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Inside Baseball | Tim Brown / SUNDAY REPORT

They've Reached Trade Station

July 16, 2006|Tim Brown

For each contending team to acquire even half of what it "needs" by the trading deadline, Bud Selig would have to shut down the central divisions of both leagues and hold a dispersal draft.

Although that might be great for television ratings in October, eliminate the necessity for revenue sharing and save Tony La Russa any undue heartache, the Braves still wouldn't be able to piece together a decent bullpen and Peter Angelos would still own a baseball team.

So, we make do with Eddie Guardado saving the Reds' bullpen, at least until Gary Majewski and Bill Bray became available, and Aubrey Huff arriving about 20 hours too late to rescue Gary Gaetti's job as the Astros' hitting coach, and a lot of general managers picking through the rosters of the Royals, Pirates and Devil Rays, in case they missed something ... yesterday.

But these things are complicated, for the buyers and sellers.

Take Odalis Perez. As the adage goes, one man's "trash" (Odalis' word) is the same man's unfathomable economic burden.

In exchange for the occasional service of aiming for the best hitter in baseball's bat barrel, Perez gets $7.25 million from the Dodgers this season, $7.75 million next season, a $1.5-million buyout in 2008, and a $4.5-million signing bonus payable sometime between this November and next November.

Trade Odalis Perez? And actually get a three- or four-limbed player in return? Ned Colletti would have an easier time trading Grady Little back to Boston, packaged with infield instructor Bill Buckner.

The point is, Perez gets all that money because he's a pitcher (the media guide lists him as such) who twice in eight seasons won more games than he lost, and because it is the rare general manager who is completely satisfied with his pitching.

Even mediocre pitching is attractive enough that the Yankees will make do with Sidney Ponson against the Mariners on Tuesday, the night after Jeff Weaver starts for the Cardinals and Kyle Snyder for the Red Sox. These are some of the best teams in baseball.

Supply is low, demand runs to code red, so the cost -- either in free-agent contracts or trades -- becomes potentially franchise-crippling. And it is partly why we're being asked to accept the notion of our first postseason without the Braves or Yankees in 16 years.

Two weeks from the deadline, here's where the savvy -- or frantic -- shopper treads:


The White Sox aren't getting much out of Scott Podsednik in left field and nothing for the moment out of Brian Anderson in center, but they actually have made relief pitching their priority. General Manager Kenny Williams will take offers on starters Freddy Garcia and Javier Vazquez but isn't feeling a need to deal either. They're both under contract through next season, Garcia at $10 million and Vazquez at $12.5 million. Jon Garland might also be had, but he has just started a three-year, $29-million contract and his ERA has jumped almost two runs over last season. Vazquez previously has made his thoughts on pitching on the West Coast quite clear, so the Dodgers wouldn't go there, and Garcia became hittable just before the All-Star break. Another variable: Garland and Garcia have full no-trades through the end of this season.

The Mets, Yankees and Red Sox are in. Probably too high-end for the Diamondbacks, who are looking for a starter they can control -- contractually -- for longer.

The other Chicago.

Cubs GM Jim Hendry has free-agents-to-be Greg Maddux and reliever Scott Williamson to spare, more than a few holes to fill and a frothing fan base to assuage. Maddux is 40 and lost his April (5-0) mojo, but he had three complete games and a 3.79 ERA after the break last season.


Rich Harden on Monday will be in L.A., where Dr. Lewis Yocum will give his shoulder the once-over. Best-case has Harden on a mid-August return. How this affects Barry Zito's final months with the Athletics is unclear, though it makes sense that the likelihood of Billy Beane trading Zito increases with a positive report from Yocum. You can count on Zito becoming a free agent in the winter, so this is strictly a rental.

The Dodgers made several calls a couple of months ago on Zito, as did every contender not in the AL Central, and most figure to check in again over the next two weeks.


GM Pat Gillick is willing to move anything short of Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino and Chase Utley. Right-hander Jon Lieber is healthy again and pitched well in a start against the Pirates just before the break. He won 31 games in 2004-05 with the Yankees and Phillies, and is due $7.5 million next season, the last of his contract. Gillick appears intent on moving Bobby Abreu ($15 million next season, $2-million buyout in '08) or Pat Burrell ($27 million over the next two seasons), but might find more takers on Lieber. The Dodgers, Mets, Red Sox, Yankees, Giants, Cardinals, Reds and Rangers are believed to be in.


This might have gone better for Jim Bowden had Livan Hernandez not revealed his push-off knee still isn't quite right from off-season surgery. Hernandez, Ramon Ortiz and Pedro Astacio can be had. Ortiz and Astacio would be classic, low-end midseason acquisitions. Hernandez remains an innings horse, but hasn't had the same results. At pitcher-friendly RFK, his ERA is 6.22.

San Francisco.

In the everybody-in NL West, it seems unlikely the Giants would fall out. But Jason Schmidt could come free. Scouts don't see the same pitcher they once did, but Schmidt has been effective; he hasn't given up a hit this season with runners in scoring position and two out.


Roberto Hernandez, 41, still functional after all these years.


But only if Bob Wickman, Guillermo Mota or Paul Byrd wow ya.

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