Predicting the second half
From Barry Bonds' pursuit of 700 homers to Pudge Rodriguez's bid for a batting title, second-half intrigue awaits.
With equal parts subjectivity, hope, logic and spectacular guesswork, we look ahead to what promises to be a fabulous second half of the baseball season. Here are 10 things to watch.
But, there are other numbers to follow.
Will Bonds finish the season with more intentional walks than hits? At the All-Star break, he had 69 hits and 71 intentional walks, more than Jose Canseco, Garret Anderson and Jason Giambi have in their careers, and soon to be twice as many as Alex Rodriguez has in his career.
Will Bonds finish with more runs scored than hits? At the break, he had scored 71 runs to go along with his 69 hits. In the last 100 years, only Max Bishop in 1930 finished a season with more runs than hits.
This will happen only after some sort of major payment is made by MLB to appease Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who still will not go silently.
Kris Benson: Yes
He makes $6.1 million a year, he's a free agent after the season, he hasn't warranted a huge extension with the Pirates and he can bring Pittsburgh what it needs, a young third baseman, first baseman or outfielder. Eight teams appear to have interest, including the Twins.
Steve Finley: Yes
He, too, is a free agent after the season. He's the youngest 39-year-old on the face of the earth, he could help a contender (Padres) that needs an offensive and defensive boost down the stretch.
Carlos Beltran: No
The only way the Astros spin him is if they have no chance to make the playoffs. And Houston has a run left in it that will keep the Astros in the NL wild-card race.
Nomar Garciaparra: No
The Red Sox should try to win with him, then he'll walk this winter.
Randy Johnson: Maybe
This is too tough to call. Johnson has given the D-Backs permission to field trade offers, but it's very complicated. Do the Yankees have enough to give to Arizona to make the deal? Will the Angels include young third baseman Dallas McPherson, who has great power, in the trade? Will the Diamondbacks be willing to trade away the team's biggest draw and best player for two minor leaguers?
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