Teams expected to check

The World Series of Trade Poker ... which teams are all in, raising, checking and folding?

Originally Published: July 21, 2004
By Sean McAdam | Special to ESPN.com

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    What they're showing
    DEVIL RAYS: OK, so they're not as close as they looked when they were the hottest team in the game from mid-May through the end of June. But they've taken significant strides this season. They're not deluding themselves about being able to overtake both the Yankees and Red Sox in their own division, so they'll sit tight, introduce prospects like B.J. Upton to the big leagues and see where they stand in the offseason.

    INDIANS: With all the focus on Tampa Bay's improvement, somehow the Indians' achievement has slipped under the radar. They're not about to break up the young nuclear they've nurtured, but might be willing to part with a spare veteran part (Bob Wickman, Lou Merloni) if they could help themselves.

    TIGERS: They've gone from the embarrassment of last season to respectability, which was a longer journey than you might imagine. They'll resist offers for some of their pitching (Mike Maroth), though word is that they could be talked into moving Rondell White for the right price.

    BLUE JAYS: Despite numerous and persistent inquiries for Frank Catalanotto and Miguel Batista, GM J.P. Ricciardi is unwilling to do much. The Blue Jays believe they're in good shape for next season -- both in terms of payroll and incoming talent from their system -- and are unwilling to disturb that plan. The one guy they'd love to move -- Delgado -- won't go.

    METS: Until recently, the Mets were one of the most aggressive teams at the table. That was before they stumbled in the second half, dropping eight of 10, including the last four in a row. Once in quick pursuit of Benson, they'll now find themselves fending off offers for their (italics, please) own (end italics) pitchers: Tom Glavine and Al Leiter.

    EXPOS: These guys don't even know where they're going to be playing, never mind who's going to be playing for them. Other than Cabrera, who has one foot out the free agent door, they're unlikely to be active, though that doesn't diminish the interest in the likes of outfielder Brad Wilkerson or starter Tony Armas Jr. MLB won't authorize a fire sale, since it would like the new owners to be buying into a respectable team and not a glorified expansion roster.

    REDS: Are they in or out? Not even the Reds know for sure. There's enough young talent to make a good run next year, though they could be tempted to listen to offers for veteran starters Cory Lidle and Paul Wilson. Given their thin pitching market, they might be in demand.

    BREWERS: As the Brewers slip slowly out of sight in the NL Central -- and the wild-card race makes two -- they have attractive commodities in outfielder Geoff Jenkins and Ben Sheets. But don't look for much activity here. The Brewers had a nightmare of an offseason when their books were examined following a payroll cutback. The resulting fallout in Milwaukee will keep from them holding a July 31 auction.

    Sean McAdam of the Providence (R.I.) Journal covers baseball for ESPN.com.