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Friday, July 12
 
Potential deadline deals plus some All-Star ideas

By Dave Campbell
Special to ESPN.com

Eyeing the Second Half
With the July 31 trade deadline looming, let's look at the teams in each league that have a good shot at the postseason -- at least from this vantage point -- and what needs they might be able to fill via a pre-deadline deal.

Two separate but related categories are involved. First, there are the needs of the contending teams. And second, there are the players who I see as being available to fill those needs in a potential trade (some of these names appear frequently since some teams have similar needs). We'll take a team-by-team tour by division in each league...

Plesac
Plesac
NL West
Arizona Diamondbacks
Needs: Assuming Matt Williams, Erubiel Durazo and Todd Stottlemyre all return from injury, the need is for an additional left-handed reliever.
Potentially Available: Left-handed relievers Dan Plesac (Phillies) or Ricardo Rincon (Indians).

Los Angeles Dodgers
Needs: A power reliever to work in set-up situations and to serve as protection in case Eric Gagne falters in the second half.
Potentially Available: Roberto Hernandez (Royals) or Todd Jones (Rockies).

San Francisco Giants
Needs: Quality left-handed reliever. Potentially Available: Plesac or Rincon.

NL Central
St. Louis Cardinals
Needs: A quality starter to replace Darryl Kile.
Potentially Available: Three Blue Jays pitchers (Chris Carpenter, Esteban Loaiza or Steve Parris); Paul Byrd (Royals); Sidney Ponson (Orioles); or perhaps one of the best three starters available -- Chuck Finley (Indians), Kenny Rogers (Rangers), Al Leiter (if the Mets continue to flounder).

Cincinnati Reds
Needs: The Reds filled their major need (for a quality starter) in this week's deal for Ryan Dempster.

NL East
Atlanta Braves
Needs: Possibly first base; also, perhaps a deal for Omar Vizquel (for some prospects) to play short, while moving Rafael Furcal to second.
Potentially Available: Jim Thome (Indians) or Rafael Palmeiro (Rangers), but I doubt the Braves would take on the salary (and Palmeiro would need to waive his no-trade clause).

Montreal Expos
Needs: The Expos filled their major need (for an outfield bat) in this week's deal for Cliff Floyd.

AL East
Thome
Thome
Boston Red Sox
Needs: A starter or a first baseman who hits consistently. The Red Sox staff has question marks, since key guys like Pedro Martinez and John Burkett have had injury issues in recent years. At first, Tony Clark hasn't done much, while Brian Daubach is streaky -- he can carry a team for a week but is prone to slumps.
Potentially Available: At first, Thome (he'd be a perfect fit) or Palmeiro. For a starter, see list above under "St. Louis Cardinals."

New York Yankees
Needs: Possibly a left-hander reliever to get out left-handed batters in the sixth or seventh inning (they have lefty Mike Stanton for later in the game). And the Yankees can afford to pay a pitcher $3 million to get one key out per game. If they have even a perceived weakness, they address it.
Potentially Available: Plesac or Rincon.

AL Central
Minnesota Twins
Needs: They expect to get Joe Mays and Brad Radke back from injury, but if they don't they might need a starter (and they have good prospects to include in possible trades)
Potentially Available: See list above under "St. Louis Cardinals."

Chicago White Sox
Needs: I think Chicago is looking to dump. They may be looking to move Ray Durham, Carlos Lee, Royce Clayton and Todd Ritchie. They'd love to move Frank Thomas, but no one will take his salary.

AL West
Oakland Athletics
Needs: Second baseman.
Potentially Available: Durham (White Sox), Frank Catalanotto (Rangers), Damion Easley (Tigers).

Anaheim Angels
Needs: Power set-up reliever.
Potentially Available: Hernandez, Jones.

Seattle Mariners
Needs: Possibly one more pitcher for the postseason.
Potentially Available: Ponson, Rogers, Leiter.

Other Big Names Available for the Right Deal: Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle (Rockies), Joe Randa (Royals), Tyler Houston (Brewers), Ivan Rodriguez (Rangers).

If I Were The Skipper
The Situation
Sure, MLB games were played last weekend before the All-Star break, but there's really just one "skipper situation" worth addressing this week. Yes, you may have heard about it: The All-Star Game ended in a 7-7 tie after 11 innings (after both teams ran out of pitchers). I was calling the game on ESPN Radio with play-by-play man Dan Shulman. In the eighth inning, I said on air that this has a chance to be a manager's worst nightmare, because closers Mariano Rivera and John Smoltz were both warming up -- and after that each team had just one pitcher left. Should the game have been managed differently so more pitchers were available for extra innings? And what should be done in the future to avoid another tie?

Campbell's Call
Today vs. Yesterday: The way the All-Star Game is managed today is a byproduct of how the All-Star Game is played today. The primary goal in the modern All-Star Game is not winning, but rather getting every player in the game. This is the fifth time Joe Torre has managed the Midsummer Classic, and he's done the same thing every year. And that isn't a criticism -- the way things are today, I would have done the same thing that Torre and Brenly did (which is to get everyone in the game).

But I would like to see a renewed passion for winning the game. The All-Star Game used to be a huge opportunity for bragging rights. I never played in the All-Star Game, but when I was a major-leaguer in the 1960s and '70s, the objective was to win the game. Players would talk about it. Willie Mays played the entire game several times, and all the big stars got at least three at-bats. Today, they're gone after two at-bats.

The American League hated it when the National League won 23 of 25 games from 1960-82 -- but oh, how the NL loved it! (There was one tie due to rain in 1961, and two games were played from 1959-62.) The AL won 11 of 14 going into this year, but the passion for who wins the game is no longer there. Up until the mid-'90s, I thought the All-Star Game was the best exhibition contest in any professional sport because both teams played to win. Since then, it's been more of a politically correct attempt to get everyone in the game.

In the long run, this year's outcome will be a blessing in disguise, a great wake-up call for baseball regarding the Midsummer Classic. This will force MLB to evaluate and overhaul the game.

In the Future: For starters, let's revive the emphasis on who wins the game (see above). But what can be done about extra-inning All-Star Games in today's climate of counting pitches and playing everyone?

Expanding the rosters to 12 pitchers would help. I also advocate adding a utility player from each league, an unsung player who usually doesn't get All-Star glory and who would play only if the game goes extra frames. But if a game goes, say, 12 innings and it's still tied, how about settling it with a Home Run Derby? I think that would be a fun way to decide it for the fans.

In effect, the All-Star Game could take a page from soccer. Even World Cup matches are decided by penalty kicks when a golden-goal overtime hasn't produced a winner.

But this would need to be an abbreviated Home Run Derby. Have each manager choose his five best power hitters. Give each hitter one swing, alternating between AL and NL. If it's still tied after those five hitters, have them keep going -- but this time in a sudden-death scenario until someone wins. And to expedite the process, have the same batting-practice pitcher for both teams (a neutral person could be designated before the game).

Perhaps not an ideal solution, but far better than leaving fans fit to be tied.

Editor's Note: All statistics are through Thursday's games. Dave Campbell, who was an infielder for eight seasons in the major leagues (1967-74), is an analyst for Baseball Tonight and ESPN Radio.






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