Welcome to the extravaganza known as the Major League Baseball Trade Deadline.
It's a time for old faces to go to new places, where baseball reporters work that extra mile, for teams to make their last minute adjustments and where the speculation is too much to handle for those hardcore fans. And that includes me.
Simply put, now is when pretenders become contenders and contenders become champions.
So in celebration of this year's deadline, here are the top scenarios for the top trade targets in baseball.
Current Team: Colorado Rockies
Best Match: New York Yankees
After signing CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett in the offseason that was, the Yankees have hit a snag in their pursuit for other big name starters. Their trade for Cliff Lee fell through last July, Andy Pettitte walked away into retirement, they were continuously shunned by Felix Hernandez and they lost out on Lee once again during the offseason. Plus, their current ace Sabathia may entertain his opt-out clause and put the Yanks in a tough spot.
So what should the front office do to solidify their starting rotation?
How about trading for the biggest pitcher on the market?
A deal for Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez would certainly do the job. Jimenez, a 6'4" right-hander in his sixth MLB season, could turn out to be a significant addition to a questionable rotation. Although he has struggled this season, Ubaldo can serve as the second or third starter for the Yanks come postseason time and challenge the AL's best hitters with his dominant stuff. Being behind Sabathia and Burnett in the rotation would also lessen the pressure that comes with playing in the Bronx. They have the pieces to trade away for Ubaldo; it's just a matter of how many of those the Rockies want.
Simply put, New York's current roster may not be enough to push them past the division leading Red Sox. Landing a talent like Jimenez may come at a hefty cost, but it could end up as their biggest trade in recent memory.
Current Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Best Match: Detroit Tigers
Although you could have the Yankees or Red Sox as viable fits for the Dodgers' right-hander, Detroit seems to be a much better match. Kuroda, who currently boasts a more than respectable 3.19 ERA, could easily be slotted as the team's second or third starter.
Hiroki is certainly more reliable than Rick Porcello and Brad Penny and is a safer option than the young flame thrower Max Scherzer. The potential one-two punch of Justin Verlander and Kuroda would be a very formidable one and can help the Tigers pull away from Cleveland in the AL Central.
Current Team: Seattle Mariners
Best Match: Boston Red Sox
After a horrific beginning to the 2011 season, the Boston Red Sox have shown little to no flaws in their hopeful journey back to the top. Since their 2-10 start, Boston has gone 60-28 and find themselves sitting atop the competitive American League East.
Even though there is very little to pick on, Terry Franconca's squad could benefit from a boost to their rotation. Clay Buchholz is suffering from a back injury, Tim Wakefield is too inconsistent and Andrew Miller may not have what it takes to come through down the stretch.
Acquiring Seattle's Erik Bedard would be a considerably cheap move that can bolster their arms. Bedard has had his share of injury problems but can still pitch at a high-level. His ERA currently sits at an even 3.00 and has held opposing hitters to a lowly .222 batting average.
This could be a bit of a risk for GM Theo Epstein. However, the potential payoff from the quality lefty may be too much to pass up.
Current Team: San Diego Padres
Best Match: St. Louis Cardinals
If there's any contender that should be deep into the closers market, it's the St. Louis Cardinals. The Red Birds are currently in a fierce battle with the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates and are in desperate need of a shut-down guy. The Cardinals rank second in all of baseball with 19 blown saves (29 saves in 48 opportunities).
Luckily for the Cards, one of the best closers in baseball is being shopped around, and his name is Heath Bell. Bell has recorded 118 saves through the past three seasons and cemented his spot as one of baseball's premier relievers.
The Padres are asking somewhat of a heavy price for the closer, but St. Louis should make this move to help them take the NL Central crown.
Current Team: San Diego Padres
Best Match: Philadelphia Phillies
Although it seems more unlikely by the day, Mike Adams may be on the move. San Diego's 32-year-old setup man is turning heads and grabbing the attention of every contender in baseball. He is sporting a microscopic 1.17 ERA with a ridiculous 0.72 WHIP. His continuous shut down performances could make Adams a legitimate closer for a handful of teams.
One of those teams could be the Philadelphia Phillies. Yes, they look nearly unstoppable. And sure, they could probably beat any team in a seven game series as it stands. But why can't the rich get richer?
And after all, the club really doesn't have a set closer. Since Brad Lidge hits the DL like an Irishman hits the bottle, the Phils have tried out the closer role on a number of guys. Ryan Madson and Antonio Bastardo have done their jobs considerably well in those situations, but Mike Adams has the potential to do it even better.
Current Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Best Match: Washington Nationals
It seemed like Bossman Junior could do it all. Legs like a gazelle, a soft glove and a more than decent bat. However, Upton has yet to touch his potential in Tampa Bay. He hasn't hit above .250 in the past three seasons, his attitude is always in question and it seems like the team is tired of his act.
So what do you do with him if you're the Rays? Trade him.
Ship Upton away to the Nationals and get some solid youngsters in return.
From the Nats' standpoint, they could be acquiring a talent that has the potential to develop into a consistent All-Star. There's no beating around the fact that Washington is trying to stockpile young, talented players. If Washington is building up their future, taking a chance on B.J. Upton could pay off huge dividends considering the guy's upside.
Current Team: New York Mets
Best Match: San Francisco Giants
Carlos Beltran has been available for what seems like an eternity. There were rumblings of him taking a quick subway ride to the Bronx, of him shipping off to Boston and maybe going to Philly to see how sunny it is.
But one team stands head and shoulders above the rest as the best fit for the Mets' All-Star. And that's the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants need a bat, and they need it badly. The fact that they won the World Series with a rookie catcher leading their offense is nothing short of a miracle (Their title goes to show you how great their pitching is.). They currently rank 27th in all of baseball in runs scored behind clubs like the Nationals, Astros and Orioles. The Giants finished 17th in runs last season, a considerable difference from their lowly spot right now.
So with Posey gone due to a devastating foot injury, the team is in need of an offensive spark more than ever. If San Fran can swing over Beltran, he could help add a new dimension to their lackluster hitting.
It would be an extremely difficult task to win another title if the Giants have to put all the onus on their pitching staff.
Current Team: Houston Astros
Best Match: Atlanta Braves
Perhaps one of the most underrated players in baseball, Hunter Pence is on his way to yet another impressive season. He's currently hitting over .300 with over 60 RBI this season and made his second All-Star Game appearance a few weeks back.
So who needs him? How about the Atlanta Braves?
Their offense isn't exactly sparkling. They rank 16th in baseball in runs scored and are another team that could use a bat before the home stretch.
With Houston out of everything, Pence is certainly available for a swap. Pence is a guy the Braves can trade for and possibly look into signing a long-term deal with. Hunter Pence in left and Jason Heyward in right? Sign me up.