Orioles not alone in hunt for help as deadline nears

ON BASEBALL

July 21, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

Ten more days of checking price tags and comparing merchandise, 10 more days of trying to see what fits and what doesn't. The trade deadline is midnight July 31, and teams throughout both leagues are trying to plug holes.

The Orioles are looking for young players in return for Bobby Bonilla -- some pitching, maybe an outfielder, maybe a catcher.

Here's what some other teams are talking about as they prepare for the final two months of the season:

Texas Rangers: They suddenly have problems with two spots in their rotation, with Kevin Gross on the disabled list and Bobby Witt going through another of his patented streaks of wildness. They need a pitcher.

Trouble is, they don't want to part with much from their farm system, so Texas is looking for a second-line pitcher. The Rangers have talked to Boston about Jamie Moyer, but might be setting their sights on Tim Belcher of Kansas City.

Seattle Mariners: Even with Randy Johnson coming back, they want a veteran pitcher to stabilize the rotation. Belcher makes sense, as does right-hander Curt Schilling of Philadelphia. They like David Wells, but as long as the Orioles linger in the race, it's doubtful Wells will be dealt.

Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers are in baseball purgatory. Not quite in it, not quite out of it. But they're shopping slugger Greg Vaughn, who is a free agent after this season. Dealing him would be a dicey move, however, because they'd look like they were quitting too soon.

Chicago White Sox: They need pitching, and could go after the usual suspects -- Belcher, Schilling, Wells, or John Smiley or Mark Portugal of the Reds. Smiley is especially attractive because he's left-handed, and the best AL teams, the Indians and Yankees, are vulnerable to lefties.

New York Yankees: They're babying Andy Pettitte's sore arm, and Mariano Rivera could hit the wall after carrying this staff for four months. It never hurts to add a pitcher, like Smiley, Schilling, et al.

Atlanta Braves: Jeff Blauser is out for a couple of months and Atlanta may be in the market for a shortstop. Their pitching will prevent them from losing any ground in the race, but don't be surprised to see them go after someone like Shawon Dunston of the Giants or David Howard of the Royals.

Montreal Expos: They'd love to add another bat. They can't afford to do so.

New York Mets: They're getting closer, but similar to last year, the front office may figure they don't have enough to be serious contenders. They're playing well with what they have, anyway.

Florida Marlins: This team is the sleeping giant of the National League, with two dominant pitchers in Al Leiter and Kevin Brown. But the Marlins need a bat, and might be the sleeper team in the Bonilla sweepstakes.

St. Louis Cardinals: They don't need much, the way they're playing, but could add a right-handed reliever for depth.

Houston Astros: They need help in the bullpen, but owner Drayton McLane has laid down a hard financial line.

Cincinnati Reds: They're in the business of selling more than buying now.

Chicago Cubs: Ditto. Brian McRae is the most attractive of what they have to offer.

San Diego Padres: San Diego needs a bat for its outfield, and, right now, the Padres are the front-runners to get Bonilla.

Los Angeles Dodgers: L.A. is talking to the Phillies about Jim Eisenreich. The Dodgers need a third baseman with Mike Blowers out, and may take a run at Pittsburgh's Charlie Hayes or Philadelphia's Todd Zeile. They'd love to get Boston's Tim Naehring, but the Red Sox won't part with the gritty third baseman, who along with Mo Vaughn forms the heart of the team. Bonilla and his $4.6 million price tag may be a little too expensive.

Colorado Rockies: The team needs pitching. What else would a team that plays at Coors Field need?

San Francisco Giants: The club has talked to California about a deal for outfielder Garret Anderson, possibly for pitcher William Vanlandingham. They may be too far out of contention now to consider taking on a veteran like Bonilla (they could have used him two weeks ago, before they started a 2-9 road trip).

Orioles not blameless

Everybody feels the heat when a team doesn't play to expectations, from the players to the manager to the front office. Some of the criticism aimed at the Orioles' front office is baseless when examined within the context of the time it made its decisions. However, it is not blameless.

Harold Baines is having a terrific season for the White Sox, hitting over .300. He could finish with more than 30 homers and 100 RBIs. Why didn't the Orioles re-sign him?

General Manager Pat Gillick had good reasons. At the time he took over, Gillick had little more than a week to decide whether to offer arbitration to Baines or give him up and lose the rights to signing him until May 1 of this season.

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