By Christian Binder, WSOE Sports
It’s the beginning of July. Normal people think, “Oh, it’s July. Better get some fireworks.” Sports nerds like me think, “Oh, it’s July. MLB All-Star game and trade deadline.” Once again the trade deadline is upon us and, during my scouring of mlbtraderumors.com, I discovered some very juicy little nuggets.
Let me start with a roast of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The management of the Pirates must be the most incompetent group of un-savvy baseball minds ever. Last year, they trade two of their three starting outfielders. Not only that, they were two very, very good players. Jason Bay is now livin’ it up in Boston, while Xavier Nady continues to make money even though he is having Tommy John surgery. Fast forward to this year and now all three of their starting outfielders have been traded. That includes the two guys that replaced Bay and Nady last year. So, in two years, 5 starting outfielders traded. The Pirates shipped center fielder Nate McLouth to the Braves earlier in the season and over the past week, they shipped right fielder Eric Hinske to the Yankees and left fielder Nyjer Morgan to the Nationals. And what did they get in return? Two below-average prospects from the Yankees, a guy who just can’t seem to make it work in the majors, Lastings Milledge, and a reliever with an ERA of 7.49. Call it what you want, but that just seems stupid to me. Even players for the Pirates don’t understand it. Adam and Andy LaRoche have publicly been mystified by the management. I’ve read that the minor leaguers they keep receiving are for “organizational depth.” Too bad most of them will never see action in the major leagues.
The most interesting thing I stumbled upon was a player by the name of Aroldis Chapman. He’s a 21-year-old Cuban with electric stuff. From what I gather, he can consistently hit 100 MPH on the radar gun. ESPN.com’s Buster Olney calls him “a left-handed Stephen Strasburg.” Chapman recently defected from the Cuban national team while in the Netherlands. He is reportedly flying to the United States today to try to garner a deal with a Major League club. As is the case with any big-name player nowadays, the Yankees have expressed interest in signing Chapman. After all, the Yankees signed the last big-name defector from Cuba – Jose Contreras. Although he’s no longer wearing pinstripes, Contreras did provide the Yankees with some good pitching. I’m not on board the Chapman train, but we’ll see what happens. He apparently has some maturity issues, which he showed during the World Baseball Classic earlier this year. He was visibly upset with the umpire’s strike zone if he did not get a call, prompting teammates to visit the mound to calm him down. Obviously, if the Yankees get involved, the Red Sox will be right behind them.
As for the trade deadline, it has been mostly quiet. I’ve been keeping a close eye on things because it seems like pitching is going to be at a premium. Boston is shopping starter Brad Penny in the hopes of adding a bat since third baseman Mike Lowell is currently on the 15-day DL and David Ortiz is a shell of his former self. One possible deal there is a Brad-Penny-for-Matt-Holliday switch with the Oakland Athletics, but the Sox have a crowded outfield and they simply can’t bench Ortiz. Holliday was pretty much a rental for the A’s anyway since this is the last year of his contract. Since the A’s aren’t really competitive this year, I can see them moving him. George Sherrill, the closer for the Orioles, has been connected with the Florida Marlins as a replacement for injured closer Matt Lindstrom. The Orioles like Sherrill, so moving him is unlikely, but not out of the question.
I also heard that a few teams inquired about pitcher Dan Haren of the Diamondbacks. If the Dbacks traded him, they’d be crazy. The one-two punch of Brandon Webb and Dan Haren is too good to break up even though Webb is on the DL. Both pitchers are perennial Cy Young Award contenders. Erik Bedard’s name has also surfaced in rumors and he is a likely candidate to be dealt. Other than those few names, there have been no real blockbuster rumors. However, there always seems to be one surprise deal every year…