Wrigleyville woes, drama in Philly in the absence of stretch drama, taking it one day at a time in DC, plus news from around the game.
Though the Cubs are playing out the string in what has turned into a disappointing season, there is still intrigue surrounding a franchise that will now make it 101 consecutive seasons without a World Series title. That's because Tom Ricketts has agreed in principle to buy the Cubs and Wrigley Field from Sam Zell and the Tribune Company for $845 million.
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Hue and cry in Pittsburgh and Cleveland risks overlooking the gains made to teams that needed change.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Pirates have not been rebuilding forever. It just seems that way. Since Sid Bream beat Barry Bonds' throw home to rally the Braves to a 3-2 victory in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game Seven of the 1992 National League Championship Series, the Pirates has been undergoing one rebuilding program after another.
The Jays mull the likelihood of reaching no deal for Doc, the Mets melt down, and the Royals talk process.
In two days, it will be all over. Either Roy Halladay will still be with the Blue Jays, the team he broke into the major leagues with in 1998. Or he will be traded to a contender with a chance of pitching in the postseason for the first time in his 12-year career. Friday is the deadline for trading players without subjecting them to waivers, but Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi has set his own deadline of Tuesday for dealing Halladay, as the ace's next scheduled start is Wednesday against the Mariners at Safeco Field.
A few of this year's deadline deals rank among the most successful moves in major league history.
When looking over the entire history of deadline-day trades, one is inevitably reminded that the vast majority of all trades, deadline and otherwise, amount to nothing, with nonentities being swapped for nonentities. This is true even of the big names that are typically dealt from also-rans to contenders around the non-waiver trading deadline of July 31 (and, before that, June 15). For buyers, very few trades have the kind of impact envisioned at the time of their consummation: a marked improvement at the position the acquiring team is upgrading and a boost into the postseason.
Team USA is dealt in, the Yankees begin hoarding chips, and the White Sox hold.
The idea of sending a baseball Dream Team to the Olympics has been dead a while now. Major League Baseball would never consider shutting down its season for two weeks to send an All-Star team to an Olympiad, and furthermore, baseball will be discontinued as an Olympic sport after next month's games in Beijing. The opening ceremonies are August 8, and the baseball competition will be held from August 13-23. Thus, baseball will be taking a back seat to a lot of other sports in the Olympics. You have to search to find the games on television, and strain even further to find much coverage online or in print.
The eight premium players who might get dealt, and what it would take to get them.
CC Sabathia, Rich Harden, and Joe Blanton have already been dealt in a flurry of early activity, leaving many contenders playing from behind in the race to improve their team by the trade deadline. With three of the top arms off of the market, the list of trade targets is hitter-heavy. For pitching, there's really only Erik Bedard; everyone else you can think of is either on a good team or not an impact pitcher. Then again, the A's are 51-44 and have dealt away 40 percent of their rotation in the last 10 days, so maybe they'll move a third. Read on.
As in the AL, the Central division is as tight as can be, while in the East two Mets are predicted to take home some hardware along with their division flag.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the National League, along with the staff picks in some fun miscellaneous categories.
Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.
Many tradeable players stayed put before the non-waiver trading deadline, but many players won't get say the same thing by the next trading deadline.
It never ceases to amaze those inside baseball how big of a deal the non-waiver trading deadline has become: millions of words of copy written about it in print and on the Internet, along with countless hours devoted to talking about it on radio and television.
"It's a fun thing for the fans," Pittsburgh General Manager Dave Littlefield said. "There is a lot of information out there about it, a lot of talk and a lot of rumors. Some of it is accurate and a lot of it isn't. The most important thing, though, is that it generates interest in the game, which is always a good thing." "It's become a much bigger deal than I remember it being earlier in my career," said Houston infielder Mark Loretta, a 13-year veteran. "With ESPN doing a three-hour special and reporters calling you and all that kind of stuff, it's become the real hot stove time during the season. I've been through it a few years. It's intriguing. It's always interesting to think of the possibilities and what not. Ultimately, it's a relief when it's over."