Teams expected to raise
The World Series of Trade Poker ... which teams are all in, raising, checking and folding?
What they're showing
TWINS: Minnesota is aiming for its third consecutive division title and injuries to the rival White Sox in the last few weeks may have made their path clearer. On the other hand, the Twins always have to be mindful of payroll, so they could be talked into moving a veteran or two (Doug Mientkiewicz). Further, they've got more prospects to deal than any other contender. Benson is said to be their No. 1 target, with a veteran catcher (with Joe Mauer out again) a close second.
WHITE SOX: GM Kenny Williams has, in his relatively brief tenure, acquired the reputation as a July wheeler-dealer. Last year, he made trades at a dizzying pace, only to fall short. He's already re-acquired Carl Everett, but with his two biggest bats down (Frank Thomas, Magglio Ordonez), he's got his work cut out for him. Some experience in the bullpen would seem to be a must.
RANGERS: This is a team ahead of schedule, so GM John Hart doesn't want to do anything to throw off the Rangers' timetable. That said, they're so close, they can taste it and it might be hard to pass on the pitcher (Kris Benson?) that could put them over the top. Don't bother asking about Laynce Nix and/or Adrian Gonzalez -- you're wasting your time.
ATHLETICS: Oakland would like help at second base, but Jeff Kent is too pricey, and anyway, no one can figure out what the Astros are doing. Another outfield bat would be welcome, but the A's may have already made their deadline deal when they landed Octavio Dotel. They keep getting asked about Barry Zito, but they won't move him. Will they?
BRAVES: What a difference a few weeks can make. A while ago, the Braves were said to be entertaining offers for Russ Ortiz. Now, thanks to the jumbled NL East race, they've become buyers rather than sellers. The Braves' stretch of division titles is on the line. Bet on John Schuerholz doing something to keep the string alive.
MARLINS: OK, the world champs are under .500. But they're still in play in the NL East and on the periphery of the wild-card chase. And let's not forget this team looked cooked a year ago at this time, and we know how that worked out. The Marlins could be one of those teams that could go either way the next few days. They need offense -- preferably at short or the outfield -- and they might be willing to part with experienced pitching (Brad Penny, Carl Pavano) to get it.
DODGERS: Go figure this team. At a time when their pitching looked most suspect, they inexplicably went on a roll and have been arguably the hottest team in baseball for the last few weeks. Earlier, they were in the market for a run producer at first (Carlos Delgado was a target). They could still use some reinforcements for the rotation.
PADRES: The Padres are -- to extend the poker analogy further -- playing with house money. No one expected them to be in it this long. That said, they're in a new ballpark and would like to reward their fans for the support. They won't mortgage much, but if they could tinker around the edges without giving up too much (Steve Finley?), they'll try.
Sean McAdam of the Providence (R.I.) Journal covers baseball for ESPN.com.
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