Trades can make, break clubs for stretch run
Updated 7/28/2006 1:17 AM ET
By Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY
There is no warranty attached. No playoff guarantee. Not even the promise of improved performance.
The only assurance, baseball's general managers say, is that each deal a contender makes leading up to the July 31 trade deadline has the potential to dramatically influence a team's psyche and morale.
"I think it can have a real impact on your clubhouse," says Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, who's listening to trade offers for left fielder Carlos Lee. "It's a case where you've got a whole clubhouse looking for you to do something.
"I remember in '98 (with the Texas Rangers) when we were battling the Angels for the wild card. We got Royce Clayton, Todd Zeile and Todd Stottlemyre all the same day. I bumped into (Angels shortstop) Gary DiSarcina, and he told me that deflated their whole clubhouse. So it can have a real psychological effect."
The Chicago White Sox, losers of 12 of their last 15 games, have been involved in the Alfonso Soriano trade talks with the Washington Nationals. Instead of lifting up the clubhouse with the arrival of Soriano, GM Kenny Williams talked with several veterans and determined the best move would be no move. Barring an unexpected turn of events, the White Sox will defend their World Series title with the roster intact.
"In today's information age, with all of the rumors, Internet stuff and constant barrage on radio and TV, it has actually caused a distraction," Williams says. "And I've got a distracted club right now."
The St. Louis Cardinals, trying to hang on to the National League Central lead, could use an outfielder and a reliever, says GM Walt Jocketty, and he realizes the right moves could also lift his team's spirits in the dog days.
"It gives them the indication that while they're doing the best they can on the field," he says, "you're doing the best you can to get them better."
With three days until the July 31 trading deadline, USA TODAY attempts to lend clarity to baseball's trade market:
The Astros have gone into full pursuit of Nationals slugger Alfonso Soriano, according to an Astros front-office executive, and are optimistic they will have the best offer.
The Nationals, according to several general managers, have told teams interested in Soriano he likely will not be dealt until Monday's deadline.
The White Sox, whom GM Ken Williams says are done dealing, had offered left fielder Scott Podsednik and a prospect to the Nationals for Soriano, according to a White Sox official.
The Mets are negotiating with the Athletics over ace Barry Zito, according to two officials familiar with the discussions, who added that Mets prospects Lastings Milledge and Mike Pelfrey and reliever Duaner Sanchez have been discussed.
The Cardinals remain hopeful of acquiring Brewers outfielder Carlos Lee, a Cardinals executive said, adding he believes the Tigers and Twins also are heavily involved.
The Giants told teams that ace Jason Schmidt would be available 10 days ago but changed course after their recent surge, according to two NL West GMs. Giants manager Felipe Alou says the team is talking to the Pirates about their relief pitchers.
The Phillies, according to two NL GMs, are peddling starters Jon Lieber and Cory Lidle.