Friday, July 18, 2008

Teams That Should Cut Their Losses And Fold For The Season

With the Joe Blanton to the Phillies trade completed, teams aren't waiting for the July 31st
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deadline to strike. Here's my view of teams that should fold up the tent for the season. (This has no bearing on what they will do, but what they should do.)
  • San Diego Padres:
I doubt they're going to execute a thorough housecleaning given how arrogant they are and how they still insist that they're a "good" team having a bad year; trust me, they're a bad team with little help on the horizon in the form of prospects. (And their top prospect, Chase Headley, has walked twice in 95 plate appearances going into tonight----a bad sign.) They've already dumped Tony Clark back on the Diamondbacks and they'll probably do a few other things. Randy Wolf is definitely going; maybe Brian Giles and Greg Maddux; other than that, I
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think they'll stick to the plan (whatever that means).
There was a story about how Paul DePodesta signed a contract extension to stay in San Diego as team president Sandy Alderson's assistant; Alderson claims that DePodesta "has had opportunities" as a GM for other organizations since joining the Padres, a statement that I consider to be a lie. I'm starting to believe that after the season, Kevin Towers and the Padres will mutually part ways and DePodesta will be installed as the GM. Towers should have other opportunities and has never seemed comfortable working under the heavy-handed Alderson. There will be open jobs in Seattle and Philadelphia and possibly places like Washington or Detroit where Dave Dombrowski may want to relinquish some of the day-to-day responsibilities of the organization to someone else and move upstairs. If I were a Padres fan, this speculation would give me the shakes.
  • Seattle Mariners:
This isn't as clear cut as many may think. The Mariners have a chance to turn things around by next year if J.J. Putz is healthy and they get the expected seasons out of Felix Hernandez and Les Miserables, Erik Bedard. Bedard's value is next to nothing now because
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of his reputation and injuries, but as free agency begins to beckon, he'll want to put up some numbers to get himself a big contract; trading him now would make no sense. One thing he needs is a Jason Varitek-type to get into his face and the Mariners are at a point where everyone (including the manager and coaching staff) is too worried about their own status to be concerned with threatening Bedard into performing and to stop being such a misery.
Adrian Beltre is going to get traded. Miguel Batista should be in demand for his guts and versatility, but the Mariners have to decide what they want for him. They could probably get better prospects if they pick up part of his salary; or they could take marginal players back and just be happy to get rid of the contract. One name that I would put in play (but the Mariners won't do it) is Ichiro. He's a singles hitter who's running the team and that's a bad combination.
  • Cleveland Indians:

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I don't know who would want to take Paul Byrd, but if every other option falls through, some team might get desperate enough to take a shot at him and hope a pennant race will get the juices flowing in the religious righty. Casey Blake should bring back a couple of decent prospects; Rafael Betancourt would be a useful reliever who'd be in demand if the Indians put him out there. One name that might go after the deadline is Travis Hafner if he can prove he's healthy; I'm sure the Indians would love to be out from under his contract, but that's highly unlikely (almost impossible). They could probably get something for David Delucci as well.
  • Washington Nationals:
They made the mistake of signing Ronnie Belliard and Dmitri Young to contract extensions
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last season when they could have maximized their value and taken advantage of their solid comeback seasons by dealing them. Unless GM Jim Bowden is pressured, I don't know if he's going to move them this year either. The Nats have some other useful parts like Willie Harris and Tim Redding; they might be able to come away with a prospect for Paul Lo Duca. There'd be a feeding frenzy if they put Jon Rauch up for auction and it's something to consider seriously.
  • San Francisco Giants:
Ray Durham is having a good year at the plate and maybe someone could use him since he can also play the outfield in addition to second base and can run; Randy Winn is making a lot of money next year, but he can run and is a solid all-around player for a team that has no monetary concerns. They'll give away Barry Zito, but no one's taking him.
  • Atlanta Braves:
There's been talk that they're considering doing as they did last season and going for it
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again by dealing for Matt Holliday. I don't know if the Braves have an
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endless supply of prospects to keep trading for these Scott Boras clients (like Mark Teixeira) who are only guaranteed to be Braves for a year and a half, but they should throw the towel in. They have no starting pitching and appear to be waiting for Mike Hampton to show up like the Great Pumpkin. If I were the Braves, I'd see what the market is for Tim Hudson to replenish the system, but they're not going to do that and will either stagger along as they are or do something stupid for Holliday.
  • Houston Astros:
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They're going nowhere and the team appears leaderless. They're not going to do it, but if Roy Oswalt shows he's healthy, he should be moved. The Astros also have some valuable spare parts like Darin Erstad, Ty Wigginton, Mark Loretta and Geoff Blum for whom they could get something. I'd expect them to either sit tight or add a player or two even though they shouldn't.
  • Cincinnati Reds:
Adam Dunn is a player that might bring something useful back and he's a free agent at the end of the year. If a team has a solid power base and just needs another basher in their lineup who walks a lot and hits a lot of homers, but isn't great in the clutch, Dunn is a guy to consider. Ken Griffey won't yield much in a trade, but he too should be moved. David Weathers is a gutty reliever who's had post-season success and would warrant a prospect from a contender who needed a veteran in the bullpen.
  • Baltimore Orioles:
There was talk that the Orioles might consider adding players instead of dumping them. Ordinarily, I'd say that Andy MacPhail isn't under such illusions of contention, but who knows how much owner Peter Angelos is interfering with the operation. It was enough that Angelos
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finally allowed MacPhail to deal Miguel Tejada and Erik Bedard, but that was before they hovered around .500 for half the season. The Orioles have Melvin Mora, Kevin Millar and Aubrey Huff (each a great fit for the Mets); Chad Bradford (a useful and successful reliever); Ramon Hernandez and Jay Payton (both of whom I'm sure MacPhail would love to unload). Then they have an intriguing name like Daniel Cabrera who would be a good fit for the Cardinals to slot into their rotation. If I had to guess, I'd say they're going to do little or nothing of consequence and see if they can finish over .500 no matter how much it hinders their progress.
  • Toronto Blue Jays:
If they're going to get rid of GM J.P. Ricciardi, they should do it before the trading deadline. They're not contenders; they're injury-prone and they have some useful players other teams would want, but Ricciardi's the type to go down in a blaze of glory, so who knows what he'll
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do if he's told to clean house? David Eckstein would be in demand, as would Matt Stairs. I doubt anyone's going to touch Scott Rolen, but they could try to move him; Gregg Zaun might bring back a prospect. One name I'd throw out is B.J. Ryan to get out from under his contract and diminishing stuff. A.J. Burnett is available, but with the opt-out status of his contract (or the big money he'll get if he stays wherever he's sent), it'll be hard to get much for him unless a team gets desperate.

I'll have postings about what the other teams-----those that should raise and those that should hold----in the coming days.

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