Mets and Rays all talk, no action at deadline
New York Mets: Sorry, Mets fans. Manny Ramirez won't be batting cleanup, Danys Baez won't be warming up in the bullpen and you won't be seeing Alfonso Soriano or Julio Lugo taking over at second base when the team returns to Shea Stadium on Tuesday.
For all the talk about New York making a blockbuster deal at the trade deadline, the team ended up staying pat Sunday, with general manager Omar Minaya saying the team he spent a lot of money putting together last winter should still be good enough to make a run at the playoffs.
"The important thing is to get better with the guys we have," Minaya said. "I think that we are equipped to do that. Things can change pretty fast and we haven't had too many good weeks yet."
Minaya did look into things. He just didn't find anything he liked, at least not yet. Players can still be dealt after the deadline, providing they clear waivers first.
"We worked hard at trying to work out a deal," he said. "You can't force deals. We'll continue to work after the trading deadline."
While the Mets are last in the NL East, eight games behind Atlanta, they're just four behind the Astros in the wild-card race and are one game over .500.
"I'm ready to go into the rest of the season with the guys I have," manager Willie Randolph said. "I'm not thinking about what we don't have."
Devil Rays general manager Chuck LaMar said he spoke with the Mets about Baez and Lugo. He also said he came up with a three-way deal involving Tampa Bay, Boston and New York that would've gotten Ramirez to the Mets. He said a proposal was "about as close as it got," adding that the Mets made prospect Lastings Milledge "untouchable throughout this trade deadline."
The Mets had scouts watching Soriano earlier this week, but Rangers general manager John Hart said he never got close on a deal.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays: General manager Chuck LaMar doesn't regret not making a deal before Sunday's non-waiver trade period.
The Devil Rays held extensive discussions with the Mets and Red Sox before the deadline and were involved in the talks that centered on a possible three-way deal that would have sent Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez to the Mets.
"I had talks with the Mets concerning both Danys Baez and Julio Lugo. I had discussions with Boston about Aubrey Huff," LaMar said. "And those talks individually weren't really going anywhere, so we met for three hours a couple days ago as a baseball staff and came up with this proposal knowing what we knew about Manny and his situation of possibly going to the Mets. Because we had discussions with those two teams, we thought there maybe a chance to make a blockbuster deal and sort of be a part of that kind of deal."
LaMar was looking for top-level prospects and said he made it clear from that start that there would be no deal involving the Devil Rays without them.
"For me to move all three of those players in this deal, I have to have a package not only numbers-wise but quality of prospects back that would serve our organization moving forward," LaMar said. "Conceptually, that's about as close as it got.
"We asked Boston for two very good prospects coming back and at the end of the day Boston said no. For us to be looked upon as we pulled the plug on this deal, there was a lot of moving parts. The Mets were giving up a guy that they didn't want to give up. Boston was going to give up a couple kids that they didn't too. At the end of the day, Boston made the decision that Manny Ramirez was going nowhere. We told both teams right off the bat that if we didn't get the prospects we wanted, there was no way we would ever do the deal," he said.
Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella was pleased that his team remained intact.
"From my standpoint, I'm happy that we kept our players here," Piniella said. "Gives us a chance to finish up as strong as we can. Chuck worked hard, and certainly he had the best interests of this organization in mind. Let's see if we can win as many ballgames as we can and turn our season around."
Los Angeles Dodgers: The team came up empty before the non-waiver trade deadline, but not for a lack of trying.
"We certainly wanted to do something, but it was just a matter of the market," general manager Paul DePodesta said. "We weren't going to do something just to do it if we really didn't think it was going to improve our club. If we had just done something cosmetic I think our players and our staff are smart enough and would have seen right through that."
DePodesta had contact with every team during the past week or so. He had three close calls Sunday morning and even tried to complete a deal by offering additional money. But there were no takers.
"Some teams were talking about prospects and some about pieces on our big-league team," DePodesta said. "Obviously we wanted to stay away from our big-league team as much as possible, but there were deals where we offered some of our major-league players. We can certainly still make deals, it just becomes a little more complicated."
DePodesta was adamant about holding onto his starting pitching but offered up just about anyone else in order to add punch to their offense -- including some of their top minor-league prospects.
"In the right deal, we would have talked about trading just about anybody," DePodesta added. "It's not like we weren't willing to part with some of those guys. We never got that far down the line with any of our starting pitchers, though. We feel that's the strength of our club. So the only way we were going to do something there that clearly made us better."
Cleveland Indians: Despite saying he had been as active as he had been since becoming Cleveland's general manager, Mark Shapiro did not make any deals before Sunday's trade deadline.
The Indians were rumored to have discussed trading pitcher Kevin Millwood but weren't able to make any more moves after acquiring outfielder Jason Dubois from the Cubs for outfielder Jody Gerut two weeks ago.
"I had more volume of calls with interest in our players than I did targeting specific guys out there we'd like to trade for," Shapiro said Sunday during a conference call. "We tried to acquire some young guys who could fit the equation now; we weren't able to get those guys with what we thought was a reasonable price. We didn't miss many guys and there weren't that many to go after."
Shapiro, in his fourth season as Cleveland's general manager, thought the Indians had the potential to make another deal, but nothing developed as the deadline approached.
"There were times I was more optimistic than others, maybe later in the week last week," he said. "As we went into the weekend, I was not very hopeful."
The Indians are one of a number of teams still with wild-card hopes, entering Sunday's play trailing Oakland by four games. Shapiro thinks the balanced races was the reason there were not many deals throughout baseball.
"There aren't as many teams that feel they're out of it, that's the overriding factor," he said. "I spent a lot of time with a lot of GMs, and there's surprisingly few things going on."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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