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Past Mills.

Sunday, July 31, 5:10 p.m. ET: It’s time to close up the Mill for now. I’d like to thank everyone
who wrote in with tips and encouragement. Doing this has really
opened my eyes into just how hard guys like Jayson Stark, Ken
Rosenthal, Buster Olney and Hall of Famer Peter Gammons work. It’s
hours on the phone and years of building relationships.

The trade deadline came and went with a couple sneaking by. The Cubs
had looked at Matt Lawton earlier and re-visited the deal very late
in the day. Given the few teams looking at Lawton, it seems that the
demand was a bit overestimated. The Bucs are also left with Jose Mesa
and Mark Redman, but one front-office exec thinks those players might
be the type to make it through waivers. “If there’s really 20 teams
that think they’re in it, that means only 10 have to pass on a guy to
get to a ‘contender.’ It will be interesting to watch [the wire] in
the next few days.”

In retrospect, the deal for Kyle Farnsworth shouldn’t surprise me as
much as it did. John Schuerholz likes to get relievers at the
deadline, knows what Leo Mazzone can do, and the Tigers were active
late in the trading game. Schuerholz’s ability to make deals like
this are what separate him from some of the GMs that are left holding
the phone and looking down at an empty bullpen.

The 2005 trading deadline will likely be remembered more for what
didn’t happen than what did. Baseball is not yet to the point of
football where it’s nearly impossible to make trades, or to hockey,
when they play, where everyone makes the playoffs. Joe Sheehan and
Chris Kahrl will do their normal stellar job of breaking down the
whos, the wheres and the whys in the next 48 hours, while I head
back to the injury beat.

Sunday, July 31, 3:55 p.m. ET: There’s a rumor currently circulating that the Twins and Red Sox have
a deal. Instead of Bill Mueller, the Twins would get Kevin Youkilis
in return for J.C. Romero. They would also get the recently acquired
Jose Cruz Jr., someone who could help fill in for Torii Hunter. This
likely will get completed in some form before the deadline.

Sunday, July 31, 3:15 p.m. ET: The White Sox are looking again. While they haven’t increased any
offer, they have been willing to get creative. They’re talking with a
couple teams about deals that would increase the offers they have
made to the Devil Rays. They’ve also inquired about what it would
take to make Dmitri Young their new DH.

The Rangers aren’t backing off their demand for Francisco Liriano,
but with the need they have in the outfield, the Twins are looking to…
wait, I literally just got a call. The Rangers have declined the last
offer, which did include Liriano, according to a Minnesota source.
The Twins asked the Rangers to include Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin
Mench
as well. I’m shaky at best on this source. Adrian Gonzalez
doesn’t fit with Minnesota and would have had to be flipped quickly.

Sunday, July 31, 2:50 p.m. ET: The trade deadline excitement is palpable. OK, maybe that’s just the
coffee in me talking. We’ve had a Geoff Blum deal, and if that’s not
enough, well, you’re not going to like the rest of the day. It
appears that, as feared (or hoped), not much in the way of deals is
going to happen. The lack of true sellers is driving prices too high
for most teams and the desperation normally seen in the last hours
isn’t materializing.

Middle relievers are normally not worth two prospects. That’s the
going price, whether it’s Ron Villone or Danys Baez. The Mariners
asked the Marlins for both Jason Vargas and Scott Olsen. The Mets
have been asked for Yusmeiro Petit and another pitcher for Baez.
Neither appears likely to move at this stage.

The Rangers have gone from one of few sellers to perhaps a buyer–or
at least a tweaker. Reports have the Rangers inquiring about Matt
Lawton
and hoping to flip David Dellucci. Dellucci has had a great
season so far, but his inability to play regularly in the outfield
may be the reason they’re willing to shop him around.

Mark Redman and Jose Mesa aren’t drawing much interest and it seems
that the role we expected the Pirates to play might be occupied by
the Tigers. Dave Dombrowski inserted himself into the deadline talks
by being reasonable about what he could get in return for Jason
Johnson
and Dmitri Young.

The Red Sox have returned to the Twins, hoping that the long-rumored
Bill Mueller-for-J.C. Romero central theme could be revisited. The
Twins are looking for outfield help now, something the Red Sox have
collected. George Lombard and Billy McMillon wouldn’t be the worst
fill-ins if the Twins have decided not to call up Denard Span until
Sept. 1.

Sunday, July 31, 2:05 p.m. ET: The Twins stayed active late into the night, looking for a piece to
plug into the hole where Torii Hunter once stood. Knowing that there
aren’t any quality center fielders on the market, the Twins are looking to
upgrade the offense and are willing to fill center with Jacque Jones and
Lew Ford. The Twins hoped that the Rangers really wanted to move
Alfonso Soriano, but none of their offers came close. The Rangers reportedly
would start listening when they heard the name Francisco Liriano–and still haven’t heard it. The Twins also reportedly inquired about
Aubrey Huff, but stopped when the Rays asked for Justin Morneau.

The Mets are looking at small deals. The Devil Rays are asking for
Yusmeiro Petit in return for Danys Baez. Final bids on Baez are in
from a couple teams and the Devil Rays should make a final decision
by noon. The Phillies offered up Ryan Madson. Many in baseball are
noting that the Mets pledge not to deal with the Rays apparently
didn’t make it to Omar Minaya.

Jon Heyman of Newsday reports that Cincinnati declined to discuss an
offer on Ken Griffey, Jr. from the Yanks. “True,” says my Cincinnati
source. Dan O’Brien is steadfastly not discussing any of his
outfielders, though he’s apparently a bit upset about missing out on
a deal for Jason LaRue that he thought was “very close.” The Padres
elected to deal for Miguel Olivo. The Reds have also declined to
discuss David Weathers or Kent Mercker. Mike Sweeney‘s name is starting to come up in discussions. The
Dodgers and Angels are reportedly the most interested. Instead of
prospects, the Royals are more interested in someone taking on the
entirety of Sweeney’s contract.

What deals will happen today? Mark Redman is expected to head to the
Marlins, Matt Lawton to the Red Sox or Cardinals, and the Mariners will
continue to flip guys like Ron Villone, Eddie Guardado and, perhaps,
Jamie Moyer.

Sunday, July 31, 1:30 a.m. ET: Sources tell us that the Reds may have been very precise with their
language. They may not be dealing an outfielder, but they have been talking
about dealing Jason LaRue to the Padres. Sending the catcher westward apparently was
first discussed during the Joe Randa negotiations, but the two couldn’t be completed
as one transaction. The Padres looked around and came back to the
Reds for the best available catcher.

The Red Sox are making sure Plan B doesn’t head west instead of
north. Aubrey Huff is the current “it boy” on the whisper wire with
the Sox (Red and White) checking on his availability. The Red Sox are
showcasing Jon Papelbon with a start tomorrow, while the White Sox
are sticking with their initial offer of Brandon McCarthy and Damaso
Marte
. A source that has spoken to both sides tonight says that the
Devil Rays like Boston’s offer better, but are not convinced they
will make any move. The Red Sox also appear to know what Matt Lawton
will cost.

It might be a couple weeks since “Shark Week” on cable, but two of
the steely-teethed sharks in the baseball world–Walt Jocketty and
John Schuerholz–are slowly closing in on deals. Multiple sources
say that both teams have waited out the initial “feeding frenzy” and
that their GMs will come in at the last minute with “solid deals.”

Everyone’s watching for roster moves that presage deals. Randy Winn
was held out of the lineup before his deal and now Casey Kotchman has
been noted to be out of the lineup. Also, Austin Kearns was removed
for a pinch-runner. It could be something, it could be nothing.

Saturday, July 30, 10:45 p.m. ET: One happened, one didn’t. The Mariners made two deals on Saturday,
though one was nixed by an M’s player. Randy Winn was dealt to the
Giants for Yorvit Torrealba and Jesse Foppert. Torrealba was blocked
by free-agent acquisition Mike Matheny, while Foppert has fought injury
problems, including Tommy John surgery. Winn will stay in left field,
according to Giants sources.

The Mariners also completed a deal with Houston that would have moved
Jamie Moyer for two prospects, one of which was starter Fernando Nieve.
Moyer invoked his 10-and-5 rights and the deal was scotched. Houston does
not expect to make another deal, but the Mariners have talked with
Moyer about teams to which he would accept a deal.

Reports from multiple sources indicate that while the much-rumored
three-way deal between the Red Sox, Mets and Devil Rays is dead,
that the machinations to move Manny Ramirez remain in motion. The
Devil Rays overplayed their hand, insisting on Hanley Ramirez,
according to most triangulations of the deal. The Mets were willing
to take on all of Ramirez’s salary, something that would not have put
them in luxury tax peril according to BP’s Jay Jaffe. With Cliff
Floyd
scratched from the Mets lineup Saturday, there are some rumblings that
the Mets and Red Sox are working with a clean sheet of paper. Gordon
Edes of the Boston Globe has done his predecessor proud with his work on this story.

Again, there are multiple reports that the Red Sox will not stop with
one blockbuster, seeking to deal for Adam Dunn (using Abe Alvarez, Jon
Papelbon
and Lastings Milledge) or for Billy Wagner (for Jon Lester
and Milledge, plus a pitcher widely expected to be Bronson
Arroyo
). The Reds continue to insist they are not making any deals.

Cingular or T-Mobile is the big winner at the deadline. Tons of
minutes are being burned as smaller deals for middle relievers,
fourth outfielders, and fill-in prospects are being flipped and
floated.

Saturday, July 30, 7:30 p.m. ET: Manny Ramirez has been pulled from tonight’s lineup according to
NESN. This shouldn’t be taken as much more than a precaution in case
the ongoing trade discussions amount to something. Reports from
Boston indicate that inside the Ramirez negotiations, the Sox think
they can turn Lastings Milledge into part of another deal. Jayson
Stark is reporting that this deal was for Adam Dunn. Sources in the
Cincy front office flatly deny the report, stating “We’ve been clear
that we’re not dealing Dunn or any other outfielder.”

The Cardinals continue to work on a deal for an outfielder. The latest
discussions involve Brian Giles coming to the Cardinals in return for
Jason Marquis. That part would be easy enough, so if this deal gets
held up, it will be over minor details of money and additional
prospects.

The Diamondbacks will name Matt Williams, their former third baseman, as GM,
replacing long-time GM Joe Garagiola Jr. Garagiola and Mike Port of
the Red Sox have both resigned, as expected, to take over the
responsibilities once held by current Padres president Sandy Alderson.
Williams has a long-time association with D’backs president and former
agent Jeff Moorad.

Saturday, July 30, 6:00 p.m. ET: The Manny Ramirez deal appears dead. Sources with two teams said that
the Red Sox backed off from agreed-to terms, and that the three teams (Sox, Devil Rays and Mets) were not
able to come to agreement once the mix of prospects changed. The
ongoing negotiations halted an agreed-to deal between the Rockies and
Red Sox (Larry Bigbie for Kelly Shoppach and Adam Stern) that will
likely be revisited later. Ignore reports that two other teams have inquired about Ramirez.
Boston is smartly using its media connections to try and create the
appearance of demand for the slugger.

The Cubs and Twins have all but shut down their trade machines. Both
teams feel that internal options are better than anything available
on the market given the inflated requests of most teams. The Twins
had intensified their efforts after losing Torii Hunter, and found
nothing available. A possible deal for Mike Cameron was discussed
briefly, but would have cost the Twins J.C. Romero and Boof Bonser.

Several teams, including the Braves and Dodgers, continue to hover
around the margins of the market, hoping that as the deadline draws
closer, that prices will drop. The key to the market appears to be
Tampa Bay, the only clear seller with marketable commodities. Sources
in Tampa Bay tell us that the Rays are holding firm on their prices for
Danys Baez, Aubrey Huff and Julio Lugo.

The White Sox have made their final push, asking again about all
three of their target acquisitions: A.J. Burnett, Billy Wagner and
Huff. The Sox have made their best offers on all three and would take
the first agreement, since all offers involve common players. It’s an
interesting ploy by Kenny Williams and his staff.

Saturday, July 30, 1:25 p.m. ET: Larry Bigbie wasn’t in Colorado for long. Dan O’Dowd was
able to flip him to the Red Sox for Rule 5 pick Adam Stern and prospect Kelly Shoppach, who
replaces J.D. Closser as catcher of the always-moving future.
Colorado took Bigbie over offers from other teams knowing that he was
“flippable.” Losing out on Eric Byrnes now makes Walt Jocketty work a
bit harder. The Cards are thinking big with their acquisition, asking
about Adam Dunn and Brian Giles.

The Red Sox slowed things down last night on the Manny Ramirez
megadeal. Reports indicate variously that they either wanted one more
prospect from the Mets or wanted Lastings Milledge for themselves.
Expect continued talks over the weekend. Even if this deal doesn’t
work out, Mets fans have a couple months to get used to the idea of
Oakley Thump spokesman Ramirez playing left in Shea. Boston is still
working on an A.J. Burnett deal as well.

The Mariners figure to make at least one deal Saturday. Eddie
Guardado
, Joel Pineiro, and Jamie Moyer are the names that other
teams are asking about. The return will vary depending on which offer
Bill Bavasi accepts, but none will bring back real impact players
like Freddy Garcia did last summer.

The Yankees seem close on a deal to bring Kevin Millwood to the
Bronx. Millwood isn’t the premium pitcher he once was, but he’s an
upgrade over the pothole patches of Hideo Nomo and Shawn Chacon. The
Indians are also getting calls on Bob Wickman and Coco Crisp. Don’t
be surprised when Crisp isn’t in the lineup; his wife is having
their first child, so he’s left the team.