10 most likely to be traded – Outfielders

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Matt Holliday (Athletics) – The early-month surge hasn’t held up, as
the A’s have gone 3-6 since interleague play resumed. While Oakland is
still just seven games back, there’s nothing to suggest the team will
ever get healthy enough to make a real run. Holliday, who has been an
above average regular since the end of April, even if he’s still not
playing at his usual level, would have no problem bringing back more
than the A’s could get if they held on to him and let him go for draft
picks at season end. San Francisco makes more sense as a possible
destination with every victory and every Fred Lewis strikeout.

Ryan Spilborghs (Rockies) – Ideally, the Rockies would have been
able to do something with Spilborghs before they turned him into a
fifth outfielder. As an adequate center fielder and a plus corner
outfielder with a career OPS of 823 and a salary barely above the
minimum, he’d come in handy just about anywhere. The Cardinals, in
particular, could use someone with his ability to hit southpaws.

Jeff Francoeur (Braves) – The Braves still might have had a shot at
getting a prospect for Francoeur a month ago. Now they’d be lucky just
to find someone to take his salary without having to accept a similar
contract back. Interestingly, he’s gone from posting a 23/1 K/BB ratio
in May to a 6/7 this month, but he’s remained just as useless.

Cody Ross (Marlins) – Ross is pretty similar to Spilborghs, but his
home run power will likely make him more expensive to acquire. A career
.249/.305/.436 hitter against righties, he still makes a lot more sense
as a fourth outfielder than as a regular. However, he has been terrific
for the Marlins over the last two months. That he’ll likely double his
current $2.25 million salary next year is the main reason he could be
put on the market.

Josh Willingham (Nationals) – Willingham’s incredible nine-homer,
13-RBI season to date is worthy of its own post, but while he has been
a huge failure hitting with men on base this year, it’s not a
career-long trend. Willingham doesn’t offer a whole lot on defense and
his history of back troubles would make him a poor choice for a
long-term contract, but he’s a legitimate 25-homer guy and he hits
righties better than alternatives like Spilborghs and Ross. He’d be a
great fit for Minnesota’s lineup.

Eric Hinske (Pirates) – He’s been a fairly valuable player off the
bench, but Hinske never made a lot of sense for a Pirates team that
opened the season with fellow left-handed hitters at all three outfield
spots and at first base. He’ll probably be cashed in for a prospect
before the deadline. The Mets and Tigers could both use the extra
left-handed bat.

Jeremy Hermida (Marlins) – It’s the story of Hermida’s career: he
had 11 hits, three of them homers, in a five-game stretch from June
9-13, only to go hitless in five games since. There are still plenty of
teams intrigued by Hermida’s talent, and the Marlins could improve
their defense by going back to Cameron Maybin in center and shifting
Ross to right field. Still, his trade value should be just as high in
November as it is now, making it more likely that he’ll stay.

Jermaine Dye (White Sox) – While the White Sox still look like
potential buyers right now, they might turn into sellers before the
deadline. If that’s the case, Dye would be the most obvious candidate
to go. He’s been their best player with a .264/.339/.514 line, and the
$12 million mutual option on his contract might not satisfy either
party for 2010.

Jake Fox (Cubs) – Fox isn’t going to bring a whole lot in return,
but the soon-to-be 27-year-old former catcher deserves more of an
opportunity that the Cubs can give him after hitting .409/.495/.841
with 17 homers in 45 games for Triple-A Iowa this season.

Delmon Young (Twins) – Minnesota is very much in the hunt for the AL
Central, yet Young remains a big liability while hitting for no power
at all and striking out 11 times as often as he walks. The Twins can’t
glue him to the bench or send him down, so they may be better off
moving him while there are still teams out there that may think they
can turn him around. The Nationals, Padres and Pirates are among the
clubs that would have to take hard looks at Young’s upside if he became
available.

Imagining Theo Epstein in politics

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“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”

That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.

Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.