we recover from the old mid-summer coin flip, prepare for the
final days of potential July trading, and with my mid-season reports
up and ready for your review, I figured a quick question and answer
segment might be in order. Please bear in mind, this is sort of
a support piece. Some of these items I discussed when going on
and on about the American
League and the National
League at the 80-game marks. Others will be
dated about as soon as I post it… when some unexpected team makes
some unexpected trade and blows apart my thoughts of how things
will play out.
yes, these are fake questions I made up all on my own to fit some
of the stuff I wanted to mention…)
you really think Roy Halladay won’t be traded just because you’re
convinced Boston and New York won’t go after him?
question. Really good question.
I’m not buying the crap about Toronto not wanting to trade within
the division. As it is for any of the other 27 teams in baseball,
the market for Toronto’s talent is just better when Boston and
New York are involved in the bidding. When… for whatever reason…
the Red Sox and the Yankees care, it matters. And also, if either
of those teams stepped up with prospects the Blue Jays liked,
I don’t think they should be too concerned about pulling the trigger.
look at it this way. Depending on the schedule, Toronto has approximately
27 games to play against Boston or New York in 2009 and 2010.
Barring some amazing circumstance, that’s the amount of time before
Halladay becomes a free agent. So let’s divide that out… over
four-game and three-game sets… and say that means they meet eight
different times against those clubs. How many starts is that for
Halladay? Five? Seven? How many starts in Toronto? Three?
the best offer for him… the best acceptable offer for him… comes
from withint the division, there is just no reason the Blue Jays
should turn it down because they may have to play against Halladay
in Toronto three times and go through six or seven facing-him-again
funny enough… I don’t think Boston or New York plan to make the
best offer to Toronto.
this case… I don’t think those two clubs care. New York doesn’t
have enough to trade, and frankly, has too many other problems…
both talent based and financial… to solve before adding what could
become another $100 million contract to their stable. Boston simply
doesn’t want to part with as much as it will take for a luxury
addition. They need offense, not pitching.
my opinion. Said it before, and I’ll stick with it.
do have a strange feeling some things could change that might
make a trade possible in the next couple of weeks though.
Louis is an interesting possibility. The NL Central is up in the
air, as is the wild card race, and they have enough pieces to
like their chances of making the playoffs and then turn the opportunity
into a World Series trip. Halladay and, if healthy, Carpenter
leading the way would be a tremendous rotation in the National
League fight. (Along the same lines… Philadelphia is a nice choice
to get in this as well, and pairs him up wonderfully with Hamels.
But it looks like no one wants to win the NL East, and Philly
won’t need to trade to make the playoffs.)
obviously the major factor is will anyone offer Toronto a package
worthy of pulling the trigger. Don’t know. The Blue Jays have
to figure that one out on their own.
biggest sticking point beyond that though is simple… it has to
be a team that can win now. To get him, you are going to give
up more than the value of the picks you would get back if/when
he leaves in two years. So if Toronto is serious about not allowing
teams a window to work out a contract extension, I think the Milwaukees
of the league will end up interested… but nothing more than window
shoppers. And that means it has to be a team that can justify
a year and a half of his talent for everything they gave up… in
essence, a team that could win it all because he joined the effort.
say he doesn’t move, but if he does it will be like Sabathia last
year… he’s not going to Boston or New York.
it be a busy trading deadline in July?
general I tend to doubt it. There have actually been several minor
deals this year already, and I would guess that will continue.
But if by busy the actual idea is alot going on, some of it exciting,
and a free-for-all finish… nah. I don’t see that at all. I think
on August 1st we’ll once again be talking about how many big deals
take a look at Matt Holiday. If Oakland called Colorado and asked
to make the same deal in reverse right now, the Rockies would
say no. Holiday was worth more five or six months ago. And on
top of that, if Holiday leaves as a type a, the draft picks will
likely be worth more to Oakland than the players offered in a
then… Holiday wants to hit the open market after the season. Very
few teams are going to consider packaging up big name, young and
inexpensive players to send away for an acquisition that won’t
be around long.
trades are all out of whack right now as a result.
like Toronto think they deserve 5 or 6 players in return for a
32-year old starter. And not just a numbers game, of offering
more and more players in return… they will want high quality in
the group. Halladay is great… no doubt about it… but just ask
Houston how they did when they traded for Randy Johnson… or ask
Milwaukee about trading for Sabathia. Neither made a trip to the
championship round because of the deal. And if Halladay demands
a trade after the year… or refuses to negotiate an extension because
he wants to be a free agent after 2010… or whatever… it could
be devastating to trade three young stars for just 40 starts.
are talking about teams that can take on money… but honestly,
there don’t seem to be a ton of players out there that will be
say you’re Boston. I’ll have more on this in a dedicated Red Sox
column I’m working on… but you want offense. Well… where do you
put it? There is no rule allowing a team to set a ten or eleven
player batting order just because. So… are you trading for an
outfielder? Good… let me know if you are sitting Bay, Ellsbury
or Drew. Ok… how about Nick Johnson or Adam Dunn? Because these
guys are the junk food of the trade market… empty calories, expensive
to acquire, and no guarantees they will add production.
if you need to bring offense to Boston because Jason Bay isn’t
as hot as he was back in April or May… do you really think Nick
Johnson is a given to produce after leaving Washington for Boston?
Because if you do, I have a 10-year old used car I’d like to sell
you. About 175,000 miles on it… but only one owner and it never
left on a long drive beyond traveling the east coast. (Heck… we
only drove it to church… and that was downhill with the engine
the biggest problem for a big deadline? Look at San Diego. Chris
Young (who wasn’t really being talked about, but still) and Jake
Peavy are hurt… and Adrian Gonzalez likely isn’t moving. I mean
come on… doesn’t anyone else see that with Penny, Buchholz, Bowden
and a list of others in the minors, Boston actually has the most
pitching talent to trade? (I didn’t say best… Halladay is the
best on the market… but the cost is insane.) There’s not much
out there… and what is out there isn’t much better than Pedro
Martinez or Paul Byrd. Pedro is signed… Byrd isn’t… but neither
cost more than dollars.
so not much moving… what moves do you expect?
think the Yankees need help in the bullpen. Alot of help. Phil
Hughes has been solid, and Mariano is to be respected as Mariano.
But there are some questions on this pitching staff, and if they
even make the playoffs… by slugging their way in… they won’t be
lasting long without some relievers better than what they have.
So I expect the Yankees to look there.
Mets will do… well… something. But it won’t help. They’ve packed
their bags on this season according to what I’ve seen in July.
Everyone gave them an excuse to flop, and they’ve bought in to
it. My guess would have been an outfielder, but not a high cost
one, perhaps something like Jeremy Hermedia from Florida. Then
they went and traded one non-producing outfielder for another
in Jeff Francoeur, so that may be the only outfield move. I will
say this though… it wouldn’t stun me to see the Mets call the
Blue Jays about Halladay, choke when they hear the cost, and then
suddenly get into a discussion about Alex Rios. That wouldn’t
stun me at all. The real question though is simple… will they
have a fork sticking out of their backs as we hit the final week
of deals. Because if they do, there will be no reason to look
short term for pitching.
expect the Cardinals to do something. What… I don’t know. Somehow
though… Larry Walker comes to mind… names end up playing here,
especially when the Cardinals are looking at the playoffs. The
problem is, even if they get a top pitcher, I don’t think there
are any certainties here.
Indians will be fun to watch. With Detroit and Minnesota suddenly
alive, breathing, and looking like they’ll be fine for the next
season or two or three, Cleveland can’t just assume a rebound
for next year. And yet, to trade anyone, they will want a player
or more that can contribute next season. So if they think they
could steal Clay Buchholz and a solid prospect or two from Boston
for Victor Martinez (not just Buchholz for Martinez with a couple
of no names that will never wear the big league uniform tossed
in, but a legitimate prospect or two), they would be tempted to
jump all over that. (I don’t expect Boston to offer that much,
it’s just an example.) And I think they would love to move some
other players if the return was right. Kerry Wood? Ask, pick up
his salary and offer two decent prospects, and he’s yours.
the American League you have Boston, New York and Tampa… all of
them are loaded without doing much. They really need health, and
New York and Tampa could use a bit of real tinkering while Boston
would need to make a drastic move simply because of how well all
of the pieces currently fit (remove one and alot starts to go
into motion). So if you’re California, Texas (the Rangers aren’t
making the playoffs, but we’ll humor them and mention the name),
Detroit or Minnesota… what you’re doing is trying to figure out
what you need in October to beat the teams out of the AL East.
Because in my mind, it is going to be an all AL East showdown
for the American League slot in the World Series, regardless of
which two AL East teams make the playoffs. Texas needs Halladay…
and there is no way Halladay gives up his no trade for Texas.
(Although, he is a brilliant fit for Nolan Ryan’s “take this ball
and don’t give it up until the game is over” mentality for his
starters.) California probably needs a bat and a reliable starter,
but they never get involved in overpaying during the July fun-and-games.
And that leaves Detroit and Minnesota… and I don’t think they
can add dollars.
else in the AL will be posturing, with an eye more on the future
than on this season. (Seriously… do you realize that Boston might
only get involved in trade talks based on what it can do for them
in 2010 and beyond? There is very, very little they can do to
improve the club now that would be worth it short term. It would
involve ripping it all apart and then bringing back together if
they tried. Scary. So only a player like Adrian Gonzalez makes
any sense.) beyond unloading Julio Lugo or such, it should be
a bunch of very quiet teams unless they pull the trigger on something
National League is a bit more complex, for three reasons. First,
so many teams can actually claim a shot at the playoffs. The wild
card could come from any division, and, none of the divisions
truly seems wrapped up with a ribbon just yet. A couple seem won
already, but it’s not a done deal. Second, quick… tell me what
National League club has pitching you don’t want to face in a
best-of series? See? There really isn’t a Beckett – Lester, Sabathia
– Burnett, or whatever tandem in the National League that quickly
comes to mind. Cole Hamels? Great. Who else are you pitching in
Philly? Lincecum and Cain? Ok… I’ll give you that one. But they’ll
both have to throw shutouts every time they hit the mound, and
you didn’t think of them quickly. So all of the National League
clubs have a shot at the World Series if they can just make the
playoffs, and a ton of them are all jumbled together right now.
(Keep in mind, Boston, New York and Tampa are probably the three
best teams in baseball, and just surviving the AL challenges could
be more difficult than anything the NL sends to the World Series.)
And three, no one in the National League has money.
elements add up to a situation where even small deals could make
differences, and a ton of creativity to keep costs down.
Halladay does get traded, I expect it to be to Philadelphia or
St. Louis. The Phillies will definitely look at another a pitcher
or two. Pedro isn’t the only answer. And though he isn’t exactly
making nothing… Halladay is easily worth his current contract
dollars. The real decision is what he’s worth if you don’t think
you’ll sign him later.
is never afraid of making risky moves, but I just wonder what
moves are out there to make. As of right now, there isn’t a major
piece to add that works for the Braves. I expected they will do
something, but minor, and trading Francouer might be it. Put Milwaukee
in this same category, with the same description.
recap… Halladay to the National League is possible, the Yankees
look for relief help, the Mets make a trade that will solve nothing
for this year, and the Indians are the club to watch for offering
up surprises like Cliff Lee or Martinez. After that… moves with
players we’ve never really heard of or cared much about.
just don’t see a club like Boston being held hostage for overpriced
players. Those bargains everyone keeps talking about aren’t really
much of anything.
get away from trades… the playoffs… who makes it?
the American League Boston and California will win their divisions.
I’d really like to see Minnesota and Tampa make it, but at best
I’ll go 50-50 on those picks. In fact, since I don’t expect Minnesota
to do something with a trade or two, I’ll say Detroit and New
York make it.
that becomes interesting… because in opening round play New York
would clobber Detroit if they faced each other, and California
would beat New York. Won’t matter though… because no one is beating
League is a disaster to predict. I’ll say Philly, St. Louis and
LA win their divisions, and just for giggles I’ll take San Francisco
to win the wild card. So many average teams though, and everything
seems so close. If a club can run off a couple of winning streaks,
they could rocket from five games out of it to two or three in
Louis and LA meet for the big prize… a date to get swept by Boston.