With the MLB trade deadline quickly approaching I asked each of our site leads to give me their thoughts on what the team they cover should do. Should they buy, sell, or stand pat? Who should they target or look to move? As always, our writers were free to answer in whatever fashion they felt appropriate.
The responses that follow (after the jump) are from our Lead Writers in the NL East.
Atlanta Braves: Tomahawk Take Lead Writer Kris Willis
There have been many times I have been looking for the Braves to make a significant deal at the deadline. They set the bar high as far as mid season acquisitions go way back in 1993 when they acquired Fred McGriff from the San Diego Padres. If I remember correctly the Braves were about 10 games behind the Giants at that point and went on a miracle run to win the division.
This year however the Braves find themselves in front of the division and at this point have the second best record in the National League. The starting pitching has been solid. The Bullpen also has been solid and is relatively fresh. The Braves have some pitching depth in the minors as well so I don’t see that as an area of need.
The only real question mark on the team is perhaps in Center Field. Nate McLouth made his return from the disabled list but to say he has struggled this year is an understatement. Melky Cabrera and Gregor Blanco filled in admirably for McLouth while he was out. Blanco was sent down to make room for McLouth and the Braves are sure to be evaluating McLouth over the next few days to determine whether or not a trade needs to be made.
Marlins outfielder Cody Ross is the hot name out there right now. We have a poll up at Tomahawk Take asking Braves fans what they think the Braves should do in Center Field. It is almost split evenly but 30% of the vote says the Braves should make a trade. I however am going to disagree and here is my reasoning.
Everything has seemed to break right for this team this year. I can’t explain it but that is what has happened. I don’t want to see the Braves trade any of the surplus of minor league pitchers for a Cody Ross who will be a non tender candidate for the Marlins this off season. I would much rather give McLouth one last shot before just handing the job to Melky Cabrera until the rosters expand in September and Blanco returns.
The Braves have good Karma right now and I don’t want to see anything happen to mess that up. Stand Pat gets my vote.
Florida Marlins: Marlin Maniac Lead Writer Michael Jong
The Marlins are currently out of contention, regardless of what their thoughts of contention are. Baseball Prospectus has the Marlins at about a 4% chance to make the playoffs. Beyond that, the Marlins are heading into an offseason in which quite a few players will be in their third arbitration year or in free agency. As a result, it should be obvious that the Marlins should be sellers in this trade deadline.
The three players that are most considered most available for trade are Dan Uggla, Jorge Cantu, and Cody Ross. Of the three, Uggla is the best player and the most expensive in his final season. Both Uggla and Ross offer similar trade value, while Cantu (the only player who is heading into free agency among the three) offers very little in value. Unfortunately, the Marlins are likely to demand more from those players than they are worth. The Marlins should try to trade at least two of them for a return and tender either Uggla or Ross a contract for next season, with the cost-effective option being Ross. Keeping Ross and trading Uggla for prospects also allows the team to transition Chris Coghlan to his eventual full-time position at second base.
New York Mets: Rising Apple Lead Writer Adam Garnett
With the July 31st trade deadline fast approaching, this is make or break time for a lot of teams in baseball. The New York Mets are at the top of that list. As of today, the Mets sit 6.5 games out of first place in the NL East and 3.5 games out of the National League Wild Card lead. They are in this thing and due to their star power and a bunch serious surprise performers, the Mets have a legit chance to make a playoff run.
Unfortunately, I am afraid the gap from the those top spots will be too much to overcome if the Mets front office doesn’t man up and go get this squad another quality starting pitcher. Right now the Mets top four rotation arms (Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey) can compete with almost any group in the NL, save maybe the Atlanta Braves or San Francisco Giants. Hisanori Takahashi did yeoman’s work for the Mets as the fifth starter, but he needs to go back bullpen to help a depleted relief staff.
There are a few names out there whom I believe the Mets should and will target. I’ve mentioned them in my space numerous times. Here are some of the top options potentially out there to be had: Roy Oswalt, Ted Lilly, Brett Myers, Fausto Carmona. As much as any team would like to import Oswalt, his prohibitive salary situation (owed about $7 million for the rest of 2010 and $16 million in 2011) is a major detraction. The guy from this list who I would love to see the Mets bring to Flushing is Myers.
Yes I know he had a rocky history during his eight years in Philadelphia (angering fans, teammates, the front office and media members alike), but he’s been extremely good this year with an awful Houston Astros team. He currently owns a 7-6 record with a 3.24 ERA and 101 K’s in 20 starts. Best of all for the Mets, he has a close familiarity with the Phillies and the Braves, which would surely come in handy down the stretch. Most importantly, the man is highly skilled and has something to prove after being dumped by Ruben Amaro and Charlie Manuel.
So to you Omar Minaya and Jeff Wilpon…..Go get Brett Myers, not in three days, not in a week, but NOW. The season is beginning to slip away and the infusion of this guy into your rotation could go a long way to helping you make a run top October.
Philadelphia Phillies: That Balls Outta Here Lead Writer Justin Klugh
Ah, the Phillies. What once was dependable, sturdy, bat-busting offense has turned into a one-run excuse for a lineup. The only really productive member of the squad is Ryan Howard, leaving the rest of the team in the squalor of underperformance, slumping, and screaming at the fans, sometimes. But that’s not even taking into account the pitching, which lacks depth in the rotation, and consistency in the bullpen.
Long story short, there are a lot of holes to fill, and not a lot of pegs to put in them. Jayson Werth, if you consult the Phillies fanbase, is already on his way out of town. All memories of the guy with the bat of a slugger and face of a hatcher murderer being a big part of this team are quickly fading, which is a shame when you consider how hard he worked to get a starting job. As the only starter without a lengthy contract extension, he would be up for examination at the end of the season anyway, so anyone who wants him could have him as merely a rental, and everyday he pops out or looks at a third strike, his trade value goes all the more down.
He’s what we would most likely give away, with a hot outfield prospect waiting in the minors in Dom Brown, along with other prospects to satisfy the needs of whomever we’re dealing with. Ruben Amaro wants starting pitching depth, which means that is the section of the wall the dart hit when he closed his eyes and threw it. But the truth is, there are no trades–not for Roy Oswalt (who could pass and wants to stay in the South anyway), not James Shields, not Dan Haren–out there that are going to turn 2010 around for the Phillies. Any trade they make will be for 2011 and beyond. The offense, which is still talented and stacked, but not playing to their potential, is the key here. Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels are solid starters, and without an offense to back them up, guys like Joe Blanton are helpless. Jamie Moyer is hurt, Kyle Kendrick is downgraded to the minors… its a bit of a mess. Another starter is needed, and someone like Oswalt would be terrific, but the key will be making sure that whoever it is gets secured for a future season or two, and not just wasted on 2010.
Washington Nationals: Teddy Never Wins Lead Writer Jeremy Stewart
So at this point I think we can all agree that the Nationals are out of it for 2010. It was a nice effort early on but eventually they showed what they really are. They’re a team that can hit a little, not play a lick of defense, and boast only 2 competent starting pitchers. The 1st thing the Nats need to figure out is whose going to be around in 2011. Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman, relievers Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Joel Peralta, Doug Slaten, SS Ian Desmond, and RF Roger Bernadina should all be on the 2011 roster. So that leaves a few vets who are up in the air, a few inexperienced players with low potential,a few guys who do not belong in the majors and a cavalcade (Jordan Zimmermann, Jason Marquis, Scott Olsen, Ross Detwiler, Chien-Ming Wang) of injured starters.
There are several players on this team that I would unload on anyone who would take them. Chief among them are 2B Adam Kennedy, CF Nyjer Morgan, SS Cristian Guzman, any starting pitcher not named Strasburg or Hernandez. Relievers Miguel Batista, Sean Burnett, and Tyler Walker, OF Willie Harris, and Catcher Wil Nieves can all be dealt. Seriously, whatever I can get for any of those guys I’ll take. A half thimble of Charlie Manuel’s man-boob sweat? A STEAL if it means getting rid of Adam Kennedy. The point is all of those guys are expendable and the Nats should just clear them out for whatever they can get.
The next ”level” of players on the Nationals are the guys we could trade, but shouldn’t unless we are totally bowled over with an offer. If I’m GM Mike Rizzo I’m holding onto Livan Hernandez. He eats innings which is something no other starter in Washington does. Also I’m holding onto Pudge Rodriguez. He has played well this season, has a year left on his contract, and has been a big help to Strasburg’s development.
That leaves the 3 players most contenders would like to add in 1B Adam Dunn, LF Josh Willingham, and CP Matt Capps. Given Willingham’s relative youth, body type, and contract (runs through 2011), I would keep him unless some team is offering a near-sure thing. Dunn and Capps could be the big prizes and I’ve targeted what I would want for each. 1st thing I’m doing is calling Tampa and offering the duo + cash for starter Jeremy Hellickson and INF Reid Brigniac. Hellickson would immediately become the #2 starter on the team and Brigniac could fill the hole at 2nd base. That’s the home run deal if I can make it, but I doubt Tampa would give up Hell-Boy. If that doesn’t work I try to trade Dunn to Chicago for righty Daniel Hudson and maybe a lower-level prospect or 2. Hudson would be the key. Then I offer Capps up to Cincy for 1B prospect Yonder Alonso. Alonso is a solid hitter who could come up right now and fill Dunn’s spot at 1st. All the Nats need to do at the deadline is start filling holes for 2011.
Topics: Adam Dunn, Adam Kennedy, Atlanta Braves, Brett Myers, Chien-Ming Wang, Chris Coghlan, Cody Ross, Cole Hamels, Cristian Guzman, Dan Haren, Dan Uggla, Daniel Hudson, Doug Slaten, Drew Storen, Fausto Carmona, Florida Marlins, Gregor Blanco, Hisanori Takahashi, Ian Desmond, James Shields, Jamie Moyer, Jason Maquis, Jayson Werth, Jeremy Hellickson, Joe Blanton, Joel Peralta, Johan Santana, Jordan Zimmermann, Jorge Cantu, Josh Willingham, Kyle Kendrick, Livan Hernandez, Matt Caps, Melky Cabrera, Miguel Batista, Mike Pelfrey, Nate McLouth, New York Mets, Nyjer Morgan, Philadelphia Phillies, R.A. Dickey, Roger Bernadina, Ross Detwiler, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Ryan Howard, Ryan Zimmerman, Scott Olsen, Sean Burnett, Stephen Strasburg, Ted Lilly, Tyler Clippard, Tyler Walker, Washington Nationals, Wil Nieves, Willie Harris, Yonder Alonso