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MLB trading season set to get underway

By Chris Ruddick
MLB Editor

Chris Ruddick Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If you believe the reports that are coming in, it appears as if the defending world champion Chicago White Sox are on the verge of making an already powerful lineup even better with the possible acquisition of Washington Nationals slugger Alfonso Soriano.

It was no secret that the Nationals were shopping the All-Star Soriano, but the White Sox didn't figure to be major players in the sweepstakes. Offense is nowhere near the problem in Chicago, as the Sox already have three potential 40-home run threats in their lineup in Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye.

Unless Soriano is going to bridge the gap to Bobby Jenks in the seventh and eighth innings or unless he is going to be able to get starters Mark Buehrle, Javier Vazquez and Freddy Garcia back on track I just don't see how this makes sense for the Southsiders.

Sure you are getting an outstanding player in Soriano, but giving up any prospect for a player that could be around for the next 10 weeks and then bolt makes little sense to me. Especially when he does not address the team's glaring weaknesses in the rotation and bullpen. I know the team acquired Mike MacDougal from Kansas City on Monday, but he won't be confused with Mariano Rivera anytime soon.

Chicago general manager Ken Williams has said that 23-year-old right-hander Brandon McCarthy will not be part of any Soriano deal, but initial reports have indicated otherwise

I guess if you are in favor of the deal you can make the argument that there just aren't any difference-making starting pitchers available and the asking prices on some of the relievers are just astronomical.

Supposedly Chicago inquired about San Diego setup man Scott Linebrink only to be told that it would cost them Triple-A All-Star third baseman Josh Fields, another player Williams will supposedly not part with.

So with that said I guess if you are going to give up a top prospect you might as well give him away for someone the caliber of a player like Soriano. Plus, and more importantly, you keep him away from the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers, two teams that you are competing directly with and were rumored to be going hard after him

I think the deal is not as close to being finalized as it is being let on, though. I do think Soriano will be moved, but it won't be to the White Sox. I still think the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are the team that is going to get him.

Soriano, who if moved will become just the third player in major league history traded in-season with at least 30 home runs, makes too much sense for the Angels not to get him. They have a ton of young talent to offer and who better to provide protection to Vladimir Guerrero than Soriano.

I will say this. If the Angels get Soriano, they will win the World Series this season. Mark it down. Considering I am right on my predictions 30-percent of the time, though, I wouldn't put much stock in that statement.

If Soriano is indeed dealt to Chicago it could set off a number of moves. LA might pull the trigger on a deal that could net it Miguel Tejada or the Yankees might be more inclined to include prospect Philip Hughes in a deal for Bobby Abreu.

However, after watching Sidney Ponson in Toronto the other day, the Yanks should get Hughes up in the Bronx now. How much worse could he do than Ponson?

Detroit has also been mentioned in some potential deals for a slugger, but the Tigers will likely stand pat. They are starting to run away with the AL Central and can pretty much cruise to their first postseason trip in 19 years.

More likely than not though with all these big names being thrown around, nothing is going to happen. Last year there were a total of five trades completed at the trade deadline. And not one of the players made a significant contribution to a playoff team.

Let's take a look at some of the bigger names that will be available as Monday's deadline draws near.

OUTIFIELDERS

Bobby Abreu - A few weeks ago I thought for sure he was headed somewhere. However, his price tag ($31 million over the next two seasons) is scaring people off. Especially since Phils general manager Pat Gillick is not looking at any potential Abreu deal as a salary dump. He wants major league ready talent in return. Good luck with that.

Pat Burrell - Gillick is finding it hard to find a taker for Burrell. I don't know why. Who wouldn't want a disinterested outfielder hitting .260 that makes close to $10 million a season. St. Louis and Baltimore, though, could be willing trade partners.

Carlos Lee - A free agent at the end of the year, but probably will stay put. In fact for the first time in a long while the Brewers may actually be buyers at the deadline, as they are just 4 1/2 games back of the NL wild card.

INFIELDERS

Miguel Tejada - If the Angels can't pull off a deal for Soriano their attention will definitely shift towards Tejada. An AL MVP in 2002 Tejada has struggled at times this season, but a change of scenery may just be the shot of B-12 he needs.

Julio Lugo - The Mets were supposedly interested before the season began and are probably still interested. It would probably cost them reliever Aaron Heilman. Omar Minaya maybe a little gun shy dealing with Tampa after his predecessor made one of the worst deals in the history of baseball with the Devil Rays at the trade deadline a few years back.

STARTERS

Freddy Garcia/Javier Vazquez - Chicago has let it be known that it is willing to deal starting pitching for a reliever. The Mets were rumored to have interest in one of the White Sox's arms, but may not be willing to part with either Heilman or Duaner Sanchez. However, if McCarthy is part of the deal for Soriano I doubt one of these two will be available.

Greg Maddux - Anyone interested in a 300-game winner and a future Hall of Famer? Milwaukee supposedly made overtures a few weeks back and that makes sense considering Maddux's brother Mike is the pitching coach for the Brewers.

Jon Lieber - One of the Phillies that actually does have some trade value. Pitched well for the Yanks in the postseason in 2004 and could be headed back to the Bronx. Boston and St. Louis are also possible destinations.

Barry Zito - General manager Billy Beane has stated that he won't deal Zito, but recently has made overtures that that may not be the case. Will likely stay put and help the A's win a division title then leave after the season.

Livan Hernandez - An innings eater that will be coveted by any team looking for a starter. Has got it done in the past in the postseason. He, like Tejada, probably just needs a change of scenery.

RELIEVERS

Tom Gordon - Teams should be banging down Gillick's door to get him. And Gillick should do anything in his power to dump him. At 38 years old his value will never be higher than it is right now. Buyer beware though, Flash has a tendency to disappear once the postseason begins.

Roberto Hernandez - Reportedly close to being acquired by the Yankees. A veteran of 16 years, Hernandez will hopefully fill the role Kyle Farnsworth and Octavio Dotel were supposed to fill in bridging the gap to Mariano Rivera.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.
Chris Ruddick


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