Trade Winds: Needs arise
Mets need a second baseman; Marlins may look to move Olsen
A very quiet trade market added more kindling over the weekend, but it is uncertain whether it would spark trades in the coming days.
There are compelling reasons, however, that some of these events could trigger activity.
The New York Mets, for example, are pondering what to do about their second base situation in light of Jose Valentin's fractured right tibia. Valentin, who was injured Friday night in Los Angeles during a game against the Dodgers, isn't expected to be back before September and may miss the rest of the season.
With Valentin unavailable, the second base responsibilities fall to Ruben Gotay, Damion Easley (who is on the bereavement list), Marlon Anderson and Anderson Hernandez, recalled from Triple-A on Saturday. None of the four is likely to play every day. When manager Willie Randolph spoke of the candidates, he said "Marlon can play in a pinch," suggesting perhaps that Anderson is not likely to play a lot.
Gotay is batting .336 but has walked just five times in 112 plate appearances. The 24-year-old switch-hitter has played very well so far but questions remain whether Gotay will be able to continue his torrid hitting and as to how well he will handle the pressure of a pennant race.
Meanwhile the Mets have had conversations with Houston about veteran Mark Loretta and could decide to pursue the versatile infielder if they decide Gotay or any of the other three are not the best option.
Loretta, the American League All-Star Game starter at second base for Boston a year ago, is batting .305. The Astros aren't shopping him, and it's not certain the Mets would agree to part with the caliber of prospect(s) it would take to pry Loretta from the Bayou City.
The Mets have also scouted Kansas City's Mark Grudzielanek. Pittsburgh's Jose Castillo is another possibility the Mets are considering, though he would be a fallback option.
The Florida Marlins are willing to deal pitcher Scott Olsen after the left-hander's latest off-field incident. The 23-year-old was arrested early Saturday morning and charged with driving under the influence, resisting an officer with violence, fleeing and eluding police officers, according to a Miami-Dade County corrections report.
Last Monday the Marlins suspended Olsen for two games for insubordination and conduct detrimental to the team. Olsen was involved in a skirmish with teammate Sergio Mitre in the tunnel area outside the Marlins clubhouse last Sunday. He was suspended without pay.
A year ago, Olsen was involved in a fight with then-teammate Randy Messenger, and he was grabbed in the dugout by former manager Joe Girardi. He also had a pushing match with Miguel Cabrera in the dugout at New York's Shea Stadium. Earlier this season, Olsen was disciplined by the team for making a gesture to a fan in Milwaukee.
Olsen went 12-10 with a 4.04 ERA last year while finishing ninth in NL Rookie of the Year Award balloting. He is 8-7 with a 4.99 ERA this season.
There is disagreement over how much interest Olsen would attract, even in this thin market for pitching.
"There's no question he's got talent, and may have a bright future ahead of him, but do you want to give up something to get him now?" one official said. "I think he's in the same boat as [Tampa Bay's Elijah] Dukes, teams are going to be wary about taking on a player going through something like that. They'd rather wait."
Others aren't so sure.
"If you think a fresh start will straighten him out and the cost isn't too high, he might be a bargain," an NL scout said. "Look at Dmitri Young and [Josh] Hamilton."
Off-field incidents interrupted the careers of Young and Hamilton, but both have come back to enjoy productive seasons.
Young, released by Detroit last year, is leading the National League in hitting for the Nationals this season. Hamilton, a former No. 1 pick, has made a storybook comeback for the Reds after drug problems nearly ended his career.
Meanwhile, Injuries and an overworked bullpen are forcing the Dodgers to intensify their search for arms.
Closer Takashi Saito had an MRI scheduled for Monday on the bothersome shoulder blade that has kept the 37-year-old unavailable the last four days. The Dodgers have four pitchers on he disabled list, but one of them, left-handed starter Randy Wolf, is expected to begin a rehab assignment in the Minor Leagues this week.
Dodgers manager Grady Little said on Sunday that Saito's injury is not serious enough to contemplate placing him on the disabled list.
"Anytime you're without the use of your closer, it's a concern," Little said.
With Saito out, Little was forced to use Jonathan Broxton longer than his typical one inning. Little also used starter Derek Lowe in relief. The Dodgers already have three relievers who have appeared in at least 45 games (Broxton, Joe Beimel and Rudy Seanez). Saito has 39 appearances. The starters have worked as many as six innings just twice since the All-Star break.
The Dodgers were clinging to a one-game lead over San Diego in the NL West as they headed on the road Monday for a weeklong trip to Houston and Colorado.
Elsewhere on the trade front:
Angels: In pursuit of a power hitter to complement perennial All-Star Vladimir Guerrero, the Angels are rumored to be interested in acquiring Adam Dunn of Cincinnati. After a proposed deal with Milwaukee fell through, Dunn remains a Red at the moment. But his eligibility for free agency after this season make him a hard sell. Jermaine Dye of the Chicago White Sox and 2002 World Series MVP Troy Glaus, formerly of the Angels and currently playing for Toronto, are also rumored as possible Los Angeles acquisitions.
Blue Jays, Pirates, Phillies: The Blue Jays have reportedly inquired about the availability of Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson.
Phillies assistant GM Ruben Amaro was in Toronto on Saturday, likely to watch Blue Jays pitcher Josh Towers, the Toronto Sun reported. Towers pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Mariners, and Amaro was gone the next day, according to the report. The Toronto right-hander is 5-6 with a 4.97 ERA after 12 starts this season.
Braves: GM John Schuerholz is looking to improve the team in any way possible but it is unlikely he'll part with top prospects Yunel Escobar and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Braves are also eyeing Young.
Cardinals: Even with the season-ending injury to ace Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals do not consider themselves sellers as the trade deadline approaches. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, GM Walt Jocketty said the team will be looking to improve their club for the long-term rather than renting a player for the remainder of the season. This would suggest the Cardinals are looking for prospects or younger players rather than veterans to just help with the end of this saeason. Jocketty stressed that the next week to 10 days are pivotal for the Cardinals as they play the Brewers and Cubs a combined seven times before the deadline.
Devil Rays, Twins, Yankees: The St. Petersburg Times reported that Rays utility infielder Ty Wigginton's name has been mentioned around both the Twins and Yankees, who could use some help at third and first base, respectively. Wigginton, who commands a $2.3 million yearly salary, makes the most on the Rays next to left fielder Carl Crawford, which makes him a target for the team to unload as it has during past late-July dealings.
The New York Post said on Saturday that Tampa Bay wouldn't mind trading Wigginton for right-hander Scott Proctor, although neither side was close to a deal as of Monday morning.
Diamondbacks: Although GM Josh Byrnes continues to burn up the phone lines in search of a starting pitcher, "There just isn't a lot out there," Byrnes said said. If the D-backs, also interested in a bat, make a deal, they would rather not trade for a rental player in the last year of his contract. Byrnes downplayed the notion that the Diamondbacks could become sellers.
Giants: Circumstantial evidence suggests the Giants could be on the verge of making a deal. Instead of bringing reliever Russ Ortiz back from a rehab assignment the Giants are keeping him in Triple-A as a starter. Ortiz opened the season as the fifth man in the rotation before he was bounced because of injury and an impressive right-hander named Tim Lincecum.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Giants could be interested in the White Sox' Mark Buehrle, who recently signed to a four-year extension. The Chronicle also mentioned Buehrle's teammate Jose Contreras, the Royals' Odalis Perez and Florida's Dontrelle Willis, assuming the Marlins decide to make Willis available. As far as hittes, Mark Teixeira's name continues to surface and he could be enough enticement for the Giants to give up left-hander Noah Lowry.
Nationals: Scouts from various teams, including the Angels, Braves, Cubs Diamondbacks, Indians, Mets, Padres, Phillies, Tigers and Twins, have been watching the Nationals.
Relievers Chad Cordero and Jon Rauch, first baseman Dmitri Young and second baseman Ronnie Belliard have been the main players who have been mentioned in trade talks, but, according to a baseball source, outfielder Ryan Church is on the block. The source said contending teams see him as an extra outfielder down the stretch.
"If he played a full season for those teams, he would get no more than 220 at-bats," the source said.
Last winter, Church was one of the names bandied about during the Winter Meetings. The Nationals have been scouting opposing teams' prospects. On Saturday, they were watching players at Double-A Erie, the Tigers' affiliate.
There have been reports linking Cordero and Rauch to the Mets, but, according to another baseball source, the chances of those players going to New York are slim. The source said Washington GM Jim Bowden is asking too much, such as outfielder Lastings Milledge and pitcher Mike Pelfrey.
Orioles, Mets: The Baltimore Sun reported that first baseman Kevin Millar, outfielder Jay Payton, and starting pitcher Steve Trachsel are the most likely players to be dealt from the O's before the deadline. Millar and Trachsel are pending free agents while Payton is in the middle of a two-year deal. The Newark Star-Ledger reported that Baltimore has had discussions of bringing Payton, a former Met back to New York. With the Mets concerned about the recovery of injured Endy Chavez and the abilities of Moises Alou and Shawn Green, the addition of Payton would make sense.
Red Sox: The hottest name on the Red Sox's weekend radar was Rangers slugger Mark Teixeira, a free agent after the 2008 season. According to The Boston Globe, Red Sox adviser Galen Carr has been scouting Teixeira a lot lately, but so have other contenders. It remains a long-shot that Teixeira will be dealt. A more realistic name rattling around the Red Sox rumor mill is Pirates reliever Salomon Torres. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the Red Sox are the chief potential suitors for Torres, who has a 5.12 ERA and lost the Pirates' closer job earlier this year.
Rockies: With Brian Fuentes on the disabled list and his struggles before his injury, the Rockies have started shopping for a late-inning reliever. The Denver Post reported that the Rockies are interested in the Red Sox's Julian Tavarez and Manny Delcarmen, the Rangers' Akinori Otsuka and the Yankees' Kyle Farnsworth. The Yankees would have to pay part of Farnsworth's $5.5 million salary in 2008 for a deal to happen. With Manny Corpas showing he's capable of closing games and Fuentes up for arbitration after this season, the veteran lefty could be dealt for another arm. Manager Clint Hurdle said the club is also considering filling the hole in the bullpen with one of their Minor League prospects.
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com reporters contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.