Not that there was any offer on the table, or any talks between Omar Minaya and Pittsburgh GM Dave Littlefield, but I’m going to make a preemptive statement regarding any trade with the Pirates: no thanks.
While last year’s deadline deal seems to have been a boon for both teams (no, we didn’t fleece the Bucs out of Ollie, as their cleanup hitter Xavier Nady is one of their few offensive forces), there appears to be no possibility of a similarly win-win trade this time around.
The Pirates have no chance of accomplishing anything this year, and are holding three middle relievers hostage (Damaso Marte, Salomon Torres, Shawn Chacon), and are dangling a few position players (Jose Castillo, Jack Wilson) on the market, it would not behoove Omar Minaya to try to obtain anyone currently in a Bucco uniform.
Why? The answer is simple: Dave Littlefield is currently playing the game of an annoying fantasy baseball owner. You know, that one guy in the league who’s always trying to pry Alex Rodriguez off your roster in return for Steve Trachsel and Julio Lugo? Yeah, that’s Littlefield this year.
Two cases in point:
1. The Pirates, woefully in need of a power hitter, and desperate to get one who is both young and relatively cheap, are offered Wily Mo Pena (ideal!). In return, Littlefield is asked to give up the 35-year-old, meltdown-waiting-to-happen Salomon Torres. A no brainer, right? After all, Torres has been in the doghouse since losing his closer job, and in addition has been a whiny be-otch about it. His current role with the Bucs is mopup man. Now, there’s no guarantee Pena will ever be the slugger everyone thinks, but he’s only 25 years old and has a 26-HR season behind him. What’s Littlefield’s response to the offer? “No thank you. Maybe if you could present a juicier package … ”
2. Littlefield offers good-field, no-hit Jack Wilson to the Blue Jays for Troy Glaus. And he was serious — he went so far as to pick up Cesar Izturis to play short with the idea such a deal would go down. There was no report on whether J.P. Ricciardi gave him an answer — if he was ever able to stop laughing. There’s a rumor that Ricciardi, in fact, laughed so hard at the proposal that he fell backward off his chair and was knocked unconscious — as a result, Littlefield thought that negotiations were still open, since J.P. never actually said “no”.
Would YOU want to deal with this joker?
Not a major loss, since the Pirates don’t really have much to offer the Mets. There was a time I thought maybe Torres would help, but certainly not at the price Littlefield has in his head. If he won’t take Wily Mo, what would he want? Milledge AND Gomez? David Wright? I’d hate to think what’s holding out for in regard to Marte, who’d be a better choice for the Mets’ bullpen.
With Ruben Gotay and Marlon Anderson playing well, and Damion Easley back, there’s no reason to gamble on Jose Castillo. Thank goodness, because it would likely cost Mike Pelfrey. Even the rumbles about the injured Zach Duke — or Ian Snell — being “available” don’t interest me anymore, knowing that the price is astronomical. Let the Pirates peddle with someone else, we’ll deal with more realistic GMs.
Teixeira to the Braves?
This one has me worried. The Braves have the pieces — in Jarrod Saltalamacchia and young arms — to nab Teixeira. Don’t believe that Atlanta is hesitant to trade away “Salty” — that’s veteran GM John Schuerholz playing his typically shrewd negotiations. With Brian McCann locked up for the next decade, the “other” young catcher is very available, in the right deal. And any deal that can land Teixeira is the right deal. Rangers GM Jon Daniel, however, is under pressure to make a very good deal — particularly with the Chris Young / Adrian Gonzalez for Adam Eaton / Akinori Otsuka trade looking so badly. Daniel will want Saltalamacchia plus a young MLB arm (Kyle Davies? Chuck James), plus another arm on the farm (Jo-Jo Reyes? Matt Harrison?). They might also want Scott Thorman in the deal — and if they’re smart, they’ll hold out for all that. The scary think is, the Braves probably can deal all that talent away, and still be fine for this year and 2008 — especially with Teixeira in the lineup. And the Mets have no way to prevent it.
Linebrink Deal Sets the Bar
So finally there has been a significant trade: Scott Linebrink from the Padres to the Brewers in exchange for three minor league pitchers. Seems a little odd that the Pods would give up an Aaron Heilman-type setup man for anything other than offensive help. However, Linebrink has had an up-and-down year (like Heilman), and as a result his stock has dropped. Since he’s likely to test the free-agent market come November, San Diego felt it a better plan to dump him now and get some bodies in return.
The pitchers they received are actually pretty good. One of them, lefthander Joe Thatcher, will join the team immediately, as their only southpaw in the bullpen is Royce Ring. Thatcher had a 0.55 ERA in AA, then a 2.08 in 24 games in the PCL, and could be a difference-maker down the stretch. The other two pitchers obtained — Will Inman and Steve Garrison — are 20-year-olds with good upside. Inman, in fact, was the #3 prospect in Milwaukee’s organization, according to Baseball America. To put things in perspective, Inman is kind of like a righthanded, younger version of Jason Vargas — he’s a control pitcher with an aggressive demeanor and good makeup but only tops out in the low 90s. Garrison is a lefty drafted in 2005 out of The Hun School in Princeton, NJ. He’s heated up recently, and was part of Baseball America’s “hot sheet” last week:
A mid-season surge has propelled the 20-year-old Garrison toward the top of the Florida State League leaderboard. A 10th-round pick in 2005, Garrison has won his last four starts–including a seven-inning, three-hit shutout on Sunday against Daytona–and is 4-0, 1.38 with 24 strikeouts in 33 innings in July. Garrison had yielded 28 runs over 10 starts in June and July but has given up only five earned in five July starts.
Sounds to me like a pretty good deal for the Padres, particularly if Thatcher can help them this year. Now that we know an underachieving setup reliever rental can fetch three promising youngsters, it makes the trade market seem all the more difficult for Omar Minaya. You know the Nationals are looking at this deal, and licking their chops with Chad Cordero offered around. Same think with Kansas City, who have Octavio Dotel. It would appear that if the Mets were interested in obtaining either of these pitchers, or a similar late-inning hurler (Eric Gagne?), the cost would be AT LEAST Mike Pelfrey PLUS two more prospects, at minimum.
My guess is after seeing this deal go down, Omar is sniffing the waiver wire, on the lookout for this year’s Guillermo Mota. Let’s hope he can find one, as it appears we’ll need someone to take over Joe Smith’s spot.