Monday, June 26, 2006

Buy or Sell - AL EAST

Boston: Buyer

Needs: The Sox could use another quality starter, rather than relying on Johnson or Snyder down the stretch, especially with the injury concerns of several starters. Clement could take a role as a 5th starter when off the DL, but don't expect anything from Wells. The Sox could use a back-up 1b who can possibly fill in the OF, which explains the rumors that the Sox have renewed interest in CO's Ryan Shealy again (after the botched Shoppach trade of '05). My gut feeling and everything the FO has said leads me to believe they will stick with the young guns, for better or worse, in the BP. I think the Sox will stick with their current IF and will call up Pedroia if there are middle IF injuries. WMP will help with our OF and bench depth, and Murphy has been on fire in AAA, so could be a call-up if we have any banged up OFers.

Trading Chips: Expect to see rumors about scapegoats Matt Clement (P), Julian Tavarez (P), and Rudy Seanez (P) if the young guys prove capable of pressure situations in the next month. Abe Alvarez (P) and Jermaine Van Buren (P) could be helpful as a starter or longman for some teams. It wouldn't be an off-season without Manny rumors, though the only feasible trading partner now is LAA or maybe surprise contender DET (who would rather a LHH). The Sox could move Clay Buccholtz (P), Edgar Martinez (P) or Michael Bowden (P) for the right piece, but they are unlikely to. David Murphy will be one of our biggest available chips.

New York: Buyer

Needs: The Yankees need pitching - both starting and relief. Their starting rotation has multiple injury and age concerns and without Mussina, would be among the worst corps in starting ERA. The bullpen is a sub-par veteran core anchored by Rivera. After possibly season-ending injuries to Matsui and Sheffield, as well as an injury to back-up Crosby, the Yankees are desperate for OF help - thus, the interest in former Yankee Soriano.

Trading Chips: The Yankees would be wise to hang onto Cano, but sell Cabrera while his stock is high (provided they can get an OFer). Because the Yankees have such a weak farm system, expect most trading partners to demand Philip Hughes, the highly touted pitching prospect. Duncan, a popular trading target in 05, has had his stock drop in '06. There aren't too many appealing or moveable contracts with the big club.

Toronto: Buyer

Needs: With a fragile A.J. Burnett in the rotation, Chacin on the DL, the awful Towers as the #4 pitcher, and the rookie Janssen in the rotation - the Blue Jays could really use some pitching help. The Blue Jays have a weak defense, particularly in the middle infield, where a solid defensive shortstop with even an average bat would be a marked upgrade and allow the Jays to platoon to their strengths at 2nd. Like all contenders, the Jays could stand to add some solid BP arms to put behind lights-out closer BJ Ryan and solid Speiers. Lastly, a starting-caliber OFer to start next to Vernon Wells and Alex Rios would be helpful, though the Jays certainly have more than enough players to cover all outfield slots with room to burn.

Chips: Toronto still has a weak farm system, particularly after trades for Troy Glaus and Lyle Overbay (both of whom have worked out well for the Jays). While the Jays need a better starting OFer, they have several OFers (and IFers) capable of boosting depth for other teams as a back-up. Reed Johnson, Frank Catalanatto and Eric Hinske often are dangled at this time of year; don't expect this year to be different. Russ Adams or Aaron Hill could be dangled. The biggest change for the Blue Jays is now they can afford to absorb a bad salary to acquire talent, much like division-mates the Red Sox and Yankees.

Tampa Bay: Hold/Lateral moves

Needs: Tampa has a glut of valuable OFers, and a solid middle infield, while suffering from an extreme lack of pitching. They need starters to put behind Kazmir, as well as BP arms.

Chips: Teams will try to pry Crawford away from the DRays, but it's unlikely the Rays will trade one of their cornerstone players, especially since he's locked in at a reasonable price for the future. Teams will try to acquire Lugo, though that is unlikely to occur if Tampa keeps insisting on top prospects for an average-to-above-average SS on the brink of free agency. Huff is widely rumored to be coveted by Detroit - expect him to switch uniforms. Hendrickson will also draw eyes and I wouldn't be surprised to see him move by year's end. Largely, though, Tampa isn't in a position where making moves will give them a chance at the AL East (though they could be contenders in several other divisions), and they don't need to pare payroll to the point that trades make financial sense, so their roster should stay about the same with some lateral moves that replace players approaching free agency with some younger talent.

Baltimore: Seller

Needs: It's hardly fair to point out ONE need when the entire team needs a revamping. Other than SS, 2nd and RF - they could use a lot of help

Chips: Everything has got to go! If the Orioles are smart, they will realize the futility of the team as currently composed, and trade their biggest chip - Tejeda. They are more likely to receive a good deal in return, however, if they move him during the off-season. The O's should be willing to move any and all of their pitchers, with the exception of Cabrera. Trading away their meager pitching will only make the team worse in the interim, but should net them some prospects, if done correctly. This is a blow-it-up team if there ever were one with little hope on the horizon due to a weak minor league system.

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