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July 26, 2007

The Mill

Thursday Update

by Baseball Prospectus

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  • We won't know for a while if the Padres or Brewers got the best end of this deal. A lot depends on whether Will Inman develops or not. I've heard scouts on both sides. Joe Thatcher is an Indy native picked up out of the Frontier League, so while his results have been fine, he's the very definition of free talent, something the Brewers really understand. Scott Linebrink is a nice acquisition for Milwaukee, in part because they believe in pitching coach Mike Maddux's ability to make quick fixes. Also, don't discount the value of the draft picks the Brewers will get when/if Linebrink leaves.
  • The Mariners are looking for pitching, but so is everyone else. Until they offer up more than Wladimir Balentien and a reliever, they're not going to get the answer they want, especially when asking about quality starters. Livan Hernandez? Maybe, but sources tell me that the M's don't want to bring in someone who hasn't pitched in the AL. One name that was pitched to me was Shawn Chacon, who's pitched pretty well in Pittsburgh.
  • Here's an interesting possible move--while everyone's looking at the Red Sox needs now, maybe they're looking to deal Moneyball-style. If everyone is currently overvalued at the trade deadline, maybe someone coming up will be undervalued. Does a Wily Mo Pena for Andy LaRoche deal make sense? Maybe not at first look, but for me it does. The Dodgers could use the power, and it would free up an outfielder to trade for a reliever like Octavio Dotel.
  • Names I'm not hearing: Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins, Matt Garza, Scott Baker. With all those pitchers in a wafer-thin seller's market, you'd figure Terry Ryan and the Twins could find some way to get a guy for the DH slot. OK, he had Justin Morneau there today, but he also had a guy with 23, 13, 9, 6, and 0 home runs in 5 of the 9 slots today. That's career home runs, not this season's totals.
  • Poker analogies are overused this time of year, but they work. My question--when do you push all-in if you're a GM? When do you say, "This is my last, best, final offer?" Is there ever a time when you're actually willing to stand up from the table? Right now, with 24 teams telling me that they think they're in it (they should check the Playoff Odds Report), there are teams that are bluffing. It may take well into the weekend to find out who.
  • --Will Carroll

    ---

    Christina Kahrl: I'll get into this in greater length later on today (which you can see here), but as much as picking up Linebrink represents an admirable amount of faith in Mike Maddux's abilities as a coach, I guess I see the negative elements for both sides in this exchange. Linebrink's apparently not somebody you like having around, and his performance has been an issue, and now he's outside of Petco--how well should anybody expect that to work out? On the other hand, there's a perception that getting Linebrink dealt now reflects a lost opportunity for Kevin Towers, and that he might have gotten a lot more dealing Linebrink earlier in the year. That may or may not be the case, but remember, the Pads are one of the organizations that don't worry as much about short right-handers, and if Wil Inman's six feet or so, as much as that might make some teams leery, the Pads are instead going to focus on stuff and results, and may well have taken this deal at any time in the last 18 months.

    As for the Mariners' lot, I know this isn't what Will said, but Balentien and anything for somebody like Shawn Chacon would be a massive overspend for a pitcher who doesn't really provide a solution to the Horacio Ramirez problem. Chacon would be a two-month rental, but he shouldn't cost the Mariners someone as good as Balentien.

    ---

    1:05 p.m. ET

  • Historically, Angels General Manager Bill Stoneman has been quiet at the trading deadline, but there are indications he may make a move for a big bat, with White Sox right fielder Jermaine Dye and A's DH Mike Piazza mentioned as the leading possibilities. More of a longshot is Baltimore shortstop Miguel Tejada, who has been out more than a month with a broken wrist and is expected to come off of the DL Friday; the Angels nearly pulled off a trade for Tejada last July. Like many other clubs, the Angels also have their eye on Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira, but seem unwilling to pay the Texas' high asking price.
  • Atlanta is also in on Teixeira, but GM John Schuerholz also looking for a starting pitcher; Arizona's Livan Hernandez and the White Sox' Jose Contreras and Jon Garland are known targets, along with some continuing interest in San Francisco's Matt Morris.
  • The Dodgers want to add pitching, but have so far found the asking prices for Contreras, Scott Proctor of the Yankees, and Octavio Dotel of Kansas City to be too high.
  • The Tigers and the Mets have both been eyeing Nationals relievers Chad Cordero and Jon Rauch in recent days.
  • One of the wildest rumors being floated is that Minnesota is interested in Phillies left fielder Pat Burrell, though Nats first baseman Dmitri Young might be a more realistic target for the Twins.
  • --John Perrotto

    ---

    1:45 p.m. ET

  • Forget Dmitri Young going anywhere. According to Bill Ladson of MLB.com, the Nats are close to signing him to a two-year extension. On the heels of sources telling me that the Nats were looking to collect draft picks, signing Young now is an interesting move. I'm still hearing rumblings that Adam Dunn would welcome a trade to the Nats more than any other team, and telling his friend Austin Kearns that he'd sign there.
  • Do the Cubs already regret trading for Jason Kendall? He's 1-for-15 and before anyone says "small sample size," I'll point out that his performance in Chicago only continues the precipitous decline seen in Oakland. The Cubs can't expect to contend with an offensive black hole at catcher. One possibility is trying to follow on the rumored Rangers-Braves deal--if the Rangers get Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the Cubs have asked their scouts for an opinion on Gerald Laird.
  • The Dodgers aren't shifting their view to starting pitching despite the injuries to Derek Lowe and Randy Wolf. Instead, they're still focused on offense, and could be looking to make a late move on Adam Dunn. The key word--late. According to multiple sources, Dunn is not Plan A or even Plan B, in large part because nobody seems to think that Dunn would re-sign with a West Coast team.
  • Kyle Farnsworth was pretty good in his last stint in Detroit, but is he now the best available option for the Tigers? George King of the NY Post thinks the deal could happen, but sources tell me that Farnsworth is "just one name of many" that the Yankees have looked at recently.
  • --Will Carroll

    ---

    2:30 p.m. ET

  • As the Braves continue to look for starting pitching, the Braves pitching coach might be a good clue as to what they're looking for, if not who. John Schuerholz has a great handle on what type of players succeed with Bobby Cox and always seemed to play to former pitching coach Leo Mazzone's strengths. Roger McDowell is a bit more of an unknown. I spoke to a player who knows McDowell well, and he gave me a bit of a scouting report: "Roger's a great guy, one of the guys you want to talk to when things are going well or not so well. He's more of a guy who will help you when you ask than go up and try to change something. I think he'd work best with a guy who knew what he was doing, who'd had some success, like Tim Hudson, and just needed some guidance along the way." Does that fit with rumored names like Matt Morris and Jon Garland? Absolutely. What about Livan Hernandez or Jose Contreras? They fit the profile, but there's one other factor to keep in mind that the player told me: "Roger's Spanish stinks."
  • What do the Braves give up for those types of pitchers? Many think that Edgar Renteria is the most likely guy to go, though no one seems to know if new ownership in Atlanta is willing to eat some contract to make a deal. It might also surprise some to know that Yunel Escobar, the likely replacement if Renteria is dealt, has been discussed in at least one trade. Depth helps make these things possible, and the Braves also have Brent Lillibridge and Elvis Andrus in the minors.
  • --Will Carroll

    ---

    Christina Kahrl: Any suggestion that Dmitri Young's rooted in place has to be interpreted as a grim sign for Nats fans wondering about what's next for Nick Johnson. In a DH-free workplace, Young and Johnson have to be seen as mutually exclusive, which would normally dictate some sort of more hasty decision on dealing Young. If, on the other hand, Johnson's going to be fine and the Nats feel they can keep both and deal from strength this winter, they might want to take note of how well Dave Littlefield's master plan regarding peddling Jack Wilson is working out. As much as I'm glad that Young has had an outstanding comeback season, and as much as I believe that the Nationals really should be making a better effort to engage the African-American community in a predominantly African-American city, employing African-American players and personnel, keeping Young only makes sense if Johnson's done.

    For me, any suggestion that the Dodgers might try to play dark horse in any negotiation for an outfielder, especially a corner outfielder, has to be informed by a realistic appreciation of their doing one of two things, each equally unlikely--Ned admits a gross error, and agrees to pay somebody an awful lot of money to employ Juan Pierre, opening center field for Matt Kemp, or they end up trying to sell Luis Gonzalez for pennies on the dollar. Shopping Andre Ethier and/or Wilson Betemit is all well and good, but unless it's to solve the self-inflicted problem at third base--which Betemit would solve--or to add something in the rotation, it all strikes me as incredibly ill-considered.

    Jason Kendall's cooked. Last season's modest OBP was, if anything, the indication of the end, as his reflexes at the plate died and he reaped the transient benefit of caution. Now he can't command respect at the plate, or hit anything with authority, which leaves the Cubs with (at best) the weak reassurance that at least they didn't give up that much to get him, and that the only thing at stake now is the playing time they'll burn on him. The sooner they don't fix this, the worse it gets.

    From all of this, there are two things I find most interesting . First, the suggestion that the Twins might get Burrell--which would be great, for them. It would also be great for the Phillies should Pat Gillick actually ask for something this time around, instead of taking whatever the dry cleaners found in Brian Cashman's pockets for Bobby Abreu, but given that we're talking about two non-native traders trying to strike a deal. I wouldn't hold my breath, but it would be cool in a way most deadline deals this year won't be.

    Second, I'm fascinated by the mounting buzz over Teixeira. I'm not going to say that this might be a job-saving trade for Jon Daniels, but first base is one of the few spots where it's a seller's market if you can peddle a premium hitter at the position, and Tex is one of the very few worthwhile commodities worth offering blue-chip talent for. If Daniels can finally realize some sort of value in an exchange, he might end up buying himself some breathing space. Or get run out of town on a rail, but that's already a risk.

    ---

    1:15 a.m. ET, Friday July 27th

  • Felix Pie was pulled in the fourth inning of the Iowa Cubs game in Colorado Springs, along with outfield/first base-type Josh Kroeger. All I know thus far is that neither player left due to injury.
  • While everyone's watching (and waiting) for Texas, the Astros are quietly putting together what looks like a series of deals. Dan Wheeler won't be an Astro by the weekend, moving as soon as Friday if my sources are correct; there are two teams that have made serious offers. Chad Qualls is also available, whether or not Wheeler is dealt, but Lidge is not. GM Tim Purpura is also trying to find some sort of return for Morgan Ensberg.
  • Who'd have thought that Ty Wigginton would be the hot commodity? Two years ago, he was in Triple-A Indianapolis, barely able to hold a starting job on that club. I can't knock Dave Littlefield and the Pirates too much for this one because I didn't see it either, but it's not my job to evaluate talent.
  • Teams like trading from strength, but don't get caught underestimating trading to strength. By that I mean pulling in something that they do well. Case in point, the Brewers believe in Mike Maddux's ability to quickly help guys like Scott Linebrink. You'll see this play out over the next couple days, as a few other teams like the Rangers, Mariners, and Tigers lean on their faith in their pitching coaches to make their newly-acquired talent better.
  • The Cardinals are very, very quiet right now, with more rumors focusing on their front office itself instead of what the front office is doing.
  • --Will Carroll
    Related Content:  A's,  The Who,  Jon Garland,  Dmitri Young,  Trade To Dodgers,  Nats

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