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July 31, 2005

Will's Mill

Deadline Weekend

by Will Carroll

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Past Mills.

Sunday, July 31, 5:10 p.m. ET: It's time to close up the Mill for now. I'd like to thank everyone who wrote in with tips and encouragement. Doing this has really opened my eyes into just how hard guys like Jayson Stark, Ken Rosenthal, Buster Olney and Hall of Famer Peter Gammons work. It's hours on the phone and years of building relationships.

The trade deadline came and went with a couple sneaking by. The Cubs had looked at Matt Lawton earlier and re-visited the deal very late in the day. Given the few teams looking at Lawton, it seems that the demand was a bit overestimated. The Bucs are also left with Jose Mesa and Mark Redman, but one front-office exec thinks those players might be the type to make it through waivers. "If there's really 20 teams that think they're in it, that means only 10 have to pass on a guy to get to a 'contender.' It will be interesting to watch [the wire] in the next few days."

In retrospect, the deal for Kyle Farnsworth shouldn't surprise me as much as it did. John Schuerholz likes to get relievers at the deadline, knows what Leo Mazzone can do, and the Tigers were active late in the trading game. Schuerholz's ability to make deals like this are what separate him from some of the GMs that are left holding the phone and looking down at an empty bullpen.

The 2005 trading deadline will likely be remembered more for what didn't happen than what did. Baseball is not yet to the point of football where it's nearly impossible to make trades, or to hockey, when they play, where everyone makes the playoffs. Joe Sheehan and Chris Kahrl will do their normal stellar job of breaking down the whos, the wheres and the whys in the next 48 hours, while I head back to the injury beat.

Sunday, July 31, 3:55 p.m. ET: There's a rumor currently circulating that the Twins and Red Sox have a deal. Instead of Bill Mueller, the Twins would get Kevin Youkilis in return for J.C. Romero. They would also get the recently acquired Jose Cruz Jr., someone who could help fill in for Torii Hunter. This likely will get completed in some form before the deadline.

Sunday, July 31, 3:15 p.m. ET: The White Sox are looking again. While they haven't increased any offer, they have been willing to get creative. They're talking with a couple teams about deals that would increase the offers they have made to the Devil Rays. They've also inquired about what it would take to make Dmitri Young their new DH.

The Rangers aren't backing off their demand for Francisco Liriano, but with the need they have in the outfield, the Twins are looking to... wait, I literally just got a call. The Rangers have declined the last offer, which did include Liriano, according to a Minnesota source. The Twins asked the Rangers to include Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Mench as well. I'm shaky at best on this source. Adrian Gonzalez doesn't fit with Minnesota and would have had to be flipped quickly.

Sunday, July 31, 2:50 p.m. ET: The trade deadline excitement is palpable. OK, maybe that's just the coffee in me talking. We've had a Geoff Blum deal, and if that's not enough, well, you're not going to like the rest of the day. It appears that, as feared (or hoped), not much in the way of deals is going to happen. The lack of true sellers is driving prices too high for most teams and the desperation normally seen in the last hours isn't materializing.

Middle relievers are normally not worth two prospects. That's the going price, whether it's Ron Villone or Danys Baez. The Mariners asked the Marlins for both Jason Vargas and Scott Olsen. The Mets have been asked for Yusmeiro Petit and another pitcher for Baez. Neither appears likely to move at this stage.

The Rangers have gone from one of few sellers to perhaps a buyer--or at least a tweaker. Reports have the Rangers inquiring about Matt Lawton and hoping to flip David Dellucci. Dellucci has had a great season so far, but his inability to play regularly in the outfield may be the reason they're willing to shop him around.

Mark Redman and Jose Mesa aren't drawing much interest and it seems that the role we expected the Pirates to play might be occupied by the Tigers. Dave Dombrowski inserted himself into the deadline talks by being reasonable about what he could get in return for Jason Johnson and Dmitri Young.

The Red Sox have returned to the Twins, hoping that the long-rumored Bill Mueller-for-J.C. Romero central theme could be revisited. The Twins are looking for outfield help now, something the Red Sox have collected. George Lombard and Billy McMillon wouldn't be the worst fill-ins if the Twins have decided not to call up Denard Span until Sept. 1.

Sunday, July 31, 2:05 p.m. ET: The Twins stayed active late into the night, looking for a piece to plug into the hole where Torii Hunter once stood. Knowing that there aren't any quality center fielders on the market, the Twins are looking to upgrade the offense and are willing to fill center with Jacque Jones and Lew Ford. The Twins hoped that the Rangers really wanted to move Alfonso Soriano, but none of their offers came close. The Rangers reportedly would start listening when they heard the name Francisco Liriano--and still haven't heard it. The Twins also reportedly inquired about Aubrey Huff, but stopped when the Rays asked for Justin Morneau.

The Mets are looking at small deals. The Devil Rays are asking for Yusmeiro Petit in return for Danys Baez. Final bids on Baez are in from a couple teams and the Devil Rays should make a final decision by noon. The Phillies offered up Ryan Madson. Many in baseball are noting that the Mets pledge not to deal with the Rays apparently didn't make it to Omar Minaya.

Jon Heyman of Newsday reports that Cincinnati declined to discuss an offer on Ken Griffey, Jr. from the Yanks. "True," says my Cincinnati source. Dan O'Brien is steadfastly not discussing any of his outfielders, though he's apparently a bit upset about missing out on a deal for Jason LaRue that he thought was "very close." The Padres elected to deal for Miguel Olivo. The Reds have also declined to discuss David Weathers or Kent Mercker. Mike Sweeney's name is starting to come up in discussions. The Dodgers and Angels are reportedly the most interested. Instead of prospects, the Royals are more interested in someone taking on the entirety of Sweeney's contract.

What deals will happen today? Mark Redman is expected to head to the Marlins, Matt Lawton to the Red Sox or Cardinals, and the Mariners will continue to flip guys like Ron Villone, Eddie Guardado and, perhaps, Jamie Moyer.

Sunday, July 31, 1:30 a.m. ET: Sources tell us that the Reds may have been very precise with their language. They may not be dealing an outfielder, but they have been talking about dealing Jason LaRue to the Padres. Sending the catcher westward apparently was first discussed during the Joe Randa negotiations, but the two couldn't be completed as one transaction. The Padres looked around and came back to the Reds for the best available catcher.

The Red Sox are making sure Plan B doesn't head west instead of north. Aubrey Huff is the current "it boy" on the whisper wire with the Sox (Red and White) checking on his availability. The Red Sox are showcasing Jon Papelbon with a start tomorrow, while the White Sox are sticking with their initial offer of Brandon McCarthy and Damaso Marte. A source that has spoken to both sides tonight says that the Devil Rays like Boston's offer better, but are not convinced they will make any move. The Red Sox also appear to know what Matt Lawton will cost.

It might be a couple weeks since "Shark Week" on cable, but two of the steely-teethed sharks in the baseball world--Walt Jocketty and John Schuerholz--are slowly closing in on deals. Multiple sources say that both teams have waited out the initial "feeding frenzy" and that their GMs will come in at the last minute with "solid deals."

Everyone's watching for roster moves that presage deals. Randy Winn was held out of the lineup before his deal and now Casey Kotchman has been noted to be out of the lineup. Also, Austin Kearns was removed for a pinch-runner. It could be something, it could be nothing.

Saturday, July 30, 10:45 p.m. ET: One happened, one didn't. The Mariners made two deals on Saturday, though one was nixed by an M's player. Randy Winn was dealt to the Giants for Yorvit Torrealba and Jesse Foppert. Torrealba was blocked by free-agent acquisition Mike Matheny, while Foppert has fought injury problems, including Tommy John surgery. Winn will stay in left field, according to Giants sources.

The Mariners also completed a deal with Houston that would have moved Jamie Moyer for two prospects, one of which was starter Fernando Nieve. Moyer invoked his 10-and-5 rights and the deal was scotched. Houston does not expect to make another deal, but the Mariners have talked with Moyer about teams to which he would accept a deal.

Reports from multiple sources indicate that while the much-rumored three-way deal between the Red Sox, Mets and Devil Rays is dead, that the machinations to move Manny Ramirez remain in motion. The Devil Rays overplayed their hand, insisting on Hanley Ramirez, according to most triangulations of the deal. The Mets were willing to take on all of Ramirez's salary, something that would not have put them in luxury tax peril according to BP's Jay Jaffe. With Cliff Floyd scratched from the Mets lineup Saturday, there are some rumblings that the Mets and Red Sox are working with a clean sheet of paper. Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe has done his predecessor proud with his work on this story.

Again, there are multiple reports that the Red Sox will not stop with one blockbuster, seeking to deal for Adam Dunn (using Abe Alvarez, Jon Papelbon and Lastings Milledge) or for Billy Wagner (for Jon Lester and Milledge, plus a pitcher widely expected to be Bronson Arroyo). The Reds continue to insist they are not making any deals.

Cingular or T-Mobile is the big winner at the deadline. Tons of minutes are being burned as smaller deals for middle relievers, fourth outfielders, and fill-in prospects are being flipped and floated.

Saturday, July 30, 7:30 p.m. ET: Manny Ramirez has been pulled from tonight's lineup according to NESN. This shouldn't be taken as much more than a precaution in case the ongoing trade discussions amount to something. Reports from Boston indicate that inside the Ramirez negotiations, the Sox think they can turn Lastings Milledge into part of another deal. Jayson Stark is reporting that this deal was for Adam Dunn. Sources in the Cincy front office flatly deny the report, stating "We've been clear that we're not dealing Dunn or any other outfielder."

The Cardinals continue to work on a deal for an outfielder. The latest discussions involve Brian Giles coming to the Cardinals in return for Jason Marquis. That part would be easy enough, so if this deal gets held up, it will be over minor details of money and additional prospects.

The Diamondbacks will name Matt Williams, their former third baseman, as GM, replacing long-time GM Joe Garagiola Jr. Garagiola and Mike Port of the Red Sox have both resigned, as expected, to take over the responsibilities once held by current Padres president Sandy Alderson. Williams has a long-time association with D'backs president and former agent Jeff Moorad.

Saturday, July 30, 6:00 p.m. ET: The Manny Ramirez deal appears dead. Sources with two teams said that the Red Sox backed off from agreed-to terms, and that the three teams (Sox, Devil Rays and Mets) were not able to come to agreement once the mix of prospects changed. The ongoing negotiations halted an agreed-to deal between the Rockies and Red Sox (Larry Bigbie for Kelly Shoppach and Adam Stern) that will likely be revisited later. Ignore reports that two other teams have inquired about Ramirez. Boston is smartly using its media connections to try and create the appearance of demand for the slugger.

The Cubs and Twins have all but shut down their trade machines. Both teams feel that internal options are better than anything available on the market given the inflated requests of most teams. The Twins had intensified their efforts after losing Torii Hunter, and found nothing available. A possible deal for Mike Cameron was discussed briefly, but would have cost the Twins J.C. Romero and Boof Bonser.

Several teams, including the Braves and Dodgers, continue to hover around the margins of the market, hoping that as the deadline draws closer, that prices will drop. The key to the market appears to be Tampa Bay, the only clear seller with marketable commodities. Sources in Tampa Bay tell us that the Rays are holding firm on their prices for Danys Baez, Aubrey Huff and Julio Lugo.

The White Sox have made their final push, asking again about all three of their target acquisitions: A.J. Burnett, Billy Wagner and Huff. The Sox have made their best offers on all three and would take the first agreement, since all offers involve common players. It's an interesting ploy by Kenny Williams and his staff.

Saturday, July 30, 1:25 p.m. ET: Larry Bigbie wasn't in Colorado for long. Dan O'Dowd was able to flip him to the Red Sox for Rule 5 pick Adam Stern and prospect Kelly Shoppach, who replaces J.D. Closser as catcher of the always-moving future. Colorado took Bigbie over offers from other teams knowing that he was "flippable." Losing out on Eric Byrnes now makes Walt Jocketty work a bit harder. The Cards are thinking big with their acquisition, asking about Adam Dunn and Brian Giles.

The Red Sox slowed things down last night on the Manny Ramirez megadeal. Reports indicate variously that they either wanted one more prospect from the Mets or wanted Lastings Milledge for themselves. Expect continued talks over the weekend. Even if this deal doesn't work out, Mets fans have a couple months to get used to the idea of Oakley Thump spokesman Ramirez playing left in Shea. Boston is still working on an A.J. Burnett deal as well.

The Mariners figure to make at least one deal Saturday. Eddie Guardado, Joel Pineiro, and Jamie Moyer are the names that other teams are asking about. The return will vary depending on which offer Bill Bavasi accepts, but none will bring back real impact players like Freddy Garcia did last summer.

The Yankees seem close on a deal to bring Kevin Millwood to the Bronx. Millwood isn't the premium pitcher he once was, but he's an upgrade over the pothole patches of Hideo Nomo and Shawn Chacon. The Indians are also getting calls on Bob Wickman and Coco Crisp. Don't be surprised when Crisp isn't in the lineup; his wife is having their first child, so he's left the team.

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