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Five trades that have to happen
The non-waiver trade deadline is around the bend, and that means it's time for contenders to entertain their wildest transactional fantasies.
But it's also time for realistic proposals, and that’s where we come in. What follows are five deals that need to happen before the bell tolls on July 31. They make sense for the non-contenders in question and their future interests, and they make sense for the contenders in question and their designs on the present.
Likely to happen? Perhaps not in all instances, but they’d make for an entertaining and productive deadline if they did come to pass.
1. Roy Oswalt to the Cardinals
There’s no disputing the excellence of Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia this season, but after that imposing front three the Cardinal rotation suffers a troubling drop-off. In fact, St. Louis starters not named Wainwright, Carpenter or Garcia have combined this season for a 5.09 ERA.
Take out Brad Penny’s numbers (it’s possible he won’t pitch again this season), and that figure rises to 5.82. The back end's giving up too many runs and failing to pitch deep into games, which, in turn, overtaxes what’s been a strong bullpen. Given the tight race in the NL Central and crowded wild-card fray, the Cardinals can’t just assume things will get better.
The injured Tigers could use a bat like Willingham's.Al Behrman
As for Oswalt, he’s been one of baseball’s best starting pitchers over the last decade, and this season he boasts a 3.42 ERA and the 10th-most strikeouts in the NL. Oswalt would, of course, solidify the Cardinal rotation and, should they make the playoffs, give them one of the best postseason rotations anyone’s ever seen. Are the Cardinals willing to add payroll, and are the Astros willing to be realistic about how much they can get in return for their ace? That remains to be seen.
2. Josh Willingham to the Tigers
After the season-ending injury to Magglio Ordonez, the Tigers’ deadline priorities have shifted. Now, obviously, they could use outfield help.
That brings us to Willingham. The Nats’ outfielder this season is hitting .273 AVG/.401 OBP/.479 SLG, and he’s third in the league in walks. He brings offense to the table, he won’t require as much of a return package as Adam Dunn (the Tigers’ farm system isn't especially strong right now) and he doesn’t carry with him a burdensome contract.
Willingham does have some defensive limitations, but the Tigers can be creative in how they deploy him and Johnny Damon. Willingham, if need be, can man the DH spot, and Damon can return to the field on a regular basis. Either way, Willingham greatly helps the Tiger offense survive the loss of Ordonez.
3. Adam Dunn to the White Sox
If the Sox are going to cling to their tenuous lead in the AL Central, they’ll likely need more thump in the lineup. Thump in the lineup ... thy name is Adam Dunn.
Dunn's famous for his strikeouts, but far more important are his abilities to hit for power and reach base. In 2010, he's putting up his customary numbers: fourth-highest OPS in the National League and on pace for 38 homers and 44 doubles.
As for the White Sox, they have serious needs at DH, and Dunn, because of his defensive limitations, is ideally suited to that role and to Chicago’s need for left-handed sock. Additionally, he'd allow the Sox to mix and match outfielders and thus get Juan Pierre, who’s been awful this season, out of the lineup as often as possible.
The Mets could use Uggla's power. Christian Petersen
Dunn should also thrive in U.S. Cellular Field, which substantially increases home run rates. If the Sox added his power to the lineup, they’d be likely to hold on to their division lead.
When surveying the Mets’ problems in 2010, you’re perhaps not likely to think of second base, but you should. In 2010, Met second basemen — meaning, mostly, Luis Castillo — have combined to “hit” .237 AVG/.309 OBP/.294 SLG. Those numbers are simply unacceptable.
As for Uggla, he’s once again hitting for power — power that’s doubly impressive by middle-infield standards. Once again, he'll wind up with something close to 30 homers on the season. He’d give the Mets a mammoth upgrade over the status quo.
Perhaps Florida would be hesitant to deal him within the division, but more often than not that’s a self-defeating stance. As well, the Marlins and Mets are quite close in the standings, but it’s the Mets who have the greater sense of urgency. That is, they’re both probably going to miss the postseason, but the Mets are much more “pot committed” to the 2010 season than the Marlins are.
Fielder could put the Rangers over the top.Gene J. Puskar
Even a long shot, to the Mets, is a shot worth pursuing. Uggla shores up a glaring weak spot and gives them a puncher’s chance in the NL playoff race.
5. Prince Fielder to the Rangers
Would this be a bold move for a club that, despite financial uncertainty, has already gobbled up Cliff Lee and Bengie Molina? Sure, but it’s also a move that might make them the best team in baseball.
This season, the Rangers have received awful production from their first baseman, and current placeholder Chris Davis doesn’t figure to offer much improvement.
Fielder, of course, is available and boasts both devastating power from the left side and excellent on-base skills. Even after a flurry of trades, the Rangers, not far removed from having the best farm system in baseball, still have the minor-league pitching depth the Brewers need and covet.
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