As the August 2 trade deadline approaches, GM is circling cars trying to determine who is selling and who is buying. It’s a task made a little more difficult this year with two more teams added to the playoffs and the first series going from a one-time sudden-death game to a two-out-of-three.
The general theory around baseball is that the expanded playoff structure will entice more teams to become buyers. But at the same time, potentially increased competition for the same limited number of players could create a largely uneventful deadline compared to last year when the Nationals cleaned house of their superstars, Max Scherzer and Trea Turner; the Yankees loaded with sluggers Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo; the Mets satisfied Francisco Lindor by acquiring Javy Baez; and the Braves, after losses to Ronald Acuna Jr. and Marcell Ozuna, stocked up on fielding sticks – Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler and Joc Pederson – for their second half at the world championship.
Because it’s New York, the Yankees and Mets are always forced to be buyers at the deadline, regardless of the state of their clubs. This year, however, the Yankees don’t need to do anything — unless they choose to perform an act of mercy by trading Gallo to a less key environment where the fan base is more tolerant of his propensity for strikeouts. Brian Cashman always seems to enjoy honing his bullpen at the deadline, but he may have already done it the other day with the signing of veteran right-hander Richard Rodriguez, fresh off an 80-game drug suspension, who was nevertheless the Pirates. closer in ’21.
As for the Mets, they’ve long thought they’ll be buyers at the trade deadline this year. It all depended on the time of the season. At first, when no one could be sure Jacob deGrom would ever return and Tylor Megill likely lost the season with a shoulder injury, it was thought the Mets might need another starting pitcher. Then, in a recent 5-6 streak in which they went three runs or under four times and their lead over the Braves was reduced to 2½ games, another power bat to compliment Pete Alfonso suddenly seemed like a big need, even though the Mets are still fourth in the majors in runs scored.
No doubt Buck Showalter wouldn’t mind another power bat, but the potentially biggest ones out there — Nationals’ Josh Bell, Colorado’s CJ Cron, Royals’ Andrew Benintendi, Orioles’ Trey Mancini — seem to be costing too much. expensive prospect capital, something Mets GM Billy Eppler is reluctant to do. At the same time, don’t expect them to promote power receiver Francisco Alvarez, their top prospect, anytime soon. He’s said to be probably ready with the bat that could come and play for them in a September call-up, but he has a ways to go for his home game. And besides, like it or not, they’ve invested $8 million in James McCann this year and another $24 million over the next two years.
Eppler already has a head start on Executive of the Year honors after his winter haul of Starling Marte, Chris Bassitt and Mark Canha, but if there’s one product Showalter needs more than any other to helping hold off the Braves is another left-handed reliever where he’s been run short all season. From this category, there’s a wide enough variety for Eppler to work his magic on – Joe Mantiply of Arizona, Andrew Chafin and Gregory Soto of the Tigers and Sam Moll of the A’s to name just four. The only problem is that everyone is looking for deadline relief pitchers, especially left-handers, and this year there are a lot more buyers.
It was good to see the Mets invited Willie Mays at their reinstituted Old Timers’ Day on August 27 and even if, at age 91, he is unable to travel, the Mets should still take the opportunity to finally retire number 24 in his honor. That was what the Mets owner Joan Payson promised Willie when she brought him back to New York in 1972, but after Mays retired in 1973 and died two years later, the 24 retirement plan was forgotten, although the Mets never have never reissued it for 27 years except for a few days utility error Kelvin Torve in 1990. When Ricky Henderson joined the Mets in 1999, he asked for — and received — permission from Mays to carry 24. After he left, 24 sat vacant until Robinson Cano arrived from Seattle in 2019 and received him. So now it would seem more fitting for Steve Cohen to fulfill Payson’s wishes to step down 24 for Mays while erasing the stain from Cano completely. …
Baseball’s new name game – The Pirates became the first team in major league history to use 55 players before the All-Star Game. It’s a pretty good guess that a majority of teams will use a record number of players this year. How will the baseball card companies catch up?…
New Baseball Book of the Week: Back when he was playing, Paul O’Neill was about the most intensely private and media-resistant individuals I’ve ever met, and about the last person I would have expected to write a book about himself. But in his second career as a media guy himself in the Yankees’ YES broadcast booth, O’Neill transformed into an engaging and insightful personality – who, thankfully, returns in the autobiography we wouldn’t have. never thought he would write, “Swing and A Hit – Nine Innings of What Baseball Taught Me” (Grand Central Publishing) with his YES cohort and former Yankee beat writer for The Times, Jack Curry. Aside from a lot of inside stuff from his Yankee years, O’Neill details his complicated relationship with Lou Piniella when he was with the Reds, as well as what it was like to be caught by Pete Rose gambling scandal in Cincy. In case you were wondering, he thinks Pete should be in the Hall of Fame.