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Eyes on Texas (cont.)

Posted: Thursday July 26, 2007 10:58AM; Updated: Thursday July 26, 2007 2:29PM
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Braves old world

As for the Braves, they are always a mystery to me (and usually everyone else, too). Normally, what they're really doing goes completely undetected. This year, they're doing things I don't even understand. For instance, I'll never guess why they've been playing the elderly Julio Franco at first base instead of young hotshot Jarrod Saltalamacchia. I wouldn't think Bobby Cox would play a finished Franco just to prove how much they need a first baseman. Or that they're keeping Saltalamacchia on ice to ensure that he won't hurt himself and hurt his trade value. I don't know, maybe Cox is just a Franco-phile at heart.

In any case, a lot of folks think they'd be nuts to trade the talented and cost-effective Saltalamacchia for a year-and-a-half of Teixeira (who is a Georgia Tech product) since there's little hope the penny-pinching Braves could keep Teixeira long-term. Although Saltalamacchia would be of more help elsewhere since the Braves already have Brian McCann to catch.

One thing I do understand is the Braves' trade suggestion of shortstop Edgar Renteria for Jon Garland, which was first reported by Foxsports.com, since Atlanta has Yunel Escobar, who could step in for Renteria. That makes perfect sense (though the White Sox said no).

Yankees' bullpen fixes?

Jose Contreras
Jose Contreras' 6.22 ERA this season isn't helping his trade value much.
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• The Yankees are one of 12 teams that are on Gagne's OK-to-trade-to list. But Texas requested stud pitching prospect Joba Chamberlain, who's been deemed untouchable. And when the Yankees found out that Gagne only wants to go where he can close, being the big-hearted fellows they are, they stopped pursuing it. Really, they did.

• The Yankees do have one idea to stop the Bronx bullpen from burning once they get back to playing competitive teams. They will try hard to unload Kyle Farnsworth, though competing execs say they'd have to pay about half his $6 million salary.

• The Yankees decided to pass on Milton Bradley when Bradley's agent informed them that he would be very unhappy as a part-time player in his free-agent year. The last thing the Yankees wanted was an unhappy Bradley on their hands. Can't blame 'em.

• Word is Joe Torre helped put the kibosh on a Morgan Ensberg deal when the Yankees sought first-base help. Which tells me Torre is actually reading the box scores.

The starting pitching market

Nobody seems too enthused about Jose Contreras, who didn't help himself or the White Sox with another 4 2/3 poor innings on Wednesday (12 hits, nine runs). The Mets do have his buddy Orlando Hernandez (a key to Contreras' Chicago revival), they have talked to the Sox, and their scout Howie Freiling was in Chicago to see Contreras. Of course, Freiling's report can't be too flattering.

There's a difference of opinion over what's troubling Contreras. Some say it's mechanical, others say it's marital. Contreras authored a heartwarming story when his wife and daughters joined him after he fled from Cuba. But now some believe a divorce has affected his focus. Other says he just isn't throwing as well as before.

Since Garland probably isn't going anywhere, and neither is Dontrelle Willis or Scott Olsen, here's my preference among available starting pitchers:

1. Matt Morris
2. Livan Hernandez
3. Contreras
4. Jason Jennings
5. Kyle Lohse

And that's a .500 rotation, at best.

More trade notes

• The Mets say they still have faith that Moises Alou, who could hurt himself jumping over a foul line, will get healthy. And if Pedro Martinez somehow makes it back this year, that'll give them five viable starters.

• So the Mets figure their most pressing need is the bullpen. A good guess for them would be Chad Cordero since, as the New York Post's Joel Sherman pointed out in Thursday's issue, Cordero was Omar Minaya's bullpen prodigy to begin with.

• As usual, Nats GM Jim Bowden will ask too much for his players. He always asks too much, except when he's paying, and then he's offering too little. Others have heard the Nationals are trying to lowball a resurrected Dmitri Young in extension talks. Although, to be fair, Washington is the club that gave Young a chance in the first place.

• On the North Side of Chicago they could use a reliever and perhaps an outfielder. The Arlington Heights (Ill.) Daily Herald suggested the Cubs go for Jermaine Dye, and unlike the Yankees and Mets, the White Sox and Cubs are friendly enough to consummate talk trades. Kenny Lofton, who's been linked to Cleveland, makes sense for the Cubs, too.

• The market's supposedly not so great for Dye or Dunn. And I find that harder to believe considering both players possess the game's most coveted commodity -- power.

• As if the relief market isn't weak enough, word is David Weathers has been pulled off the block. His $3.1 million salary for 2008 is just too much of a bargain for Cincy to give up.

• And as for Linebrink, he's a free agent after this season, San Diego got three pretty good prospects for him and they're happy with what Heath Bell has done for them late in games. But I have to assume, after years of buildup about where Linebrink's going, the Padres no longer think too much of him.

Around the Majors

• Orioles executive Mike Flanagan supposedly isn't all that thrilled that Andy MacPhail has been brought in over him. Maybe he noticed MacPhail's record in Chicago.

• MacPhail, incidentally, seems to have gotten cold feet over committing to Teixeira, the Severna Park, Md., native who dreams of becoming an Oriole.

• Believe it or not, El Duque is only 40. That's right. While the Mets claim he is 37 and others assumed 47, someone who's seen his birth certificate (the real birth certificate) told me he's actually only 40.

• At this rate, A-Rod may get to 756 before Barry Bonds does.

• Remind me in five years -- Craig Biggio gets my Hall of Fame vote.

• Call him "Ding" Crosby. Everyone gets on J.D. Drew for getting hurt, but A's shortstop Bobby Crosby, who played in 186 of 324 games over his first two seasons, is injured yet again with two (not one but two) fractures in his left hand after being hit by a pitch from the Angels' Justin Speier. Crosby is the anti-Ripken.

• Cal Ripken would show quite a sense of humor if he didn't show up for the Hall of Fame induction on Sunday.

• Sunday also happens to be the last day of the Giants' homestand. But let's hope Bonds shows some consideration for once and doesn't upstage Ripken and Tony Gwynn by breaking Hank Aaron's record that day.

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