US Presswire file photo
Mike Rizzo may not be on his phone that much today.
There are, depending on which direction the wind is blowing at any given moment, 18 teams with a halfway legitimate shot at reaching baseball's postseason right now. And nearly every one of those 18 teams is looking to make -- or already has made -- a move to bolster its chances down the stretch before today's 4 p.m. trade deadline passes.
Just look at some of the National League's top contenders. The Braves tried to get Ryan Dempster and Zack Greinke, failed on both counts and then last night scooped up Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson from the Cubs.
The Dodgers pulled off a major trade last week in snagging Hanley Ramirez from the fire-selling Marlins, then late last night added reliever Brandon League from Seattle. Their NL West rivals, the Giants, got Marco Scutaro from the Rockies and now have been linked in talks to acquire either Hunter Pence or Alfonso Soriano.
The red-hot Reds are rumored to be interested in Matt Garza. While the surprising Pirates, who already traded for Wandy Rodriguez last week, burned the midnight oil last night and came away with outfielder Travis Snider.
And then there are the Nationals. They woke up this morning with baseball's best record at 61-40 and apparently no motivation to make a deal before 4 p.m. unless some too-good-to-refuse offer is handed to general manager Mike Rizzo before the deadline arrives.
How rare is it for a contending club to sit idle and watch the trade deadline pass without making a serious attempt to add a player? Pretty rare, even more so when that club hasn't been in contention during any of the previous six seasons.
The Nationals, though, like what they have right now, both from a talent and chemistry standpoint, and they also know they'll be getting a couple of key veterans back from the DL in the next few days (which could represent the equivalent of two significant trades).
So most expect the Nationals to remain quiet as this often hectic day plays out. That's not to say Rizzo might not have a change of heart and accept some last-minute offer that comes through. But the odds for such a deal seem slim at best.
If there's anything to report, though, rest assured we'll have it covered right here. Check back on this posting for updates throughout the day, right up until the 4 p.m. deadline.
9:45 a.m. -- All appears quiet so far. A lot of people have wondered all along whether the Nationals really are satisfied with their current catching situation. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote this morning the Nats and Brewers have interest in the Red Sox's Kelly Shoppach. I brought up Shoppach's name last week to a team exec, who didn't sound particularly enamored with the veteran. If Mike Rizzo was going to pull off a deal for a catcher, I think he'd be more inclined to make a bigger splash and get someone with a more potent bat. That said, I still believe he'll sit pat on this one.
10:50 a.m. -- Even if the Nats don't make a deal today, they certainly will be affected by what else happens around baseball. Especially when it involves the team that is in town to open a three-game series: The fast-fading Phillies, who by multiple accounts are trading Shane Victorino to the Dodgers, continue to talk to the Orioles about Joe Blanton and by this afternoon could conceivably part ways with Cliff Lee (who is scheduled to start tonight's game). The Victorino move could be looked at two different ways from the Nats' perspective: Obviously, it would weaken an already weakened Philly lineup for this series. On the other hand, he could be a real burr in their saddle come October should they wind up having to play the Dodgers. I know we're looking way down the road there, but hey, this is the situation the Nats are in now.
12:30 p.m. -- And the big deals keep on coming ... not for the Nats but for the team they're playing the next three nights. Yes, reports now have the Phillies sending Hunter Pence to the Giants. Which means Charlie Manuel won't have two of his three regular outfielders in the lineup tonight. And yes, Stephen Strasburg is starting for the Nationals. You may want to show up or tune in to this one, folks.
1:42 p.m. -- I'm about to head out for the ballpark, so even if anything happens, you probably won't hear from me for a little bit.
3:00 p.m. -- Hello from Nationals Park, where a team wearing Phillies uniforms is taking early BP right now. Not sure how many of those players could honestly be described as "Phillies," though. Lot of new faces here today. Meanwhile, the Nats have added a veteran bench player just before the 4 p.m. deadline ... Chad Tracy, who has been activated off the DL. Corey Brown was optioned to Syracuse to make room for Tracy, who (though he wasn't picked up in a trade) still is an important piece to add to the roster right now.