Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Men of action

All right, Cleveland fans, turn on your jealousy alarms .... now.

The wheeling and dealing has begun, and not just in baseball.

Baseball's trading deadline is at 4 p.m. today, and while the Indians hold their cards to their vests following Friday's Kenny Lofton deal, other teams have been picking up steam.

Monday, the Mets acquired second baseman Luis Castillo from the Twins, the Phillies traded for starting pitcher Kyle Lohse, and in what will likely be the deadline blockbuster of the year, the Braves and Rangers agreed in principle to trade Mark Teixeira for a package that includes rookie catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

But don't get too frustrated with GM Mark Shapiro and his crew just yet. Of any year since the Shapiro-led rebuilding project began, the Indians' brass knows that this is the year the iron is hot.

Chances are, of any year in recent history, this will be the year Team Shapiro tries to add a significant piece at the trade deadline, particularly as the Indians limp to the end of July having lost five of their last seven series.

If I had to handicap it, I'd say the most likely target is Royals reliever Octavio Dotel. The Indians were interested in him this past winter, but nothing ever materialized. He has a history of arm trouble, and has become something of a journeyman in his career. But, as with any relief pitcher, his services are desired by many different teams, so the Indians will have to overpay. Start with Ben Francisco, and go from there.

Other names to watch include Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen, Nationals relievers Chad Cordero and Jon Rauch, and Rangers set-up man Akinori Otsuka.

If you are dreaming a little dream about the Rangers' Eric Gagne or the Diamondbacks' Jose Valverde pitching for the Tribe, I'd file it under "don't hold your breath." Arizona really has no incentive to trade 28-year-old Valverde, who already has 31 saves, and Gagne can veto a trade to Cleveland, which he would almost certainly do because Joe Borowski is the undisputed closer here.

Think the Indians would be willing to move Borowski to a setup role to get Gagne? Remember, this is a team that has kept Mike Rouse as a utility infielder all season, despite the fact that all signs point to Rouse batting below .100 by season's end.

KG to the Celtics?

The trades aren't just limited to baseball. Several media outlets are reporting that Kevin Garnett is on the verge of being traded to the Boston Celtics for a slew of players and draft picks, including Al Jefferson.

Before we Cavs fans toss our cookies, before we read too many Bill Simmons "Boston rules!" columns (which started today), remember that at least it wasn't a team on the Cavs' level, like Chicago or Detroit, angling for Garnett.

If this trade goes down, it will undoubtedly push Boston to the upper echelons of the East, which says as much about the conference as it does about Garnett.

Right off the bat, the Celtics will have acquired two things the defending Eastern Conference champions do not have: A dominant low-post threat in Garnett and a lights-out three-point shooter in Ray Allen. Combine that with Paul Pierce, and that is one heck of a triumvirate to lead a team, especially in the East, where it doesn't take much to play leapfrog.

But before you crown a Garnett-led Celtics squad the 2008 Eastern Conference champs, remember that Boston will still have a woeful lack of depth with or without Garnett, which puts them in the same predicament as most of the East.

I'd go so far as to say the Cavs, despite all their roster flaws, are still deeper than most teams in the East. And, even with Allen and Pierce, Garnett still won't have a Dwyane Wade-figure to team with as Shaq does. A couple of solid veterans who can score, yes, but neither is the difference-maker Wade is.

So, in a nutshell, the Celtics would be much better with Garnett, but they aren't going to suddenly become the alpha dog in the East.

1 comment:

Zach said...

Time for my Indians in-depth deadline day trade analysis: