Can anyone keep track of the twists and turns that have accompanied the trade deadline this year, and the rumors floating around the Houston Astros? Hunter Pence is available, then he's not, the Phillies aren't really interested, then they want to get him at all costs, the Red Sox want him, they don't want him, and so on.
This morning I wake up to see a tweet that says the three teams that are going hard after him are the Red Sox, Rangers and Braves, so make what you will of that one. So with the last Sunday roundup before the deadline (the trade deadline falls next Sunday), lets see if we can cut through the madness and see if we can restore some sanity to proceedings.
After some rather large rumblings from the Phillies on the Pence front over the past few days, media focus seems to have switched to the Red Sox, wtih Nick Cafardo and Michael Silverman both suggesting that he is now off the trading block (both links courtesy of Astros County).
However Silverman's quotes just sound like a dredging up of previous rumors, rather than offering anything new:
In Hunter Pence of the Astros, the Red Sox would have the perfect long-term solution to their right-field needs. The Astros are highly reluctant to even place his name on the trade market, considering that Pence is from Texas and is the face, not to mention future, of the franchise. With new ownership expected to be on board officially as soon as next month, the bottom-of-the-barrel Astros are not currently shopping Pence, according to a baseball source.
This may be simply a case of the Astros front-office saying he's not on the block, but he will be on the block for the right package. It would accomplish nothing for them to state that they will definitely move Pence.
Meanwhile the expectation remains in Philadelphia that Ruben Amaro Jr will make a blockbuster move this summer, and with a dynamite rotation, and figures in the bullpen returning, it can only involve a big bat. Phil Sheridan says:
These Phillies have come to expect a significant in-season addition. It's not as if they'd see a quiet trade deadline as a white flag. They're too good a team with too much at stake. But if a big addition is energizing, then no addition would be the opposite of that. And the louder the buzz, the more deafening the quiet would be.
But is this a good enough reason to part with Domonic Brown and one of Jarred Cosart, Brody Colvin, Trevor May or Jesse Biddle? You already have the best record in the majors and a 99% chance of making the playoffs, you really do not need to be suckered into giving up far more than you need to for Pence.
One thing that will dictate the market for Pence over the coming week is how reluctant other GMs are in giving up Ryan Ludwick, Josh Willingham, Carlos Beltran and B.J. Upton. If teams hold out for too much, then Pence may be the only option for a team looking to significantly upgrade its' offense.
Stepping away from Pence for a while, there seems little doing on Wandy Rodriguez, Michael Bourn and Brett Myers. Wade's asking price on Rodriguez may drop if reports are true that he needs to shift enough salary to cut the Astros' 2012 budget to $60m. The real puzzler is why teams have not shown more of an interest in Bourn.
Atlanta and Cleveland would seem like natural fits, but Coco Crisp seems to be a more natural fit for the Tribe, and they have targeted Aaron Harang and Ludwick as their top targets for next week. They also appear to be in for B.J. Upton. According to the Elias reverse engineered rankings, Bourn would be a type B free agent if he became one at the end of next season (2012).
Enjoying by far his best season, his slash line of .298/.356/.400 is pretty good, as is his league leading 37 stolen bases. According to baseball-reference his WAR is 4.2, fifth best among position players in the NL. Keeping him at the trade deadline would only make sense if teams undervalue what he brings to any team.
But then again we have to remember that 90% of trade deadline is speculation, and most of it, yours truly included, is a way of filling valuable column space. Just an hour ago Jon Morosi tweeted that the Diamondbacks have checked in on Wandy Rodriguez. What does it all mean? Should we believe none of it, all of it, or somewhere in between? How much? Perhaps we should all bury our heads in the sand for a week and then come back to our laptops and PCs next Monday morning to see that Ed Wade has traded for Vance Worley.