|Tuesday, July 1
Updated: July 23, 10:03 AM ET
Adding bullpen depth key for Braves, Giants
By Sean McAdam
Special to ESPN.com
Arizona Diamondbacks -- Buyers
Will give up: What little they have. The D-Backs' system has few prospects at the top end.
The buzz: The amazing thing about this club's phoenix-like rise in the desert is that it's been accomplished without Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling or Shea Hillenbrand. Hillenbrand was brought on board to boost the anemic attack, but has mostly been on the disabled list since arriving. Whispers continue that should the team fall back in the West, they would entertain offers for Schilling.
Atlanta Braves -- Buyers
Will give up: As always, the Braves' system is well stocked, with young arms (left-handed reliever Jung Bong and Double-A right-handed starting pitcher Adam Wainwright) to move in the right deal.
The buzz: There are no obvious weaknesses here, but GM John Schuerholz has a history of fine-tuning at the deadline. Expect nothing different this month.
Will give up: The Cubs are one of the few teams with surplus pitching available. Juan Cruz, who could start or relieve, will likely go if a deal for Lowell for happens.
The buzz: This is the best Cubs team in some time, with a strong, powerful rotation, a deep, versatile bullpen and productive outfield. Filling the season-long hole at third base will go a long way toward making them the favorites to win the NL Central.
Cincinnati Reds -- Buyers
Will give up: With a young outfield set for a number of years, the Reds can afford to deal some of their top position players.
The buzz: Jim Bowden will make things interesting; he always does. In this crowded and ultra-competitive division, the Reds aren't quite in the playoff race, but they're not completely out, either. Bowden may be the most creative GM in the game when it comes to structuring creative deals. He'll do something before it's over -- bet on it.
Need: As always, the Rockies want pitching -- preferably of the young and cheap variety.
The buzz: Neagle could be had for nothing -- assuming a club would pick up his remaining contract obligation. Jimenez was shopped over the winter, but is in the middle of a horrendous season with an ERA over 7.00. Larry Walker -- as the winter proved -- could be had, but his value is nowhere near what it once was.
Need: The Marlins have been stockpiling young pitching since the post-1997 World Series payroll slash, but could use more. They could use a young catcher for the future, since it's unlikely Pudge Rodriguez will return next season.
The buzz:Penny won't come cheap, but could be had for the right package.
Houston Astros -- Buyers
Will give up: While there was talk about dealing Billy Wagner earlier in the season, the Astros are too much in the thick of the NL Central race to move such a dominant closer. If they slip, veteran role players like Orlando Merced and Jose Vizcaino have appeal.
The buzz: Having splurged on free agent Jeff Kent last winter, the notoriously tight-fisted Astros don't have much left to spend. If they could find another inexpensive starter to slot in behind Wade Miller and Roy Oswalt, they'd jump. But there's not much available in that price range.
Los Angeles Dodgers -- Buyers
Will give up: The Dodgers are one of two or three teams in the game with pitching to spare. To get a quality bat, they could part with bullpen veterans like Paul Shuey or Paul Quantrill. Teams will ask for Guillermo Mota, but aren't likely to pry him loose.
The buzz: For months, GM Dan Evans has kept insisting the Dodgers aren't desperate to upgrade their offense, but most believe that's a bluff. The Dodgers have a strong rotation and a reliable bullpen; it would be a shame to waste all that pitching. They can add some salary, if necessary.
Need: Pitching. The Brewers have plenty of mash in their lineup, but not nearly enough quality arms in their system.
The buzz: With so many contenders looking to strengthen their bullpens, the Brewers figure to be active. Leskanic is a valuable set-up man, and DeJean could either close or set-up for some teams. For a team that seldom has late-inning leads to protect, these two are a luxury for the basement-dwelling Brewers.
Will give up: Pitcher Seung Song was to be sent to the Rangers for Gonzalez and has some value as a potential No. 4 or 5 starter.
The buzz: More than any other team, the Expos are in a trade-deadline quandary. They can't make a move without first getting the permission of Major League Baseball. They probably can't afford Javier Vazquez next season, and certainly won't be able to re-sign Guerrero, but will MLB approve a fire sale for a team in the playoff race?
Need: Young bullpen help, outfielders.
The buzz: Interim GM Jim Duquette finds himself in an odd position -- charged with dismantling an overpriced roster and rebuilding the team for the future while needing to show immediate improvement in order to get the job permanently. He was able to get rid of Roberto Alomar, trading him to the White Sox for three prospects -- pitchers Royce Ring and Edwin Almonte and infielder Andrew Salvo. His job might not be as easy dealing Benitez as he seems to be reducing his trade value with every appearance.
Philadelphia Phillies -- Buyers
Will give up: Teams will ask for one of the Phillies' young starters (Vicente Padilla, Brett Myers, Brandon Duckworth), but it's unlikely they'll part with one. More likely, the Phils will offer some prospects.
The buzz: If the Phils don't gain some ground between now and the All-Star break, the race for the NL East title could get out of reach though they should remain a viable contender to win the wild card. Still, it's unlikely there will be any wholesale housecleaning.
Need: You name it. The Pirates need help virtually everywhere.
The buzz: The momentum that comes from a new ballpark has already dissipated for the Pirates, whose rebuilding effort has sadly stalled. Benson could be a worthwhile gamble for some teams, but he hasn't thrown well. Lofton, a spring training addition, could help a contender in the second half, just as he did a year ago when he went from Chicago to San Francisco. Catcher Jason Kendall could go if anyone would take his declining skills and big contract, but GM Dave Littlefield swears he won't part with lefty specialist Scott Sauerbeck.
Need: The Padres have some developing young arms, but could use more.
The buzz: From the beginning, this has been a lost season for the Padres, who were hit hard by the injury bug even before the season began, losing Trevor Hoffman and Phil Nevin for the season. Teams will ask for Brian Lawrence and/or Jake Peavy, but they're too valuable to deal.
San Francisco Giants -- Buyers
The buzz: As a franchise, the Giants can hear their biological clock ticking. Barry Bonds is approaching 40, Rich Aurilia and J.T. Snow are approaching free agency, and Benito Santiago and Marquis Grissom can't play forever -- can they? GM Brian Sabean saw his team come within a few innings of winning a World Series last October. He'll trade some of this team's future for another shot at a ring.
St. Louis Cardinals -- Buyers
Will give up: The lack of top prospects in the Cards' minor-league system will likely hinder their ability to make a deal.
The buzz: The Cardinals' everyday lineup might be the best in baseball, and the return of Jason Isringhausen has answered questions about the closer's spot. Still, the rotation is thin and has to be upgraded if the Cards are to overtake the Cubs. One problem: The Cards don't have much financial flexibility, which makes the inexpensive Schoeneweis all the more attractive to them.
Sean McAdam of the Providence (R.I.) Journal covers baseball for ESPN.com.