MLB Trade Deadline: Updated Nightmare Scenarios for All 30 Teams at the Deadline

Doug Mead@@Sports_A_HolicCorrespondent IJuly 27, 2012

MLB Trade Deadline: Updated Nightmare Scenarios for All 30 Teams at the Deadline

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    As of 4 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, the MLB non-waiver trade deadline will come to pass. However, until then, each MLB team will be in the process of finalizing their rosters for the months and years to come.

    The past several weeks have already produced quite a bit of movement, yet some of the biggest names (Zack Greinke, Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, James Shields et al) are still out there for the taking.

    Many teams will walk away at the end of the day on July 31 elated by their transactions, yet others may be left grumbling. Certainly the new collective bargaining agreement will have an impact on trade strategy, and that will no doubt be debated as early as Aug. 1 by pundits and analysts everywhere.

    So, with just over three days remaining until the end of the trade deadline, what is the worst-case scenario for each team?

    Let’s take a look.

     

    Note: Material from an article I published last week has been included in this presentation.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Allowing Themselves to Think They Are Sellers

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    The Arizona Diamondbacks are sitting in third place in the National League West with a .500 record, courtesy of playing mediocre baseball through their first 98 games of the season. However, they are only five games out of a possible Wild Card slot.

    Make no mistake about it, the D-Backs are a scary team.

    One week, they can rattle off five wins in a row and look very much like the team that stormed the NL in 2011. The next week, they can lose five of six and look more like the team from 2010. Perplexing, indeed.

    But the last thing they should do at this point is deem themselves as sellers. In fact, they may only be one solid transaction away from being right back in the hunt.

    Many may have thought they were starting a sell-off by designating Ryan Roberts for assignment and then trading him to the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.

    Others may think that because they were entertaining the thought of trading struggling right fielder Justin Upton, they definitely had the mindset of a selling team.

    The D-Backs unloaded Roberts simply because he wasn’t part of their future plans. And team owner Ken Kendrick has already indicated that Upton isn’t going anywhere, at least for this season.

    GM Kevin Towers will no doubt continue to look for ways to improve his club, but selling should not be part of his mindset. This is too scary of a team to think they don’t another run left in them.

Atlanta Braves: Not Acquiring an Impact Starter

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    The Atlanta Braves are clearly in the hunt, despite losing starter Brandon Beachy and with a rotation that’s third-worst in the National League with a 4.29 ERA.

    That is clearly unfamiliar territory for the pitching-rich Braves, yet if the season ended right now they would be battling the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Wild Card one-game play-in round.

    A starter is what the Braves need, and a starter is what will keep them from tumbling. The Braves thought they had their man in Ryan Dempster, agreeing to a trade with the Chicago Cubs that would send young starter Randall Delgado to the Windy City. However, Dempster did not put his stamp of approval on the deal, as is his right as a 10/5 player.

    The Braves have now set their sights on Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke. However, they’re in direct competition with the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox, and possibly a few others.

    If the Braves walk away with nothing at the trade deadline, their ability to secure a playoff spot will be severely hampered.

Baltimore Orioles: Thinking they Can Compete Now and Buy Impulsively

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    The Baltimore Orioles are hanging on to hope in the American League for a possible Wild Card slot, but right now it’s by a thread.

    Starting pitching has faltered, now with a combined 4.68 ERA, and the offense has struggled as well, now 12th in the AL in runs scored. Leadoff batters are hitting a combined .224, and they’re hitting .232 with runners in scoring position, good for last in the league.

    This isn’t a team that just needs a quick fix—they’re still several impact players away from fielding a team that can put forth a consistent effort. New vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette would do well to stick to plan—build a solid farm system, continue utilizing his skills in finding good international talent and refusing to mortgage the future for the present.

Boston Red Sox: Not Finding a Buyer for Josh Beckett

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    On Thursday, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com revealed that the Boston Red Sox have fielded “some exploratory inquiries” on embattled right-hander Josh Beckett.

    Beckett is now 5-9 with a 4.57 ERA on the season after another rocky start against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday. According to Bradford, the Texas Rangers have no interest, believing that Beckett is not a good fit.

    Moving Beckett will require some creativity—he is owed approximately $37.5 million through the 2014 season.

    It’s possible that Beckett’s reputation in Boston can’t be repaired. He was at the center of last October’s clubhouse scandal involving players eating chicken wings, drinking beer and playing video games while games were in progress, and his lackluster apology the following spring did nothing to salve any wounds.

    Beckett followed that up with a very ill-advised golf outing on an off-day for the Red Sox in early May, but it just happened to come two days after the Sox scratched Beckett from a scheduled start due to soreness in his right lat.

    Beckett’s response to the outcry? "I spend my off-days the way I want to spend them," he said. "My off-day is my off-day."

    All of that, combined with his less-than-stellar performance this season, almost dictates that GM Ben Cherington should explore any and all options to move Beckett out of Boston. That in itself may finally bring closure to what is still clearly a fractured situation in Beantown.

Chicago Cubs: Not Finding a Suitor for Alfonso Soriano

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    I personally love what Alfonso Soriano has done for the Cubs in the last two-plus months.

    He has clearly rejuvenated his game, now hitting .274 with 19 HR and 58 RBI after starting the season homerless until May 15.

    However, it doesn’t take away from the fact that his contract is a major impediment for the Cubs right now. Soriano is still owed roughly $42 million through the 2014 season, and it’s likely that if and when the Cubs find a suitor for Soriano, they will have to eat the lion’s share of that remaining money.

    At 36 years of age, Soriano’s game isn’t going to get any better than it is right now. At best he’s a below average defender in left field who is better suited in a DH role.

    Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reported on Thursday that at least one club has called the Cubs to inquire about Soriano. Morosi mentioned the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates as teams that could benefit from Soriano’s rejuvenated power bat.

    Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will likely do what they can to unload Soriano by next Tuesday, but it will likely cost them a pretty penny. Then again, Soriano has already cost the team a pretty penny.

Chicago White Sox: Not Bringing Back Mark Buehrle

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    Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf has always been known for his loyalty—to players and office personnel alike. On Wednesday at conference to promote baseball in Israel, he revealed that he advised long-time White Sox starter Mark Buehrle to sign a proposed contract with the Miami Marlins.

    "The only thing I can tell you is when Mark told me he had a $56 million, four-year contract offer, I told him he should take it," Reinsdorf said. "I really told Mark he had to take it. At this stage of your career, it's more money than you're worth. He said he was going to take it, but he'll back in four years."

    How about bringing him back now?

    Buehrle is only 9-9 in 20 starts with the Marlins, but with a solid 3.31 ERA. The White Sox are looking for an impact starter in the wake of injuries to both John Danks and Gavin Floyd.

    Considering that the Marlins are in sell-off mode, Buehrle could well be that impact starter.

Cincinnati Reds: Not Finding an Impact Outfield Bat

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    The Cincinnati Reds find themselves in dogfight at the top of the NL Central Division standings with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and they’re doing it without the bat of Joey Votto and a weak-hitting outfield.

    The Reds have won 11 of 13 games since the All-Star break, all but three of these games without Votto in the lineup. In addition, they’re doing it with center fielder Drew Stubbs only hitting .230 with 10 home runs.

    There has been talk about the Reds looking for outfield help, and someone who could hit leadoff, such as Denard Span or Juan Pierre.

    Stubbs has heated up of late, delivering clutch late-inning hits on Tuesday and Wednesday night to seal victory for the Reds.

    However, Reds leadoff hitters are hitting a combined .200 on the season. If the Reds are going to continue competing with the Pirates at the top of the NL Central, they absolutely need to swing a deal to get better production at the top of the order.

Cleveland Indians: Finding Solutions Now Instead of Waiting Until the Offseason

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    Fans of the Cleveland Indians are hoping not to see a repeat of last season, when the Tribe lost their lead in the AL Central Division on July 21 and finished at 80-82, a full 15 games behind the Detroit Tigers.

    At 50-49 entering play on Friday, the Tribe is three games under .500 since June 1, and pesky holes in their hull appear to be getting bigger.

    The starting rotation is faltering, now 11th in the American League with a 4.70 ERA. The offense is last in the American League with a .223 average against left-handed pitching and hit only .244 with runners in scoring position.

    A solid right-handed bat, an impact starter and a corner infielder are what the Indians need—not just one but all three. At this point, I would find it hard to believe that GM Chris Antonetti would pull the plug on adding all three in addition to taking on the additional salary.

    Starter Derek Lowe will be gone at the end of the season, center fielder Grady Sizemore and possibly DH Travis Hafner will be gone as well. Antonetti will have money this offseason to bring in the pieces needed to fill the holes—finding short-term fixes now may not be the right answer.

Colorado Rockies: Not Moving Marco Scutaro, Ramon Hernandez and Rafael Betancourt

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    The Colorado Rockies have never lost 100 games—given the current state of affairs, the term “never say never” comes to mind.

    At 37-60 and possibly without the services of star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki for the rest of the season, the Rockies are almost destined to finally reach that dubious century mark.

    Blame for the Rockies’ struggles will no doubt be cast in the coming months, but until that time, it’s time to get what they can for the veterans they have that are commodities.

    According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, the Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Texas Rangers have all expressed interest in infielder Marco Scutaro, now in the final year of his contract after his trade from the Boston Red Sox.

    Renck also stated that the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves have expressed interest in closer Rafael Betancourt, and the Washington Nationals and New York Mets have checked in on catcher Ramon Hernandez. The Mets could have interest in reliever Matt Reynolds as well.

    Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd would do well to get everything he can to get as many prospects as possible for his four veterans. Hopefully, his minor league development team won’t screw up their development.

Detroit Tigers: Over-Buying and Adding Useless Payroll

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    There’s been a lot of good news coming out of Detroit in recent weeks. The Tigers are on a roll, winning 15 of 21 games in the month of July and climbing back into the race in the AL Central Division, just a half-game behind the Chicago White Sox as of Friday.

    GM Dave Dombrowski pulled off a shrewd deal earlier in the week, acquiring second baseman Omar Infante and pitcher Anibal Sanchez. In the process he gave up top pitching prospect Jacob Turner, catcher Rob Brantly and pitcher Brian Flynn.

    It was pricey for Detroit, but Dombrowski took care of two important needs. Tigers’ second basemen had been hitting .199 before Infante’s arrival, and Sanchez shores up the back end of the rotation.

    With Miguel Cabrera now leading the AL with 82 RBI, Prince Fielder hitting .308 with 70 RBI and Quinton Berry continuing to produce in the No. 2 hole, the Tigers are clearly starting to gel after a mediocre start, much like last season.

    In addition, Max Scherzer has now won his last four starts and Justin Verlander is pitching like…well, Justin Verlander.

    This is a team that can compete with anyone in the American League as currently constituted. Adding on more players and additional needless payroll really isn’t necessary at this point.

Houston Astros: Trading Jose Altuve

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    It’s highly unlikely that Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is going anywhere, but at this point, with GM Jeff Luhnow already cleaning house and unloading all of his pricey veterans, trading Altuve would certainly qualify as a worst-case scenario.

    The 22-year-old star represented the Astros at this year’s All-Star Game and has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal year in Houston.

    While reports earlier this season indicated that the Astros would listen to offers on virtually every player, Altuve should be about as untouchable as they come.

Kansas City Royals: Not Dealing Away Jonathan Broxton

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    Kansas City Royals closer Jonathan Broxton has re-invented himself during his short time in the Midwest.

    Broxton has converted 23 of 27 save chances with a 2.27 ERA, and while he at times can be make closing games an adventure, he represents a valuable commodity for the Royals.

    Broxton is only owed about $1.75 million for the rest of the season, and with a number of teams having issues at the back end of the bullpen, Broxton as a short-term rental is a natural fit.

    The New York Mets, Los Angeles Angels and San Francisco Giants are just three teams who have shown interest in recent weeks, and as the trade deadline nears, GM Dayton Moore will likely field more calls.

    Moore should capitalize while the market is good.

Los Angeles Angels: Not Finding a Suitable Back-End Rotation Option

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    On Friday, Los Angeles Angels starter Dan Haren will get his second start since returning from the disabled list with back issues that caused his first half of the 2012 season to be pretty abysmal.

    Haren came back strong last Sunday, allowing only two runs on three hits in six innings in a win over the Texas Rangers. Sunday’s start could go a long way in determining possible moves by GM Jerry DiPoto.

    Ervin Santana was to start Friday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays, but he’s being skipped in the rotation in order to straighten out mechanical flaws in ongoing bullpen sessions. Santana has been miserable, posting a 4-10 record and 6.00 ERA in 19 starts.

    The final spot in the rotation has also been sketchy, with Jerome Williams and Garrett Richards both providing inconsistent performances thus far.

    The Angels have reportedly been interested in both James Shields and Josh Johnson, but with several other teams also in the mix for both pitchers, the Angels may not have the muscle in their farm system that’s attractive enough for the Rays or Miami Marlins.

    If Haren continues to pitch well off the DL and if Santana can somehow straighten out his mechanical issues, the Angels will be a whole lot better off. However, those are two big “ifs.”

Los Angeles Dodgers: Not Finding an Impact First Baseman

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    The Los Angeles Dodgers went after Houston Astros first baseman Carlos Lee earlier this month, but were rebuffed when Lee invoked his no-trade rights and shot down the deal.

    Current first baseman James Loney has been largely impotent all year, hitting .248 with two HR, 27 RBI and a .631 OPS, a full 134 points lower than his career .765 mark. Even that figure is low for the position, so .631 is literally anemic.

    The Dodgers have already taken steps to solidify one corner, obtaining third baseman Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins earlier this week. GM Ned Colletti would love to pull the strings on another impact bat for his infield.

    According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Dodgers have interest in Twins’ first baseman Justin Morneau, but have reservations about Morneau’s history of injuries and view him as a fall-back option only.

    The Dodgers have been utilizing Juan Rivera at first as well, but with a .256 average, five HR, 34 RBI and .661 OPS, he’s clearly not a long-term answer.

    Colletti may need to get creative to find a quality first baseman at this point, or wait until the offseason when more attractive options become available. Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier will hopefully get added support in the lineup from Ramirez, but it’s certainly not coming from Loney or Rivera.

Miami Marlins: Trading Josh Johnson

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    The Miami Marlins seem to now be in full selling mode, dismantling a team that was thought to be a possible playoff contender at the beginning of the season.

    With owner Jeffrey Loria committing close to $200 million with the signings of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell, the Marlins were clearly thought to be a team that would thrive in its first season in their new home.

    So much for spending money.

    Loria, team president David Sampson and president Larry Beinfest are now going through another dismantling process, something fans in South Florida are certainly used to seeing by now. The trades of Hanley Ramirez, Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez could be just the tip of the iceberg.

    The one player that doesn’t make sense to get rid of would be starting pitcher Josh Johnson. I certainly get that he has value, but he is still under team control through next season and is still affordable. Finding suitors for Heath Bell, Buehrle and even Reyes makes more sense to me in terms of financial restraints.

    The worst-case scenario really should be the Marlins keeping their ownership group, but unfortunately that won’t change by the trade deadline. Too bad for Marlins fans.

Milwaukee Brewers: Not Getting Equal Value for Zack Greinke

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    The Milwaukee Brewers have declared themselves open for business, and GM Doug Melvin confirmed on Thursday morning that starting pitcher Zack Greinke will indeed be traded.

    The recent 0-6 road trip certainly made up the mind of GM Doug Melvin, who now sees his Brewers a full 14 games back in the NL Central Division and 10 games under .500.

    The Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox and Atlanta Braves appear to be the front-runners for Greinke, with the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays all interested but likely not in the running.

    Melvin needs to ask for the moon. Despite the changes in draft pick compensation for players in the last year of their contracts who are traded midseason, Melvin still needs to get as much as possible in return. He’ll likely get it—teams will still overpay despite the changes.

Minnesota Twins: Hanging on to Justin Morneau for Sentimental Reasons

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    Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau has been a fabulous player and great representative of the Twin Cities during his 10 seasons there. Let me put that out on the table right away.

    However, baseball is a business, and GM Terry Ryan shouldn’t be blinded by loyalty.

    The Twins need a complete overhaul—of that there should be no debate. A pitching staff in complete shambles and non-performing players have led the Twins to the position they’re in now, coming off a 99-loss season and headed in the same direction this year.

    Ryan has said that he will listen to offers for every position player, and that no one will be off limits.

    "Not in the situation we're in," he said. "I think that would be foolish."

    It would be foolish to hang on to Morneau as well.

New York Mets: Not Re-Building the Bullpen

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    I know, the younger generation might not remember the old Rolaids slogan, but it's certainly appropriate in terms of exactly what the Mets need in the second half.

    The Mets are clinging to life in the National League, only five games out of a possible wild-card slot.

    They need a new pack of Rolaids.

    GM Sandy Alderson bought a defective pack of Rolaids this past offseason, signing Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch and trading for Ramon Ramirez.

    The veteran trio has combined for a 4.38 ERA and eight blown saves.

    Alderson is now looking for a new pack of Rolaids.

    And he'd better not find a defective pack again.

New York Yankees: Overpaying to Replace Alex Rodriguez

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    With the broken hand suffered by New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez earlier this week, GM Brian Cashman stated that Eric Chavez would likely get the bulk of playing time during A-Rod's absence.

    When asked whether or not he would be proactive in looking for insurance in light of Chavez' injury history, Cashman said it depended on the market.

    “It is not about Chavez. It is about the price tag,” Cashman said. “If the price tag is right, I will act. I will go through the motions. I will stay engaged. I will see if anything makes sense.”

    It's likely not much will make sense.

    According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the price tags will be high. San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley is an option, but Cashman definitely won't meet that asking price.

    Heyman also brought up Philadelphia Phillies utility man Ty Wigginton, a much more affordable option.

    The new fiscally-conscious Yankees are not going to overspend for any player at this point. Wigginton makes more sense than any other names out there.

Oakland Athletics: Not Letting Billy Beane Do His Thing

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    The Oakland Athletics are eight games above .500 entering play on Friday, and if the season were to end right now, they would be the second Wild Card team in the American League.

    Raise your hand if you thought that was possible at the beginning of the season.

    Anyone?

    Bueller?

    Anyone?

    Didn’t think so.

    When general manager Billy Beane traded off three-fifths of his starting rotation (Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, Guillermo Moscoso), a top reliever (Craig Breslow), their closer (Andrew Bailey) and an outfielder (Ryan Sweeney), everyone expected nothing but doom and gloom for the 2012 season.

    Guess again.

    The pieces that Beane brought in for the above trades have been a big reason why the A’s are in the position they’re in today. Jarrod Parker, Josh Reddick, Derek Norris, Tommy Milone and Seth Smith are all players that Beane got back in his various offseason trades, and all of them have made major contributions.

    So, as the trade deadline nears, does anyone really have any doubt whatsoever that Beane can’t find another piece or two to keep the A’s marching toward the playoffs? Owner Lew Wolff has indicated he’ll let Beane do his thing—let’s hope he keeps his word.

Philadelphia Phillies: Trading Hunter Pence

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    The Philadelphia Phillies are just about on the verge of giving up on the 2012 season, despite signing pitcher Cole Hamels to a six-year, $144 contract.

    Hamels’ signing represented the future, not the short-term. At 28 years of age, Hamels will pitch with authority for years to come.

    However, even with its recent four-game winning streak, is there enough time for the current Phillies?

    GM Ruben Amaro will have some serious decisions to make in the next few days, especially when weighing future payroll concerns.

    Players like Juan Pierre, Shane Victorino and Ty Wigginton could all be made available, but the one player that Amaro should concentrate on keeping is right fielder Hunter Pence.

    Pence has one more year of arbitration remaining before hitting free agency, and while his salary is expected to climb to around $13 million, Amaro won’t likely find many players that can provide the same production and energy that Pence brings to every game.

    Giving in to the season is fine, and the Phillies do need to get younger. Pence should not be included in that above group of potentially available players.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Not Finding an Upgrade at Shortstop

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    The Pittsburgh Pirates took a chance on signing shortstop Clint Barmes to a two-year, $10.5 million contract, hoping he would provide better production than the departed Ronny Cedeno.

    So much for that experiment.

    The Pirates have absolutely got to at least try and make an upgrade at short. Potential available players include Stephen Drew, Jamey Carroll and possibly Jed Lowrie. Each one of them would be a far better producer and give at least a little more protection for Andrew McCutchen and others.

    After 19 losing seasons, the Pirates have a golden opportunity to break that vicious cycle. It’s high time they capitalize, and now.

San Diego Padres: Trading Huston Street

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    The San Diego Padres demonstrated a sense of commitment by signing left fielder Carlos Quentin to a three-year, $27 million contract.

    They should follow suit with closer Huston Street.

    Street has been lights-out in San Diego, posting a 0.91 ERA and 17 saves, giving up just 11 hits in 29.2 innings of work.

    According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Padres are at least willing to make a commitment.

    #padres, trying to lock up huston street, are expected to offer deal for a year and an option. believed to want to stay.

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 26, 2012

    By signing Street, new Padres owners will start out with a positive vibe and show local fans they are committed to putting a competitive product on the field.

San Francisco Giants: Not Beefing up Back End of Bullpen

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    The San Francisco Giants are in a dogfight with their long-time arch-rival Los Angeles Dodgers at the top of the NL West, and an alarming trend has shown its ugly face recently.

    All of a sudden, the Giants are having difficulty closing the deal.

    Santiago Casilla had taken over the reins as the closer after season-ending surgery for Brian Wilson. Casilla had been performing admirably, posting 20 saves in 21 chances and a 1.91 ERA.

    However, since June 24, Casilla has spit the bit, blowing five saves in nine chances, with his ERA rising to 3.25.

    Setup man Sergio Romo is not an option—manager Bruce Bochy is hesitant to take a chance on Romo's balky elbow.

    The Giants were at their best with both Casilla and Romo setting up Wilson. GM Brian Sabean would do well to bring in a closer to stabilize that back end.

Seattle Mariners: Not Releasing Chone Figgins

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    To say that Chone Figgins’ time with the Seattle Mariners has been an unmitigated disaster is putting it mildly.

    Figgins signed a four-year, $36 million contract to be the same type of pesky player at the top of the lineup that defined his career with the Los Angeles Angels during the mid-to-late 2000s.

    Pesky is not quite the word I’d use for Figgins right now.

    Figgins is currently hitting .181, seven points lower than last year’s .188 average.

    GM Jack Zduriencik would be wise just to eat the rest of the money and free up the roster space.

St. Louis Cardinals: Not Shoring up a Shaky Bullpen

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    The St. Louis Cardinals watched both the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates pass them by as they stumbled through the months of May and June.

    The Cardinals have won 12 of 20 games in July but still find themselves 5.5 games out of the NL Central lead.

    One of the problems for the Cardinals has been in the bullpen. While Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte have been solid on the back end, manager Mike Matheny has struggled to find the right combination for the middle innings.

    Marc Rzepczynski, who was instrumental down the stretch last season after his trade from the Toronto Blue Jays, has been largely ineffective, with a 4.96 ERA in 45 appearances. Victor Marte, Fernando Salas, Kyle McLellan, Eduardo Sanchez and Sam Freeman haven't been much help, either.

    With Jaime Garcia expected to return in mid-August, Joe Kelly or Lance Lynn could provide some help in relief.

    However, GM John Mozeliak would do well to bolster the bullpen similarly to how he did it last season.

    Brian Fuentes was added last week, but considering his struggles for much of the season in Oakland, there's no guarantee he'll be much of an upgrade.

Tampa Bay Rays: Giving Up on a Solid Starting Rotation

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    Tampa Bay Rays pitcher James Shields has gotten used to the trade talk that has dogged him in recent weeks.

    Earlier last week while in the clubhouse prior to a game with the Cleveland Indians, Shields heard his name being mentioned on MLB Network.

    "There's a lot of crazy talk going around," Shields said, smiling.

    What would be crazy is dismantling the Rays’ rotation.

    Along with Shields, Wade Davis has been mentioned in rumors as well, in particular with the Los Angeles Angels.

    Shields is 8-7 with a 4.52 ERA, certainly not close to last year’s phenomenal season that earned him the nickname “Complete Game” Shields, but not close to numbers posted by Ervin Santana or Tim Lincecum, either.

    The Rays are well within striking distance of a Wild Card slot—giving up and dismantling the rotation at this point makes no sense. Shields has a $9 million option for next season, still an affordable number.

    If the Rays are concerned about financial constraints for the 2013 season, then deal with it during the offseason.

Texas Rangers: Coming Away from the Deadline Empty-Handed

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    The Rangers received some bad news on Monday afternoon. Pitcher Colby Lewis, who had been placed on the disabled list with right forearm tendinitis earlier on Monday, will now need surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon, ending his season.

    According to Christian Colon of MLB.com, Rangers GM Jon Daniels will likely step up efforts to land an impact starting pitcher:

    "It's going to depend on the specifics of the situation," Daniels said. "We've been looking at some different things. We've had conversations with clubs. Our focus is still the same—to have the best club out there that gives us a chance to win. But the deal's got to be right."

    That deal could involve Zack Greinke of the Milwaukee Brewers or even Josh Johnson of the Miami Marlins.

    Johnson makes the most sense from a financial standpoint, especially if the Rangers hope to re-sign Josh Hamilton.

    For Rangers GM Daniels, walking away with nothing would not be cool, especially with both the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland A’s breathing down their necks.

Toronto Blue Jays: Same as Many Others, Not Finding an Impact Starter

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    The Toronto Blue Jays made a move to strengthen two areas of need last week, acquiring starter J.A. Happ along with relievers Brandon Lyon and David McCarthy from the Houston Astros for Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco, four prospects and a player to be named later.

    GM Alex Anthopoulos clearly took care of a need in his rotation, with injuries to Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabeck and Brandon Morrow severely depleting the staff.

    However, Happ alone won't solve the Jays' rotation problems.

    Morrow's return to health along with one more starter would get the Blue Jays back in the playoff hunt. Morrow is currently rehabbing in Florida after a brief setback and could return to the Jays by mid-to-late August.

    If Anthopoulos can somehow land another impact starter without having to give up much more of the farm, the Jays could well be back in business.

Washington Nationals: Doing Something Just Because They Should

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    The Washington Nationals are in a unique position—atop the standings in the NL East and with the best record in the National League.

    GM Mike Rizzo is no doubt looking at various options to improve different areas of his club, but are any of the options really necessary?

    The Nats are about to get a huge boost—right fielder Jayson Werth is currently rehabbing at Triple-A Syracuse and could be back with the club as early as next week.

    That gives Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson several different lineup options alone.

    The outfield could well be comprised of Werth in right field, Bryce Harper in center and Michael Morse in left when Werth returns. That gives manager Davey Johnson many options, with Roger Bernadina and Tyler Moore both providing solid production in supporting roles.

    At times Morse can give regular first baseman Adam LaRoche a rest at first base, with Moore capably covering in left.

    Bernadina can slot in at various times all over the outfield, as well.

    It's a win-win for the Nats, but only if Werth can be worth the price the Nats originally paid in December 2010.

    Other than that, Rizzo might be wise to pass on many of the inquiries he might be contemplating, ones that would cost valuable prospects and not provide all that much over what he already has in house.

    Sometimes the best move is the one that’s never made.

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.