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Armed Forces
Stephen Cannella
July 19, 1999
Longtime Angel Chuck Finley heads a list of pitchers who could be traded before the July 31 deadline
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July 19, 1999

Armed Forces

Longtime Angel Chuck Finley heads a list of pitchers who could be traded before the July 31 deadline

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A Move in Their Future?

Angels Lefthander Chuck Finley isn't the only player who may change teams by midnight EDT on July 31. Here are five others (in approximate order of teams' interest in them) who might want to have their bags packed as the trading deadline looms.

LF

Bobby Higginson, Tigers

Possible Suitor: Yankees

The Deal: The Bronx Bombers need to shore up the position; Higginson auditioned by hitting .385 in 12 games against them this year

SP

Kenny Rogers, Athletics

Possible Suitors: Mets, Reds

The Deal: Though a free-agent-to-be, the lefty starter with a respectable 4.02 ERA will draw nibbles from postseason contenders

SP

Kevin Appier, Royals

Possible Suitor: Red Sox

The Deal: Name pops up every year, but these are the hang-ups: injury history and K.C. 's demand for a package of top prospects

IB

Eric Karros, Dodgers

Possible Suitors: Braves, Red Sox

The Deal: Los Angeles may unload Karros and his $5.5 million salary so that struggling catcher Todd Hundley can move to first

SP

Andy Pettitte, Yankees

Possible Suitors: Angels. Reds, Mariners

The Deal: Lefty is being actively shopped; one scenario has him being swapped for Finley

It's never easy to abandon ship, even when your already crippled vessel has just been blasted broadside by the enemy. "We're taking on water," Anaheim Angels general manager Bill Bavasi said on June 30, "but we're not bailing out. I still think we're in this thing."

His club had just been swept in three games at home by the American League West-leading Texas Rangers, who had outscored Anaheim 32-5 in the process. Two days after the series ended, the Angels placed righthander Ken Hill on the disabled list with a tender elbow; he was the second Anaheim starting pitcher to hit the DL in a week and the 15th Angel to be disabled this season. Going into the All-Star break, Anaheim trailed Texas by 6� games.

Despite Bavasi's optimism, lefthander Chuck Finley, a mainstay of the Angels' rotation for 12 years and the franchise leader with 158 wins, has hinted that he wouldn't mind climbing into a lifeboat and setting a more direct course for the postseason. "I want to win," says Finley in a proclamation that rockets him to the top of the list of pitchers who might be dealt before the July 31 trading deadline. "I want to get things going here the right way, or go somewhere where it's going that way now."

Finley's frustration is understandable. No other pitcher has spent more time with his current club than the 36-year-old Finley has with Anaheim, meaning no pitcher has endured more snakebit seasons. The Angels haven't made the postseason since 1986, Finley's rookie year.

If Bavasi puts Finley on the block, the lefthander can choose where he wants to chase a title: As a 10-year veteran who has been with his team for at least five seasons, Finley can't be traded without his approval. Two likely playoff combatants, the Indians and the Yankees, would love to get their hands on him. Cleveland's team batting average against southpaws at the break (.283) was 17 points lower than its mark against righties. The Indians' lust for Finley stems from a desire to keep him away from New York—and because he's a Yankee killer. Finley is 16-9 lifetime against the Bronx Bombers.

Bavasi says any decision on whether to move Finley won't be made until July 31 nears. "Around the deadline we'll be getting back Ken Hill and [starter] Tim Belcher and [outfielders] Tim Salmon and Jim Edmonds," he says, reeling off the names of a few of the fallen Angels. "If we get a little more consistency, we should be right back in this thing."

Another factor that will affect potential deals is how well Finley pitches in the days ahead. Going into the break, he was 5-9 with a 5.66 ERA, and although he beat the Rockies last Friday for his first win since June 2, he lasted only 5? innings, giving up five runs. There's also the contract issue. Finley will be a free agent after this season, so any team that trades for him may be coughing up prospects to rent him for three months.

What will ultimately decide the matter is Anaheim's performance in the next two weeks. "I'm not someone who thinks the grass is always greener on the other side," Finley says, "but after a while you have to wonder what you're trying to accomplish here. I might feel like I missed out on something if I stay and things keep going the way they've been."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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