Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Will They or Won't They?
2008-07-31 08:33
by Mark T.R. Donohue

This has been the best trade season in recent memory. How many potential Hall of Famers have been moved or will probably get moved? Pudge. Harden. Sabathia. Ramirez? Griffey? And dude, Casey Blake. I couldn't go to sleep last night, that was how excited I was about the rundown to the deadline. Also, I did want to catch that USA-Turkey game (kind of a letdown, only one rad alley-oop and a lot of Turkish passes bouncing off of US guys' knees). Mostly, though, I didn't want to miss a second of hot stove news. The Griffey thing, that came out of nowhere, right? Except for that Chicago has been trying to land the Kid since '05 or so. You have to give Kenny Williams credit for his tenacity.

The big question for Rockies fans is, will Brian Fuentes go? Fuentes is hardly an MLB HOFer but he probably would go into a Rockies Hall of Fame, if the franchise had enough great players to justify the existence of one. He's the best closer they've ever had, not that that is saying very much. ESPN, by the way, is doing this "three best players of every franchise" thing on "Baseball Tonight" and it's a real poser figuring out a trio for Colorado. Todd Helton is a given. He's a real-deal Hall of Famer. Larry Walker probably will never go to Cooperstown unless it's to attend Helton's induction, but he's clearly the second-best player in Rockies history. After that it gets murky. The sentimental choice for a lot of fans would be Vinny Castilla, but except for one season (1998) Vinny was painfully mediocre and he never hit on the road. I think my choice for #3 is Matt Holliday. The fact that two of the greatest three Rockies ever are playing right now (well, Helton's on the DL, but you know what I mean) is another fine indicator of just how barren the first decade of Rockies baseball really was for talent. How they could be that bad for that long and yet still not draft any decent players is beyond me.

So is Fuentes going to go? I've said and the Rockies have said all along that whichever team wants him will have to do better than the value Colorado would get if the reliever left as a free agent, which is a first-round pick and a sandwich pick. I had been assuming that some team was going to panic, blink, swallow, and pay Dan O'Dowd's asking price, but now I'm not so sure. The club I had my eyes on was the Cubs, who are short in the bullpen and locked in a serious dogfight with Milwaukee. The fact that they've won the first three games in their showdown series with the Brewers reduces the chances that they'll desperately overpay considerably. This is why I've been watching baseball more attentively lately, flipping between three or four games at a time and watching from the time the East Coast games begin until the last late games end. These games are dripping with significance on multiple levels.

So if it isn't the Cubs, what about the two low-budget Florida squads? It seems like giving away prospects and adding salary is against Florida and Tampa Bay's religion, but things have been slightly funky in MLB all season. You'd have to imagine they'd have good guys to trade, though. It's hard to believe given their history, but the Rays might actually have starting pitching to spare. That's the Rockies' #1 need with a bullet, an asterisk, and a flaming dagger next to it.

Back to the action on the field, finally -- the Rockies saved a lot of face with their win in Pittsburgh last night. Aaron Cook just keeps on rolling. In order to make this a successful road trip, the Rockies have to win a series in Miami. That'll be a tall order considering that Colorado is starting not one but two former Brewers with "De" in their last names in the series.

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