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Not since fantasy baseball owners haggled through the summer of 2003 have Jim Thome, Jose Contreras and Billy Wagner mattered this much in a trade market.

Of course, even as Thome and Jon Garland headed to the Dodgers and Contreras made his way to the Rockies, their old employer was left with a smoldering reminder of the perils of trading. Alex Rios? Hitting worse than .200 with the team. Jake Peavy? Might not pitch until 2010.

A month ago, voters picked the White Sox to win the AL Central. As recently as three weeks ago, SportsNation still had them neck and neck with the Tigers. Now? Well, at least 58 percent of voters think Ozzie Guillen should keep his job in the Windy City.


I think Williams intended to go for the win, but Guillen's mouth and attitude killed this team. In the end, Williams decided to get something for two players that would not have returned next season. Let's hope Guillen goes too.

-- GSaggese

I really believe John Kruk when he says the Dodgers signed Thome so the Giants wouldn't get him. It makes absolutely no sense for Thome to go to the National League on a team that has a solid firstbasement who should be an everyday player. So my thinking is there going to have Thome play every here and there to give Loney a rest and be available in the 8th or 9th inning off the bench when there down by one and need a homerun.

-- AjP_

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We've spent considerably more time over the last couple of months talking about the Pirates than their basement-dwelling peers like the Royals and Orioles, but they just make it so easy. After all, an inability to field a competitive team is one thing -- Elgin Baylor made a nice living out of it -- but trading away a potential contender over the course of two seasons? That takes a certain something special. Surely, Pirates GM Neal Huntington deserves to be ranked ahead of Royals GM Dayton Moore for chutzpah alone.

The latest to leave the fold were shortstop Jack Wilson, second baseman Freddy Sanchez and pitcher Ian Snell. And look, this whole rebuilding thing might work, even if SportsNation isn't buying it. The haul for Sanchez was Tim Alderson, the Giants' No. 4 prospect according to Baseball America, and the guys at USS Mariner, who are right more often than they're wrong about these things, weren't thrilled about how much Seattle gave away for a good defensive shortstop in Wilson and an enigmatic pitcher in Snell.

But even if Alderson, Jeff Clement, Lastings Milledge and Andrew McCutchen are the second coming of the "We Are Family" Pirates, the franchise has a serious credibility problem. Just ask SportsNation blogger Fairsoldier50, who says it's time for Huntington to buy a cabin in the woods.


Any Pirates fan that doesn't like either of these trades is not really a Pirates fan.

-- redguy12588

I GIVE UP!!!!!! How can I watch and cheer for a team that wants to suck. I just gave all my stuff to a bum because thats how i feel about the Pirates. Pirates ownership sucks soooo bad, pay me half the money those guys make and I can do just as good as them and maybe better. oh, I just threw up in my mouth. I am so glad that football is starting soon so i can watch a team that wants to win in Pittsburgh, THE STEELERS!!!!

-- BrianLarry

The Pirates ownership continues to bilk the fans buy putting out a terrible product in a nice package (PNC Park). They wouldn't even spend to a salary cap, if there was one because they don't care enough. How long can you continue to rebuild a team for? The last time they were any good, Barry Bonds was a skinny young man. They have gone beyond rebuilding. It's a constant cycle. Pathetic..

-- bus3668

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If the American public had the kind of faith in the auto industry's brands that SportsNation has in the St. Louis Cardinals, well, maybe Hyundai wouldn't be reporting record profits. Come hell, high water or Miguel Tejada, voters refuse to doubt the power of Pujols.

A little more than a week ago, the Cardinals were 49-42, held a 2½-game lead on their closest competition in the NL Central and were the pick of 60 percent of SportsNation to win the division. Fast-forward to the present, and they've gone just 2-4 in the interim, including a sweep at the hands of Tejada and the Astros, and watched three teams close to within two games of the lead. And now 65 percent of voters are picking them to win. If they get swept again, this thing might be unanimous.

Looking at each of the four top contenders, SportsNation blogger pacersfanatic33 admits he's among those who underestimated the Cardinals' pitching entering the season and suggests acquiring shortstop Julio Lugo from the Red Sox isn't necessarily a minor trade.

If only the Pirates were so lucky. The Bucs actually won Wednesday -- in dramatic fashion, no less -- but the bigger news of the day came when the team traded yet another regular player, Adam LaRoche, for seemingly marginal return. Next up? Probably Jack Wilson and even Freddy Sanchez. It's not exactly a crushing condemnation, but SportsNation isn't buying that the team has a plan. The verdict is that the franchise is bad for baseball.


Wow...what a game [between the Cardinals and Astros], and what a division. This is going to be really fun down the stretch.

-- TyHoward24

Wow, the Astros are only a game back in the NL Central... Oh, what a division!

-- pride4jc1222

[Ryan] Franklin has had an outstanding year. This one game doesn't change that. I blame our offense for this sweep.

-- Cards Fan90

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We hate to ruin your Monday with talk of philosophy, SportsNation, but have you noticed that fans in Pennsylvania are ensnared by a kind of Yin/Yang duality when it comes to baseball?

On the one hand, you've got the Phillies. World Series winners in 2008, the Phillies are blessed with a wide array of talented players. Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins form one of the best double-play combos in baseball, while Ryan Howard seems to be on pace for near-record numbers of home runs. Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino anchor the outfield, while Cole Hamels looks to have a long career leading Philadelphia's starting rotation. The team has won eight straight and 13 of their last 14 games. It's no surprise that they're atop the NL East as the second half kicks off. SportsNation has them winning the division easily.

On the other hand, behold the majesty of the Pittsburgh Pirates. They haven't won a World Series since 1979, which isn't a terribly long time to go without a championship, but their regular season record is most concerning. the team hasn't had a winning season since 1992, going through seven managers in that timeframe. They have seemingly finally realized the futility of their situation, and have begun selling off what few assets they have. Jason Bay was traded in 2008. Nate McLouth left earlier this season in a controversial deal. Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez (whom SportsNation touted as the Pirates' midseason MVP) rejected supposedly low-ball contract extensions, and may be traded shortly. Pirates fans have seen rebuilding plans fail before. Will this time be any different?

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