Thursday, July 23, 2009

Trade Market: Buyers A.L.

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers are in a tight race for the A.L. Central with the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox. Since the wild card will likely come out of the East or West, the division title is the only playoff chance for the Tigers. Detroit's pitching has been a big surprise for them and gives them a good shot in any playoff series. The Tigers may look to add a starter to ease the workload on rookie Rick Porcello down the stretch. They are also in the market for a solid bullpen arm to add to their staff as well. Detriot's biggest need is on offense, where the Tigers are tied for 10th in the A.L. for team OPS, and they are dead last in SB's. The Tigers could use an influx of both speed and power.

Top trade targets: Danny Baez (RP), Josh Willingham (OF), Luke Scott (OF), John Grabow (RP), Freddy Sanchez (2B), Willie Harris (UTL), Matt Holliday (OF)

Analysis: Given the weakness of the Tigers' farm system I think they will have a hard time going after some of the top trade targets. I don't think they have what it takes to pull off a Halladay offer. Baez or Grabow would be good fits to strengthen their bullpen. Neither would cost a top prospect, which will allow the Tigers to get the bat they need. If I'm Detroit, I'd try to put a package together to acquire Willingham and Harris from the Nats. It would fill the Tigers biggest needs as well as give them two players under control for next season. The Tigers have so much money tied up in bad contracts that they won't be able to afford free agents next off season. Getting two players who could start next year for around $7 million dollars would be key for Detroit.

Minnesota Twins: The Twins are in the same boat as the Tigers. They need to win the Central to have any shot at the playoffs, and will need to make some moves to get there. Minnesota could use some production from their middle infield. In addition, with Joe Crede's (3B) status up in the air the Twins could use someone who can fill in there as well. Their pitching staff has been really good, with the only concern being when Kevin Slowery (10-3 record) will be back. They could use another arm or two in front of Nathan in the bullpen, but its not a pressing issue.

Top Trade Targets: Freddy Sanchez (2B), Jack Wilson (SS), Matt Capps (RP), Danny Baez (RP), Chad Qualls (RP), John Grabow (RP), Ty Wiggington (2B/3B), Willie Harris (UTL)

Analysis: Freddy Sanchez makes too much sense for it not to happen. While the Twins are likely leery of his price tag, they need a boost at 2B and at the top of their lineup. A bold move would be to try and grab both Sanchez and Wilson from the Pirates, significantly upgrading their middle infield. It would give the Twins the best middle infield defense (an major improvement considering they currently have one of the worst). Also Minnesota is one of the few places that Wilson would be an offensive upgrade. The biggest issue would be the salary obligations for next season. But the Pirates might be willing to eat some salary to increase their prospect return. Outside of that deal I see Twins looking for a reliever like Baez or Qualls (maybe Grabow or Capps with Sanchez). A guy who is solid but not spectacular, and one who wouldn't cost a major prospect.

Other teams looking to buy:

New York Yankees: The Yankees are finally in first place, but will likely need to make a few moves to stay there. I don't see a Halladay or Cliff Lee trade on the horizon for them. Likely, they will make moves for a couple relievers and possibly a back end starter. I think New York should target someone like Qualls and/or Grabow for their pen. They are relying on too many untested arms to bridge the gap to Rivera.

Boston Red Sox: The Sox already got one player they needed in Adam LaRoche. I'd look for them to try and add another reliable starter to go along with Beckett and Lester. I still don't see them making a blockbuster move for Halladay or Lee. Though it wouldn't shock me to see them pull the trigger on a Victor Martinez deal. A shortstop like Jack Wilson is a possibility as well.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays have been linked with some big names recently, but I'm not sure how much truth is in those rumors. The Rays could use a catching upgrade and a starter, but the big name guys don't make too much sense. I do think they will add a bullpen arm like Capps or Sherrill. Someone who is under team control and could close for Tampa.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Though the Angels could use a starter or another big bat I don't think their payroll situation will allow them to acquire one. I think they will focus on adding a couple relievers to bolster their bullpen.

Texas Rangers: The Rangers weren't supposed to be this good, but they are in the playoff hunt with August approaching. They don't have the money to go after some of the top names (Halladay, Lee etc.), but should make a few moves to improve their team. Their lineup is set so the focus will be on the rotation and bullpen. An arm like Zach Duke from the Pirates makes sense since he is under team control for another two years. As for the bullpen, any of the multi-year guys (Qualls, Sherrill, Capps) make sense for a Rangers team that's on a budget.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Trade Market: Sellers N.L.

Washington Nationals: The Nationals should be in complete rebuilding mode at this point. They are 27 games back in the N.L. East, and have 10 fewer wins than any other team in baseball. Washington needs to get younger and more talented around the diamond. Outside of Ryan Zimmerman (3B), the Nationals don't have a position player that has a long term future with the club. They have some interesting names, (Dukes, Flores, Morgan, A. Gonzalez) but none of them are sure things. Washington does have some young talent in the pitching rotation to build around.

Top trade targets: Nick Johnson (1B), Joe Biemel (RP), Christian Guzman (SS), Josh Willingham (OF), Adam Dunn (1B/OF)

Analysis: Johnson and Biemel are the most likely to be dealt, because both are impending free agents. Johnson has rebuilt his trade value and should bring back at least one quality prospect. Biemel could bring back a solid prospect as well. Neither player will bring back a stud prospect, but any influx of talent is a bonus for the Nationals. Guzman is signed for an additional year so he could bring back a couple of solid prospects (though the Nats will probably have to kick in some money). I think only one of Dunn/Willingham will be moved this trade deadline. Moving both would upset the fan base too much, as well as hurt an offense that doesn't have replacements for them. I would move Willingham since given his affordable contract more teams will likely be interested. Willingham has also increased his trade value with his production this season, making now a good time to sell high on him. Washington should be able to get a couple of good prospects or bullpen arms in return for Willingham.

Potential Willingham and Guzman deals should have the greatest impact, but all of these players should be moved by August 1st. By moving all of them the Nationals can clear some redundant players, free up payroll and increase the talent and depth of their minor league system.

Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates have already started their rebuilding project this year by trading away their opening day CF (Nate McLouth), LF (Nyjer Morgan), and 1B (Adam LaRoche). Also they have moved their top bat off the bench (Eric Hinske) and one of their relievers (Sean Burnett). In return Pittsburgh has gotten younger, and a number of high upside players. They have also saved millions off their payroll, that can now be used to sign draft picks and international free agents.

Top trade targets: Freddy Sanchez (2B), Jack Wilson (SS), John Grabow (RP), Matt Capps (RP), Zach Duke (SP), Paul Maholm (SP)

Analysis: Sanchez and Wilson are one of the best double play tandems in baseball, and they will likely be playing on different teams come August. Sanchez should bring back a pretty good haul for the Bucs. Wilson on the other hand has struggled at the plate reducing his trade value. Grabow is an impending FA, and won't bring back much in return. Capps could bring back a solid package of two good prospects. His contract, age and potential make him a pretty good commodity on the market, but his performance this year has been shaky. I also wouldn't be surprised to see the Pirates move one of their young starters, either Duke or Maholm. I think Duke is more likely to be moved, but the Pirates should gauge the value of each. Duke should bring a pretty good return back since he's under control through 2011. The Pirates are heading in the right direction with the moves they've made so far. They need to keep rebuilding and focusing on building a winning foundation. It might not show in this year's standings, but the future is bright in Pittsburgh.

Other teams looking to sell:

San Diego Padres: The Padres have tried to move Jake Peavey already this season, but with him on the D.L. they will have to wait to the off season to deal their ace. Right now they are saying they won't move Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell their two all-star players (though I think they should). I think Kevin Correia (SP) and Kevin Kouzmanoff (3B) are players that the Padres will move by the deadline. Each will bring back a solid return, but nothing near what the Friars would get if they put Gonzalez or Bell on the market.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The D-Backs have already made a couple of trades so far (T. Pena and Felipe Lopez) and will likely make a few more small deals. They have a young nucleus to build around so they won't make any blockbuster deals. I think Chad Qualls (RP) and Doug Davis (SP) are the most likely to be dealt.

Houston Astros: The Astros are only two games out in the N.L. Central, but should favor selling as opposed to buying. The Astros are an older team with little depth, that makes me think they won't be able to win the division or grab the wild card this season. They also have the worst minor league system in baseball, and can't afford the talent to acquire the players they need for a playoff run. The Astros should look to move impending free agents Jose Valverde, Ivan Rodriguez and even Miguel Tejada. Houston needs to add some talent in the minor league system this deadline.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Trade Market: Buyers N.L.

With the MLB trade deadline 10 days away, now is a good time to look and see who might be buying and selling at the deadline. Here are the N.L. teams that should be looking to 'buy' come July 31st.

San Francisco Giants: The Giants have an impressive 50-42 record, that would put them within 5 games in any other division (they'd even be in first place in the A.L. Central), but in the N.L. West they are 8.5 games back. Though it will be tough for San Francisco to catch the Dodgers out West, the Giants should look to 'buy' to secure the Wild Card. They already have a top end pitching rotation led by two aces (Lincecum and Cain) and a quality bullpen. What the Giants need is a playoff caliber offense. Only Pablo Sandoval (3B/1B) is a true offensive threat on this team. Guys like Benji Molina (C), Aaron Rowand (CF), Edgar Renteria (SS), and Randy Winn (OF), are no longer the productive hitters they once were. The Giants need to get better production from 2B, 1B, and at least one of their corner spots. San Francisco should be looking for at least two bats if they hope to advance far into October.

Top targets: Freddy Sanchez (2B), Aubrey Huff (1B), Nick Johnson (1B), Luke Scott (OF), Jeremy Hermida (OF), Josh Willingham (OF), Adam LaRoche (1B)

Analysis: The Giants need to make a move soon. They have eight other teams within six games of the Wild Card. They need to separate themselves from the pack and make it a 2 or 3 team race. Given their lack of offensive talent at least two additions should be made. The Giants don't have any real help on the way in the minors (for this season), so the bats will need to come via trade. With a young core, the Giants should focus on guys that are under team control for multiple years. Scott and Willingham should be their most attractive targets. Given the need at 1B as well, trading with the O's or Nats could potentially give the Giants two power bats in one deal.

Atlanta Braves: The Braves are very similar to the Giants as to their strengths and needs. Atlanta is set when it comes to their pitching staff, but their offense needs a boost. They aren't as bad off as the Giants, as they have 3 quality offensive pieces in Chipper Jones (3B), Yunel Escobar (SS), and Brian McCann (C). Atlanta needs better production from their entire outfield and 1B positions if they hope to contend with the Phillies and Dodgers. The Braves have already added two outfielders through trades (Nate McLouth and Ryan Church). McLouth has been solid for them and can handle the CF position for the rest of the season (though his defense leaves something to be desired). Church has been good so far, but his track record suggests that he's a platoon player rather than a starter.

Targets: Scott, Willingham, Hermida, Adam Dunn (OF/1B)

Analysis: The Braves seem to be one bat away from being a legitimate contender this season. Since they won't have much in the way of money to play around with next off season, they should focus on players under contract. Willingham and Scott would make the most sense. Dunn offers the most power of any player on the market. Even though Dunn will make $12 million next year he'd still come cheaper than what Matt Holliday or Jason Bay would cost on the Free agent market next winter. Without any additional moves, I think the Braves will slip behind Marlins and Mets and finish 4th in the N.L. East.

Other teams that need to buy:

Philadelphia Phillies: It seems strange that a team that's won 9 straight and is in first place needs to buy, but the Phillies should be looking to add for another title run. Their bullpen is a house of cards right now. Lidge has imploded this year, and Madson isn't as dominate as he was last season. Another reliable late inning arm could be the difference between a 1st round exit and another title. If Pedro falters, an additional starter down the stretch could work as well (Halladay anyone).

Colorado Rockies: The Rockies are a tough team to figure out. Are they a legit contender or just on an impressive hot streak. Their pitching is good and their offense has been great. While, the bullpen could use another arm or two its not their biggest weakness. The biggest area of concern for Colorado is their defense. The problem is that some of their biggest offenders (Hawpe, Helton, Folwer) are also their best hitters. You can't really try to tinker too much with the defense this late in the season, a middle relief arm is probably the best the Rockies can do at this point.

Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers already have made one move with the addition of Felipe Lopez over the weekend. Now the 'Crew need to add some pitching to get into October. Another SP as well as a couple relievers are on the wish list.