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August 7, 2000

The Daily Prospectus

The Sunburn Special

by Joe Sheehan

In this era of digital cable and lightning-fast Internet connections, it's quite easy to stay in touch no matter where you are. But a couple of times a year, I make a concerted effort to get away for a few days and pay as little attention to baseball as I can. I find that the period after the July trade deadline is usually a good time for a respite.

So I'm back from a weekend of sun, sand and golf--well, a game I play that looks like golf, anyway--in Lake Havasu City, Az. By the way, if you ever want the cheap thrill of having a course to yourself, I highly recommend an August afternoon in Arizona. And keep in mind--it's a dry 115 degrees.

Expecting not much to have changed in two days, I came back to find Carl Everett back in uniform, Dave Martinez in yet another uniform and a uniform sense that the Phillies are really starting to find their way.

Everett's return has the Red Sox back to as full strength as they're going to be, acknowledging that even at full strength they have a lineup with four deep, dark holes in it. His return also came with a bit of controversy, apparently over Everett's leaving the team briefly during his suspension. He and manager Jimy Williams ended up in a heated discussion over the issue.

To his significant credit, Williams refused to provide details, insisting that the matter would be handled internally. Without getting too misty-eyed over the idea, it's the management of minor flareups like this--keeping them from becoming major flareups--that can separate a good manager from a lesser one. Williams did an excellent job here handling what could have been an explosive situation.

The AL East got another, lesser outfielder back Saturday when the Dave Martinez World Tour meandered into Canada. Martinez is with his fourth team in less than 100 days, having started the season as a Devil Ray and making stops with the Cubs and Rangers. He's been having a lousy season, batting just .254/.322/.357, but he's perked up since the All-Star break. Martinez is exactly what the Jays needed, a left-handed-hitting corner outfielder with some on-base skills. He won't change the AL East race, but he won't hurt Toronto's chance to stay in it, either.

While my position on the Jays is embarrassingly well known, I now am half-hoping they lose 10 of 12 and fall out of the AL East and wild-card races. Why? Because it would open up the possibility of Martinez being traded again. I don't believe any player has played for five different major-league teams in a single season, although I could be mistaken.

Gord Ash continued his underwhelming ways over the weekend, adding second baseman Mickey Morandini via a waiver claim. While a cheap joke would be the easy out, the fact is Morandini has been about 15 runs better than Homer Bush with the bat this season, although not as good a defender. As with many of the moves the three AL East contenders have made--Luis Polonia and Rolando Arrojo come to mind--it's an unimpressive upgrade of a terrible situation.

The trade of Morandini capped the Phillies' wipeout of their double-play combination, as they'd dumped Desi Relaford Friday. In just a few weeks, the Phillies have moved most of their age and a significant portion of their payroll; cleared room for their better, younger players; and added a few prospects with upside. Ed Wade has never looked better.

Maybe next year I'll wait until the middle of August to take a trip.

Joe Sheehan can be reached at jsheehan@baseballprospectus.com.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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