Six teams occupy second place in their division in Major
League Baseball. As 31st July looms (deadline day for making trades
during the season), here are my suggestions for a move that each should make to
have a chance at winning.
NL West: San Francisco
Giants (4 games behind the Padres)
Starting pitchers Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez and Zito may be
the best 1 through 4 in the league and their bullpen is OK but they badly need
more runs. Pablo Sandoval – last year’s breakout slugger, has fewer homers (6)
than rookie Buster Posey (8) in 200 more at-bats. Rumours are that the Brewers’
slugger Prince Fielder may be available – if the Giants could land him they
should be a lock for the postseason.
NL Central: Cincinnati
Reds (0.5 games behind the Cardinals)
Team leader Scott Rolen is out injured but their biggest
need is some help at the back of the rotation. Their top three pitchers may be
able to give them a run in the postseason, but they’re going to need more out
of the fourth and fifth spots to get them there. Another team who should make a
run at the Athletics’ Ben Sheets.
NL East: New York Mets
(5.5 games behind the Braves)
The starting rotation looks shaky after Johan Santana but
the real problem is hitting. The Mets live and die with leadoff man Jose Reyes
and right now they’re dying – they need an on-base guy at the top of the order.
Unfortunately no-one fitting that description figures to be available, though
it might be worth a call to Seattle about underperforming Chone Figgins who may
benefit from a change of scenery and could also solve their 2B problem.
AL West: Los Angeles
Angels (5 games behind the Texans)
A big reason they’re struggling in second place is that they
let free agent Vladimir Guerrero go this offseason. However, the biggest hole
is starting pitching as they rank 11th in the AL in runs allowed.
Ben Sheets may be available from division rivals the Athletics, and would
provide a relatively low-cost, low-risk upgrade. They may also make a play for
AL Central: Detroit
Tigers (2.5 games behind the White Sox)
They have little power as a team, but what they desperately
need is a rotation. When only your ace (Justin Verlander) has an ERA under 4.74
you have little shot at making the postseason, and no shot of progressing if
you get there. They badly need to get Roy Oswalt from the Astros and then hope
that Rick Porcello returns to his rookie form of 2009.
AL East: Tampa Bay
Rays (2.5 games behind the Yankees)
Fourth in the league in runs scored, leading in runs
allowed, a solid bullpen and dominant top part of the rotation. Their roster
may be the best in baseball. What they should trade for is a better mascot:
‘Raymond’ the seadog just isn’t getting it done…