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A.L. West Roundtable -- Part I

Sky Kalkman of Beyond the Box Score moderated a roundtable discussion during the past week among the SBN A.L. West bloggers. 

There was a lot of good stuff, and you can read Part I of the Roundtable after the jump.  Part II will go up tomorrow.


Part 1: Trade Deadline

Sky Kalkman (Moderator): Which teams, under which circumstances, will be buyers over the next three weeks? How about sellers? If there are any undecideds, what will be the tipping point?

Rev Halofan (Halos Heaven):: Angels are buyers. No tipping point, the bet is on the table. What do you got?

Jeff Sullivan (Lookout Landing): The M's look like tentative buyers, although a lot could change with these next two games against Texas. Also with all those other games that happen between now and whenever this round table gets published. It's weird trying to predict the future. It's actually kind of a unique position in that the M's could buy and sell. We've already seen them add guys like Langerhans and Hannahan while ditching Yuniesky Betancourt, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that they could subtract from the current Major League roster to plug a different hole.

Adam J. Morris (Lone Star Ball)::  There are all sort of mixed messages coming out of Texas, and I think the Rangers could be buyers or sellers, depending on the circumstances.  Tom Hicks' money problems have been well chronicled, and supposedly, the Rangers can't add significant salary without dumping some salary.  I think they would have liked to have moved Hank Blalock, which would have freed up some money to spend, but with Davis getting sent to the minors, they now need Blalock in the everyday lineup.  They could move Vicente Padilla, who makes $11 million this year and whose contract is up at the end of the season, in order to add some salary, but that would open a hole in the rotation.  The word is that Nolan Ryan is wanting to be more aggressive in making a move to add a veteran -- even if it means giving up more in the way of prospects in order to get a team to pay more of the acquired player's salary -- while Daniels is wanting to be more patient and hold off moving key prospects for now.

67MARQUEZ (Athletics Nation):: Billy Beane has managed to be both at this time of the year. Let's just say any move he makes would not shock me. Well, almost any move.

Sky Kalkman (Moderator): What holes will teams be looking to fill? What are the biggest holes they *SHOULD* be looking to fill but don't seem to be concerned about? Which holes from the first half can be plugged internally, perhaps by improvement the same player?

Rev Halofan (Halos Heaven):: If the Angels give Wood playing time and Vlad and Torii come back in August they need pitching. Relief Pitching and Starting Pitching and they do not have that internally. They think they have relief, though and I see them going after an overpaid third starter.

Jeff Sullivan (Lookout Landing): The team is looking for a shortstop, because Ronny :(edeno hasn't cut it. They should probably also think about exploring the reliever market, because the bullpen hasn't been very good at all, ERA be damned. I'd like to think that they could improve the bullpen internally, but I'm not sure. Finally having a lefty out there should help. Adrian Beltre should hit better than he did early in the year if he ever comes back, and his return would be a big boon should this team stay in the race for that long.

Adam J. Morris (Lone Star Ball)::  The Rangers need a righthanded hitting first baseman, but don't seem inclined to go that direction.  If they make a move, it was long suggested that they'd look for bullpen help, because they are in dire need of a righty power arm to pair with C.J. Wilson late in the game.  But with Neftali Feliz apparently primed to come up and pitch out of the bullpen, and El Duque being considered as a relief option, it appears that the Rangers are focusing more on a starting pitcher.

67MARQUEZ (Athletics Nation):: There was a gaping hole on the left side of the infield, but Mark Ellis' return has allowed Adam Kennedy to man the hot corner, and Orlando Cabrera is starting to warm up a bit. It wouldn't hurt my feelings to see Daric Barton get a sustained opportunity at first.

Sky Kalkman (Moderator): Who are the most popular trade targets for those holes? Any targets flying under the radar? Any targets your team is especially intrigued in? Any popular names they're backing away from? Any rumors you'd like to start?

Rev Halofan (Halos Heaven):: to paraphrase Axl Rose, The Angels got the money honey, do you have their disease? I'd say they get the most bang for buck if they trade Joe Saunders and Trevor Reckling (WTF with all these Trevors by the way? Was there a character on Miami Vice or a dude in Duran Duran named Trevor?) for Roy Halladay. They could even throw in Juan Rivera and take Vernon Wells and his salary. And they would be stupid enough to do it.

Jeff Sullivan (Lookout Landing): If a target was flying under the radar, how would we know about it? The most frequently-mentioned names coming up right now are Jack Wilson, JJ Hardy, and Freddy Sanchez. Hardy won't come cheap and Sanchez would pose a roster problem if and when Beltre returns, but it seems to me that the M's could have Wilson for a fairly low price were they so inclined.

67MARQUEZ (Athletics Nation):: Pat Burrell is a name that came up recently, as the A's sent a scout to watch a Jays-Rays game.

Adam J. Morris (Lone Star Ball)::  The Rangers have been linked with Roy Halladay, although the Jays would probably want a couple of guys from the Holland/Feliz/Justin Smoak/Martin Perez quadumvirate, plus another couple of prospects, and I can't see Texas biting the bullet on that deal.  And they supposedly can't add salary unless they move someone else (such as Hank Blalock).  I think if they add someone, it will be a cheap (in terms of prospects and money) righty bat that can play some first base, such as Nomar Garciaparra.

Sky Kalkman (Moderator): Which prospects and young major leaguers are most likely to change hands? Any that teams have deemed off-limits?

Rev Halofan (Halos Heaven):: Angels won't trade Brandon Wood or Jered Weaver. Erick Aybar and Kendry Morales have the most value, Saunders goes for sure if it is a "marquee" trade.

Jeff Sullivan (Lookout Landing): I don't know that anyone has been declared off-limits, although it wouldn't be hard to figure out which Mariners could be dealt and which ones couldn't. Wladimir Balentien and Jeff Clement look like total trade bait. Maybe Greg Halman, too, depending on the target.

67MARQUEZ (Athletics Nation):: With Beane, that can never be declared, but it is unlikely that the A's part ways with any of their next Big Three.

Adam J. Morris (Lone Star Ball)::  Every team is going to be asking about the big four -- Feliz, Holland, Smoak, and Perez.  And the Rangers aren't going to part with one of those guys unless it is part of a deal to bring in a big-time difference maker under team control for a while.  I wouldn't be shocked if the Rangers opted to dangle Nelson Cruz as part of a package for an impact pitcher, though, since the plan is to put Josh Hamilton in RF long-term to make room for Julio Borbon in center, and Cruz is a nice middle-of-the-order bat who is cheap and under team control for a while, giving him a fair amount of value.

Sky Kalkman (Moderator): Without any trade-deadline moves, what has to happen for your team to win the division? How much more likely is your team to make the playoffs by plugging its holes or adding an impact player?

Rev Halofan (Halos Heaven):: At perfect health we're the class of this division by a mile and in dire straights health-wise and no deal we have a 1 and a half game lead at the All Star Break. Translation: The three of you don't look any scarier in my rear view mirror.

67MARQUEZ (Athletics Nation):: As much as I hate to admit it (and I really, really do), Rev is right.

At the beginning of the season we talked about many things having to go right for the A's to win the West. And now? Short of the teams ahead of them going into the tank all at once, I'm not even sure this question was even meant for me. Adding an impact player won't even help at this stage. Unless we're talking Pujos. And even then...

Adam J. Morris (Lone Star Ball)::  For the Rangers to win the division without any moves, they need Josh Hamilton to start hitting like Josh Hamilton again, Chris Davis to start hitting like Chris Davis again, and the pitching staff to stay healthy.  I think if that happens, they'll stay in it all the way and could steal the division from the Angels.

Jeff Sullivan (Lookout Landing): If the Mariners are to win the division, they'll need the offense to play to its projection level, the Angels to play to theirs, and Erik Bedard to remain healtoh my god we're boned

Bringing in a shortstop would help, but given that our playoff chances (now as of this writing on July 17th!) are somewhere around 12%, not even Hanley Ramirez would make us favorites. We just need luck. Either the M's need to play over their heads, or the Angels have to play under theirs. Or both. Both would make it easy.