MLB Week in Review
by Jordan Adams - 07/17/2006
Half way through the month of July and finished with Pittsburgh's All Star festivities, the second half of the 2006 MLB season is just starting to get underway. So much is yet to be decided and most divisions are likely to come down to final week of September. Outside of the Mets' vice grip hold on the NL East, the other five division races are open for the taking. Through Sunday, all other divisions have its first and second place teams separated by less than five games.
The Red Sox lead the Yankees by ½ game in the AL East while the Blue Jays continue to make themselves a factor, sitting 3 ½ back and eleven games over .500. The Tigers still hold baseball's best record at 62-30 and have expanded its lead to 4 ½ over the White Sox. The A's hold the AL West's top spot, but the Rangers, Angels and Mariners are all within four games. The Cardinals are in first in the NL Central while the Reds sit four back and currently hold the wild card spot. In the West, the Padres are on top while the Dodgers, Giants and Diamondbacks all share second, trailing by 2 ½ games.
This week's MLB review takes a look at the top players likely to make a move to a contender. With the trade deadline becoming more and more of a top stove topic, the following players could make or break a team's playoff chances in 2006.
Alfonso Soriano | LF
Not only is he the best player available, but also the one guy that has been mentioned the most to find a new home within the next month. Soriano has been tremendous in the leadoff spot for the Nationals. He has already clubbed 29 home runs and driven in 59. Having played second base for most of his career, Soriano will be a versatile commodity for numerous teams as he can play both the his current left field spot as well as the infield.
Best Suitors: Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres
Bobby Abreu | RF
Another valued corner outfielder, Abreu would almost certainly find a home if the Phillies choose to throw in the white flag. Both Philadelphia and Abreu have underachieved miserably and with the arrival of Ryan Howard as the team's top power hitter, Abreu could find himself in a new uniform quicker than some suggest. While his numbers don't scream disappointment, he has not been up to par with his form seasons and the type of power his team expects from its right fielder.
Best Suitors: New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Angels
John Smoltz | SP
The Braves' ace could find a new home, but only if his team falls completely out of the race. While most have already counted out Atlanta, they have won eight of their last ten and only trail the NL wild card by 5 ½ games. Smoltz could shore up any starting rotation, especially the ones lacking back end quality pitchers.
Best Suitors: New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers
Jason Schmidt | SP
One guy that has been mentioned over the past three years during the trade deadline, he would certainly be dealt if the Giants were not in the race for both the NL West and the wild card. San Francisco will be hard pressed to secure one of these spots and with his age -- along with the rest of the team getting up there -- acquiring several prospects to promote the future might be a wise idea. Schmidt is the best pitcher on the market, even if Smoltz is on the move as well.
Best Suitors: Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets
Bob Wickman | RP
With so much need for veteran bullpen help, Wickman would be a solid pickup with the Indians all but out of the race. Despite his struggles this season, he has proven he can be a reliable man late in the ball game, even if he is not the closer. His 228 career saves suggest he can get it done wherever he is situated, as long as he gets consistent opportunities.
Best Suitors: Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals