Let the Trade Rumors Begin
With the inclusion of yet another playoff team in 2012, there should be many more teams holding back on the proverbial fire sale until very near the July 31 deadline. Any team currently at or near the .500 mark will likely be looking to buy and not sell making the market that much tighter as the deadline approaches.
The less successful teams are always looking to trade off their one or two legitimate players for a boatload of top ranked prospects. Sometimes these teams are looking to dump salary in the hope that quantity can over ride quality. Injuries on contending teams can cause a GM to push the panic button and perhaps sacrifice long term success for short term gain. The pressure is always on to get to the playoffs this year and let the chips fall where they may for the immediate future. Let’s break down who might be sellers. Let the games begin.
Chicago Cubs: If the rumors are to be only partially believed, the only members of the Cubs organization who might not be available would be the guy selling beer in the bleachers and the groundskeeper. The problem for Chicago is that there are few players any other team would want unless a bag of baseballs was the only thing wanted in return. Theo Epstein has stated in not so many words that this team is not going to contend for the next five years. Alfonso Soriano is the number one player on the Cubs wish list to be playing elsewhere and as soon as possible. The Cubs are said to be willing to pay most if not all of his salary to anyone willing to take him off of their hands. Anyone. Of course players such as Soriano always manage to throw a monkey wrench into the best laid plans. After hitting zero home runs until May 12, Soriano has 12 after that date. He is a liability in the field and doesn’t look like he’s paying attention most of the time but which one is the real Soriano. His salary is prohibitive even with Chicago willing to pay most or all of it. It seems like only the New York Yankees could put up with his baggage and they have already been down that road once before. Not even for a couple of used bats and an autographed Mickey Mantle cap would I make that deal. Chicago need pitching and more pitching but seem to be willing to trade their only two good ones, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. That would leave them with no pitching. Not a good way to start 2013.
Pittsburgh Pirates: All pitching and no hitting thus far in 2012. The Pirates are managing to stay afloat and they know that the fan base won’t tolerate another selloff. No real reason for such a move except this pitching can’t possibly last much longer. The Pirates desperately need another power bat. Casey McGhee should have been the answer but obviously 2011 was no fluke. Pedro Alvarez has his four home runs in the last two games but the jury is still out and the plane reservation for Indianapolis has only to be approved. They have no power on the corner outfield spots. Trade some of that over achieving pitching now. There are many teams who could certainly use the illusion that the Pittsburgh starters are the real deal. Maybe throw Tabata or Presley or McGhee in for good measure and see what is offered back. The Pirates seem to have loaded up their farm system with young hard throwing pitchers, having finally learned that a staff of soft tossing starting pitchers will not pave the road to success. They need a big, strong scary outfielder who does nothing but hit the ball to all parts of the downtown Pittsburgh skyline. Maybe a twenty year old version of Vlad Guerro might do the trick.
Minnesota Twins: Rumors are flying that former MVP Justin Morneau is on the block..for the right deal. Well, even Joe Mauer might be available for the right deal . You know, I’ll trade you an all star for your Double and Single A franchises and you throw in a few million to sweeten the deal. As bad as the Cubs are, the twins are much worse. Even their GM recently said that their pitching situation is desperate. Well, not desperate enough to sign Jamie Moyer but you get the idea. If Morneau or Mauer were traded, the firebombing of city hall would follow soon afterwards. Trouble is, no one seems willing to take a chance on Morneau due to his conclusion and other injury woes. The Toronto Blue Jays need pitching but apparently call everyone about everyone as a matter of habit. Morneau can’t pitch and Toronto have plenty of offense. No other team has been mentioned. Hey, you gotta sell copy somehow right? Minnesota have therefore no one to trade and no farm system. I’m certain GM Terry Ryan would love to scrap this team and start over but the prospects he could acquire really wouldn’t help much. Rival GMs are like sharks smelling blood. Give me Morneau, Mauer and Willingham and I’ll send you my lowest ranked prospects or some old washed up triple A players. Best I can do.
Houston Astros: The problem for the Astros is that they keep winning games. They weren’t supposed to do that this year. The new ownership and GM were already drawing up their charts this winter of who to trade and every player on the 40 man roster was on that list. Now what? The Astros while pretty much out of contention suddenly have a group of young relatively unknown players who don’t realize that they are supposed to be the worst team in baseball. They’d love to dump Carlos Lee and Brett Myers at least but which team would want Lee who has become a slower than slow singles hitter and Myers who has been the Houston stopper? Certainly this team needs to find a power hitter or two considering that they play in a great hitter’s park and their move next year to the three pitch softball league which is known as the American League. With the exception of second baseman Jose Altuve , no Houston player has any real value and I would never deal my only major league player. Their hands seem to be tied. No team is going to restock the Houston farm system for the return they might get. Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t make. Maybe Josh Hamilton will move to Houston next year.
These are the three teams which I expect the rumors to be flying in the next few weeks. Oh yeah, and Boston and New York (Yankees) will be trying to buy everyone who can still breathe. But that isn’t really a rumor, is it?
By: Doug Bird