Posted: Monday July 10, 2006 10:20AM; Updated: Monday July 10, 2006 3:33PM
Will the Brewers acquire Greg Maddux for help with their ballooning ERA?
Jerry Lai/US PRESSWIRE
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PITTSBURGH -- Cooperstown-bound Cub Greg Maddux has veto power over trades, but it's believed he'd accept a deal to at least two teams: the Brewers and the Dodgers.
If the noncontending Cubs decide to deal him, as expected, Maddux may actually favor the Brewers, if given a choice.
In a way, you could say Maddux's preference provides new evidence that blood is thicker than water. Maddux's brother Mike is Milwaukee's pitching coach, and Greg owns a home in Southern California in picturesque Dana Point, which sits on the Pacific Ocean. "Greg believes his brother more than anyone else in the game can keep him mechanically sound,'' a person close to Maddux said.
The A's and the Padres reportedly have interest in Maddux as well, but both are particularly cost-conscious and could be reticent to take on Maddux's $8 million-a-year salary.
Maddux also loves the idea of reuniting with Bobby Cox disciple Ned Yost, the Brewers' manager, according to his friend. "That's a comfortable environment for Greg,'' the friend said.
However, the Brewers lost three straight to Maddux's Cubs going into the All-Star break and are understandably wavering on whether to be a buyer or a seller. New owner Mark Attanasio, a successful L.A. investment banker, has high expectations and is said to be "antsy'' for the Brewers to make a mark. If Milwaukee decides to buy, "he would be the one to push it,'' one baseball executive said. "He wants to win right now.'' And Maddux would be the kind of player to give Attanasio's team credibility.
While the young Brewers have improved to the point of being on the cusp of the race, they still rank last in the NL in ERA (4.96) and remain a long shot to steal a playoff spot. They have some difficult choices and could still easily become a seller if things continue to go south. One NL executive sees the Brewers as being stuck "between a rock and a hard place'' over whether to trade free-agent-eligible Carlos Lee or just let him leave at year's end and collect the draft choice.
"If they're in it, they almost have to keep him,'' that executive said.
The Cubs would be wise to sell, though the only players they're actively shopping now are believed to be pitcher Scott Williamson, first baseman Phil Nevin and shortstop Neifi Perez. Maddux probably will be available, but right fielder Jacque Jones, who's having a big year (.528 slugging percentage) might not. Teams inquiring about Jones have thus far gotten a thumbs-down.
Around the majors
There's some scuttlebutt that the Red Sox and the Phillies could work a trade around two high-profile outfielders, Bobby Abreu and Trot Nixon. The Red Sox would likely love Abreu because he has consistently high on-base percentages (.447 this season, .413 lifetime). That might not sound like much of a deal for Philly, but it could help the Phillies in two ways: Nixon is far cheaper, and also carries a reputation for having a gung-ho demeanor, contrasting with Abreu's laid-back rep. "Nixon's the right one to get,'' said one NL exec. "He'd get that clubhouse moving in the right direction.''
Should a deal be arranged, Abreu -- whose contract includes a no-trade provision -- would likely seek to be compensated, especially if he's traded out of the National League. In any case, it's too bad for Philly that it couldn't pull off the promising three-way trade talked about this winter that would have sent Abreu to Baltimore, Miguel Tejada to Houston and Brad Lidge, a bigger difference-maker than Nixon, to Philadelphia.