The months of evaluation and equivocation are nearing an end. It’s time to act in the major leagues.
The July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is less than one week away, and the identities of buyers and sellers are becoming more evident.
Here’s a look at where seven of baseball’s “bubble teams” stand — along with my recommendation as to whether they should buy, sell, or hold between now and 4 p.m. ET Sunday.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
For a team that hasn’t been over .500 for three months, there’s a lot to like about the White Sox. And despite Ozzie Guillen’s rant after a lackluster loss in Kansas City last week, Chicago is 5-3 since the All-Star break.
The early season bullpen woes that threatened to ruin Chicago’s season are a thing of the past. Sergio Santos has converted 20 of 23 save opportunities, very respectable for a first-year closer. The rotation remains one of baseball’s great science experiments, as the White Sox are using six starters now that John Danks has returned from the disabled list.
The question with the rotation is quality, not quantity. Gavin Floyd and Edwin Jackson — both of whom are talented but streaky — are 4-0 through four combined starts during the second half. If that trend of success continues, the White Sox will be in the race after Labor Day, even if Jake Peavy’s lack of arm strength remains a concern. Oh, and I almost forgot: There’s no way Adam Dunn and Alex Rios will be that bad in the second half.
The uncertainty should resolve itself by Sunday, one way or the other. The White Sox have home series against Detroit and Boston this week. If they emerge with a winning record, then there’s no reason to sell.
This is the rare Twins season in which we can say on June 1 that they are finished.
Yeah, I wrote that.
I was wrong.
But at least I had my reasons. On June 1, the Twins were 100 winning-percentage points below their closest competitor in the American League. No AL team had been that far behind the field, that deep in the season, and finished with a winning record.
Well, the Twins have the second-best record in the American League since then.
So, they aren’t finished. And the standings — Detroit in first, Minnesota trailing — look similar to the setup that produced the Twins’ division titles in 2006 and 2009. But recently, there have been few signs that a second-half surge is afoot.
Minnesota is a mediocre 6-6 since the break, and no-hit lefty Francisco Liriano has lapsed back into his enigmatic ways. The Tigers took three of four during last weekend’s series at Target Field, perhaps sending a message in the process.
The Twins have a record-high payroll and new ballpark to fill, so the decision to sell won’t be easy. But unless they rally during the upcoming four-game series in Texas, that’s what they should do.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
For the Rays to win the AL East, just about everything needs to go right. That hasn’t been the case this season, for two reasons outside their control: Neither the Red Sox nor the Yankees are having an off year.
The Rays began the week 6½ games out of the AL wild-card spot — farther back than when they dealt Scott Kazmir to the Angels in August 2009. It’s hard to make the case that the Rays have a great chance to make the playoffs, which is probably what it would take for them to be aggressive buyers.
Rays general manager Andrew Friedman is one of the game’s brightest executives, fully capable of maintaining “buy” and “sell” negotiations at the same time. But for a team with one of the majors’ smallest payrolls, the tie goes to the option that saves the most money. So, expect some Johnny Damon and Kyle Farnsworth trade rumors — and let’s not rule out James Shields.
Do I think the Diamondbacks, minus shortstop Stephen Drew, have a good chance to overtake the Giants in the National League West? No, I don’t.
But I don’t think they should sell, either.
See, even during a season in which they hosted the All-Star Game, the Diamondbacks rank third from the bottom of the NL in average attendance. The franchise fights a constant battle to hold the attention of a fickle fan base. So, there is value in “going for it” — even if “it” is unrealistic.
Arizona general manager Kevin Towers is an expert at building bullpens, and that’s something he should be able to do at low cost this week. With closer J.J. Putz on the disabled list, the Diamondbacks are looking at veteran relievers, such as Blue Jays righty Jason Frasor. A controllable starter such as Houston’s Wandy Rodriguez is another possibility.
The defending NL Central champions were one of baseball’s biggest disappointments in the first half. They stumbled to a 45-47 record, due largely to an inconsistent rotation. But maybe the All-Star break brought needed perspective — and rest.
The Reds surged back from the break with a hard-fought series win over their nemeses from St. Louis. After dropping a series to the Pirates in which they were shut out twice, the Reds took two of three from the (likely) playoff-bound Braves over the weekend.
But to make the momentum continue, the Reds’ rotation must pitch well. In all likelihood, that means an upgrade from the outside, during a season in which young starters Travis Wood and Edinson Volquez have underperformed. Ubaldo Jimenez is on their list.
They’ve done it before. That doesn’t mean they’ll do it again.
The Rockies, as even the most casual fan knows, are a second-half team. But that isn’t reason to spend millions on deadline upgrades. Colorado is running third in the NL West, 11 games back of San Francisco, and has yet to show it has the starting rotation to stay with the defending world champs.
The Rockies need the Giants to go on a prolonged losing streak, but the San Francisco rotation is the perfect antidote for precisely that sort of thing. And the Rockies didn’t exactly make a strong statement coming out of the break, going 5-6.
So, Colorado general manager Dan O’Dowd should start planning for the future. And, yes, that means gauging interest (and quite possibly moving) Rockies ace Jimenez.
I still don’t know how it happened this quickly, but the Pirates are legitimate contenders.
Their fans deserve a winner, after waiting nearly two decades to see a better-than-.500 record. Now, general manager Neal Huntington is under pressure (the good kind of pressure) to make a deal that increases the odds of that happening. Statistically, some regression appears inevitable. But the Pirates, 5-4 since the break, haven’t gone anywhere yet.
The Pirates’ rotation has outperformed even the most optimistic projections, so the acquisition of a veteran starting pitcher would be a nice hedge against a second-half slide. They are interested in veteran relievers such as Baltimore’s Koji Uehara and Toronto’s Jason Frasor. The Pirates could also benefit from an upgrade behind the plate, where injuries have thinned their depth: They are interested in Colorado’s Chris Iannetta, among others.
Pittsburgh can’t match Milwaukee and St. Louis in sheer talent. But right now, it sure looks like one of baseball’s best stories in 2011 is getting better by the day.
- Assure Holdings Corp. Announces Update
- Buying a bar in Costa Rica: Be ‘patient but persistent’
- Transport, insurance, consumer goods buying lift Qatar shares
- Talking stocks: Sell Suzlon, Forbes & Co; hold PFC, Tata Motors
- Chance to sell to a Chinese buyer
- DBS Vickers upgrades Gamuda to buy; price target RM4.73
- Real estate headache: Baby boomers who won't sell their homes
- Dialog Group downgraded to hold at Maybank
- AMMB Holdings upgraded to neutral at Macquarie
- Indonesia Tries to Get Companies to Hold More Rupiah to Stem Weakness
- KPJ Healthcare cut to hold at UOB Kay Hian
- 'Goldfinger' tycoon to buy pier saved with £12m of public money
- Sell And Take The Profit In Growth Stocks, Or Hold? Several Guidelines To Follow
- IBD Stock Of The Day: 'Apple Of Oil' Nears New Buy Point In Bullish Pattern
- China Growth Stocks Slammed As Nasdaq Paces Drop; 3 Reasons To Hold Apple
- Burlington site aims to make buying tickets fairer, take a bite out of StubHub
- Can’t Afford a Vintage Ferrari? How About Buying a Share for $80
- This sell-out £29.99 Zara dress is the must-have item of the summer… and it’s already going for double on eBay
- Private equity buys outdoor activity goods distributor Companion Brands
- Argos is selling this massive inflatable hot tub for less than half price
Who should buy, sell or hold have 1475 words, post on www.foxsports.com at July 24, 2011. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.