With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, I put out a call to some of the team-centric bloggers from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance with 3 questions each, dependent on whether or not they considered their team to be a contender or not. Below are the questions, along with each of the responses.
Note that most of these responses were received over the last week, so some may be a bit out of date with the information now known, but that has more with my inability to sit down and write it all down and not with the respondents themselves.
Bill Ivie from I-70 Baseball (Responses are for the Cardinals)
Daniel Shoptaw from C70 at the Bat (Cardinals)
Bee Hylinski from Contract Year (Athletics)
For Contending Teams:
1. What would you say is your team’s most pressing need to help them get to (or stay in) the playoffs?
Ivie: I will take the opinion side of this. I have said it for months now. The Cardinals need some strong help in the middle infield. When they get production and table setting from the 2b/SS position, they produce and win. When those positions are quiet, the team loses.
Shoptaw: There are two glaring holes on this team–middle infield, most especially shortstop, and the back of the rotation. With the hopeful emergence of Tyler Greene to replace Brendan Ryan‘s woeful production, getting another starter would seem to be the most pressing need. The team can not continue to run out Jeff Suppan and Blake Hawksworth on a regular basis and expect to play in October.
Interesting to me is the fact that both writers agree that the Cardinals’ middle infield is pretty much a black hole in terms of offense. I’m also inclined to agree with Daniel about the fact that the Cardinals need something in their rotation, but I think they are going to have to either make a small acquisition or wait to find out if and when injured pitchers Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse will be able to return to the rotation.
2. What player(s) do you think would most effectively fit that need? Generally, these would only be players that actually have a decent chance of being traded, so no offers for Albert Pujols :)
Ivie: What if I want to offer for Albert…oh, wait…we got ‘em. Dan Uggla is always and intriguing name. I also like the discussions that are suggesting Stephen Drew at SS. Other than that, I think the market is kind of small for help, but hopefully they can find something out there.
Shoptaw: While the Cardinals would be well-suited to a Dan Haren or a Roy Oswalt, their contract situation most likely leaves them out of the crosshairs of GM John Mozeliak. All moves must be filtered through the prism of the potential Albert Pujols extension. Therefore, they’d much rather have someone that was a free agent after this season rather than someone taking up space in the next year or two. You would think, in that case, they’d look for someone like a Jake Westbrook or perhaps a Kevin Millwood.
I actually really like the idea of the Cardinals acquiring Dan Uggla for a playoff run. While he is a bit expensive at $7.8 million for this season, he is under team control for next season as well, and could conceivably be moved during the offseason if they feel he will be too expensive. I actually really like the Stephen Drew thought as well, but he has more seasons under team control and would realistically cost more to acquire than Uggla. The Cardinals also seem like they would be a good team to take a risk on a Jake Westbrook/Kevin Millwood/Jeremy Guthrie type, and pair them up with Dave Duncan and let him do his magic.
3. What player(s) in your system are most likely to net you the player(s) for those needs?
Ivie: This probably is the biggest obstacle for the Cardinals. I would say that Bryan Anderson (AAA Catcher), Mitchell Boggs (ML Reliever), and Brendan Ryan (ML Shorstop). Brendan may be thrown in for a change of scenery and take a team that feels that is what he needs, but it will be hard to tell.
Shoptaw: What they can give up is another story. Since they used a lot of their chips last year acquiring Mark DeRosa and then Matt Holliday, there’s not a lot on the farm. There are potentially useful players such as Mark Hamilton and Joe Mather, along with current big leaguers Jon Jay and Allen Craig, that could be used as parts of a deal. Most likely, St. Louis would have to take on payroll, something that ownership has said there is flexibility to do, and give away lesser quality prospects. Expect that Brendan Ryan could be a part of a deal as well, especially if they do make a deal for a shortstop.
After looking at the Cardinals system myself, it’s pretty empty at the higher levels. The biggest name that I have heard for them is pitcher Shelby Miller, who I would assume would have to be included in a trade if they were to get themselves someone like Roy Oswalt or Dan Haren. The other thing to remember at this point is that if they acquire a player who has a longer term contract, they may start running into a problem with their payroll limits after 2011 when they will need to resign Albert Pujols.
1. Which player(s) on your team do you think are most likely to get moved before the deadline?
Hylinski: Pitcher Ben Sheets, notwithstanding Billy Beane’s comments that he doesn’t plan on moving anyone. Sheets has pitched better with every start recently. His fastball is up to the mid nineties and all his other pitchers are working more accurately. He’s a veteran presence and great with the young pitchers. Speaking of the latter, if a team would give up a great player and need more than Sheets, the A’s have a plethora of young pitchers in the minors to sweeten the pot.
I really thought that they were going to move him, and that despite his veteran presence he could bring back a fair amount in return. Unfortunately, he was placed on the disabled list on Saturday, and could potentially miss the rest of the season.
2. What would you like to see the organization get in return (ie, a 3B prospect, starting pitching prospects, salary relief, etc)? Specific players aren’t necessarily a requirement, unless you see a specific good match.
Hylinski: A slugger, a 3 or 4 hole hitter who can also play in the field (not another Jack Cust, please) Someone like Hanley Ramirez would be terrific: a young major league hitter (or major-league ready hitter) with substantial pop in his bat.
I agree that this is definitely what the Athletics need, because the lineup just isn’t good enough in terms of power. Even when Sheets was healthy, I’m not sure I saw a player on the A’s current roster that could have brought that in return. Maybe catcher Kurt Suzuki, but with him now signed to a contract extension, I don’t think he’s going anywhere for at least a couple of seasons.
3. Do you see a good fit for these players that you think could get a deal done?
Hylinski: I am not convinced that Billy Beane and the ownership will pay top dollar for a hot bat. But that’s what the team needs. The only 2 bats at top of the A’s minor league system (Sacramento River Cats) are Chris Carter who can only play 1st base, so unless something happens to Daric Barton who has been a hitting and field machine, he’s not coming up; and Michael Taylor who is at least a year off.
Another possibility might be 2nd-baseman Mark Ellis (though I’d really hate to see him go). I understand the Phillies and maybe the Red Sox are looking for a 2nd baseman. Probably Kevin Kouzmanoff will not be traded unless the other end of the deal is too good to pass up.
I’m inclined to agree with these points also, unfortunately. With the stadium situation continuing to drag on in Oakland, and with the team possibly moving to parts unknown, San Jose, or half a dozen other places, they just seem extremely unlikely to pay to get someone like that. The two prospects Bee mentioned have unfortunately been disappointments at AAA to this point, and signs are pointing that they may actually have to repeat the level again next season.
Overall, I thought it was interesting to get the perspective of some writers who are clearly very knowledgeable about their teams, and see if their observations about their teams were similar to mine as someone who sees it a little more at arm’s length. Thanks to everyone who responded to my questions, and you should check out their blogs at the links above as well.
Also, Allen Teruel over at Prorumors.Com had a series of writeups regarding potential trade targets for each team and certain types of players as well. You can find these stories here:
Here are a few Top 10 lists that can help you out too: