Deal or no deal?

July 23, 2006|By DAN CONNOLLY | DAN CONNOLLY,SUN REPORTER

This time last year, the Orioles were stuck in trade rumor central while seeking upgrades for their playoff run.

No kidding.

Ultimately, they swapped mediocre outfielders with the Arizona Diamondbacks while orchestrating one of the ugliest collapses of recent times.

This year, there will be no teases; they are already resting comfortably in their customary fourth-place spot in the American League East. Again, they're linked to trade rumors, this time primarily as a seller. They would like to unload Javy Lopez, Kevin Millar, Jeff Conine, Rodrigo Lopez and LaTroy Hawkins for major league-ready players. Shortstop Miguel Tejada is most coveted, but he'll stay unless there's an overwhelming offer.

Most likely, they'll make a couple of minor deals and no real splash. At least they know their direction. As many as seven teams are still on the fence as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. The Diamondbacks, Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics all are stuck between dealing quality veterans and staying within striking distance of the playoffs.

The Cincinnati Reds, who already have done their dealing this month, and the Florida Marlins, who held their fire sale last winter, mostly likely are non-factors at the deadline. The remaining clubs, however, could be rather busy.

The Buyers

Boston Red Sox

Wants: A fifth starter, middle relievers. General manager Theo Epstein hasn't been shy in the past if he needs to fill holes, but they've traded some good prospects recently and would like to hold onto their top minor leaguers.

Chicago White Sox

Wants: A reliever, basic tinkering for October. The defending champs have few holes, but they could bolster their bullpen.

Detroit Tigers

Wants: A power bat - preferably an outfielder. The majors' best young pitching staff has plenty of promising players in the minors. So they can deal pitchers for Washington's Alfonso Soriano or Philadelphia's Bobby Abreu.

Los Angeles Angels

Wants: A quality bat. Soriano is a prime target. So are stars such as Tejada and Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford. They have awesome prospects to deal if conservative GM Bill Stoneman is willing and a struggling team surrenders.

New York Yankees

Wants: Starting pitcher, relievers, power outfield bat. With injuries to Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield, the Yankees would like to add a healthy corner outfielder and upgrade their old, shaky rotation. But they don't want to give up phenoms Philip Hughes and Jose Tabata, so they might have to wait for a good, old salary dump to come to their doorstep.

Texas Rangers

Wants: Nine starting pitchers. A bit of an exaggeration, but the Rangers are always looking for quality arms that won't wilt in the Texas heat. Rodrigo Lopez and Washington's Livan Hernandez could be second-tier options. They might consider dealing third baseman Hank Blalock for a front-line pitcher.

Atlanta Braves

Wants: A reliever. They already added closer Bob Wickman from Cleveland on Thursday. They could use another middle reliever and a back-end starter for another shot at a postseason run.

Houston Astros

Wants: Relievers. Now that they have acquired Aubrey Huff, their attention turns to the bullpen. Speedy outfielder Willy Taveras is a potential bargaining chip.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Wants: A starter, a reliever or both. The Dodgers have a stocked farm system; they could land Oakland's Barry Zito if he was available.

New York Mets

Wants: Pitching, a second baseman. With Pedro Martinez ailing and the back end of their rotation thin, a deal for a Hernandez-type is possible. A second baseman who's better with the glove than Jose Valentin also is a wish. They could dangle top prospect Lastings Milledge for a Zito-esque pitcher.

St. Louis Cardinals

Wants: A left-handed hitter, starting pitcher. Injuries and ineffectiveness have hurt their pitching depth. They'd also like a bat, but rookie Chris Duncan's emergence helps. They might have to part with young pitchers Anthony Reyes or Adam Wainwright.

San Diego Padres

Wants: A third baseman, starting pitcher. They'd like to have a guy they can put at third and leave there for several years. Blalock could be a match.

San Francisco Giants

Wants: A starting pitcher. Their biggest need had been a right-handed-hitting first baseman, but after they filled that hole by acquiring Shea Hillenbrand from Toronto on Friday, they still need help in the rotation.

The sellers

Cleveland Indians

Goods: Closer Bob Wickman's already gone, and infielders Ron Belliard, Ben Broussard and Aaron Boone and outfielder Jason Michaels are on the block. Relievers Rafael Betancourt and Guillermo Mota might be dealt.

Kansas City Royals

Goods: If new GM Dayton Moore could give away the whole team, he would have to consider it. Outfielder Reggie Sanders, pitchers Mark Redman and Elmer Dessens and infielder Mark Grudzielanek are serviceable.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

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