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600 lines about 30 teams (Part I)

Arizona Diamondbacks
Stephen Drew:
You hear the shortstop brought up in trade rumors from time to time. The problem with J.D. Drew’s little brother is that with a trade from the generous Chase Field he will disappear. This year, he’s hitting .291/.372/.464 at home, but only .259/.323/.367 on the road. His career home/road split is .288/.353/.481 at Chase, but only .253/.305/.402 on the road.

Chris Snyder: In the offseason, I talked about him being a good add for the Yankees, and he still would be one given that he is signed through 2012—though he can be bought out for that last year. He would be able to augment Jorge Posada, or spell him when he’s only hitting, and perhaps hang around after Posada’s contract ends in 2011 to tutor (and provide competition for) the Romine or Montero who comes after. One would expect the Yankees to be easily outbid for his services by a team in more dire need of catching—the Tigers, perhaps?—but keep this in mind: Posada, 38, has hit .215/.348/.336 since coming off the disabled list; Frankie Cervelli has hit .200/.274/.236 over his last 37 games, a total which includes 30 starts.

Atlanta Braves
Yunel Escobar:
I wrote this comment on Escobar earlier this week, intending to run this section on Tuesday. Instead, we had more urgent news to deal with. Here’s what I said prior to Escobar’s trade to the Blue Jays: age 27 is supposed to be a batter’s peak. Last year, Escobar seemed to establish himself as one of the top shortstops in baseball, hitting .299/.377/.436 with 14 home runs. He’s retreated from that like the Union at Manassas, hitting .238/.334/.284. His glove would seem to have held up, and his walk rate has been solid, so his season has been a positive one for the first-place Braves. Still, he can’t have much competition for "Year’s Biggest Disappointment, 2010."

The Yankees will now get to witness firsthand whether the trade works out for the Jays. Escobar’s slump, coupled with problems of professionalism, concentration, and communication, made dealing him for reliable-but-unspectacular ol’ Alex Gonzalez a palatable option for the Bravos, who in doing so took the unusual step of tinkering with a first-place outfit. The Jays gave up a couple of minor prospects and a 33-year-old shortstop to get a 27-year-old with loads of upside, so there is less risk for them; perhaps Cito Gaston can reach the lad where Bobby Cox failed. Thing is, Gaston isn’t supposed to be the manager once this season is over.

Billy Wagner: The closer that Bobby Cox has needed since John Smoltz went back to starting but didn’t have—and they’re both retiring.

Baltimore Orioles
Ty Wigginton:
A versatile player, yes, but since the end of May he’s hit .205/.289/.265 with one home run (149 plate appearances). Sure, we all have our faults, but the Orioles shouldn’t expect much more than a token for an imminent free agent journeyman. Andy MacPhail waited too long.

Chris Tillman: The O’s have been strangely impatient with Tillman this year, sending him out to start the year, then demoting him after just four starts once he came up. Given his overall Minor League record, you’d think that giving him some time to sort things out in the Majors might be more important than, say, preserving Mark Hendrickson’s place in Orioles lore. Three days ago, he held the Rangers to one run on two hits in 7.1 innings, part of the Birds’ utterly unexpected four-game sweep. You’d think they might be more patient now.

Boston Red Sox
Mike Cameron:
Since coming off of the disabled list, the venerable center fielder has hit reasonably well, batting .300/.333/.444 in 96 PAs. However, with just three home runs in that span, Cameron’s production hangs on the positioning of opposing fielders. As for his own fielding, it’s not what it once was. Boston has Cameron under contract for another season, lucky them. His decline makes a divorce from Jacoby Ellsbury somewhat more difficult.

Michael Bowden: Presently pitching for Triple-A Pawtucket for the third season in a row, Bowden isn’t a coming ace, but with the problems the Sox have had with the back of their rotation and middle relief, one wonders why this right-hander hasn’t gotten a call. His aggregate record at Pawtucket is only 10-12 in 50 games, but in 256.1 innings he’s allowed but 213 hits, walking 81 and striking out 178. His ERA is 3.34. His strikeout rate seems to be dropping, a bad sign, but we’re talking about rolls in which you wouldn’t expect dominance anyway—Boston seems well into the take-what-you-can-get mode, and Bowden is freely available to the Sox since they own him. Short of his making an indecent proposal to a sheep and/or the wife of a Sox executive, there isn’t an obvious reason why they haven’t tried him.

Chicago Cubs
Starlin Castro: Hitting .239/.317/.358 since the end of May, and though he’s a far superior fielder to Ryan Theriot, the Cubs aren’t achieving much more than running up his arbitration clock. He’ll be expensive at 22 or 23 and a free agent at 26, leaving the Cubs looking for yet another shortstop assuming they haven’t parted ways with him before then.

Ted Lilly: The big trade target that everyone seems to be aiming for, for what he’ll cost they should really be aiming for Carlos Marmol. The Cubs have far less reason to trade him, though he is arbitration-eligible. His slider combination has made him almost as hard on left-handers as on right-handers, meaning that if you had him in a setup role could forget about platoon issues. His walks would probably provide many a nail-biting moment, particularly in the postseason, but he’s all but unhittable, so as long as you pull him once the bases are loaded...

Chicago White Sox
Juan Pierre:
Despite having just lost Jake Peavy for the season, the Pale Hose are in first place in the AL Central, holding the top spot with a slim half-game lead. As hapless as the Tigers and Twins can be, they’re probably not going to stay there without making some moves. With Peavy gone, Kenny Williams will be looking at the pitching staff, but it’s their offense that can really use some new additions or a TARP bailout. The latter might be easier, because the Chicago farm system is a depressingly barren place. Their worst bat, Gordon Beckham, should rebound at some point—which will be almost like making a trade given just how bad he’s been—but there’s less hope for several other positions, especially left field, where Pierre is killing the Sox on a daily basis.

Despite a career .298 batting average, Pierre is a brutal hitter, especially now, when he’s not hitting .298 but .257. Imagine if Williams could make an offer on B.J. Upton and try to jump-start his career with some Windy City leadoff action, but no—the White Sox have perhaps three strong prospects. Two, catcher Tyler Flowers and pitcher Dan Hudson, who they need, and outfielder Jared Mitchell who is both far from the Majors and of a type that the Rays already have in Desmond Jennings.