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Bleah. Second half looks like it may be starting like the first half started...getting swept at Anaheim...

Kam Loe looked awful yesterday, but pitchers like Loe who rely on the sinkerball often struggle after a long layoff, since their arms are too live and they tend to leave the ball up, so I'm not going to panic on him just yet.

Loe says he was having mechanical issues, with his hand lagging his arm, and Washington said it was a matter of lack of command...we'll just have to see how he bounces back...

Also, I bagged on Washington for starting Sosa instead of Wilkerson yesterday, but their historical performances against Lackey may have been why...Sosa came into yesterday with a career OPS of 985 in 13 plate appearances against Lackey, while Wilk has a career 220 OPS against Lackey in 14 plate appearances.

On the injury front, Evan Grant says that Vicente Padilla still has forearm soreness and thus didn't have his bullpen session yesterday, making his next scheduled rehab appearance questionable. At this point, I'm not expecting to see Padilla back until September, at the earliest.

Of course, the real story right now is the trade front. Grant says that Kenny Lofton and Sammy Sosa could be the first two players to go, with Lofton drawing interest from Milwaukee and Cleveland -- who both had scouts at the game last night, per Grant.

I think Lofton has done everything you could have asked for from him this year, and has been one of Daniels' better pickups. He's likely a type B free agent after the season, so he isn't someone you'll just give away, but I think it would behoove the Brew Crew or Indians to part with a decent prospect for him.

As for Sosa, Grant says the Twins and Yanks could use a righty bench bat, but acknowledges there isn't a whole lot of interest in him right now.

Phil Rogers has some notes on teams interested in Rangers players:

he Tigers also are studying Houston's relievers along with Texas' Eric Gagne and Akinori Otsuka and Kansas City's Octavio Dotel. Gagne says he would like to stay with the Rangers in 2008, however, so it's possible Texas will extend the righty rather than deal him.

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With Rondell White's setback in his latest rehab, the Twins are searching for a bat. Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa or even Jose Guillen could be DH difference-makers. ... Mark Teixeira's recent criticism of management makes it more likely Texas will move him before the deadline, assuming he returns from the disabled list hitting well enough to bring significant young players in return. Baltimore would love to add Teixeira and extend his contract beyond 2008, currently its final year. The Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Braves and Giants are following this situation closely. It wasn't lost on Texas GM Jon Daniels that the Rangers went 16-11 as Teixeira nursed a strained left quadriceps muscle.

I don't know that Baltimore is really a good fit -- they aren't going to part with Markakis or Bedard, Cabrera doesn't do much for me, and I'm guessing Daniels would likely someone closer than Billy Rowell, who would be the most attractive minor league chip the Orioles could offer. But The other six teams all could put together some interesting packages, and of course, multiple teams would create the sort of bidding war that would drive up the return...

Joel Sherman has this to say on the Gagne and Otsuka trade market:

Right now, the relief market is the one being discussed most by teams, but clubs are still finding the asking prices for Texas' Eric Gagne and Akinori Otsuka, Kansas City's Octavio Dotel, and Washington's Chad Cordero and Jon Rauch too high. One AL executive said he thought whichever team between the Tigers and Indians that obtained Gagne would win the division. But Indians officials are insisting they are committed to Joe Borowski as their closer, and are looking for set-up help and do not believe Gagne, who has no-trade protections, would accept a deal to a place in which he would not close.

I have to think the "we are committed to Borowski" position is just posturing...Mark Shapiro isn't that dumb. Again, though, with two A.L. Central rivals both after Gagne, you are in a position to really try to leverage an enormous package from them, particularly since Gagne is a Type A and the teams could justify parting with more prospects because they'll get a couple of draft picks in 2008.

That said, the Cleveland Plain Dealer is pushing the same line, that the Indians like Borowski and aren't going to bump him from the closer role for Gagne.

Ken Davidoff says the Rangers are more likely to try to deal Teixeira this winter, or go the Beane route and take the draft picks after 2008, than take a mediocre deal now. He also says that Otsuka is drawing more interest than Gagne, since he's under team control for longer...

The Detroit Free Press mentions the Indians and Tigers' interest in Otsuka, but says there won't be any deal until Otsuka pitches on back-to-back days.

In an already snakebit season, the Otsuka and Teixeira injuries have really hurt, since it may end up costing the Rangers the ability to turn those two into significant prospects...