old stove featureWith the All-Star break upon us, and the acceleration into the Trade Deadline that always seems to follow, you might be seeing a lot more of these in the coming days …

  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. addressed a range of trade-related topics on the radio today, and you can read about it here at CSN. Among those comments, Amaro indicated there was enough discussion going on regarding closer Jonathan Papelbon that he believes a deal will probably get done. Papelbon yesterday very assertively indicated he wants to be traded, and explicitly said that he wishes he could be traded to the Cubs (I’d imagine he’d be happy to be traded to a lot of teams at this point, though). With the recent resurgence of the Cubs’ bullpen, the imminent arrival of Rafael Soriano, and the AAA availability of guys like Carl Edwards, Jr., I’m not sure a guy like Papelbon would be the Cubs’ priority right now in trade. That’s something of a shame, given that Papelbon’s no-trade rights could allow him to angle toward a deal to the Cubs, and could give them an advantage in trade talks.
  • All that said, you never quite feel a bullpen is totally secure, and Papelbon would certainly make the Cubs’ set even better. In a roundabout way, he could also make you feel better about the 5th starter situation – the better and deeper the bullpen, the less concerned you are about having a back-of-the-rotation that can’t be counted on for more than three or four so-so innings per start. The Cubs have rolled with eight relievers all season – and appear content to continue to do so – and if you felt really, really good about all eight relievers, why not be willing to go with a short once or twice-through-the-order-only starter? Just something outside of the box to think about.

  • (One more bullpen thing I think I have to mention here – the sample is extremely small, but we shouldn’t ignore that, since returning from his shoulder injury, Neil Ramirez has posted a 5.40 ERA, a 6.38 FIP, and a 4.56 xFIP. Sure, the runs all came on one home run, but he hasn’t quite looked like himself. Among other things, Ramirez’s velocity is way, way down from last year. Maybe looking to add one more significant arm wouldn’t be so crazy.)
  • The Orioles have a bunch of really interesting soon-to-be free agents, but, even after losing 10 of 13 heading into the break, they do not sound like sellers (MASN). You can read the comments there from EVP Dan Duquette, and they definitely don’t have the usual “we want to compete this year, but we’ll see where we are at the end of the month” vibe. They have the “we aren’t selling no matter what” vibe.
  • Bob Nightengale reports of “widespread rumblings” of movement coming for the Reds in the days after the All-Star Game. Many folks had speculated that they would be reluctant to sell before hosting the game. And, if you were looking at the broader landscape, it might take only the Reds holding on for now to hold up the market. Teams looking for pitching will want to wait until Johnny Cueto is available, and teams selling other pitchers might be waiting because the buyers are waiting on the Reds … which would mean that even teams not interested in Cueto (the Cubs?) could be held up.

  • Nightengale adds that the Astros, Blue Jays and Royals have been the most aggressive pursuers of Cueto. Setting aside the market implications, it would be nice to see him out of the NL Central – and, indeed, out of the NL Wild Card race entirely – before the Cubs play the Reds again next week in Cincinnati. Actually … just go ahead and trade everyone not bolted down, Reds.
  • The Tigers are on the cusp of being a buyer or a seller, but David Price – a free agent after this year – told Bill Shaikin that he doesn’t expect to be traded. Extension talks with the Tigers are not happening, for what that’s worth.
  • Michael looked at the Phillies as a seller, in relation to the Cubs, earlier today as part of an ongoing series.

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