You're in or you're out at some point, that's just the way the rookie crumbles, though usually not this early.
So while there isn't a division race remotely decided in this the third week of July, the buyers have separated themselves from the sellers as we approach the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.
(The single exception being the Colorado Rockies, not because they're that good, but because they've built a franchise around reincarnating themselves as where'd-they-come-froms.)
The rest, well, if it looks like a Met and quacks like a Met, it's probably time to sell, which is exactly what they have done and will continue to do.
From Monday, here's what was going on:
While the New York Mets have every intention of trading outfielder Carlos Beltran, and while the likes of the San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox have every reason to pay attention, Sandy Alderson has yet to approach Beltran with a list of possible destinations. Beltran has Scott Boras for an agent and a no-trade clause, which means Beltran will run this show. Typically in these situations, a general manager will run a handful of teams past a player, just so he doesn't waste his – or the opposing GM's – time. That hasn't happened yet. It likely will, and soon, because Alderson isn't just measuring the best deal, but how much of Beltran's remaining salary he'd have to cover in the deal.
Likewise, the Los Angeles Dodgers have played themselves into sell mode – the players, not the team. Well, maybe the team, too – and the most likely candidates to go are starter Hiroki Kuroda(notes), utility man Jamey Carroll(notes) and reliever Mike MacDougal(notes). Kuroda also has no-trade rights and likes Los Angeles, which could gum up the process. GM Ned Colletti isn't yet deep enough into trade talks to present possible destinations to Kuroda. The problem with dealing Kuroda is it leaves the Dodgers thin in the rotation with still 60 or so games to play and a fan base that isn't so happy with them already, so they'd need at least a low-end starter back along with help for next season at second base, catcher or left field. The organization is so shallow at the top end, and with there being no assurance it can rebuild in free agency, Colletti needs to load up where Dee Gordon(notes) and Jerry Sands(notes) won't be. Kuroda, an underrated strike-thrower who'd do well with a touch more run support, should draw interest from the Red Sox, Yankees and Rangers, among others.
Need to rebuild a bullpen? The San Diego Padres are your team. Closer Heath Bell(notes) could be had and some reports have setup man Mike Adams(notes) available as well, though Adams won't be a free agent until after next season and has better numbers than Bell. One National League general manager predicted Bell would go to the Phillies, perhaps in a package for Domonic Brown(notes), the kind of player Padres GM Jed Hoyer seems to love. Most teams seem to need relief help, the Minnesota Twins among them. While the Twins have been very aggressive in their pursuit of Bell in the past, they seem more of the mind to compliment what they already have – Joe Nathan(notes), Matt Capps(notes) and lefty Glen Perkins(notes), who is throwing very well. "We're not looking for a big guy," a Twins official said.
The Arizona Diamondbacks likewise are focusing on their bullpen, with an eye on adding a starter if one could be had. J.J. Putz(notes), their closer, threw Sunday and is expected to throw again Tuesday and Thursday while rehabbing from right elbow tendinitis. If all goes well, he'll be pitching for the Diamondbacks by the weekend. The Diamondbacks have had scouts in Toronto, Minnesota, Chicago and New York the past 10 days, all working off a list of some 20 relievers GM Kevin Towers is considering.
The Cleveland Indians, down Shin-Soo Choo(notes) already, now have Grady Sizemore(notes) on their disabled list as well, and seem to grow more bat-desperate by the hour. In a lefty-leaning lineup, they were short a right-handed bat to begin with. Depending on how deep they intend to go into their farm system – and one team official said Lonnie Chisenhall(notes) and Jason Kipnis(notes) can't be had – they could go after Hunter Pence(notes), Josh Willingham(notes), Melky Cabrera(notes) or Jeff Francoeur(notes) here, or take on some payroll and land Beltran. In their season of surprise contention, they could also use a starting pitcher, but offense is the real focus here.
The Tigers, who probably would have overtaken the Indians long ago if not for their spotty (kind description) pitching, are getting aggressive on that front, according to sources. There's plenty of starters to be had, of course, though many of them would look like what the Tigers already have.