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6.19.2006

Trade Bait: The Outfield 

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Trade Bait. Here's your host...El Lefty Malo!

[lonely applause, perhaps three or four pairs of hand claps, from the back of the auditorium. A fold-up chair squeaks. Someone hums "Oops I Did It Again" off-key, as if distracted by his own bellybutton lint.]

Right, thanks. Glad you all could make it.

Bummer of a weekend, eh, kids? We're talking "Sleepwalking in Seattle." We're talking less life than Kurt Cobain. We're talking a caffeine-free trip to the Land of Starbucks. we're talking...only two games out of first place! I love this game division!

The world knows by know that Brian Sabean wants a right-handed first baseman with power, and Mariners right-handed first baseman with power Richie Sexson has been mentioned, despite the fact that he got stoned this year and forgot where he put that damn power. ("It was right here a minute ago, next to my car keys.")

Perhaps the time to upgrade the outfield is also nigh. The Steve Finley Renaissance has begun to slip quietly into that good night. He's still much better than his miserable 2005, which I assumed he would be, but the hot start through early May and the league-leading eight triples have settled into a season that looks just about right for a fourth outfielder.

Problem is, Bonds and Alou are playing what appears to be a season-long game of tag-team on the trainer's table (not recommended for children under 40), which means more Finley and Mark Sweeney and Jason Ellison, all decent chaps but not the fellows to lead the platoon up Chavez Ravine, take out a few Tommy-gun nests, seize the N.L. West flag and leave the Dodgers with nothing but Ned Colletti's hairpiece to hoist skyward.

Could the shake-up come in the outfield?

The highest trade value is probably Moises: his contract is reasonable, and for the right A.L. team he could DH and play a little outfield. Finsky is next: he still has defensive skills, and a team needing outfield glovework and a left-handed bat could do a lot worse down the stretch. Neither solo would bring back a better bat -- they would have to be part of a package.

Bonds is untradeable. Ellison might fetch in return a 25-year-old double-A veteran. Randy Winn is Mr. Competent but the $23 M extension he signed this winter might scare teams away. Besides, he's the only outfielder guaranteed after this year not to a) retire (Bonds, Finley, Alou) or b) fail to hit major league pitching (Ortmeier, Linden, Lewis). Winn is the Giants' One Decently Competent Sure Thing in 2007, and they overpaid slightly to make him so. Unless they get an even More Sure Thing in return, don't expect him to go anywhere.

I'd love to see a weird creative deal emerge, something like Alou, Kevin Correia, Dan Ortmeier and a pitching prospect to four different teams for Bronson Arroyo, Kevin Youkilis and Ray Durham circa 1999, but Sabean has consistently demonstrated no skill in handling either multi-team trades or the Way-Back Machine.

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