July 28, 2005
T-Minus Four Days and Counting
Thursday, July 28, 9:45 p.m. ET: We finally got the blockbuster deal we'd been expecting. The Padres went out and got Dave Ross from the Pirates for minor-league infielder J.J. Furmaniak. What? You don't think that's a blockbuster? Ok, I just wanted to say "Furmaniak" which sounds a lot like "Birdzerk" to me. Ross fills a need at a pretty low price for the Pads, while the Bucs cleared the way for Ryan Doumit and Ronnie Paulino. The Pirates also told Ian Snell to be ready to start, meaning Mark Redman is all but out the door.
The Alfonso Soriano deal is still percolating. Rob Neyer thinks the trade is "inevitable" or so he said on ESPN Radio today. There's a number of permutations circulating, most surrounding some combination of Mike Cameron, Lastings Milledge, Carlos Gomez and Aaron Heilman. Heilman's name is also being mentioned in a possible deal with the Devil Rays for Aubrey Huff. This is despite recent pronouncements from the Mets about never wanting to deal with the Rays.
Ryan Howard is staying a Phillie. Period.
The Red Sox like Matt Lawton and might push the bidding for the left fielder up a bit from where the Cardinals were starting. Lawton has a nice OBP and would fit in nicely as a replacement for Trot Nixon or as the fourth outfielder once Nixon is back. The Cardinals will have to include Brad Thompson and Cody Haerther if they expect to get Lawton.
Thursday, July 28, 7:15 p.m. ET: The Angels are looking over their shoulder and getting a bit nervous. Their lack of lefties in the pen is overdone--more on this soon, I hope--but Scot Shields is someone who could bring a nice return, assuming the Angels would part with him. Bill Stoneman has resisted letting any of his depth go, so the teams thinking that Shields would look nice in their pen would likely have to come up with a heck of an offer. The Angels are one of few teams not looking to get prospects; they want to win now. They're complicating the Mets/Rangers deal with a pursuit of Mike Cameron. There's also been some talk about trading one of the Molina brothers for Phil Nevin.
The Alfonso Soriano rumors are still swirling and a few sharks are starting to nibble around the edges. The Twins are rumored to be looking despite this being completely opposite the type of deal they've ever done. The Mets are still the likely location but as the Rangers solidify themselves as a seller, they're likely to get more creative offers.
The Phillies are now involved tangentially in the potential White Sox/Marlins deal. The confusing scenario alone makes this unlikely to occur. The Phillies would send Ryan Madson to the Devil Rays for Danys Baez. The White Sox and Marlins would do their A.J. Burnett deal, but Florida is demanding Jose Contreras. After all that, the Phils would take Burnett and give up Billy Wagner. That's a lot of machinations for an iffy return. The Phils could get a good pitcher for Ryan Howard, which seems a lot easier and more likely.
It's not sexy, but watch for teams to start moving middle relievers in the next couple days to contenders. In the past, names like Kent Mercker and Tom Gordon have brought nice returns. There are a few teams--Twins, White Sox, Red Sox, Blue Jays--who could pick up something for the baseball equivalent of "that guy."
Thursday, July 28, 2:35 p.m. ET: ESPN 103.3 in Dallas was reporting this morning that Alfonso Soriano had been dealt for Mike Cameron and Lastings Milledge. As yet, there's been no additional confirmation, so I don't think this deal is as close as our friends in Dallas think it is. With that said, it does appear that there's fire behind this smoke. Tom Hicks may have said he doesn't want to trade Soriano, but I think the billionaire would be willing to make a deal he didn't want if it made sense. The Rangers are also stalled on Sidney Ponson. Apparently, Baltimore doesn't want to absorb nearly as much salary as Texas would like them to do.
Larry Lucchino confirmed that Manny Ramirez did ask to be traded. According to reader M.D. "it's an annual event. Like Bastille Day." Ramirez will not be traded now, of course, but the Mets covet the slugger openly and if the Red Sox put Ramirez back on waivers, they'll claim him.
There are reports that the White Sox asked for Tom Gordon when the Yankees called about Orlando Hernandez. Sources from both sides deny things got that specific. The White Sox are working furiously to plug perceived holes in the number-three slot and the back end of the bullpen. Meanwhile, numerous whispers are that Ozzie Guillen doesn't want anyone new in his clubhouse. Watch to see if the Marlins try and revive the Sox' interest in A.J. Burnett.
The Brewers are in the top 10 of team WXRL. After designating Ricky Bottalico for assignment, that means their bullpen is down to just one player who makes more than the league minimum. It's funny that both New York teams, with bullpens costing ten times as much and performing considerably worse, will consider adding a guy like Bottalico. Doug Melvin is underrated.
Thursday, July 28, 12:30 a.m. ET: Alfonso Soriano played. Thanks to everyone who e-mailed, all 200+ of you. In my haste to get the info out, my brain somehow subbed "Alfonso Soriano" for "Mike Cameron." In the Mill, speed counts, but so does accuracy, so my apologies.
It appears now that not much is actually happening. Cameron was given the night off by Willie Randolph to help him clear his head after a couple of bad days. Milledge ended up pinch-hitting at Binghamton. Soriano? He's 2-for-6 and remains a Ranger, playing deep into the night in Baltimore.
Why are the Yankees still talking about Shawn Chacon and his cockeyed hat? Chacon is available, and in today's trade market, that's enough. The Yanks seem to think that if they can just plug up the dam for a few more weeks, they'll be in position to make a run. Chacon could make a couple starts, then slide to the bullpen once Jaret Wright is back.
The Angels aren't yet pressing the panic button. Still, they're stunned at how quickly Steve Finley has declined. What was once a surplus of outfielders is now a collection of guys who play center field badly. Along with the Orioles and Rangers, the Angels would love to have Mike Cameron. Failing that, they'll be calling to check back on Corey Patterson.
The Braves are working the phones diligently, collecting information and trying to size up the market. They're not in any serious talks as far as anyone I speak to can tell, though they always seem to be stalking at the edges of any deal.
Dmitri Young has come up in conversations with a couple of teams, and there's some talk that Young could be flipped quickly to Tampa for Danys Baez.