Posted: Thursday July 27, 2006 12:03PM; Updated: Thursday July 27, 2006 12:55PM
And Lee may come ahead of Soriano
Carlos Lee would spice up the outfield market instantly -- if the Brewers decide to move him.
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Brewers GM Doug Melvin has informed teams that the magic number is seven -- if they're seven games out of the playoff derby, he'll start taking offers. But their recent 4-8 slide has dropped Milwaukee 5˝ behind Cincinnati, keeping them in limbo and potentially pushing back their decision regarding the well-regarded Lee.
Lee (28 homers, .289 average) may actually be the Tigers' first choice, ahead of even Soriano, who's also drawn interest from the White Sox, Angels, Mariners, Dodgers and Yankees (although the Yankees have virtually given up hope that they could land Soriano; "no match'' one league official said) -- and if the A's and Twins can scrape together funds, they can't be discounted either.
It's harder to judge Lee's market since he technically isn't available yet, but beyond the runaway Tigers, the Dodgers have shown early interest. While the Dodgers have gone deadly cold during L.A.'s heat wave, losing 13 of 14 since the break, it's doubtful they could explain a sell-off stance to four million paying fans. The Dodgers could dangle shortstop Cesar Izturis, currently out of position at third, but if Milwaukee requests Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp or third base prospect Andy La Roche, Los Angeles would likely balk.
Only after the Soriano and Lee situations sort themselves is Abreu likely to be moved. And even then, one competing executive said, "It depends on [Gillick's] marching orders'' whether he'd excise Abreu merely to save money. Gillick has more players to shop (Jon Lieber, Cory Lidle, Rheal Cormier, Arthur Rhodes, Tom Gordon, David Dellucci), but unless he shows even more ingenuity than usual, it appears he's going to get something well short of a haul for what were thought to be his two biggest trade commodities.
A Boone for Padres?
While intent on acquiring a third baseman, Padres GM Kevin Towers apparently won't do it at the expense of stellar setup man Scott Linebrink. Braves GM John Schuerholz requested Linebrink for Wilson Betemit (being followed by several scouts), but with the relief market gone haywire and no viable option to replace Linebrink, Towers said no.
Morgan Ensberg is another option. But Aaron Boone, who's struggled this season in Cleveland (the real surprise is 15 errors), could be cost-efficient. Boone is a quiet clubhouse presence, and anyone in New England could tell you he can be clutch.
Around the majors
Assuming he can't trade injured players Jose Vidro and Jose Guillen now, Bowden still has five to move; beyond Soriano, there's Livan Hernandez, Tony Armas Jr., Ramon Ortiz and Mike Stanton. Although it's likely that Hernandez (who's 7-8 with a 5.80 ERA and has $11 million to go through 2007) gets through waivers and possibly the same for Ortiz (7-9, 4.87 with a $2.5 million '06 salary and $600,000 in projected incentives), Soriano ($10 million '06 salary), Armas ($2.1 million) and even Stanton ($1 million) have to go soon, since presumably they'd be claimed on waivers.
Unselfish Eric Chavez is mired in such a slump that he requested to bat ninth, and A's manager Ken Macha compromised and hit him eighth. Then on Wednesday he "promoted'' Chavez to seventh, and Chavez responded with two hits. While Chavez has all but secured his sixth straight Gold Glove award (two errors all year), he has only one home run to go with 16 strikeouts in July. He's mentioned forearm tendinitis in both arms, and one scout said, "He has to be hurt pretty bad.''
The Red Sox checked in Wednesday on Lieber, who did a number on them in the 2004 playoffs. While some are questioning his shape, he's a tough guy who could help.
The Yankees had the gem of the 2005 trading season (Shawn Chacon, who's slipped this year) and may have done it again by picking up Aaron Guiel, who has hitthree home runs in 27 at-bats. In the old days, Kansas City served as the Yankees' virtual farm team, but who would have imagined they'd find talent in Kansas City now?