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July 25 and July 26 Mill

July 27 Mill

Thursday, July 28, 9:45 p.m. ET: We finally got the blockbuster deal we’d been expecting. The Padres
went out and got Dave Ross from the Pirates for minor-league infielder J.J. Furmaniak. What?
You don’t think that’s a blockbuster? Ok, I just wanted to say
“Furmaniak” which sounds a lot like “Birdzerk” to me. Ross fills a
need at a pretty low price for the Pads, while the Bucs cleared the
way for Ryan Doumit and Ronnie Paulino. The Pirates also told Ian
Snell
to be ready to start, meaning Mark Redman is all but out the door.

The Alfonso Soriano deal is still percolating. Rob Neyer thinks the
trade is “inevitable” or so he said on ESPN Radio today. There’s a
number of permutations circulating, most surrounding some combination
of Mike Cameron, Lastings Milledge, Carlos Gomez and Aaron Heilman.
Heilman’s name is also being mentioned in a possible deal with the
Devil Rays for Aubrey Huff. This is despite recent pronouncements
from the Mets about never wanting to deal with the Rays.

Ryan Howard is staying a Phillie. Period.

The Red Sox like Matt Lawton and might push the bidding for the left
fielder up a bit from where the Cardinals were starting. Lawton has a
nice OBP and would fit in nicely as a replacement for Trot Nixon or
as the fourth outfielder once Nixon is back. The Cardinals will have to include Brad
Thompson
and Cody Haerther if they expect to get Lawton.

Thursday, July 28, 7:15 p.m. ET: The Angels are looking over their shoulder and getting a bit nervous.
Their lack of lefties in the pen is overdone–more on this soon, I
hope–but Scot Shields is someone who could bring a nice return,
assuming the Angels would part with him. Bill Stoneman has resisted
letting any of his depth go, so the teams thinking that Shields would
look nice in their pen would likely have to come up with a heck of an
offer. The Angels are one of few teams not looking to get prospects;
they want to win now. They’re complicating the Mets/Rangers deal with
a pursuit of Mike Cameron. There’s also been some talk about trading
one of the Molina brothers for Phil Nevin.

The Alfonso Soriano rumors are still swirling and a few sharks are
starting to nibble around the edges. The Twins are rumored to be
looking despite this being completely opposite the type of deal
they’ve ever done. The Mets are still the likely location but as the
Rangers solidify themselves as a seller, they’re likely to get more
creative offers.

The Phillies are now involved tangentially in the potential White Sox/Marlins
deal. The confusing scenario alone makes this unlikely to
occur. The Phillies would send Ryan Madson to the Devil Rays for
Danys Baez. The White Sox and Marlins would do their A.J. Burnett
deal, but Florida is demanding Jose Contreras. After all
that, the Phils would take Burnett and give up Billy Wagner. That’s a
lot of machinations for an iffy return. The Phils could get a good
pitcher for Ryan Howard, which seems a lot easier and more likely.

It’s not sexy, but watch for teams to start moving middle relievers
in the next couple days to contenders. In the past, names like Kent
Mercker
and Tom Gordon have brought nice returns. There are a few
teams–Twins, White Sox, Red Sox, Blue Jays–who could pick up
something for the baseball equivalent of “that guy.”

Thursday, July 28, 2:35 p.m. ET: ESPN 103.3 in Dallas was
reporting this morning that Alfonso Soriano had been dealt for Mike
Cameron
and Lastings Milledge. As yet, there’s been no additional
confirmation, so I don’t think this deal is as close as our friends
in Dallas think it is. With that said, it does appear that there’s fire behind
this smoke. Tom Hicks may have said he doesn’t want to trade Soriano,
but I think the billionaire would be willing to make a deal he didn’t
want if it made sense. The Rangers are also stalled on Sidney Ponson.
Apparently, Baltimore doesn’t want to absorb nearly as much salary as
Texas would like them to do.

Larry Lucchino confirmed that Manny Ramirez did ask to be traded.
According to reader M.D. “it’s an annual event. Like Bastille Day.”
Ramirez will not be traded now, of course, but the Mets covet the
slugger openly and if the Red Sox put Ramirez back on waivers,
they’ll claim him.

There are reports that the White Sox asked for Tom Gordon when the
Yankees called about Orlando Hernandez. Sources from both sides deny
things got that specific. The White Sox are working furiously to plug
perceived holes in the number-three slot and the back end of the bullpen.
Meanwhile, numerous whispers are that Ozzie Guillen doesn’t want anyone new in his clubhouse. Watch to see if the Marlins try and revive
the Sox’ interest in A.J. Burnett.

The Brewers are in the top 10 of team WXRL. After designating Ricky
Bottalico
for assignment, that means their bullpen is down to just
one player who makes more than the league minimum. It’s funny that both New York
teams, with bullpens costing ten times as much and performing considerably worse, will consider adding a guy like Bottalico. Doug Melvin is
underrated.

Thursday, July 28, 12:30 a.m. ET: Alfonso Soriano played. Thanks to everyone who e-mailed, all 200+ of you. In my haste to get
the info out, my brain somehow subbed “Alfonso Soriano” for “Mike
Cameron
.” In the Mill, speed counts, but so does accuracy, so my
apologies.

It appears now that not much is actually happening.
Cameron was given the night off by Willie Randolph to help him clear
his head after a couple of bad days. Milledge ended up pinch-hitting at
Binghamton. Soriano? He’s 2-for-6 and remains a Ranger, playing deep into the night in Baltimore.

Why are the Yankees still talking about Shawn Chacon and his cockeyed
hat? Chacon is available, and in today’s trade market, that’s enough.
The Yanks seem to think that if they can just plug up the dam for a
few more weeks, they’ll be in position to make a run. Chacon could
make a couple starts, then slide to the bullpen once Jaret Wright is
back.

The Angels aren’t yet pressing the panic button. Still, they’re
stunned at how quickly Steve Finley has declined. What was once a
surplus of outfielders is now a collection of guys who play center field badly.
Along with the Orioles and Rangers, the Angels would love to have
Mike Cameron. Failing that, they’ll be calling to check back on Corey
Patterson
.

The Braves are working the phones diligently, collecting information
and trying to size up the market. They’re not in any serious talks as
far as anyone I speak to can tell, though they always seem to be
stalking at the edges of any deal.

Dmitri Young has come up in
conversations with a couple of teams, and there’s some talk that Young
could be flipped quickly to Tampa for Danys Baez.

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