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Which clubs will walk the trade talk?
Posted: Saturday July 18, 1998 01:14 AM
All those deals or none of them could come true in the next two weeks as baseball approaches its annual July 31 trading deadline.
Last year, there was a swapping spree, highlighted by Mark McGwire's move from Oakland to St. Louis. Harold Baines, Wilson Alvarez, Dean Palmer and eventual World Series winner Darren Daulton all changed teams before the deadline.
This year, as always, there are plenty of names and possibilities.
San Diego general manager Kevin Towers switched his travel schedule and planned to join the National League West-leading Padres in Cincinnati this weekend. The result could be a three-way trade involving pitcher Pete Harnisch.
The Padres have talked about a deal that would send Harnisch to San Diego, pitcher Joey Hamilton from the Padres to Detroit, and prospects from the Tigers to Cincinnati.
"Joey Hamilton is still a Padre for right now," Towers said this week. "Clubs have inquired about Joey. Not just one, several. We're not trying to trade him, but we're listening to offers."
Cleveland general manager John Hart insists the Indians are not pursuing Alomar, but a lot of people are skeptical.
The Baltimore second baseman is facing free agency and would like to play with his brother, Indians catcher Sandy Alomar. The disappointing Orioles have been winning lately, and their bid for a wild-card spot could delay owner Peter Angelos' push to trade high-priced veterans.
Barry Larkin, meanwhile, will apparently stay put in Cincinnati. The Reds' recent winning streak has quieted talk that the shortstop might be on the move.
"We're winning. All I ask for is a chance to win, and that's happening here," Larkin said. "So that answers your question."
The Atlanta Braves, once again, may be looking for bullpen help. Worried about Mark Wohlers' struggles in the minors, the Braves supposedly inquired about Jeff Shaw before the All-Star reliever was traded from Cincinnati to Los Angeles on July 4.
Myers, who saved 45 games for Baltimore last season and has 23 for Toronto this year, might be a nice fit. The Blue Jays may be reluctant to part with him, however, if they still believe they have a chance at the wild card.
Johnson's season of discontent in Seattle could end. After getting close to a deal with the Dodgers earlier this year, Mariners management said the Big Unit would not be traded. His recent blowup with teammate David Segui, though, may prompt a change in Seattle's stance.
And remember, the trading deadline doesn't necessarily mean the end of deals. Last year, Rickey Henderson, Eric Young, Pedro Astacio and Lance Johnson were among the players traded between July 31 and August 31, the deadline for setting postseason rosters.
After July 31, though, players must clear waivers before they can be traded. Years ago, that used to be merely a formality as teams usually did not block other clubs from making trades.
That hands-off policy, however, has changed in recent years.
"Teams have become more proactive in putting in claims," Braves GM John Schuerholz said.
Coast to coast
Greg McMichael was still with the Dodgers last week when rumors surfaced in Los Angeles newspapers saying he was on his way back to New York.
"I saw this little blurb and showed some guys, but they said, 'Nah, that's too crazy. No GM would do that,'" he said.
McMichael was indeed sent back to the Mets, who had traded the reliever to Los Angeles in the Hideo Nomo deal a month earlier.
Some of McMichael's old and now new-again teammates did double takes when he walked into the Mets clubhouse last weekend. He brought a pair of Dodgers flip-flops as a gift for John Olerud.
"I was excited to see everybody," he said. "I've got some real close relationships on this team. It was probably harder to leave this team than it was to leave the Braves or the Dodgers."
McMichael's whirlwind month was most difficult on his wife, Jennifer, who is due to give birth in a few weeks.
"She's a little mad at [Mets GM] Steve [Phillips]," he said. "She's a little mad that he sent me off on a month-long vacation."
Up and down
Dodgers outfielder Trenidad Hubbard spent eight full years in the minors before even getting a chance to play in the majors in 1994, and he's bounced back and forth ever since then.
This year, though, fate seems to be on his side.
Right before the All-Star break, the Dodgers sent the outfielder down to Class AAA Albuquerque. But while he was at the San Francisco airport waiting to make the trip, the Dodgers located him and told him to stick around. Later that day, Los Angeles acquired reliever Jeff Shaw from Cincinnati for two players, and Hubbard's spot was saved.
Then on Sunday, he was again optioned to Albuquerque after Dodgers interim GM Tom Lasorda made a trade to get pitcher Brian Bohanon from the Mets. Hubbard had three days to join the Dukes, so he stopped home for a day in Houston to see his family.
And while he was there, the Dodgers called and said they needed him back in Los Angeles because second baseman Eric Young was going on the disabled list.
"It's definitely been strange," Hubbard said. "I guess God doesn't want me to go down because he keeps making all these moves. Either God or Tom Lasorda."
Around the horn
The Cincinnati Reds are getting into this '70s thing. With the team reeling off its longest winning streak since the days of the Big Red Machine of 1975-76, Reds players have taken to tuning the clubhouse stereo to songs from that era. ... Braves switch-hitter Chipper Jones has hit 24 home runs this year, all of them left-handed. ... J.D. Drew, who signed with the St. Louis Cardinals after his holdout from the Phillies, is off to a nice start in the Texas League. Playing for the Class AA Arkansas Travelers, he started out 13-for-42 (.310) with four home runs and 10 RBIs. ... Pete Rose Jr., recently signed by Pittsburgh after being released by the Reds, was hitting .211 with one home run and nine RBIs in 38 at-bats for Class AAA Nashville. Another Pirates minor leaguer, former LSU star Eddy Furniss, was a hit in his pro debut. Picked in the fourth round in June, he was hitting .465 with nine homers and 31 RBIs at Class A Augusta before being promoted this week to Class AA Carolina. ... Ricardo Aramboles, signed by the Yankees as a 16-year-old before the season started, was 1-0 with a 3.15 ERA in five games in the rookie Gulf Coast League. ... The big issue in Japanese baseball these days? Interleague play. In June, a proposal was made for teams in the Pacific and Central leagues to play each for two years in a preseason exhibition tournament. And no surprise, there is mixed reaction to the plan. "Even though interleague play may prove to be a good thing, I don't think we should waste our time," said Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, owner of the Seibu Lions. The Lions are ready to play two exhibition games against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays next March, which may interfere with the interleague setup in Japan.
'The Wonder Dog' bows out
Rex Hudler always knew how to have a good time. Like that summer day in 1996 at Cooperstown, New York.
Hudler's Angels and the Montreal Expos were scheduled to play in the Hall of Fame exhibition game later that afternoon, but the teams were given a chance to tour the shrine in the morning.
Hudler made a beeline for the gallery where the Hall plaques were housed and put on a show that drew laughs from fellow players and fans. He moved from row to row and added his own touch to each famous name, be it imitating Phil Rizzuto's "Holy Cow!" or doing his impression of Juan Marichal's high leg kick.
On Wednesday, after a pro career that began in 1978, Hudler called it quits at age 37. Released by the Phillies on June 24, he signed with Cleveland and played two weeks at Class AAA Buffalo.
In his final pro at-bat Wednesday, Hudler was hit in the helmet by a pitch from Indianapolis' Scott Ruffcorn. Ever the showman, Hudler took a moment to recover then sprinted down to first base.
After the game, his teammates treated him to a final champagne toast. Teary-eyed, he then spent 30 minutes telling the Buffalo players how much baseball had meant to him.
And before leaving the park, he said, he wanted to go out to the field and "pick a scab and rub some dirt in it and so baseball would always be in my blood."
Hudler made his decision to retire a day earlier. He said he came to the conclusion that it was time to go when, after making a throwing error, he admitted to himself that the misplay did not really bother him.
Hudler was never the most talented player on his team, but the guy nicknamed "The Wonder Dog" often made up for that with his hustle, desire and popularity.
His baseball travels began when the New York Yankees made him the 18th overall pick in the 1978 draft -- the year Bob Horner was the No. 1 choice -- and he later played for Baltimore, Montreal and St. Louis, though he never reached the postseason.
The day he was waived by Philadelphia, Hudler took it in stride.
"Released or dismissed, those are more polite words," he said. "I'm a blue-collar guy. I got fired."
Hudler was still in the clubhouse when Jon Zuber reported to the Phils to take his roster spot. And true to his good-guy character, Hudler gave Zuber a hug before leaving.
Hudler is now home in Philadelphia with his family, which includes a young son with Down syndrome. But Hudler may not be away from the game for long -- look for him to pop up somewhere in the TV booth.
Baseball rules involving contracts have been getting so complex in recent years that it's hard to understand all of them. Jeff Shaw and the Dodgers recently found out themselves.
Shaw was traded from Cincinnati to Los Angeles on July 4, a deal that gives the All-Star reliever the right to demand a trade after the season. Under the Basic Agreement, players with at least five years in the majors who are already signed for the following season can demand a trade if they're swapped in the middle of a year.
Dodgers interim GM Tom Lasorda admitted he did not know about the rule until after he acquired Shaw. Then again, Shaw said he didn't know about it, either.
"It's too early to make a determination, but you have to explore all options," said Shaw's agent, Joe Bick.
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