The Week Ahead: Wheeling and dealing

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With the non-waiver trade deadline looming on Friday, this coming week
is one of the most exciting of the baseball season. It’s not quite the
World Series, but is not unlike the World Series of Poker.

Player 1: You don’t want to give up your entire minor league system for my pitcher? Fine, then I’ll deal with this other guy.

Player 2: No problem, I think player No. 3’s pitcher is better anyway.

Player 3: Really? Cool!

You know some teams are bluffing, others are slow-playing their
winning hands, while still others are just hanging around, trying to
gum up the works. That is what is so fascinating about the march to the
trade deadline.

Roy Halladay is, of course, the big prize out there. Will he be traded? Sometimes it seems inevitable, other times unlikely. It all depends on the day of the week hour of the day.

Will Doc go to the Phillies? The Red Sox? The Rangers? Would the Yankees (GASP) part with Joba Chamberlain?

It’s enough to make the head spin. And that’s just Halladay.

What about Cliff Lee, the Indians ace who won the 2008 AL
Cy Young award? The Dodgers, Angels and Phillies (if they’re really
giving up on Halladay) appear to be lurking. Will Cleveland also deal
Victor Martinez?

Looking further down the list, teams might be turning to the likes of Jarrod Washburn, who is quietly having his best season since at least 2002, maybe ever.

With the Mariners’ destruction at the hands of the Indians over the
weekend, the departure of Washburn (scheduled to pitch Tuesday) and
Russell Branyan could be imminent. Could a match be found with the Brewers?

And how about the disaster known as the Washington Nationals? Nick
Johnson, Adam Dunn and others could all be heading (they hope) to
newer, sunnier destinations where fans go to games and jersey
adornments are spelled correctly.

And that, friends, is the tip of the iceberg. It will be a wild week, a
rollercoaster of sketchy rumors, breathless television updates and, of
course, terrific Tweets.

We’ll do our best to keep you updated on everything here at Circling the Bases, as well as on our rumors page.

Oh and one last thing: Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but here are five reasons trade deadline deals are overrated. Don’t let it spoil your fun.

More after the jump …

FIVE SERIES TO WATCH

*Yankees at Rays, July 27-29: The Rays have to at least
hold their own in this series to stay within reach. Especially when you
consider that the Red Sox are right there ahead of them, too.

*Astros at Cubs, July 27-29: The Cubs have ridden a
four-game winning streak to the top of the NL Central. But in this
amazingly tight division, the Astros, just two games back, have a
chance to make some noise.

*Dodgers at Cardinals, July 27-30: The Matt Holliday deal
has Cardinals fans buzzing, although the team has not yet taken off.
Now, with a four-game series against the league’s best team
(record-wise), it’s time to deliver.

*Blue Jays at Mariners, July 27-29: Neither one of these
teams appear to be going anywhere as far as the postseason is
concerned, but the trade deadline is another matter. Jarrod Washburn
and Roy Halladay are both scheduled to pitch in this series, and a
number of other potential trade candidates will take the field.

*Phillies at Giants, July 30-Aug. 2: The defending
champions are on a roll, having won eight of their last 10 games. The
surprising Giants are in the thick of the NL wild card race, but this
four-game series could prove crucial.

ON THE TUBE

Monday, 7:05 p.m. ET: Dodgers at Cardinals (ESPN)

Wednesday, 7:08 p.m.: Yankees at Rays (ESPN)

*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Yankees at White Sox (FOX)

*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Royals at Rays (FOX)

*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Dodgers at Braves (FOX)

Sunday, 4 p.m.: Phillies at Giants (TBS)

Sunday, 8:05 p.m.: Dodgers at Braves (ESPN)

*Check local listings

There will be no criminal charges arising out of Curt Schilling’s video game debacle

Curt Schilling
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In 2012 Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios, delivered the fantasy role-playing game it had spent millions of dollars and countless man hours trying to deliver. And then the company folded, leaving both its employees and Rhode Island taxpayers, who underwrote much of the company’s operations via $75 million in loans, holding the bag.

The fallout to 38 Studios’ demise was more than what you see in your average business debacle. Rhode Island accused Schilling and his company of acts tantamount to fraud, claiming that it accepted tax dollars while withholding information about the true state of the company’s finances. Former employees, meanwhile, claimed — quite credibly, according to reports of the matter — that they too were lured to Rhode Island believing that their jobs were far more secure than they were. Many found themselves in extreme states of crisis when Schilling abruptly closed the company’s doors. For his part, Schilling has assailed Rhode Island politicians for using him as a scapegoat and a political punching bag in order to distract the public from their own misdeeds. There seems to be truth to everyone’s claims to some degree.

As a result of all of this, there have been several investigations and lawsuits into 38 Studios’ collapse. In 2012 the feds investigated the company and declined to bring charges. There is currently a civil lawsuit afoot and, alongside it, the State of Rhode Island has investigated for four years to see if anyone could be charged with a crime. Today there was an unexpected press conference in which it was revealed that, no, no one associated with 38 Studios will be charged with anything:

An eight-page explanation of the decision concluded by saying that “the quantity and qualify of the evidence of any criminal activity fell short of what would be necessary to prove any allegation beyond a reasonable doubt and as such the Rules of Professional Conduct precluded even offering a criminal charge for grand jury consideration.”

Schilling will likely crow about this on his various social media platforms, claiming it totally vindicates him. But, as he is a close watcher of any and all events related to Hillary Clinton, he no doubt knows that a long investigation resulting in a declination to file charges due to lack of evidence is not the same thing as a vindication. Bad judgment and poor management are still bad things, even if they’re not criminal matters.

Someone let me know if Schilling’s head explodes if and when someone points that out to him.

Andrew Miller for Lucas Giolito: WHO SAYS NO?!!

BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 28:  Lucas Giolito #44 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the first inning during a baseball game against the New York Mets at Nationals Park on June 28, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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The rumor mongers are churning up some good stuff about the Yankees and the Nationals maybe talking about an Andrew Miller for Lucas Giolito deal. It started with Jon Morosi saying that the Nationals were willing to trade Giolito, one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, to the Yankees for Miller straight up.

Taking two steps back, the idea of a Miller-for-Giolito deal seems like it’d be something the Yankees would jump at in a heartbeat. Giolito would, in the normal course, be worth more than a relief pitcher. Even a good one under team control like Miller is. So if the Nats were willing to do this, the Yankees would be fools not to accept, right?

Well, no. Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman are saying that the Yankees are looking for a massive return for Miller, more than what Cubs gave them for Aroldis Chapman. That deal netted New York prospect Gleyber Torres and three other players who have future value. Gioloto is worth more straight up than Torres, but the Yankees want another big package, not just one guy. Assuming those reports are true, are the Yankees being greedy?

Maybe not! Maybe it’s not about the Yankees’ eyes being wide. Maybe it’s about the nature of prospects and how all of our eyes get a bit wide over them, especially when national rankings are released each spring. We see Giolito or someone like him named the top prospect — or maybe a top-3 prospect — and immediately believe they are untouchable or, at the very least, close to invaluable.

But here, if the rumors are to be believed, the Nats are offering him for a relief pitcher. And the Yankees are saying “nah, we need more.” Maybe they both see something the prospect raters and coveters don’t. Maybe, in the abstract, they’re just as high on him as the raters and coveters are but maybe they don’t live in the abstract. Maybe they have the added benefit of (a) experience with the fortunes of young pitching prospects; and (b) a downside risk in loving them too much that the raters and coveters don’t have. No prospect rater risks being fired if the guy they rank #1 in any given year blows his shoulder out. Team employees have been.

I have no idea if there are legs to these rumors. I know that I like Giolito as a prospect, for whatever that’s worth, and the Yankees definitely have a need for young, projectable and controllable pitching talent. Likewise, given that they’re in a transitional period right now and given that they Have Dellin Betances, they could do without Andrew Miller if they needed to. He’s someone they could deal in order to get a guy in Gioloto who would instantly become their top prospect.

But it’s the deadline and people get a bit nuts. Teams ask for the stars, yes, but those of us on the outside tend to forget that a huge number of prospects, especially pitching prospects, never pan out. For all of the hype a deadline occasions and for as much as we see a beautiful future for each and every young hurler that comes down the pike, there are no clear answers about who is or who isn’t being unreasonable here. That is, if any of this stuff is true.

Enjoy the trade deadline, everyone. Just remember that no one knows anything and everyone, on some level, is making a bet.