general manager. With this weekend’s Non-Waiver trade deadline, rumors are coming out quicker than women at Lillith Fair.

The Rumors
Too many to deal with right now, but I’ll try…The annual “Manny Ramirez wants traded” rumors have started; apparently he wants a private life outside of baseball…One scenario is the Mets getting Manny, the Red Sox getting Mike Cameron and Aubrey Huff, and the Devil Rays get a minor league overhaul…There is still talks between the Twins and Red Sox; the Twins want a hitter (Billy Mueller, and possibly Kevin Millar) while the Sox would seek a pitcher (JC Romero, and possibly Joe Mays)…The Mets are interested in getting Alfonso Soriano; currently the potential deal would be Soriano and Sean Casey to the Mets and Prospects to the Reds and Rangers…The Rangers are also working on a deal that could would send Richard Hidalgo to the Orioles for Sidney Ponson…The Mets called the Dodgers about Jeff Kent, but were quickly shot down…A few AL teams have called the Mets about catcher Mike Piazza; he would be converted to a DH…AJ Burnett may not be moved after all; deals with the Red Sox and the Orioles have fallen apart, so only the White Sox are showing major interest, with a possible deal in place…The Reds won’t be moving Ken Griffey Jr, since they have to have all possible deals approved by him before they are considered…The two players the Reds would like to move are Casey and Rich Aurilia; the plan would then be for Adam Dunn to play first with Griffey, Austin Kearns, and Wily Mo Pena in the outfield…The talk between the Pirates and Marlins about pitcher Mark Redman have died; the Pirates were asking for the Marlins top 2 prospects…The Pirates are also shopping Matt Lawton, Kip Wells, and Jose Mesa…The Yankees may be done adding pitching, but still like outfielder Randy Winn…The Angels have called the Blue Jays about Shea Hillenbrand…The Nationals almost landed Julio Lugo from the Devil Rays, but the deal fell through…The D-Rays are also shopping closer Danys Baez and outfielder Aubrey Huff…Jeff Weaver, who’s name has been brought up by the Orioles, said he would want an extension if he is traded…The Nationals are inching closer to convincing Barry Larkin to come out of retirement…The Cardinals have interest in third baseman Melvin Mora of Baltimore, outfielder Matt Lawton of Pittsburgh, and Aubrey Huff…The Red Sox have been shopping second baseman Mark Bellhorn; recently aquired Tony Graffanino would take over at second…The Rangers want a “Colon Package” for Soriano; the Indians got Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, and Cliff Lee for Bartolo Colon a few years ago…Boston has been talking to Philadelphia about Billy Wagner; they would send Bronson Arroyo, Kevin Youkilis, and Kelly Shoppach for the reliever.

Manager Hot Seats: The usual suspects.

A Deadline Special
With all the deadline trade rumors, I’m going to break down what teams should do.

Braves – The Braves need outfield help and a real closer. The outfield will not survive with Brian Jordan still paying. Him being injured was the best thing that could have happened. There are two possible scenarios. If they could get a rental of Rondell White, they would have a huge upgrade in left. Stick a platoon of Kelly Johnson and Jeff Francoeur in right (both will be starting at some point, but this would get both the experience they need) and Andruw Jones in center, and the outfield is now complete. The other scenario would be moving Chipper Jones to left, A Jones in center, and the platoon in right with Andy Marte starting at third. He will be the third baseman of the future, so why not give him the chance now. Since they are the favorites, they will do the safe thing and get a proven outfielder. The bullpen won’t take much, but they need a Billy Wagner (which they won’t get). Reitsma has had a good run at closer, but I don’t see him keeping it up down the stretch. They could make a move for Braden Looper, if the Mets get another closer and would move him to a division rival. Eddie Guardado is another option available, but may cost too much.

Nationals – Washington could use another solid starter and an upgrade at shortstop. Julio Lugo would be a nice addition for short, while any of the available pitchers could fit with the Nationals (and hitter friendly RFK). I would also deal Nick Johnson while his value is the highest. This would free up first for Brad Wilkerson and give Ryan Church the everyday job that he deserves.

Mets – I would be hounding the Devil Rays right now. They have made Aubrey Huff and Danys Baez available, filling the holes at first and closer (Braden Looper will not keep this role). To get these two, I would be willing to give up top prospects (Yusiemero Petit) and hope that someone would take some spare parts (Doug Mientkiewicz). If possible, I would keep Aaron Heilman, because he should take off soon.

Marlins – My main goal would be unloading Mike Lowell. I realize to do this I would have to take a bad contract back, but as long as it’s an outfielder, I will survive. I would move Miguel Cabrera back to third and use what I could get in left field. I would also move AJ Burnett. I actually would have taken the deal from the White Sox, since Brandon McCarthy has a lot of potential and Damaso Marte will upgrade the pen. After that, there’s not much else to do.

Phillies – While the Phillies are out of the East race, they still have a shot at the Wild Card (granted, it is an outside shot). I don’t think they should bank on it though. They already sent Tim Worrell away, but they could do more (and better). I would try to move one of their crappy back up infielders (Matt Kata, Ramon Martinez), Vicente Padilla, and Jon Lieber (which could be hard due to his contract).

Cardinals – My goal is to be ready for the post-season. I would go after someone I could confidently plug into third base for the time being, but eventually move to the outfield. Aubrey Huff would be perfect. I would also try to move at least 1 starter. Jason Marquis is starting to regress (a lot like his time in Atlanta), and Suppan is a free agent at the end of the season. Adam Wainwright and Anthony Reyes are ready to start in the Majors. The lead is big enough that you could experiment.

Astros – This Astros team is a lot like last years, but without the spark plug of Carlos Beltran. That is what I would go after. They need an impact bat. I would see what the Reds would want for Sean Casey or one of their outfielders. If you get an outfielder, you can move Lance Berkman to first base. They could also use a starter since Backe is hurt.

Cubs – With Kerry Wood going down (again), they need a proven starter. They have said Wood will comeback in the bullpen, so they are short a starter. Wells or Fogg would be the easiest two to get, and would do decent in Chicago. They could also use an impact bat in the outfield. Jerry Hairston is not the answer, so move Jeromy Burnitz there. The Hollandsworth/Gerut Platoon will work in left, so they need to pick up a Matt Lawton or a Eric Byrnes.

Brewers – At this point, they just need to sell of some of their expendable players. Geoff Jenkins – Gone to the highest bidder. Wes Helms – what team in contention doesn’t need a utility infielder? Brady Clark – sell him while the value is high. Lyle Overbay – He would appeal to a lot of teams. With Prince Fielder and their few outfield prospects about to follow in the footsteps of Rickie Weeks, they have a lot of expendable parts. They could then get another starter or more prospects.

Pirates – The same model as the Brewers applies. Move Darryl Ward, Kip Wells, Josh Fogg, Mark Redman, Matt Lawton, Jose Mesa. Bring in some prospects and give auditions to next year’s team.

Reds – The biggest mistake the Reds could make right now is to trade an outfielder that doesn’t have a suffix on his name; even then, they shouldn’t trade him. I would move Sean Casey so Adam Dunn or Austin Kearns to first. They would be solid all over (as long as they leave Ryan Freel at second). Casey could bring them pitching.

Padres – With the catching situation under control, they can focus on getting a starter. Behind Jake Peavy, everyone is under-performing. Moving someone in the bullpen could bring a low-end stater, but they have enough of those. The key to doing anything is moving Phil Nevin, who will only go to a west coast team. That really limits what will happen, but doesn’t rule them out.

Diamondbacks – The D’back are closing to striking, so they should go for it. Chad Tracy may have some value that they could move in, installing Conor Jackson at first. Tracy could bring the relievers they need to over take the Padres.

Dodgers – The Dodgers are right on the edge, and could go either way. They may as well go for it. A rental of Matt Lawton could help the outfield, as long as they got a power hitter for the other corner, maybe Dunn. There are rumors that they could move a starter, but I like what they currently have (with Odalis Perez just coming back).

Giants – As weak as the West is, the Giants won’t make the playoffs, even if/when Bonds comes back. They should definitely move what they can. JT Snow would be attractive to a team like the Mets. Most of the outfield could be used as spare pieces for many contenders.

Rockies – They are out of it and know it. They don’t have much to move either. Brynes is a nice bargaining piece, but there’s not much after that. They need to develop pitching, but the best way to do that is through their own system.

Red Sox – With all the problems they seem to have, they keep trucking along. They are only a piece or two away in the bullpen, so I would make a run for Danys Baez or Billy Wagner (then move Mike Timlin back to the set up role). I would settle Manny Ramirez down so we could get through the season and deal with that problem around December. I would have already taken the deal that would send Mueller/Millar to Minnesota for Romero/Mays. I would also see about a prototypical first baseman, maybe Lyle Overbay.

Yankees – I don’t know who a team this crappy is doing as well as they are. Sure there’s A-Rod and Jeter, but the outfield is in shambles and the rotation is a mess. There is almost nothing to deal in the minors. Their one strength was the bullpen depth, but they let most of those guys go. I would move the last couple of prospects to get an outfielder.

Orioles – The Orioles need an offensive boost and a quality starter. They have depth in their bullpen, which could help make moves. Nevin would have fit nicely, but would have been without a position. If they could get a Byrnes or Lawton, that would be a start. They should also revisit the AJ Burnett deal.

Blue Jays – At this point, I would be selling. See if there is interest in Orlando Hudson or Corey Koskie (I would prefer to move Koskie of the 2). Shea Hillenbrand would be easy to move, as would Miguel Batista. Check interest in some of the role players like Frank Cattalanotto or Frank Menchino. Hold on to Vernon Wells. There are some good prospects coming up, so they should have a good team next year.

Devil Rays – Sell! Sell! Sell! They need to move every player who is a free agent, has any value, or is arbitration eligible. They need to get pitching prospects, and could afford to give up an outfield prospect or two to do it. They will be set at second base (Jorge Cantu), shortstop (BJ Upton), and the outfield (Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, Delmon Young, Jonny Gomes, Joey Gathright). They have a fairly young catcher in Toby Hall. They have a good pitcher in Scott Kazmir. They should be able to get a lot for Aubrey Huff. They could get a decent return on Julio Lugo and Danys Baez. They may even be able to get a small something for Alex Gonzalez and Travis Lee.

White Sox – The Sox are just a piece or 2 away. They need to get a starter to replace Jose Contreras. He is too inconsistent to help this team. AJ Burnett is appealing here, and I would have sent Contreras, Marte, and Brandon McCarthy, as long as Burnett would have signed an extension. I would have tried to squeeze a little extra out of the Marlins first, like a mid-level prospect to go along.

Twins – They need to do something about the offense. The outfield is full and pitching is in good shape. Those are the two bargaining chips. Offer Jacques Jones. See what teams think of Joe Mays and Kyle Lohse. I like the deal that would have sent JC Romero to the Red Sox for Billy Mueller. I would also let go of Luis Rivas.

Indians – This young team could pull out the Wild Card, so make the push. Coco Crisp is expendable, since there are guys waiting at Triple A to get a shot. Kevin Millwood, while the most consistent starter, could bring a nice return to help now. They don’t need much to win, maybe just corner infielders.

Tigers – They have a few pieces to sell, but this team is currently primed for next year. Rondell White could bring a player or 2 that could help next year. They could also move some of the veteran bullpen guys they have. The biggest thing for this year is playing Curtis Granderson.

Royals – They really don’ have much to sell, and they are still far away from building a contender. Most of the young guys wouldn’t be playing for other non-contending teams. They just need to completely overhaul the whole team, keeping a few parts (Zach Greinke). They could move some relievers, since most teams like Jeremy Affeldt.

Angels – The Angels need a bat. That’s it. They have bullpen depth to move a quality pitcher. They also could move a starter, specifically Jarrod Washburn. Washburn, a good lefty, is a free agent at the end of the season and I don’t see the Angels bringing him back. Darin Erstad is one I would move, because they need more production from first base. Unfortunately, it may not come from Casey Kotchman either.

Athletics – This team is the hardest to speculate on since Billy Beane will complete pull something out of nowhere. I would try to get a solid outfielder; they have one of the weakest outfields in baseball. The pitching staff is good, although they could use a better 5th starter.

Rangers – The Rangers have a good young nucleus. Trading Soriano is probably the right thing to do. A deal with the Mets would be ideal (the were talking a combination of Mike Cameron, Lasting Milledge, Carlos Gomez, and Aaron Heilman). They also need pitching. They need starters, especially with Kenny Rogers’s suspension. The biggest bargaining chip could be first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Mariners – The Mariners should just start the youth movement. They could get something nice for Eddie Guardado (if a team doesn’t mind that he’s pitching with a partially torn rotator cuff). Jamie Moyer and Gil Meche are drawing interest from teams. If you could get a few prospects for those three, it would be a pretty good haul. Also, don’t trade Joel Pineiro.

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