Teams expected to go 'all in'
The World Series of Trade Poker ... which teams are all in, raising, checking and folding?
What they're showing
YANKEES: They want Randy Johnson. Randy Johnson wants the Yankees. One slight problem: The Yankees don't have the prospects that the Diamondbacks want in return. If Brian Cashman can't figure out a way to get the Big Unit, he'd better make sure he doesn't go to another AL team. There's not much else in the starting pitching ranks that interest the Yanks. Jason Giambi's uncertain status may have the Yanks looking for first-base reinforcements and another experienced bullpen hand wouldn't help.
RED SOX: They're looking for much the same things that the Yankees are -- starting pitching, first base and bullpen -- and having about as much luck matching up, which is to say none. They've given up on Johnson and aren't intrigued by Kris Benson. They could use an upgrade in right field with Trot Nixon sidelined again -- perhaps for the season -- with a recurring quadriceps problem, but Larry Walker's money scares them off. Doug Mientkiewicz has some appeal at first, but the Twins' asking price is major league-ready pitching, and the Sox are thin there. Seattle lefty Mike Myers is a possible solution in the bullpen.
CARDINALS: They have some expensive free-agent questions to answer at the end of the season -- Matt Morris, Edgar Renteria -- and coupled with the wide-open nature of the National League, it makes sense that they would make a strong run this time. As always, payroll is in an issue -- it's not a bottomless budget. GM Walt Jocketty could use some late-inning bullpen depth (Jose Mesa?), and though the rotation looked suspect in the spring, it's been far better than anticipated.
CUBS: When you haven't won in nine decades, there's always a sense of urgency. The hunt for a shortstop (Orlando Cabrera?) goes on, and the bullpen could stand some improvement. The rotation looks fine, but if there are any more flareups with Mark Prior, all bets are off.
PHILLIES: It seems like forever -- or at least since April -- that the Phillies have been looking to do two things: deal Kevin Millwood and find a center fielder. They haven't done either. The Phillies would flip Millwood for Derek Lowe, but Boston won't because of the salary disparity. As for center field, they've inquired about everyone, but haven't found what they're looking for.
GIANTS: GM Brian Sabean is one of the masters of the deadline deal (Jason Schmidt, Kenny Lofton), but the Giants have been surprisingly quiet the last few weeks. For a team at the top of the wild-card race and within striking distance in its division, the Giants have a lot of holes to fill. They could use, in no particular order, a closer, starter and another middle-of-the-order bat. Barry Bonds' advancing years create some incentive to go for it.
ANGELS: The consensus is the Angels are the one team that matches up best with the D-Backs in a potential deal for Johnson. What's uncertain is the level of interest on both sides. Johnson prefers the Yankees because they're a lock to reach the postseason. GM Bill Stoneman might prefer making a run at Benson to protect future assets. Bottom line: Anaheim looms as a compromise choice in the Randy Johnson sweepstakes.
Sean McAdam of the Providence (R.I.) Journal covers baseball for ESPN.com.
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