The trade deadline buzz is also picking up as expected in July, and this year's top prize appears to be Roy Halladay. He, without a doubt, would be a game-changer for any team. Will Halladay end up in the NL? It all remains to be seen. As the final week before the break is played out, here's the latest and greatest from around the National League.
Philadelphia Phillies (43-38) –
Exactly halfway through the season and the defending champs are in first place
of their division. Accused of being guilty of hangover syndrome early in the
season, the Phils have done just enough to stay afloat the NL East. Unsatisfied,
the Phils are apparently looking for more pitching options. But who isn't? Word
is they're eyeballing Pedro Martinez, who has been working out in the
Florida Marlins (43-42) – Hanley Ramirez made the All-Star team
and leads the Marlins with a .346 batting average, 60 RBI, and 50 runs scored.
But the star shortstop has now missed three straight games thanks to a sore hip
flexor. Ricky Nolasco continued his
winning ways tossing his second consecutive 8.0-innning game, this time a
12-strikeout shutout against
New York Mets (39-43) – Maybe it's the fact that he's underperforming because the rest of his supporting cast is primarily on the disabled list, but David Wright's power numbers are waaaaay down. He has just five home runs this season; he hit 33 in 2008 and 30 in 2007. Interestingly enough, he's on pace to collect about the same number of walks, but his strikeouts are up significantly: 84 through 81 games compared to 118 and 115 through 160 games the past two years. Go figure.
Washington Nationals (24-57) –
Despite 22 home runs and 59 RBI Adam Dunn was snubbed from the All-Star team. Maybe his big bat just wouldn't be
useful in the late innings of a close game. The Nationals did pick up
back-to-back 5-3 wins against
Milwaukee Brewers (43-40) – Ryan Braun got into trouble by slamming his teammates in the media stating that the starting pitching wasn't good enough after the Cubs took three of four from the Brewers. Yovani Gallardo, who has been the staff ace this season with a 2.95 ERA, has lost three of his last four starts. His most recent loss came Tuesday when Wainwright and the Cardinals shut out the Brewers 5-0.
Chicago Cubs (41-40) – The Tribune Company reportedly has completed the sale of the Cubs to the Ricketts family ending a two-year drama. Aramis Ramirez returned from the DL this past week, and just as the team was getting healthy and starting to play a bit better, the baseball gods woke up and hurled two more lightning bolts their way. In a scene a la Martin Grammatica, Ryan Dempster broke a toe on his foot trying to hurdle the dugout railing in celebration after a Cubs win over the Brewers. He'll be out about a month. Then 2008 Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto suffered an oblique strain before the start of Wednesday's game. The Cubs were poised to make a run for the division lead this weekend against the Cards and now might be limping into the All-Star Break.
Cincinnati Reds (41-41) – In their two games on Sunday and Monday, the Reds lost by a combined score of 32-2: 10-1 to the Cards and 22-1 to the Phils. Ouch! Forget about their arms, the pitching staff must have sore necks after those poundings. Bronson Arroyo who started the season red hot can't seem to right the ship. He's 1-5 in his last seven starts and has lost three straight growing his ERA back up to 5.85. Aaron Harang, who had a terrible 2008, was poised for a nice comeback season, but hasn't won a game since May 25th, going 0-4 in his last eight starts.
San Francisco Giants (46-37) – Just as Randy Johnson was gaining momentum, the 45-year old, lanky lefthander landed on the DL with a shoulder strain. But Barry Zito turned out his best performance of the year on Tuesday when he threw 8.1 shutout innings giving up just four hits. Meanwhile, fellow starters Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain both made the All-Star roster for the NL. Pablo Sandoval, who leads the team with a .328 batting average and 13 home runs is in the running for the final spot on the NL roster.
Colorado Rockies (44-39) – Jason Marquis picked up his MLB-leading
11th win Monday against the Nationals with 8.0 shutout innings. After
losing his fifth game of the season, Marquis hasn't given up a run in two starts
and 17 innings of work. And in a random statistical event, Alan Embree earned a win without
throwing a pitch on Tuesday. He came into a 4-4 game in the eighth inning and
picked off Austin Kearns to end the
inning before throwing a pitch to the plate. The
Arizona Diamondbacks (35-49) – It is likely that the Diamondbacks become big-time sellers as the trade deadline approaches in an attempt to get some good young talent for their future free agents. Dan Haren and his 2.16 ERA likely aren't going anywhere. Neither are Justin Upton, his .298 batting average, and his 48 RBI. Haren and Upton are the D'Backs future. It's just a shame we can't seem them star on the big stage this October.
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