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San Francisco treat? (cont.)

Posted: Thursday December 7, 2006 12:38PM; Updated: Thursday December 7, 2006 10:16PM
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White Sox-Astros trade falls through

Mark Buerhle could be the next pitcher sent out of town by White Sox GM Ken Williams.
Mark Buerhle could be the next pitcher sent out of town by White Sox GM Ken Williams.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
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The White Sox traded Freddy Garcia to the Phillies on Wednesday and nearly sent Jon Garland to the Astros. The trade hit a snag and fell through, however, when the White Sox became concerned with the health of young right-hander Taylor Buchholz. Chicago also stood to receive speedy center fielder Willy Taveras and right-hander Jason Hirsh in the deal.

The White Sox lowered their payroll by $10 million with the Garcia trade, which also brought in the well-regarded Gio Gonzalez, and people say they have something more planned, and it could involve a trade of yet another one of their veteran top-flight starters.

Competing executives think GM Ken Williams will trade another starter, probably either Javier Vazquez or Mark Buerhle, in hopes of upgrading his stock of young players and lowering payroll. Mets GM Omar Minaya has always liked Vazquez, but the Mets also are expected to ask about Garland. Both Vazquez and Garland can't become free agents for two years, as opposed to Garcia, whose contract expires after next season.

However, Williams has sought Mike Pelfrey and Phil Humber, and a White Sox person emphatically said, 'There's no match with the Mets.''

Garcia is a consistent winner and big-game pitcher, and while he managed to win 17 games last year with a big finish, the White Sox thought he wore down after his World Baseball Classic efforts and felt he was inconsistent in games against lighter competition. Williams was also anxious to add right-hander Brandon McCarthy to the rotation.

The Phillies are the immediate winner in that Garcia gives them a much better chance to win (immediately, there was speculation they might trade Jon Lieber), but nobody could criticize Williams, who's batting close to 1.000 in his trades the past few years. Gonzalez was originally White Sox property (he went in the Jim Thome trade), and several scouts said he has a very big arm and could become a star.

Gavin Floyd, the other pitcher acquired for Garcia, was highly regarded before posting a 7.29 ERA last year. But White Sox people hired former Phillies exec Ruben Amaro Sr. not too long ago, and they think they have a chance to get Floyd back on track.

Mets look for pitching

Minaya met yesterday with the A's regarding their frontline pitching, most notably Harden and Haren. Creative A's GM Billy Beane would rather trade Joe Blanton than Harden, but is said to be open to anything. Of course, he'd have to be overwhelmed to consider trading Harden, even after an injury-plagued season kept him to 46 2/3 innings.

One executive suggested the chances for a quick deal for Harden weren't spectacular. The A's have interest in Lastings Milledge, Heilman and perhaps John Maine. Pelfrey and Humber are young pitchers who'd interest anyone.

Is Milledge lasting?

A lot of teams have inquired about Milledge, who appears to have no chance for playing time with the Mets (he'll likely be sent down if he stays), and a couple came away saying the price tag is extremely high. Some Mets people wonder whether Milledge will become a star, yet Minaya loves players with tools, so the price won't be cheap.

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