WTNYJune 21, 2004
Buying v. Selling
By Bryan Smith

This is the great question for some teams, whether it's time to throw the luggage off the boat, or to merely keep treading along. Fill the system with prospects for bad publicity?

I'll be writing a lot on potential deadline deals in the coming weeks, but I think the best place to start is with who will be doing the dealing. Peter White had a great profile on potential trade victim Freddy Garcia, who I still can't imagine becoming a Yankee. For now, let's deal with what teams will be doing what.

AL East
- Yankees: It doesn't take a genius to realize that the Yankees are always buyers, and with a wide 4.5 game gap on the Red Sox, they'll be prepping for the playoffs. Centerfield, second base, and one more in both the rotation and bullpen could be good acquisitions for the Bronx Bombers.

- Red Sox: Theo Epstein isn't going down without a fight. Boston is the favorite to win the Wild Card, but they are only a game up on the Rangers, and two in front of the Anaheim Angels. Boston needs starting pitching, but are surprisingly deep besides that.

- Devil Rays: Yes, the 11-game streak will be great for the public relations department. But this team has no chance of catching the Red Sox (6 back), and if they get an offer for players like Jose Cruz Jr. and Tino Martinez, they better bite the bullet.

- Blue Jays: They should have been better than this, but since injuries have decimated this team, look for J.P. Riccardi to start looking towards next year. The team has a month to decide where players like Carlos Delgado, Orlando Hudson and Frank Catalanotto fit on future plans.

- Orioles: There just isn't a lot to sell here. The team is either tied up in long-term contracts, or pretty young, so I think Baltimore might be silent at the trade deadline. Peter Angelos is still plotting where those relocation checks will go.

AL Central

- Twins: Very lucky they are a half game up right now, and Terry Ryan better take advantage. The team is ridiculously deep in hitters, but could use another starter. And while the bullpen has been good, another arm would be a very welcome addition.

- White Sox: Why aren't they in first place? Chicago needs a starter very bad at this point, and Ken Williams NEEDS to win a division this season. Landing another ace would be a good thing, but they are fine after that.

- Indians: With a different bullpen, this team might be in first place. As it stands, they are only 4.5 back, and very capable of winning the division. Mark Shapiro must add bullpen arms, and picking Curt Leskanic off the free agent market would be a nice start.

- Tigers: This is our first wait and see team. This division is extremely week, and if the Tigers get Devil Ray-like hot, they could find themselves very close. Seven games back isn't too far, but if they are still that far back in mid-July, sell, sell, sell.

- Royals: Just about as obvious as the Yankees. Allard Baird has not hid his intentions, so we know that just about every deal he gets offered is going to happen.

AL West

- Athletics: Better version of the Cleveland Indians. The A's would be in first by a mile if not for their bullpen, and that must change in the second half. Everyone is quick to want to add something to the lineup, but Beane's largest intention should be finding a closer.

- Rangers: I'm still in disbelief a bit that this is true. Texas? Who would have thunk it. Now, John Hart must see if he can get some pitching to go with that lineup, because if so, they have a very outside chance of the playoffs. Giving up any potential building blocks would be stupid, but a few small deals would be smart.

- Angels: I would say the Red Sox, White Sox, Indians and Angels are the only non-first place teams that have realistic hopes of the playoffs. We don't know if we've seen the real Angels quite yet, so I don't know quite what to advise. The only minor lineup hole is at the hot corner, and I don't think swinging some of their top prospects for a Carlos Beltran or pitcher would be worth it.

- Mariners: Bill Bavasi will be dumping, there is no question about it. I could see something major like Bret Boone to the Yanks happening, but for now, I'll just assume the trading block to include Freddy Garcia and Eddie Guardado.

Back with the NL a bit later...