Position-by-position trade deadline preview: Left field & right field

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This is the sixth in a series of articles looking at players who might be available in the days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
Jayson Werth (Phillies) – It seemed inconceivable two months ago, but the Phillies have been willing to discuss Werth because of their need for pitching and their ability to plug the game’s No. 1 prospect, Domonic Brown, into his spot in right field. A trade, however, did seem a bit more likely a couple of weeks ago than it does now. The Rays, considered one of the top suitors, no longer appear to be in the mix, and the possibility of Roy Oswalt coming to Philly, a move that may have required a Werth trade, has diminished. Besides, teams have to be wondering if Werth is really worth that big of a ransom. He’s a free agent at season’s end, his production has dropped every month this season and he’s been downright ordinary outside of Citizens Bank Park (.259/.365/.414 with three homers in 174 at-bats). He’ll probably finish out the year in Philadelphia.
Corey Hart (Brewers) – Hart was up for grabs over the winter after back-to-back disappointing seasons, but no one bit. After losing playing time to Jim Edmonds initially, he’s come back with what could go down as a career year, as he has 22 homers and 70 RBI through 89 games. Like Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks, Hart is a free agent after 2011, and the Brewers may well have to part with at least one member of the group with all being due for big raises in arbitration over the winter. Hart, making $4.85 million this year, figures to see his salary jump to $8 million-$10 million if he goes on to have a 35-homer season. The Giants have led the way in trade talks regarding Hart, though those whispers were louder earlier this month than they are now. He could also be an option for the Padres and Rays.
Josh Willingham (Nationals) – The Nats probably can’t risk going long-term with both Adam Dunn and Willingham, so one could be moved this week. Another right-handed slugger, Willingham has less to offer defensively than Werth or Hart, but he’s just as good of a hitter as either. He’s batting .273/.401/.479 in 311 at-bats so far this season. A major cause for concern is his history of back problems, but that’s a bigger worry for the team that eventually signs him to a long-term contract. He’s played in 96 of the Nationals’ 99 games this season, and he hasn’t actually missed time because of his back since 2008. Willingham has the same contract situation as Hart: he’s making $4.6 million now and he’ll be eligible for free agency for the first time after next year. Since he doesn’t cover as much ground in the outfield, he should be less attractive to the Giants and Padres than Hart. However, he could really help the AL East powers with his bat.
Luke Scott (Orioles) – One of the game’s most underrated hitters, Scott has quietly batted .295/.364/.583 with 17 homers in 254 at-bats for the Orioles this season. Of course, Camden Yards has played a role there. In fact, Scott’s road OPSs the last three years are completely pedestrian: 753, 727 and 743 so far this season. Then again, he never gets to face Orioles pitching and that’d probably be good for an extra 50 points of OPS if he changed teams. While he’s been used primarily as a DH the last two years, Scott is a solid defender in left field and he’s gaining some experience at first base. He should be an option for NL teams as well as AL squads. Baltimore is willing to move him since he’s 32 and he’s due a nice raise before becoming eligible for free agency after next year. His left-handed bat would look very good in the middle of the heavily right-handed White Sox lineup.
Scott Podsednik (Royals) – The Royals have never been ones to admit defeat, and with David DeJesus down, they might just hold on to Podsednik just so that they don’t have to resort to committing so many at-bats to Alex Gordon and Mitch Maier. Still, they’d be crazy not to part with him if the price is right. Podsednik has been a fine top-of-the-order hitter this year, batting .308/.352/.400 with 30 steals in 42 attempts, but at age 34, it’s not like he’s a big part of the Royals’ future. Other than the injury-prone Coco Crisp, Podsednik is the one true leadoff man available, and that could be worth an extra prospect in trade talks. He’s another possibility for San Diego, and the Dodgers may want him as a fourth outfielder.
Garrett Jones (Pirates) – Jones took the league by surprise as a 28-year-old rookie last year, hitting .293/.372/.567 with 21 homers in 314 at-bats for the Pirates. NL pitchers, though, have had a lot more success against him in year two. His current .270/.333/.422 line is a lot closer to what his minor league numbers suggested he’d hit. Jones won’t even be arbitration eligible next year, so the Pirates may want to keep him around as an extremely cheap regular. Still, if they can get a couple of intriguing prospects for him now, they should go for it and then start looking to find the next Jones. The Angels are believed to have asked about him, and he could also be a fit with the White Sox or with the Rangers as a replacement for Magglio Ordonez.
Jose Guillen (Royals) – Guillen has been on the block for a year and a half, but now that he has just a bit more than $4 million left on his three-year, $36 million contract, a deal is finally realistic. The 34-year-old has 16 homers and 59 RBI this season, though his overall .271/.333/.457 line is less impressive. He’s also a liability in the outfield. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal suggested that the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Padres and Giants could be interested in Guillen, and it’s believed the Royals and Mets have discussed various forms of deals involving Guillen and Jeff Francoeur.
Austin Kearns (Indians) – It looked like Kearns might revive his career in Cleveland after he hit .373/.429/.627 in April, but the 30-year-old has done little while playing regularly over the last three months and he’s currently down to .266/.349/.408 on the season. On the plus side, he has hit .288/.366/.449 away from Progressive Field. Kearns also remains a quality defensive outfielder capable of playing part-time in center if necessary. The Padres, Red Sox, Dodgers and Giants are among the teams that could use him as a fourth outfielder.
Kosuke Fukudome (Cubs) – Just like in his previous seasons, Fukudome opened 2010 in grand fashion and then faded fast. He still has an adequate .253/.356/.410 line for the season, but he’s been a liability since his big April. The Cubs will be willing to eat a portion of the $4 million+ he’s owed over the rest of this year and the $13.5 million he’s due next year, but since he doesn’t seem like a good bet to help a contender right now, an in-season deal remains unlikely. He’ll probably get moved over the winter.
Jeff Francoeur (Mets) – Francoeur hasn’t posted a 700 OPS against righties since 2007, but he still thinks of himself as a full-time outfielder and he’s made it clear he’d welcome a trade away from the Mets if it came with more playing time. If he goes anywhere this week, it will probably be to Kansas City. However, even if the Royals truly want him, they’d be better off signing him after he’s non-tendered this winter.
Ryan Church (Pirates) – Church has had a disastrous season in Pittsburgh, hitting just .187/.242/.319 in 166 at-bats, and at this rate, he could well end up in Japan next year. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but he hasn’t been the same player since suffering multiple concussions in 2008. The Pirates will gladly give him away if anyone comes calling.
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Shortstop

And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Hope you had a nice weekend. My Sunday was pretty good. I did some gardening, planting annuals and stuff because I’m a suburban dad and that’s what my people do in the spring. I’m a bit of a rebel suburban dad, though, as in this part of the country they say you really should wait until May to plant your annuals because of the risk of a late frost. But you know how I like to live life on the edge.

As I did that I listened to the first couple of innings of the Yankees game on the radio. That was OK. I had not taken in a John Sterling/Suzyn Waldman broadcast for many years and I was pleasantly surprised. I never liked them that much before — and I loathed Sterling when he did Braves games for a brief period in the 80s — but they’re better than I remember. I am amazed, however, at just how many mid-inning promos and ads they’re forced to read through. They can’t go three seconds without talking about how this or that is brought to you by whoever and whatever. I know all broadcasters have to do that but the Yankees broadcast amps that up by a factor of, like, five.

At 2pm I switched to Bob Uecker and the Dodgers-Brewers game. It was a wild one, as you may know and as we’ll discuss below, but I have to say how fun it was to listen to it on the radio as opposed to watching it on TV. I’ve talked about that a lot over the past couple of weeks so I won’t dwell, but listening to a game on the radio just exercises a different part of your brain, ya know? Between that and digging in the dirt it was just a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon. It sucks for Monday morning because my muscles are as sore as hell, but it was great for a Sunday.

Anyway, here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Yankees 7, Royals 6: With so many hitters on the injured list the Yankees are gonna need a lot of good pitching performances to get through this. And they got the second great one in a row from James Paxton, as he tossed six shutout innings and struck out 12. Then Chad Green and Adam Ottavino took over, each coughing up three runs in the Royals’ six-run eighth inning. Austin Romine tied it back up at six in the Yankees’ half of the eighth, it went into extras and Romine won it for the Bombers with a walkoff RBI single in the tenth. Well, they called it a single, but it flew to the warning track. A single was all it took.

Dodgers 6, Brewers 5: A similar situation here, as the Dodgers took a 5-0 lead by the fourth thanks to a couple of Joc Pederson homers, a couple of Cody Bellinger RBI singles and an RBI double from Corey Seager. Lorenzo Cain got two back with a homer off of Clayton Kershaw in the fifth — I was just about done with the snapdragons when that happened — and then pinch hitter Eric Thames hit a three-run shot in the eighth off of Kenley Jansen, who was trying for a four-out save. Tie game. Could’ve been worse, but Bellinger robbed Christian Yellich of homer with a fantastic catch earlier in the eighth. Jansen didn’t get that save, obviously, but he did vulture a win when Bellinger struck again, hitting a homer in the ninth off of Josh Hader, which held up. It was the second time in three days that Hader gave up a late homer and took the loss to the Dodgers. Not the sort of thing you expect to see all that often.

On the day, Pederson, Bellinger and Seager combined to go 10-for-14 with three homers, two doubles and six RBI. The rest of the Dodgers lineup went a combined 0-for-22 with eight strikeouts. L.A’s three beat Milwaukee’s nine.

Rangers 11, Astros 10: The Rangers had a bigger lead than either the Yankees or Dodgers had. They never blew it, but they did turn a 10-1 lead into a nail-biter. Joey Gallo drove in five, one of which came on his first career sac fly in 1,337 plate appearances which seems impossible but is true. I suppose the issue is either (a) really bad luck; or (b) when he hits fly balls, they tend to get the hell out of the park. Hunter Pence homered and drove in three. Big offensive numbers for Houston too, obviously, but they also dropped two of three to the Rangers and gave up 20 runs in the past two games. Not what a team that’s supposed to have one of the best pitching staffs around wants to be doing. The Rangers don’t have one of the best staffs but Shelby Miller got the win. It was his first in two years and three days.

Twins 4, Orioles 3: Kyle Gibson allowed two over six innings. The Twins hit 11 homers in Saturday’s doubleheader but none yesterday, proving that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Which is a horrible phrase when you think about it, both for the disturbing images it invokes but also for the troublesome notion of there being some deeply entrenched cat-skinning establishment that refused to hear of alternative cat-skinning methods for so long that the ultimate existence of one had to be proven with some sort of grand, cliche-creating gesture. Stasis in any industry is bad. You have to innovate constantly if you want to get ahead, whether it’s in cat-skinning or other sectors.

Tigers 4, White Sox 3: Another big lead imperiled by the pen, though here the Tigers held on. Daniel Norris tossed five shutout frames, but Blaine Hardy and Victor Alcántara combined to cough up three runs in the eighth to make it close. Their not blowing it all the way allowed Norris to get his first win since September 2017. Shane Greene got another save. The Tigers have ten wins. He’s saved ’em all. He’s like John Hiller during the dark days in between the Kaline Tigers and the Sparky Anderson Tigers or something.

Nationals 5, Marlins 0: Stephen Strasburg tossed eight innings, allowed two hits, no runs, and struck out eleven. Ryan Zimmerman hit two solo homers. It’s like 2010 all over again, except no one calls Strasburg’s starts “Strasmas” anymore, Zimmerman can’t play third base anymore and the Nats probably aren’t gonna lose 93 games.

Giants 3, Pirates 2: All the Pirates got was a two-run homer from Josh Bell. All the Giants got was a three-run homer from Buster Posey. Three is better than two so the Giants won, Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

Red Sox 4, Rays 3: Boston was up 3-2 in the eighth when Tommy Pham — who played the goat on Saturday by getting picked off of first base to end the game — hit a homer to tie things up and force extras. The Sox rallied in the 11th, though, and got the go-ahead run thanks to a Christian Vázquez sac fly which held up. The Red Sox entered this series eight games back of the Rays. They swept Tampa Bay and left it trailing by five. Boston still has a lot to do, but that sure as heck seems less daunting than being back eight. Or, nine, ten or eleven for that matter.

Cardinals 6, Mets 4: Noah Syndergaard allowed six runs — four earned — on eight hits in five innings. That’s bad. He hit a homer, though. That’s good. It wouldn’t have been a homer, though, if Dexter Fowler hadn’t helped it over the fence with this ally-oop play:

That’s bad. At least for Fowler. The Cardinals won, though. That’s good. The win had potassium benzoate in it.

[pause]

That’s bad.

Cubs 2, Diamondbacks 1: Tyler Chatwood and Robbie Ray dueled all afternoon but it came down to the ninth. With the Cubs up 1-0, Jarrod Dyson homered to tie it up in the top half. Chicago rallied in the bottom of the ninth, however, with Javier Báez doubling and then reaching third on an error. David Bote singled him in for the walkoff win. No one got a quote from Bote about it afterward, though, because he followed the walkoff with a run-off, as in run off to the airport to fly home to be with his wife who was in labor. Imagine how much trouble he would’ve been in if he had failed to come through there, the game went 17 innings and he missed David Jr. or Davidina or whatever they’re naming this kid bein’ born.

Rockies 4, Phillies 1: Jon Gray put up his third straight great start in a row, allowing only one hit in six shutout innings. Given that his first two starts of the season were pretty bad, I guess you could say that there’s not much . . . gray area when it comes to his outings? Hmmm?

What? You do thousands of these recaps every year for twelve straight seasons and see if all your jokes are winners, OK? Jesus, you get this stuff for free, you know.

Angels 8 Mariners 6: Tommy La Stella hit two dingers, Brian Goodwin and Kevan Smith each hit one too and the Angels snapped a six game losing streak. This was yet another game in which a big lead was almost blown — Los Angeles led 8-1 heading into the ninth — but a trio of Mariners homers was not quite enough to help Seattle sweep the Halos.

Blue Jays 5, Athletics 4: Not quite as big a lead almost blown but a 5-1 lead in the eighth ended up pretty close, even if the A’s late rally petered out just short. No one cares as much about the outcome, though, as they care about this ridiculous double play started by Ramón Laureano. He robs a homer, throws the ball like he’s got a dang cannon on that shoulder of his and then, because he overthrew it so much, it deked the base runner into trying to advance:

I mean, look at this still shot of the catch. Tell me how he caught this dang ball:

Laureano is a freak of nature and I love it.

Padres 4, Reds 3: Just like the Angels, the Padres snap a six-game skid. This thanks to an Austin Hedges homer and a Wil Myers go-ahead, two-run double in San Diego’s four-run third inning. Meanwhile, Joey Lucchesi held the Reds to one run and five hits in five and two-thirds, striking out eight.

Braves 11, Indians 5: Josh Donaldson hit two homers in the first two innings — a solo shot in the first and a three-run shot in the second — to help Atlanta jump out to an early 5-0 lead and things just got more and more out of control from there. I’d try to come up with some sort of storyline between Donaldson and his old team, but he was with Cleveland for, like, 11 minutes last season, so he probably didn’t even unpack his suitcase into the Holiday Inn Express dresser or wherever he was. Anyway, after that Atlanta just kept pouring it on, taking an 11-1 lead while Max Fried was tossing two-run ball into the seventh. Francisco Lindor hit his first homer of the season in his second game back, and Cleveland would score a couple more in all, but that was the end of their highlights for the night. Wait, I take that back. They had backup catcher Kevin Plawecki pitch the ninth and he somehow set the Braves down in order, so that was sweet. They got a couple more runs in garbage time but otherwise there was not much to write home about for the Tribe.

The Braves down to Cincinnati now for a midweek series. I’m going to the Wednesday night game because, hey, why not? I have a friend who got me sweet seats behind home plate and just above the left-handed batters box, if I’m guessing right. Look for me. I’ll be buried in my phone, ignoring the game like a proper online citizen.