July 29, 2006
Saturday, 10:00 p.m. ET: The name? Craig Wilson. At least three teams are in on him right now, but once again, the Pirates are asking for the moon. The Reds willingness to get in on a rental player signals that they're looking to win now, whether it's to catch the Cards or to hang on to the wild card. The team is now willing to take on some salary if that's what's needed, a big change from the old ownership. Wilson is hardly the only name that the Reds have looked into, although their focus is still on pitching.
There was quite a scare for a minute as a solid source called to tell me that Troy Tulowitski, the Rockies' uberprospect shortstop, had been pulled in the first inning. A team source assured me that "it's not an injury." No, he's not hurt, but it was a hit-by-pitch that got him pulled. Tulowitski is likely to be near the top of many prospect lists this off-season and it would take a monster deal to move him. At least it got my heart racing for a bit.
The Astros' offer for Miguel Tejada was turned down. There's no confirmation that the Angels still have an offer in, but let's assume that it's in play. If the Orioles turn that one down or ask for more (and adding more is something neither team has indicated that they're willing to do), Tejada will remain an Oriole. Or will he? Several teams are already talking about watching the waiver wire. With the wild-card races so tight, it's easy to imagine a lot of claims and even some deals happening after August 1.
The Rangers are still busy. Some rumors have Hank Blalock as the center of a couple deals. I couldn't confirm any of those possibilities though the Rangers certainly have need of a couple pitchers. Blalock could be paired nicely with Thomas Diamond or even John Danks for the right deal. Keeping his young pitchers was a priority for Jon Daniels, but now might be the time to strike if the right deal unfolds.
The Brewers still have a crowded outfield, making several teams think they could make a run at Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix or Brady Clark. The Brewers could use a near-ready pitcher to help shore up the rotation, much in the same way they grabbed Zach Jackson and David Bush in the Lyle Overbay deal. None of these outfielders will bring as much, but right now, they don't need to.
Saturday, 6:30 p.m. ET: Greg Maddux tipped his cap as he was removed from Saturday's game and appeared to say "goodbye." (Thanks to several readers that sent this in.) Maddux may know of or at least think that a deal is in place. The Cubs may be one of the teams involved in the already complex machinations of Kevin Towers and Theo Epstein, though there's no solid evidence that the two are working on the same deal. The Cubs have received some indications that Aramis Ramirez is going to opt out of his contract at the end of the season, putting them in the same situation that the Brewers were in before moving Carlos Lee.
The Cardinals made a final bid for Dontrelle Willis, likely similar to the previous deal that centered on Anthony Reyes. Once again, the Marlins declined, not bowled over by the offer. The Marlins are unlikely to move anyone, including Joe Borowski. The Cards' interest in Shawn Green may not be over once the deadline passes. Most sources I asked think Green will clear waivers.
Here's a tip: When a GM says he hasn't spoken to another GM, don't take that as a denial. It's often a dodge. General managers often don't get involved until it's more serious, letting AGMs, scouting directors, and even owners handle the groundwork. They know it's going on, but the plausible deniability allows them to look the media in the eye.
The Tigers called to inquire about Miguel Tejada, a Baltimore source tells me, but weren't really interested. The team is keeping a close eye on Minnesota and Chicago and were doing a "pulse check." Once they figured out that Chicago's not making a stealth offer, they were off the phone.
You haven't seen Wayne Krivsky's Reds in many trade rumors this weekend. That's not to say the Reds aren't trying to make moves. They have one offer out on a player that would really signal a new era in Cincy, though it's unlikely to happen.
Saturday, July 29, noon ET: The Astros and Angels have made their final offers on Miguel Tejada. The Orioles now have to decide if it's enough to give up their star shortstop. The Astros have a backup plan in Julio Lugo, but need to act quickly because Toronto is also in on the Devil Rays shortstop. Tejada is more likely to move if the O's are willing to absorb a bit of salary in return for him. One other team took a look at Tejada and decided to pass. "There's some questions there. The Palmeiro thing and he's checked out on the O's. I don't know if going to a contender changes him if it's not the right manager," I was told.
Is Bobby Abreu back in play? According to two sources, Pat Gillick is making the rounds via phone, asking for final offers on Abreu. In some cases, he's tying Jon Lieber's contract to the deal. This makes some sense for the Yankees, but not much sense for other, more price-conscious shoppers. The Phillies moved David Bell to the Brewers for a low-A pitcher, a move that helps both teams in the very short-term. The Phillies seem ready to make a series of moves that re-boots the franchise.
The Padres missed on Wilson Betemit, putting more pressure on them to make a big deal. Aramis Ramirez remains a possibility, though no one seems to have heard a credible offer there. The division is up for grabs and so are many of its players. Jason Schmidt is off the table, the Dodgers are still working, and the Rockies are standing pat but "willing to listen." The Cardinals are in on Shawn Green, but nothing is matching up right now.
Aside from Lugo, could the Rays trade some of their disgruntled minor league studs? The organization seems to be at the end of their rope with B.J. Upton, Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes. Young won't be traded--the Albert Belle comparisons are ringing more true, but remember Belle's bat. Upton likely won't be moved either, but Dukes could be sent out despite not getting value back just to send a message to the more talented pair.
Everyone's still watching the Red Sox, an organization that's plugged most of their former leaks. Whispers of Coco Crisp and Mark Loretta being shopped are coming from other organizations. The chattering masses (myself included) are trying to connect the dots here without much luck so far. Some of this--but not all--is smart use of misdirection. We'll know soon, I'm told. One of my best sources says the first of the Red Sox deals will happen this afternoon.