WHAT SHOULD THEY DO - NATIONAL LEAGUE TEAMS
Ed Note: Bernie wrote this article before the Cubs dealt Scott Feldman.
One of the greatest periods of the baseball season will be upon us soon. I'm speaking of the non-waiver trade deadline. It's a great time. Just to be clear-players can be dealt after the July 31 deadline, but the player must pass through waivers before he can be traded.
I want to look at each club and play General Manager. What do they need? What do they have to relinquish?
Keep this in mind: The only people who really, really know what's going on inside a front office are the people inside the front office. Most of what we read is speculation. Much of the speculation is started by hopeful player agents, family, friends, media buddies, and various and sundry other individuals not in the know. My point? It's all speculation until the deal is done. I have no-and I mean no- inside information.
Much of the time talk about trades is just that-talk. But often where there's smoke, there's fire. I do think pitchers like Matt Garza and Yovanni Gallardo will be dealt. There is no reason for their current club to keep them. Bats like that of Michael Young might help a contender.
Keep in mind that deadline deals often involve players with expiring contracts awaiting free agency. Only a few teams can benefit by obtaining those players for the second half of the season. The price is often prospects. In today's game prospects are gold. Teams are getting younger. Prospects are being given opportunities quicker on some clubs. That said, those pending free agent deals may not be as prolific.
Players noted with + are currently playing in the Minor Leagues.
What They Need: A top of the rotation starting pitcher, organizational pitching depth, organizational first baseman.
What They Have To Offer: OF Jason Kubel, INF Cliff Pennington, INF/OF Willie Bloomquist, 3B Matt Davidson+, Trevor Cahill+, Ian Kennedy+, SS Chris Owings+, OF Tony Campana+, INF Nick Ahmed+ and possibly either Anthony Meo+ or Chase Anderson+.
I have said all along that I feel the Diamondbacks starting pitching is woefully thin. I believe the organizational arms need more development time and/or are not as strong as one might want to believe. Tyler Skaggs waits in the wings along with Charles Brewer, Archie Bradley, Anthony Meo and Chase Anderson. But that will be then and not now. They need now.
What They Need: At least two starting pitchers, a first baseman, a second baseman, a left-handed reliever.
What They Have To Offer: OF Michael Cuddyer, INF/C Jordan Pacheco, INF Jonathan Herrera, OF/1B Tyler Colvin, INF Josh Rutledge, P Rafael Bethancourt, 3B/1B Ryan Wheeler+, 2B Charlie Culberson+, OF Charlie Blackmon+, OF Tim Wheeler+, OF Kent Matthes+, P Juan Nicasio+, P Joe Gardner+, P Christian Friedrich+, P Drew Pomeranz+, P Tyler Matzek+.
The most obvious trade chip might well be Troy Tulowitzki. But they really can't trade one of their two best players (Carlos Gonzalez the other) unless they can get a boatload in return. And I do mean a boatload. One of the players in the boat has to be a shortstop. That said, I think they can do extremely well by trading a very, very hot Michael Cuddyer. While he's healthy and hot. A prospect outfielder would have to be in the deal. I think their young pitching has great appeal to outside organizations.
Pomeranz is still a strong enough arm (in the right park) to fetch someone of quality. He would have to be packaged. I do think Jordan Pacheco would have great value to many teams. He's versatile and young. And inexpensive. I've always felt Betancourt would fit nicely in Detroit. If not there, certainly on the Angels or Dodgers. Bottom line? They have good players to trade. Pitching will be tough to acquire unless it is by trade. They have to do it. With some immediate help they can have a really good season and surprise at the end. It will be costly. They have a good young nucleus, but they need pitching.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS:
What They Need: A second baseman, a third baseman, two starting pitchers, a left-handed reliever (maybe two).
What They Have To Offer: OF Andre Ethier, 1B/OF Scott Van Slyke, P Brandon League, OF Carl Crawford, P Ted Lilly, INF Luis Cruz+, INF Justin Sellers+, OF/INF Elian Herrera+, SS/2B Dee Gordon+, OF Alex Castellanos+, P Javy Guerra+.
The Dodgers are intriguing. Their best trade chip might be outfielder Joc Pederson, who now might be their best Minor League player (with Yasiel Puig having been promoted). Pederson looks to be blocked in the Dodgers organization with a glut of outfielders available. To trade him would be a drastic move unless they could clean up. Everyone coming to the Dodgers will be asking for Pederson. And no, Ethier is not a good substitute for Pederson in a deal and really doesn't have as much trade value as people may think. Crawford is expensive, but maybe the Yankees or someone else will be interested. There really isn't much in the cupboard to trade. The price will be high. The Dodgers are one team that will pay for a Gallardo or Garza, etc.
And not only pay the price in players, but also player salaries. Dee Gordon is still attractive. Now they're playing him at second base. He's still very young and has a chance to develop. He was rushed. It was a mistake. Any Dodgers trade might include Pederson and Gordon as openers. Then, throw in pitcher Matt Magill and/or Chris Withrow and go from there. It would have to be another mega-deal like they pulled off with the Red Sox.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
What They Need: Starting pitching, relief pitching, two outfielders, and possibly a second baseman.
What They Have To Offer: OF Will Venable, 1B Kyle Blanks, OF Chris Denorfia, P Edinson Volquez, P Jason Marquis, P Huston Street, P Tyson Ross+, OF Reymond Fuentes+, P Anthony Bass+, P Brad Boxberger+, P Kevin Quackenbush+.
The Padres have been destroyed again this season by injuries. Out at the time I write this article include Yonder Alonso, Jedd Gyorko, Everth Cabrera and Cameron Maybin, not to mention Casey Kelly, Joe Wieland, Cory Luebke, Clayton Richard and Rymer Liriano.
If the Padres get some starting pitching and another arm for the pen (or if they give Boxberger and Quackenbush a chance) they will continue to improve. But they have to fortify that starting pitching. That means they will have to give up Chase Headley - and I don't think they have anyone to replace him. Not even close. That's why I wouldn't give him up. I'd try to move Kyle Blanks, who's stock has increased. He's injury prone, but he has power. And he plays first base. Huston Street will be attractive. Either he or Like Gregerson can fetch help.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
What They Need: A starting pitcher, a big bat outfielder, and two relief pitchers.
What They Have To Offer: 1B Brandon Belt, OF Angel Pagan (injured) 1B/OF Brett Pill+, 1B Angel Villalona+, 2B/SS Joe Panik+, LHP Dan Runzler+. OF Gary Brown+, INF Nick Noonan.
The Giants really have very little in the way of depth. The 25-man roster isn't deep and the farm system isn't either. As a result, if they want to get that starting pitcher, they may have to give up a hitter like Brandon Belt and turn first base over to Brett Pill. It would take a big time player to get Belt. They may want to trade Hunter Pence because he can walk after this year. But if they think they can win the West, they need Belt, Pence and at least one more hitter. Somebody might want Tim Lincecum, but then how do they fill that hole? I just don't see the Giants having any moving parts. Ryan Vogelsong has a fractured hand and is now on the 60 day disabled list. It isn't pretty.
What They Need: Starting pitching, a third baseman, two outfielders, two bullpen arms including a closer.
What They Have To Offer: OF David DeJesus (injured), OF Nate Schierholz, OF Alfonso Soriano, OF Ryan Sweeney, P Edwin Jackson, P Matt Garza, P Scott Feldman, P Travis Wood, C/1B Steve Clevenger+, 3B Josh Vitters+, 3B/OF Junior Lake+, OF Brett Jackson+, OF Matt Szczur+, OF Dave Sappelt+.
The future for the Cubs rests with OF Jorge Soler and Albert Almora and SS Javier Baez. The future 3B might be Jeimer Candelario, but he's years away. They need help now. Soriano can still fetch a good player or two on a contender needing offense such as the Rays, Yankees, Giants, Rangers or someone like that. The price will more in the line of salary relief than players in return. Vitters and Brett Jackson are washouts. They may be packaged together and sent packing. The starting pitching might be attractive to any of several contenders. A Feldman, Wood, or Jackson would be a solid #5 on a contender, but any of those would help. Garza is the big prize. He'll go somewhere. The question is for what price? The Cubs are a long way from being competitive. They are currently lifeless.
What They Need: An outfielder, an organizational shortstop, and organizational third baseman.
What They Have To Offer: Jonathan Broxton (injured) Sean Marshall (injured) INF Henry Rodriguez, OF Donald Lutz+, P Dan Corcino+.
In my opinion, the Reds are one of the steadiest, least needy teams of any in baseball. Unlike most teams, they have enough starting pitching depth to carry them through the season with Tony Cingrani available to spell Mike Leake if Leake leaks. They also have Dan Corcino waiting in the wings. The Johnny Cueto injury situation is critical though. If he doesn't return healthy, they, too, need a pitcher. They can afford to trade Corcino if they can get the big bat they can use to play left field or a starter. If Ludwick can come back strong, they'll be set. There is no guarantee. Waiting in the wings is Billy Hamilton to take over center field. If they can sign Choo, their outfield will be set in 2014.
Infield depth could be better-especially at third base. Trading Didi Gregorius left a hole at shortstop. They need fill-in players but nothing major. Robert Stephenson is a stud pitcher of the future, but not the present.
What They Need: Starting pitchers, relief pitchers including a closer, a first baseman, a power hitting outfielder.
What They Have To Offer: P John Axford, P Yovani Gallardo, P Kyle Lohse, SS Yuniesky Betancourt, 3B Aramis Ramirez, OF Khris Davis+, P Tyler Thornburg, P Hiram Burgos+, P Chris Narveson+, P Taylor Jungmann+, P Jimmy Nelson+.
The Brewers have a wealth of Minor League pitching. If they don't trade Gallardo for a top offensive player/pitcher, they have the Minor League pitching pool to trade from. Some are better than others, but none will fetch the type of player(s) the Brewers need. They may want to move Aramis Ramirez to fetch a big hitting first baseman - a glaring weakness. With Corey Hart having another surgery, he can no longer be in their plans. A healthy Hart for 2014 would solve that huge first base problem. But it is certainly not a slam- dunk. And he can walk. While I love Aoki, Gomez and Braun in the outfield-the team needs another big bat. The price could include Aoki or Gomez. If the pitching ever matures and comes through, the Brewers can be a good club. It's a big, big if. I've been very disappointed in Wily Peralta. I would guess the Brewers are, too.
What They Need: Starting pitching, perhaps one relief pitcher.
What They Have To Offer: 1B/OFGarrett Jones, IB Gaby Sanchez, IF/OF Brandon Inge, SS Clint Barmes, P James McDonald (hurt), P Wandy Rodriguez (hurt), C Tony Sanchez+, OF Alex Presley+, OF Jerry Sands+, OF Josh Bell+.
I think the Pirates have made tremendous strides. I would hate to see them give up Minor League players such as Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie, Stolmy Pimentel, Vic Black, Josh Bell or others in a package but they may have to do that. The Pirates would be wise to get a stud starter like Garza or Gallardo if they can. It will take quality farm system players and possibly a Tony Sanchez or one of either Gaby Sanchez or Garrett Jones to get it done. I wouldn't count on McDonald or Francisco Liriano to get me to the post season. But without a deal, they fall a pitcher or two short in quality depth going down the stretch. Yes, the injured A.J. Burnett will help. But that one pitcher could make the season. We'll see.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
What They Need: Perhaps a shortstop, perhaps a starting pitcher if they don't have faith in Michael Wacha or Carlos Martinez yet.
What They Have To Offer: Of Adron Chambers+, P Tyler Lyons+ P Mitchell Boggs+, P Marc Rzepczynski+.
This is the most perfect team on the planet. There are no real weaknesses. If you like Pete Kozma at shortstop, then they have no weaknesses. When Oscar Taveras gets healthy, he can fill in for Carlos Beltran if Beltran goes down. Wacha, Martinez and Lyons can each step up and pitch at any time. Kolten Wong will be the new second baseman at some point. But who needs him when you have Matt Carpenter (who can also play anywhere you need him.)
What They Need: One more power hitter, one starting pitcher.
What They Have To Offer: B.J. Upton, OF Reed Johnson, OF Jordan Schafer, C/INF/OF Evan Gattis or C Christian Bethancourt, 1B Ernesto Mejia.
What the team needs is not a trade. It needs the return to health of pitchers Brandon Beachy, Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters. Then let's see what the Braves really are. I think Gattis can get them something in trade. They have Bethancourt as a backup catcher. If not Gattis, then Bethancourt can be dealt. 1B Ernesto Majia may be attractive to a club due to his power. If Jason Heyward ever comes on, they'll be tough to beat. I don't think B.J. Upton can fetch much, but I'd make him available.
What They Need: A left fielder, a third baseman, a starting pitcher, and three bullpen arms.
What They Have To Offer: OF Juan Pierre, 3B Ed Lucas, 3B Placido Polanco, If/OF Greg Dobbs, OF Justin Ruggiano, P Ricky Nolasco, P Kevin Slowey, OF Chris Coghlan (hurt) OF Matt Diaz (hurt) C Kyle Skipworth+, OF Gorkys Hernandez+, OF Kevin Mattison+.
I don't think Giancarlo Stanton is going anywhere until the offseason, if at all. Their best trade chip is clearly Ricky Nolasco. A team needing a fill-in piece may be interested in Pierre or Polanco.
The Marlins are just loaded with talent. If they keep Stanton and build an outfield with Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Jake Marisnick and Christian Yelich it will eventually be among the best in baseball. They have infield depth coming with Donovan Solano. With Justin Nicolino eventually in the rotation along with Jose Fernandez, Jacob Turner and Nathan Eovaldi, the future is amazing. Catchers Jeff Mathis and Rob Brantly make the former first-round (bust) catcher Skipworth very expendable.
If the Marlins were a stock on the market, they'd be worth buying and holding. But they need some infield pieces.
NEW YORK METS
What They Need: At least three outfielders, a second baseman, a catcher and a shortstop.
What They Have To Offer: P Bobby Parnell, OF Marlon Byrd, OF Lucas Duda (hurt), SS Ruben Tejada (hurt) 2B Justin Turner (hurt) P Jonathan Niese (hurt), C Travis d'Arnaud+, 1B Ike Davis+, OF/1B Mike Baxter+.
It's an absolute shame that pitchers like Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler can pitch great games and not get much offensive support. The outfield and infield are both very weak. Trading a quality pitcher like Jonathon Niese will be difficult since he has a partial rotator cuff issue. But he's a quality pitcher that may have been able to fetch a solid hitting piece. Someone might want to buy in on Marlon Byrd. I just don't see much in the way of trade pieces for the Mets-who need young, quality hitters. Travis d'Arnaud has some value, but he, too is hurt. Bobby Parnell has faltered lately, but he's a closer-and there are clubs looking for closers.
What They Need: A third baseman, a second baseman, a shortstop, an outfielder, and a starting pitcher.
What They Have To Offer: 2B Chase Utley, 3B Michael Young, 1B Ryan Howard, P Cliff Lee (if he doesn't void the trade), P Jonathan Papelbon, P Mike Adams (hurt) OF Tyson Gilles+,P B J Rosenberg+ (hurt)
Now, not in the offseason, the Phillies simply have to get younger. They aren't winning the World Series this year. Charlie Manuel (who will lose his job to Ryne Sandberg) isn't the problem. Age, diminishing skill and injuries related to age are killing the club. I think it's time to move Utley, Young and especially Howard if they can get anything for them. Time to give guys like 3B Cody Asche, 1B Darin Ruf, 2B Cesar Hernandez a chance. Or trade them for other infielders. Lee fetches the most. Papelbon probably fetches something good as well. But Lee has that no-trade clause. He might want a ring.
What They Need: A starting pitcher, a reliever, and an outfielder.
What They Have To Offer: OF Roger Bernadina, P Dan Haren (hurt), 1B Chris Marrero+, 2B Danny Espinosa+, INF/OF Jeff Kobernus+ LHP Matt Purke+
The Nationals really don't need much. They organization is deep enough to handle any lengthy injury. But I think a stopgap-starting pitcher at the back end of the rotation would really help. They don't have much to offer in return. I do think Marrero could fetch something. Their young pitching prospects are not ready for prime time and may be better used to find someone who is. But all in all, the Nationals need to stay healthy. If they do, they compete to the finish.
Camera angles don't always tell the story regarding instant replay. Recently, a Marlon Byrd bid for a home run was ruled denied when the Mets replay showed the ball hit below the orange demarcation line. The Diamondbacks replay showed it hit above the line. We need replay for the replay.
I really don't like to see baseball players wearing full beards.
I always thought Koji Uehara would end up closing for the Red Sox. But I sure don't like his penchant for giving up home runs. I think the Rangers could use him now.
The White Sox play like they are on life support waiting for that final breath. Not pretty to watch.
Watch out for the Dodgers. I'm just sayin'. Laugh at me if you wish about my buy-in of Yasiel Puig, but man, has he brought life to that club. And I'm not a Bernie Come Lately on that. I wrote about him effusively the minute I saw him. And yes, he'll have some rough times. Some hiccups. But the man is amazing.
Not sold on Bryce Harper? Take a look at what the Nationals did without him in the lineup - 16-22 to be exact. And their record with him in the lineup? 26-18. There are some players that are crucial to a team's success. He's one of them.
I hope you jumped on Chris Tillman. Don't say I didn't warn you.
If you follow me regularly, I readily admit my misses. I missed on Justin Masterson. I'm becoming a believer. The slider and pitching lefties inside have made a world of difference.
What do the Yankees do with ARod when he comes back? Is he the everyday DH? Does he share the role with Travis Hafner? The answer? They'll put him at 3B and leave him there.
Who do you like in the Division races? They're all great. I'm still trying to decide. I won't dismiss anyone yet. We have half a season to play.
These are the guys I can't wait to see in the big leagues:
Xander Bogaerts-SS Red Sox *
Jorge Soler-OF Cubs
Albert Almora-OF Cubs
Javier Baez-SS Cubs
* I think we will see them no later the end of 2014-many at the start of the season.
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