Primed For The Deadline: NL Needs and Wants

The baseball experts from around the network put together some wish lists for their teams and considered potential trading chips that could be offered up in deals. Here's a look at how the trade deadline could play out.

Arizona Diamondbacks
By Keith Glab

Buyer, seller or undecided: Swapper, really. Though the Diamondbacks are still very much a part of the NL West picture, GM Josh Byrnes isn't one to deal a bunch of prospects just for a rental player. Most likely, the D-Backs will make that rare deadline deal that involves veterans for veterans.

What the Diamondbacks want: One big outfield bat or one more veteran arm. With Carlos Quentin back in the minors, the Diamondbacks outfield is a pastiche of serviceable parts, as evidenced by Conor Jackson's second career left field start on Monday. What they need is one big bopper to build around, and the outfield might be the best place to do that in the short term.

Randy Johnson's health will determine whether the Diamondbacks try to add another pitcher. Pitching costs an awful lot in today's market, and the team will probably stand pat unless it's certain that the Big Unit won't be able to pitch for the rest of the year.

What the Diamondbacks have to offer: Corner infielders. Conor Jackson wasn't just patrolling the outfield because the team needs help out there. In Jackson, Chad Tracy, Tony Clark, and Mark Reynolds, the club essentially has four players for two spots. Compounding the logjam are Chris Carter and Jaime D'Antona at Triple-A. Carter is leading the entire organization in hits, but is best suited to DH. D'Antona has been streaky all year, but is hot right now, and therefore might have impressed some scouts around the league.

Tony Clark has a no-trade clause, and the D-backs can control the contracts of Reynolds and Jackson. The most likely players to go are Tracy and Carter, though Carter would have much more value to an American League team.

Chicago Cubs
By Steve Holley

Buyer, seller or undecided: Considering they were only three and a half games back in the National League Central race and just three games back in the Wildcard race entering play on Thursday, the Cubs are buyers at this point in July.

What the Cubs want: The team's bullpen, particularly in regards to setup men Scott Eyre and to a slightly lesser extent Bob Howry, has been a growing concern most all year. Additionally, the back-end of the bullpen has become something of a revolving door in recent weeks, featuring young, inexperienced pitching prospects such as right-handers Sean Gallagher (better suited as a starter) and Billy Petrick. As such, the Cubs could stand to pick up a solid reliever or two for the stretch run.

The team's starting pitching has been a plus, especially with the recent resurgence of staff ace and possible free-agent-to-be Carlos Zambrano. But left-hander Sean Marshall, who surprised everyone with an overly flawless spring to earn a back-end spot in the rotation out of spring camp a year ago after spending most of the previous season at Class A Daytona, is no lock for the fifth starter's role despite posting respectable numbers there through 10 starts this season. Between Marshall, second-year success Rich Hill and veteran Ted Lilly, the Cubs are already going with three southpaws in their rotation, so a deal for a right-handed starter could be in the cards.

If you're speculating on who might go where, leave Felix Pie out of the discussion. He's staying put with the Cubs.
At the plate, $136 million dollar man Alfonso Soriano headlines the Cubs' outfield, but after that, the outfield picture is a bit fuzzy. Cliff Floyd has hit surprisingly well on 34-year-old legs, but Jacque Jones is coming off consecutive down months and was one $4-5 million technicality away from being traded to the Florida Marlins recently. Elsewhere, one of last year's best hitters for average, Matt Murton, is now back in Triple-A for the first time in two years. Because of this, the impending firesale in Cincinnati has many fans coveting future Hall of Fame outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr. The safer bet may be a trade for either veteran relievers David Weathers or Mike Stanton.

What the Cubs have to offer: Let's start with who the Cubs won't be willing to dangle in front of other teams. Top prospect Felix Pie is as untouchable as they come and won't be involved in any trade or trade discussions – period.

Left-hander Donald Veal is the Cubs' top pitching prospect and despite a most uncharacteristic season in Double-A to date, it would be almost impossible to think he isn't on Farm Director Oneri Fleita's annual list of "untouchables."

Aside from Pie, the club has an abundance of outfielders at the Triple-A level, none of which outside of Pie really has the team up in jubilant arms at this point. Murton is often mentioned as possible trade bait and proved last season that he can start on many a big league club with the right opportunity.

Houston Astros
By Max Schneider

Buyer, seller or undecided: Unless a serious win streak after the all-star break, the Astros are definitely a seller.

What the Astros want: The Astros are looking for help in several positions. They need some help at SS as Adam Everett is not working out offensively and Mark Loretta is not the SS of the future. They don't need a game changer, but they would prefer someone with a solid glove and a high OBP with maybe some speed at SS. A young power hitting third baseman is another need within the system. Morgan Ensburg has had a terrible season, leading to Mike Lamb taking over the starting job. Ensburg has one more year of arbitration while Lamb can walk after this year. If Hunter Pence remains in CF, then they would also like a power hitting 1B/RF, preferably a lefty. Lance Berkman is as steady as ever and can fill one of the two spots, again, preferably 1B. But Luke Scott, Orlando Palmiero, and Chris Burke have failed to be the answer in the open outfield spot. If Pence moves to right, then they would prefer a speedy CF who can cover ground and get on-base. The Astros are deep with pitching, but if anything they might need a power lefty reliever.

What the Astros have to offer: The Astros have a few parts they are willing to deal. RHP Brad Lidge is the big name that pops up. He has one more year of arbitration after this season, which raises his value even higher. The righty closer can be lights out at times and there is always a demand for hard throwing closers come playoff time. The Astros got nothing out of the Billy Wagner trade a few years back, so expect them to learn from that lesson and demand a lot for Lidge. RHP Jason Jennings is another player the Astros will shop around. The left-hander was injured early on, but has posted respectable numbers since returning. Jennings has an option for '08, which will add to his appeal. 3B Mike Lamb has had a solid season filling in for the under performing Ensburg. But this is his last year under contract so expect him to be on the trading block as well. 2B/SS Mark Loretta is having a great year, with an OBP at nearly .400. He will be a free agent after this season as well and could help any contender down the stretch as a utility player. Woody Williams and Ensburg will be shopped around as well, but odds are there won't be any buyers unless they are shopped with a player like Lidge. If there needs to be a minor leaguer thrown into the deal to complete a trade, the Astros have depth in RHP.

Los Angeles Dodgers
By Tot Holmes

Buyer, seller or undecided: The Dodgers are definitely buyers, they have never been sellers in the last 75 years at least, often to their detriment.

What the Dodgers want: They are interested in a power hitter; the team is in the bottom 10% of major league baseball in home runs. Nomar Garciaparra switching to third base cleared a spot for wunderkind James Loney at first base but it didn't help either Garciaparra's average or the fact that he has only two (2) home runs so far this season. Third base is their soft spot. They would find a place for a power hitting outfielder, however, should one turn up. Failing to find a big bat, they would settle for a starter or as second choice, a reliever. The injuries to Jason Schmidt, Randy Wolf, Hong-Chic Kuo and Yhency Brazoban have left large holes in the pitching staff. If a trade is made, an addition to the staff will be the most likely made.

What the Dodgers have to offer: Here lies the rub. They have a plethora of young players up and down their minor league system and for just the right deal might let loose of one of them but those interested are asking for two or three of the youngsters. Ned Colletti has watched Russell Martin, Chad Billingsley, Tony Abreu, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier not only do the job but do it well. Therefore he has been reluctant to move any of his hoarded riches for a hired gun that would only be available for the rest of the year. There is some talk about trading some secondary talent for a number four or five starter but what the Dodgers consider a number five and what the offering club thinks their pitcher will be are two different questions.

Philadelphia Phillies
By Chuck Hixson

Buyer, seller or undecided: Inconsistent play since the All-Star Break has put the Phillies six games back of the Mets in the NL East and 6.5 games back in the Wild Card race. If things don't turn around quickly and convincingly, the Phillies will become sellers.

The Phillies have looked long and hard to find a taker for Pat Burrell. Will their search finally end?
What the Phillies want: If the Phillies can get hot, they'll need reinforcements for both the starting rotation and the bullpen. They'll look for veteran pitchers who have at least a few miles left on their arm. If they don't get hot and are sellers, they'll likely still look for pitching help, but the hunt will focus on pitchers who can stick with the club for more than just a few months. Either way, it's pitching, pitching, pitching.

What the Phillies have to offer: If you want Pat Burrell, he can be had pretty cheaply. First though, he has to be convinced to waive his no-trade clause, which he hasn't done in the past. The interest in Burrell had been none-existent, but with his recent turn around and .438 average in July, other teams could give Burrell a second look if they think they can get him past that pesky no-trade clause. Aaron Rowand is a free agent at the end of the year and if the Phillies decide to sell, he could move quickly. As for younger players, outfielder Michael Bourn might be moved as could one of the young catching prospects in the organization. If the Phillies have a shot at getting a front line starter, they may be able to dig up another pitching prospect to offer.

Pittsburgh Pirates
By George Von Benko

Buyer, seller or undecided: As the trade deadline approaches the Pirates appear to be on the fence. Pittsburgh's recent surge before the All-Star break makes you wonder if Bucs' GM Dave Littlefield will be a buyer for the first time in his tenure?

Truth be told the Pirates haven't made a deal aimed at short-term benefits at the trade deadline since 1997 when they acquired Shawon Dunston.

What the Pirates want? If the Pirates are buyers, they need a bat; someone to punch up an anemic lineup.

If they are sellers, they would seek a prospect who is a position player, since they don't have a lot of offense in the minor leagues and they would also seek more pitching, something that Littlefield has always seemed to go after in trades.

What the Pirates have to offer: Players who could draw some interest are reliever Salomon Torres if his elbow is healthy. Torres rejoined the club this week after a stint on the disabled list.

Relief pitcher Shawn Chacon is a candidate since he can become a free agent this winter. But Chacon has asked the Pirates for a contract extension, and the Pirates haven't responded.

Reliever Damaso Marte might draw some interest, especially from a contender in need of a left-handed specialist.

A lot of teams would be interested in Jack Wilson, the National League's third best fielding shortstop. The price would be high, but not out of reach - as he is owed $14.5 million the next two years.

The biggest question if the Pirates nose dive in the next two weeks and buying is ruled out: Will they try to deal Wilson?

San Diego Padres
By Denis Savage

Buyer, seller or undecided: The San Diego Padres are in a division that shows the top four teams separated by a handful of games. They will continue to look for cheap alternatives to strengthen the roster without taking away from the core of the team.

What the Padres want: The Padres have already swung deals to get Michael Barrett and Milton Bradley, two deals that significantly upgraded the roster. They could, however, still be looking for an infielder with speed to take the role currently manned by Geoff Blum. San Diego could also use a steady starter that they can use in a pinch or a savvy veteran that knows how to work in the postseason.

What the Padres have to offer: The Padres have a plethora of outfielders that could be trade bait. With Bradley in the fold, Jose Cruz Jr. and Terrmel Sledge will be onlookers down the stretch. Both have value for different reasons. Cruz is a competent veteran who can play for weeks at a time and Sledge is still young enough to contribute in the future with regular playing time.

San Diego also has a wealth of relievers in Triple-A who have proven to be solid addition in various roles. While the names may not be "big" – they are capable of getting outs at the major league level. Everyone may want Scott Linebrink, but the truth is another Scott can easily be had – Scott Cassidy. Cassidy, currently at Triple-A Portland, worked in 42 games for San Diego last season and posted a 2.53 ERA. Young pitchers Jared Wells, Tim Stauffer and Mike Thompson can all be had and no pitcher at the Triple-A level is safe.

St. Louis Cardinals
By Brian Walton

Buyer, seller or undecided: The Cardinals are in a tenuous situation. Their 40-45 record at the break implies also-ran status, but the standings showed them just 7 ½ games out in a weak NL Central Division. Given that, a strong core player in Albert Pujols, and their recent track record of success, once again this trade season Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty says he plans to be a buyer, not a seller. However, that was before the news of Chris Carpenter's season-ending surgery was known.

Can Walt Jocketty engineer a second-half comeback in St. Louis?
Still, as recently as 2001, the Cardinals were just two games over .500 in early August and still won 93 games, making the playoffs. They likely believe they can do it again. But, just as in ‘01, when the addition of Woody Williams was a huge shot in the arm, the Cardinals need help.

What the Cardinals want: Like many of his peers, Jocketty may be searching for a corner outfield bat and starting pitching. The current starter in right, Juan Encarnacion, has been steady but unspectacular. Another power hitter, such as the deadline addition of Larry Walker in 2004 would be ideal.

The Cardinals pitching staff would have been buoyed by the expected July return of Carpenter but that isn't happening. Plus, with Mark Mulder's rehab going very slowly and a weak back-end of the rotation, significantly more help is needed beyond recently-added Mike Maroth.

At the break, the Cardinals starters in aggregate were last in the NL in wins (22), win percentage (.355), ERA (5.31) and second to last in strikeouts (269). Then, in each of their first two post-break games, the Cards allowed double-digit runs to the Phillies. Making the Washington staff look good takes some doing, but this gang seems to have done it.

What the Cardinals have to offer: Big Leaguers who could be available include Encarnacion as well as disappointing second baseman Adam Kennedy. The team also could potentially spare a left-handed relief specialist such as Randy Flores and a veteran from the right side like Russ Springer. But, Jocketty's past M.O. has been to deal minor leaguers for Major Leaguers.

While the upper levels of their farm system are not chock-full of top prospects, the Cardinals have an obvious trade chip in right-handed starting pitcher Anthony Reyes. Though the 25-year-old has struggled this season to an 0-10 record with a 6.40 ERA in the Majors, the former USC product remains a desirable commodity. A change in scenery seems to be in order.

The organization also has some intriguing outfielders coming up, including former left-handed pitcher Rick Ankiel, recently tied for the tops in home runs this season in the minors, ex-LSU standout Nick Stavinoha and Cuban émigré Amaury Cazana Marti. The latter has posted a solid .328/.394/.521 (AVG/OBP/SLG) in the hitting-heavy Mexican League this summer.

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