Seller's market awaits this trading season

Updated: July 21, 2009

Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire

Freddy Sanchez could have a new address by the time the July 31 trade deadline passes.

The trade deadline is fewer than 10 days away … so which teams can we expect to make some moves? Well, 20 teams started play Tuesday within 6½ games of a playoff spot, so it's tough to say. With so few players available and so many teams with needs, though, this is definitely a seller's market.

In the American League, the Yankees and Red Sox both appear to be locks for the playoffs. They're the two best teams in the AL; one will win the division, one the wild card. That leaves the Tigers, White Sox and Twins in the Central, and the Angels, Rangers and Mariners in West, all vying for just the remaining two divisional berths. Any of those teams could make a deal and put itself over the top to make the postseason.

The Dodgers and Phillies seem to be the elite teams in the National League and probably will make the postseason regardless of whether they make a trade. The clincher for the NL World Series participant in October, though, could come down to which one of these two teams makes a deal now. Then there's the wild card, which could be a very crowded race down the stretch as seven teams entered Tuesday within 4½ games of the lead.

It might come down to general managers deciding who goes to the playoffs. As close as the races are, if you want to be a playoff team and don't make a deal, you'd better hope your closest competition doesn't make one, either. It's so bunched together that any single move could be the difference-maker in the pennant race.

Roy Halladay's name has been thrown around a lot recently, and he is the biggest difference-maker out there. And in the end, I do think he will be traded. Out to defend their championship, the Phillies are obviously interested, and they're an especially appealing team to play for because of their highly productive offense. Halladay would have a chance to win a ton of games with an outstanding defense and offense in support. The Phillies have the minor league talent to make a deal, but they probably are going to have to part ways with J.A. Happ and Kyle Drabek in addition to multiple other prospects. Halladay is at peak value now because he's pitching well, he's healthy and teams could have him for the next year and a half. And the Jays say they want a deal done by July 28. Let's not forget, though, that Halladay has a no-trade clause, so he controls where he ultimately will land. Philadelphia has the most motivation to put a deal together, but the Red Sox, Cardinals, Dodgers, White Sox and Rangers also could be in the mix for Halladay.

Keep in mind, if the Blue Jays do end up trading Halladay, they're probably going to open the vault entirely, and players such as Alex Rios, Lyle Overbay, Scott Rolen and Marco Scutaro would become available, as well. If they keep Halladay, though, they might try to keep the roster together into next year and see what happens from there.

Elsewhere, the Pirates' recent attempt to lock up their middle infield of Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez to multiyear extensions didn't get far, so I suspect both will be traded. Back in 2004, the Red Sox added Orlando Cabrera to upgrade their defense, and it was the finishing touch to their run to the World Series. I could see Wilson serving that role for the Red Sox this year. Sanchez plays with high energy and has the ability to hit for average, and I think he would be a great fit for the Giants, who need to add hitting to support their pitching. The Cubs also could use Sanchez as a catalyst for their offense, which has been struggling.

Matt Holliday is another name out there, although it's unclear whether Athletics GM Billy Beane would be able to get what he's looking for in return. There's speculation that the Red Sox could make a grab at Holliday, but teams such as Seattle, which could use his production in the outfield, and St. Louis, which needs more support in the lineup for Albert Pujols, are also likely suitors.

As the trade deadline drama undoubtedly ramps up in the coming days, though, here's some important advice to keep in mind: If you're hearing rumors about trade proposals that are clearly tipped in one team's favor, it's likely that the rumor started from within that very same clubhouse. Lopsided deals typically don't get made, so don't believe everything you read or hear.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: July 20 | July 19 | July 16 | July 15 | July 14

HALL OF FAME BY THE NUMBERS: NO. 21

Editor's Note: This week, leading up to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y., Baseball Tonight is highlighting the five greatest uniform numbers in baseball history, based on the players (both Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers) who have worn them, and debating which player was the best to ever don that number.

The greatest No. 21 ever covers a lot of ground, as did one of the best No. 21's ever, Roberto Clemente. It takes us back to World War II, to Forbes Field and the Red Sox of the mid 1980s. But not all of the ground is sacred; No. 21 also includes the scandal of steroids.

That didn't affect Warren Spahn, who won a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, and he won 363 games, the fifth most all time, the most by a left-hander in baseball history. He threw 63 shutouts, he won 20 games 13 times and led the National League in wins eight times. He was the most durable pitcher ever; he averaged over 20 wins for three years in his 40s.

Clemente won 12 Gold Gloves, was perhaps the greatest defensive right fielder of all time, and had perhaps the best throwing arm of any outfielder in history. He hit .317, won four batting titles and one MVP award, and had 3,000 hits, the final one coming on the last day of the 1972 season, a few months before he died in a plane crash on a mission of mercy.

The Greatest No. 21
Who was the greatest player to wear No. 21 in baseball history?

• Roger Clemens
• Roberto Clemente
• Bob Lemon
• Sammy Sosa
• Warren Spahn

Register your vote
Roger Clemens wore No. 21 for 13 years for the Red Sox and two years with the Blue Jays, apparently most of those years came before his alleged use of steroids. For Boston, he won three Cy Young awards, won 192 games and threw 38 shutouts, tying Cy Young for the franchise lead in each. With Toronto, he won a Cy Young and won the Triple Crown of pitching in 1997 and 1998. Wearing No. 21, he went 243-124, a .662 winning percentage.

Sammy Sosa, whose legacy also is tarnished by alleged steroid use, hit the fifth most homers all time and had the most -- 479 -- during any 10-year period. He holds the NL record with six straight 40-homer seasons. There have been eight 60-homer seasons, he has three. And finally, Hall of Famer Bob Lemon rounds out the No. 21. He won 207 games, and averaged 21 for a nine-year period for Cleveland.

Like in blackjack, with 21, you win.

TOUCH 'EM ALL

Touch 'Em AllWho went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page.

For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.

Home Run Tracker
NAME HR OPPPITCHER SITUATION
B. Butler, KC9LAASantanaBot 5: 3-0, 1 Outs. 1 on.
M. Napoli, LAA12KCPonsonTop 6: 1-0, 0 Outs. None on.
M. Ordonez, Det5SeaOlsonBot 1: 2-2, 0 Outs. Gr. Slam.
J. Rollins, Phi8ChCHardenBot 3: 3-0, 0 Outs. None on.
P. Polanco, Det7SeaOlsonBot 2: 2-0, 1 Outs. None on.
B. McCann, Atl10SFSadowskiBot 4: 1-0, 2 Outs. 2 on.
M. DeRosa, StL14HouRodriguezTop 2: 3-2, 1 Outs. None on.

The complete list of Tuesday's homers

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BBTN ON THE AIR: WEDNESDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
10 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk,
Fernando Vina, Steve Phillips
12 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: John Kruk,
Fernando Vina, Steve Phillips

BBTN MINUTE: OSWALT VS. CARPENTER

SIMON SAYS

Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, he looks at the Phillies, who won their 10th consecutive game with a 13th-inning, walk-off homer by Jayson Werth. Still, it's been the pitching that has carried the Phillies.

Phillies pitching
Since All-Star break
ERA 1.21
WHIP 0.85
K-BB 40-12
IP-HR 52-1

Five of the Phillies' 10 wins in a row have come after the All-Star break.

WEB GEMS

TUESDAY'S BEST AND WORST

BEST
Lee• If indeed Cliff Lee is dealt before the July 31 trade deadline, he will not have left Cleveland without a few lasting memories. Lee tossed his second consecutive complete-game gem, allowing only a solo homer to Scott Rolen in a 2-1 win against the Blue Jays. Lee struck out four and did not issue a walk.
WORST
OlsonGarrett Olson recorded only four outs in his start against the Tigers. He was in long enough, though, to give up five hits, seven runs and three walks in a 9-7 loss against Detroit. The big blow was Magglio Ordonez's first-inning grand slam.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

Oswalt

Roy Oswalt faces Chris Carpenter on Wednesday.

Oswalt has pitched well in his past five starts, and that has much to do with his control and avoiding serving up home runs:

Roy Oswalt (2009)
W-L ERA HR K/9 IP BB/9 IP
Past 5 starts 3-0 1.66 1 7.8 1.4
First 15 starts 3-4 4.48 13 6.7 2.6
Percentage of pitch type thrown:
Fastball Curve Slider Change
Past 5 starts 58 20 16 6
First 15 starts 65 13 19 3

Oswalt is throwing his curve and change nearly twice as often as earlier in the season, and he's throwing them for strikes. Oswalt has helped lead the Astros' charge up the NL Central standings.

The Astros are 15-9 during Oswalt's hot streak (entering Tuesday), compared with 32-37 before Oswalt found his groove.

-- ESPN Stats & Information

ON DECK: WEDNESDAY'S BEST MATCHUPS

Cubs at Phillies, 1:05 p.m. ET

The Phillies might end up dealing with the Cubs' bullpen, given the way starter Carlos Zambrano has been going lately. The Cubs' righty has gone longer than six innings just once in his past five starts after going at least seven in his previous three. Part of the reason is walks; Zambrano is 10th in the NL with 47 walks allowed.

Red Sox at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN

Clay Buchholz's time back in the minors lasted three days. Buchholz was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket after his start Friday. With Tim Wakefield placed on the disabled list Tuesday, Buchholz is on his way back to the majors for a start against the Rangers. In his start last week, Buchholz allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings of a win at Toronto.

Cardinals at Astros, 8:05 p.m. ET

The day's most attractive pitching matchup, with Chris Carpenter set to meet Roy Oswalt. Carpenter has won his past three starts, allowing only four runs in 21 innings of work and striking out 18 against just four walks. Oswalt has won his past three decisions and has allowed more than one run only once in his past five starts, dropping his ERA from 4.48 to 3.65.

For the rest of Wednesday's schedule, click here.

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF WEDNESDAY'S GAMES

Fantasy Tristan Cockcroft examines the 15 games on Wednesday's slate.

Cockcroft ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound, and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Wednesday. Daily Notes