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July 30, 2006

Will's Mill

Another Day, Another Rumor

by Will Carroll

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Sunday, 11 p.m. ET:

"Umm, yeah, we're going to need you to come in early on Monday."

"But boss, we've been here non-stop since Friday. I stink from wearing the same clothes and I never want to eat pizza again."

"Riiight, but see, we still need you to get the TPS reports done so that we're ready if a pitcher comes available."

You can imagine front offices around the league going a little Milton about now. The deadline is getting closer and a lot of teams don't have much to show for all their work.

The Mets haven't made the most of Aaron Heilman. Once expected to be a rotation fixture, the pitcher has instead found a home in the bullpen. He could find a home closer to his midwest roots if the information I got from a Mets official pans out. I'm told that the Mets are discussing shipping Heilman to the Cardinals in return for free-agent-to-be Jason Marquis. The Mets would need to fill the bullpen slot, possibly reaching out for Roberto Hernandez or shifting Brian Bannister to the pen.

The Mets have nothing working with Lastings Milledge (quick trivia question: Why is he named "Lastings"?) He was ejected, not removed, from his Triple-A game today after arguing balls and strikes. Any suggestion that this was indicative of an impending deal didn't do the homework. It didn't take good sources on this one, it took checking the boxscore.

The Pirates remain stuck. Sean Casey was getting some interest, but a strained oblique ended that. Roberto Hernandez is drawing some interest, as are some of the veteran names in Indianapolis like Terry Adams and C.J. Nitkowski. Those players confronted GM Dave Littlefield about their future recently, wondering if they might be sold like Brandon Duckworth or called up to Pittsburgh. No, said Littlefield. They're not coming, even in September. The Pirates would be smart to take anything for these players, sure not to be back in the Pirates organization next year.

Where was Mark Loretta during tonight's Red Sox game? Denizens of the always interesting and sometimes accurate Sons of Sam Horn are reporting that Loretta had left the park. As always, the Red Sox have no comment. Peter Gammons, we need you back!

Be sure to check out BP Radio and the BP Podcast Extras that are up this weekend. Whether it's instant analysis of trades or Nate Silver's statistical breakdown of trade value, you're missing out if you don't add BP Podcasts to your digital lifestyle. It's free!

Sunday, 9:15 p.m. ET: It's not a long drive from Houston to Arlington. It's one I've made more than a few times and one that several players could be making if a rumored deal happens between the Astros and Rangers. Both teams have bandied names about, according to one source who's had contact with a GM involved here. (Man, that sounds convoluted and tells you how I do this....) The source tells me that the Rangers would send Brad Wilkerson and Rod Barajas to Houston for Brad Lidge, Morgan Ensberg and Fernando Nieve. This is a similar package to what the Astros offered on Miguel Tejada, so that's perhaps dead. The Rangers made a deal for a backup catcher (Miguel Ojeda) today, making it possible to deal Barajas. The Rangers also continue to be rumored to be watching pitchers. One of my best sources tells me that Hank Blalock hasn't been connected to "any real discussions."

It's been very quiet on the Alfonso Soriano front today, in large part because the Nationals are trying to sign him, exchanging offers with agent Diego Benz. Jim Bowden hasn't heard an offer he likes, from Soriano's agent or from one of Soriano's several suitors. The Nats figure to take this one down to the deadline in hopes that desperation will increase offers. The Angels placed Bartolo Colon on the DL with elbow problems, making it tougher for them to deal Ervin Santana, one of the big names in their offer for Soriano.

Many around baseball see the Tigers' call-up of Brent Clevlen as a showcase for a possible trade. The Tigers sources I've been able to talk to insist that it's not, but none offer a better reason for the call-up. Clevlen could be a part of the Tigers offer for Soriano, if there were such an offer in place. The Tigers' minor-league system doesn't really include anyone that could be described as "major league ready," though Zach Miner could be moved with Mike Maroth ready to start rehab.

Think Kenny Williams has been quiet over the last week? Don't mistake quiet for inactive. The White Sox have been involved in several discussions. It's just that nothing discussed got to a point where Williams and his staff felt it would improve the team. The team that's been surprisingly quiet? The Mets. "They're swinging for the fences," one team executive told me. "You can do that when you stuck a knife in the Braves over the weekend."

Sunday 4 p.m. ET: The Cardinals, in an effort to upgrade their second-base position, are about to acquire 2B Ron Belliard from the Cleveland Indians for Hector Luna.

Buster Olney is reporting that the Yankees' deal for Bobby Abreu is complete. Abreu and Cory Lidle come to the Yankees for C.J. Henry, Matt Smith, and a PTBNL. Sources indicate that Brian Cashman kept pushing the Phillies to make the deal at his price, not theirs. Keeping all their top prospects while adding a bat and an arm has to be a real feather in Cashman's cap. The only holdup now is Abreu's approval, which may be tied to his 2008 option. Now we wait to see if the Red Sox and Blue Jays will answer.

The Rangers are still hard at work. Rumors of a deal for Miguel Tejada have been downplayed by sources, though Jon Lieber, another Phillie arm, is still a target. Hank Blalock is the lead name in both whispers, his platoon splits the reason he could be moved. Neither side had comment, but other teams think any deal is "50/50 at best." The Rangers could slide back to a pitcher like Mark Redman or Livan Hernandez. One thing to note with the Rangers--reports from a team source have Michael Young volunteering to shift to third if that's what it takes to get Tejada.

Sources in Anaheim tell me that owner Arte Moreno has become more involved in negotiations on several deals. GM Bill Stoneman has been very reluctant to include his top prospects in any deal, something Moreno may push for if he thinks his team can win now. Two teams think that Casey Kotchman and Nick Adenhart may be in play.

John Schuerholz is still working despite his flurry of recent deals. News that John Thomson may be done for the season has the Braves looking for another arm. They'll likely look to one of the lesser arms, such as Redman or Kip Wells.

One Assistant GM told me today that he wished one team was more active. "I don't blame them, but I'd love for Dan O'Dowd to take a stupid pill today. Their system is as stacked as the Angels or Diamondbacks."

Sunday, 11:45 a.m. ET: Ken Rosenthal broke the news that the Yankees are ready to deal for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle. He also got that the Red Sox were attempting to get Abreu as well, or at least raise the price for their rivals. Rosenthal is the rock star of the deadline.

I've learned that the Yankees' latest offer was Eric Duncan and Tyler Clippard, plus one low-minors player. Due to Boston's involvement, this probably isn't the final offer, but we don't know what the Red Sox are offering. If a dam near you ever springs a leak, call Theo Epstein--he's apparently the master at plugging leaks.

The Red Sox didn't make the deal I was told about yesterday. Was my source wrong or did things change, keeping the expected deal from happening? I'm not sure yet. Gordon Edes reported on the offer of Coco Crisp to the White Sox for Mark Buehrle, one of many offers that the Red Sox have made. There's a grand strategy there, but I can't see it yet. The Sox are also closing in on a deal for Julio Lugo, according to sources with other teams. The holdup there is getting an answer on whether Lugo would move to second base. The backup option for the Red Sox is Dustin Pedroia, not Ron Belliard.

Belliard is the first choice of the St. Louis Cardinals, though nothing appears imminent there. The Cards aren't being aggressive, and according to one team source, they've pulled back in hopes that the waiver wire sneaks some names through to them. It's a smart strategy given their relative lack of prospects.

The Astros are out on Alfonso Soriano, but in on Miguel Tejada. That doesn't make sense to me, given the reason the team broke off on Soriano: money. According to sources in Washington, the Astros wanted the salaries to balance out, saying they couldn't afford Soriano's remaining 2006 salary. If $3 million or so is what's keeping them from acquiring Soriano, couldn't Roger Clemens--the guy who just wants to win--defer some money?

Related Content:  Deal,  The Call-up

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