It's been said a few times before, but it bears repeating: this year's media frenzy leading into Sunday's non-waivers trade deadline is even more frenetic than the 2004 edition, and that was even before the Red Sox essentially confirmed a Sports Illustrated report that Manny Ramirez wants out of Boston.
Of course, the Mets and their link to Alfonso Soriano – who homered again on Thursday – have been at the forefront of most discussions, and it appears to be a negotiation that's hit the skids.
It's not really a question of whether the Rangers will someday trade Soriano, that much appears to be a given, but if they'll cash those chips right now.
It'll take quite a package for a deal to get done by Sunday, and despite a Dallas FM station's report that a trade had been consummated on Thursday, a handshake appears far off.
The Rangers are still asking for several prospects, including Double-A outfielder Lastings Milledge – the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger reported Friday that the Mets have been working on a deal that includes Milledge, Mike Cameron and a pitching prospect (possibly Yusmeiro Petit) going to Texas in exchange for Soriano and 23-year-old first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who's seen time in the majors this year with the Rangers.
While we all wonder whether Milledge especially will still be wearing a Binghamton uniform come Aug. 1, crazier things have happened. Perhaps the biggest development of this week is the fact that the Mets are willing to part with Cameron.
Since moving to right field and coming back from wrist tendinitis this May, Cameron has played the role of good soldier, even carrying the Mets in May to the tune of a .372 average.
However, great moments have been few and far between since then, with Cameron hitting .205 in June and .200 through 95 July at-bats. He was benched in Colorado, of all places, on Wednesday night, leading the way for Marlon Anderson's two homers to carry the Mets to their only win of that series.
For all of the hype about Cameron being a great clubhouse presence when he came to New York from Seattle – and it is true at times - he's shown a temperamental side as well.
Cameron is the less accessible partner of a tandem that includes locker buddy, Cliff Floyd, and Cameron has been known to snap at reporters and other assorted personnel from time to time – even dating back to last season, when Cameron was the unchallenged centerfielder.
Brooklyn Cyclones hitting Donovan Mitchell recalls watching centerfielders Joe Holden's first cuts as a Cyclone this June, and – for lack of a better term – just not being all that impressed.
"Man, this kid's got to tone it up a little bit," Mitchell recalls thinking, watching Holden dribble the ball weakly around the infield during batting practice.
But, as Mitchell and the Cyclones soon were to find out, the 21-year-old Wantagh, N.Y. product seemingly transformed into a far different performer once the lights turned on. Holden took hold of a starting role with the Cyclones in early July and hasn't let go, hitting a team-leading .357 with two doubles, three triples and seven steals through Thursday's action.
"He's one of those guys who doesn't hit very well in B.P.," Mitchell said. "Once the game comes, he's got a different mindset. He's a different animal. He's the totally opposite hitter."
Holden, a 21st round selection of the Mets this June out of Molloy (N.Y.) College, didn't dispute the hitting coach's claims, breaking into a wide grin.
"When I get into a game, my concentration level is higher," Holden said. "I just feel like I belong there, and I'm more relaxed."
Holden estimates he has a regular rotation of 10 to 15 friends from home who'll journey out to KeySpan Park to watch games. Next up? Perhaps a Cyclones field trip, with Holden playing the role of chaperone.
"I've been trying to get the guys to come out to Long Island, but we haven't had an opportunity," Holden said. "I'm sure we'll have an off-day coming up so I can get out there and show them a good time."
Luckily, very few of Holden's fans show up for early hitting.
Inside Pitch online subscriber Vince Bucca writes in with a question regarding last week's article on Lastings Milledge, in which I wrote:
"But it's the intangibles that Milledge brings to the table that really set him apart from the rest of the Mets' Double-A roster. Cleanup hitter Mike Jacobs exudes confidence and seems to know that he's mastered the art of whacking Eastern League pitching around the yard, but Milledge appears far and beyond even Jacobs in the cockiness department."
"Was there a reason you are putting down Jacobs, who has carried this team on his back all year? Milledge has gotten off to a great start, no doubt, but he is only been there for what, a week now? There is no need for this team's MVP to be put down. Being cocky is OK, but over-cocky is not. I'm glad Milledge is doing great but let's not undermine what Jacobs has done now in his two stints with Binghamton. There was no reason to use Jacobs in your portrayal of Milledge. Nice article but no reason for that BS."
Upon further review, maybe cocky was a bad choice of words, and I certainly didn't mean to give the impression that Jacobs (still a Met farmhand on Aug. 1? We'll see) is lacking anything.
A much better term might have been confidence – that same inner drive that certain players have, where they don't just hope to succeed, they know they're going to succeed, and know they're better than the opposition. On the surface at least, both players appear to have it. Milledge's confidence – and again, this isn't a bad thing – is just a little more raw and exposed. Thanks for the note.
The roughest day at the office award goes to Binghamton righthander Yusmeiro Petit, who allowed eight earned runs and seven hits – including a home run – in a 14-8 loss at Altoona Wednesday.
The eight runs allowed by Petit (5-3, 3.53 ERA) were a season high. His next-poorest outing came back on April 19 at Portland, where he allowed five runs in 3-2/3 innings.
The Hagerstown Suns, the Mets' Class-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League, are quickly gaining a reputation for the organization's best promotions.
With a nod to documentary director Morgan Spurlock and his cult hit, 'Supersize Me,' the Suns are putting intern Joel Pagliaro on a diet of nothing but food from Hagerstown's Municipal Stadium for one month.
That means the 5'10", 162-pound Pagliaro will feast on delicacies like burgers, Italian sausages, French fries, pulled pork and soda for all of August, eating at least two meals a day from the ballpark.
"I can live off hot dogs and cheesesteaks for a year," he said.
Pagliaro's body fat is listed at 22.5 percent to begin the contest. Free check-ups or not (the Suns have partnered with a local health center and have their team trainers on the job), Pagliaro could easily be headed for two-bill territory by the time this stunt is over.
But at least he's saving on groceries.
Just in case you're the gambling type, SportsBook.com sent out a press release this week updating their odds on the MLB playoff races. The Mets are a 10-1 pick to win the NL Wild Card, with the Houston Astros leading the pack at a 6-5 bet; the Yankees are an 8-5 bet for the AL Wild Card, with Boston trailing behind at 9-5.
Inside Pitch managing editor Bryan Hoch can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.