The Nexus Of The Universe
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As we near June, it's too early to talk trade buzz. Even so, now is the time when you really get the feel for your team's biggest weakness. Either you need that dominant hurler starting all the big series' or that huge presence in the line-up that can change a season with one swing of the bat. Every team wants something else right now and chances are their wants will become needs as the season progresses. Big trades don't usually happen around this time. Many teams are still wondering if they have a shot to contend and some are waiting for star players to perform so they can dump them and their hefty contracts, but others are eager to get that one missing piece of the puzzle. That one pitcher or hitter to make the whole project come alive and take off. So which trades could happen? Most of the time, speculation leads to absolutely nothing. It's all talk and rumors and in August your team is exactly the same. But making up trades are quite enjoyable (unless it's Steve Phillips making them up because that's not fun. That shatters your IQ). Hopefully, this won't.

Padres & Indians- Brain Giles for a small package of prospects

Mark Shapiro has come out and said he will look anywhere and everywhere for cures for the surprisingly struggling Indians (22-26). The Indians have no problems on the starting pitching front and the bullpen will improve from getting Borowski back. But the batting line-up has been worse than expected; which is bad because it wasn't expected to be that good from the get go. The team has a collective BA of .231 and everyone is to blame (Something is seriously wrong with Travis Hafner. His mechanics look so out of whack). There are some names out there. Matt Holliday, Brian Roberts, Adam Dunn, and Coco Crisp among others. But the easiest player to get that would significantly make an improvement would be Brain Giles. If the Padres keep up the way they're playing now, they're sure to be sellers and Brain Giles would be one of the first to get shipped out. The Indians need a corner outfielder in the worst way. David Dellucci is hitting .228 in left and Franklin Gutierrez is hitting .235 in right. Giles is hitting .306 right now with an OBP of .404 in a terrible ballpark for hitters. His HR total (3) and RBI total (20) would increase from a move to Ohio. He could bat lead-off because he walks a ton or in the thick of the order because he still has pop. He's not a sexy name or a big star, but this team needs a hitter like that. I highly doubt the Rockies are trading away their best player in Holliday and even if they were, the Indians would have to give up everything including the kitchen sink for him. There's no risk in Giles and the franchise can afford the move. As for the Padres, they shouldn't have to start a total rebuilding project because they have some upside. With that said, they must dump the older guys now because they're not making a dent this year.

A's & Braves- Joe Blanton and Mark Ellis for Kelly Johnson, Ruben Gotay, and a couple high level prospects.

I know this one is a little whacky, but I'll explain. The Braves need an experienced, dependable arm in the rotation to help lessen the blow of Smoltz moving back into the pen. While the A's are contending at the moment (25-22), they've already started to fall off their great start and should continue falling back to earth. Blanton was another name (with Nick Swisher and Dan Haren) that was involved in numerous whispers around baseball during the offseason. But unlike Nick and Dan, Blanton stayed put. Blanton is 2-6 but his ERA is pretty solid for a young guy in the AL (3.87). Even though the pitching rotation has somehow managed to overcome the losses of Smoltz and Hampton (again), the majority of the rotation is rather unproven and has a good chance of tailing off as the season progresses. Jair Jurrjens has only pitched in 17 games in his career, Jo-Jo Reyes in 16 games, and Jorge Campillo in 22 games (only 2 of them starts). They need an experience arm for down the stretch when the weather gets warmer and every game is do or die. Joe Blanton fits the bill and should improve on the move to the NL. Now we all know Billy Beane asks for a lot when he trades which is why I put Ellis in here. Mark Ellis is another name Beane probably wouldn't mind dumping. By throwing Ellis in the deal, Beane can move on further with the rebuilding project and justify wanting Kelly Johnson in the exchange. Kelly has proven to be a great find for the Braves, but Atlanta is trying to win now. And if that means giving up some big prospects and your 2nd baseman for a quality #2 pitcher and another pesky player, I think they should do it. For the A's, they'd get their 2nd baseman for the immediate future.

Red Sox & Cubs- Coco Crisp for Sean Gallagher

The Cubs have had the hottest batting line-up in baseball thus far, but if there's one thing they could use it'd be some speed at the top of the order. Crisp is doing rather well this season (.295) and plays great defense. The Red Sox have Ellsbury to take a firm grip on the CF job once Coco is gone so the Sox would not lose any sleep over it. Actually, this would make them sleep better. The Red Sox have been trying to find suitors for Crisp. He was even mentioned in the pending Johan Santana deal before the Twins turned around and traded him to the New York Metropolitans. This would be one of the few pitcher/hitter deals that can work brilliantly for both teams. Just in case Edmonds doesn't work out (which is a fair possibly), having Coco in center with Reed Johnson forms a more than capable platoon. Crisp will add a switch-hitting bat at the top of the order, inject the Cubs' line-up with an adrenaline shot of speed, and increase flexibly for Lou Piniella to tinker around. From the Red Sox point of view, not only will they get rid of a player they've been trying to dump for a while but also get something back in return. The Cubs are high on Gallagher and have liked him quite a bit (even though he was mentioned in trade talks for Brian Roberts earlier in the season). But the Cubs are trying to win now and they have the arm in Jon Lieber to take Sean's spot in the rotation. Lieber can still pitch (3.24 ERA) and has always been a very good clutch pitcher. Meanwhile, you put Gallagher in Boston and if he improves (which he has the talent to do so) you're looking at the young powerhouse trio of Lester, Buchholtz, and Gallagher with Beckett and Dice-K.

Rangers & Yankees- Kevin Millwood for Alan Horne with a couple mid-level prospects

Would I like this trade? Not that much, no. But it wouldn't surprise me if the Yanks found themselves on July 29th, still needing a pitcher in the worst way to make a run at a playoff berth. After being the worst team in baseball for the first month of the season, the Rangers have quietly pulled themselves back at .500. Even with the pleasant resurrection, this isn't a playoff team. Any club with a starting rotation containing the likes of Sidney Ponson, Vincente Padilla, and Jason Jennings isn't sniffing playoff contention. The ace of the bunch, Kevin Millwood is currently on the DL and should get off in June (which makes the sudden rebirth of good baseball in Texas even the more impressive). Millwood has struggled this season (2-3, 4.88 ERA) and hasn't lived up to the contract he signed with the Rangers back in 2005. When you put it in perspective, it's not surprising. He was coming off a career year when he pitched to the lowest ERA in the AL (2.86) and going to the Ballpark in Arlington would kill most pitchers. He hasn't been a complete bust, but not a shut-down ace like they hoped he would be. The Yankees would take him though. He'd add more veteran experience to the staff and he'd give the Yankees innings; which is something Hughes and Kennedy haven't provided. The Rangers would get Horne (who is a big pitching prospect that the Yanks love) and a couple other good pieces. The Yanks would also get Millwood's contract on the books, but if they make the playoffs that would be no big deal. While Millwood is experienced, he's only 33 so he's not a Mussina or Clemens.

Orioles & White Sox- Brian Roberts for Brian Anderson, Toby Hall, Nick Masset, and Matt Thornton

While the owner loves Roberts like a son and the team has gotten off to a shockingly good start, the O's will fade and trading Roberts is another step to take in the redoing of this organization. The White Sox have a gaping hole at 2nd base. Juan Uribe (I can't even believe he's still on the team) is hitting .198 and they have no one to take over in the long haul. Roberts would fit well and help the White Sox become more small ball oriented and less reliant on the HR ball. As for the O's you know they'd ask for a lot. Once again, Angelos must have posters of Roberts in his room and the O's haven't been as bad they should've been. In reality, it'd probably take more than the 4 names listed above to get Roberts. But I thought of mixing it up and instead of saying "and some prospects", actually coming up with names. The O's bullpen has been pretty solid but Jaime Walker and Chad Bradford will probably be gone by mid-season to teams that desperately need bullpen help (cough, Brewers, cough). Masset and Thornton gives them the extra arms in the pen so they can trade away the other two guys and have replacements on hand right away. Anderson gives them a back-up in the OF who can play great defense since Jay Payton is another guy who can be dumped soon and the O's desperately need some catching depth since Ramon Hernandez looks completely shot (hitting .209). Toby Hall gives them another guy behind the plate who can hit and play most days if asked.

Reds & Blue Jays- Adam Dunn for Jesse Litsch and Greg Zaun

Now I'm just having fun. But when you think about it, it doesn't sound half bad. The Reds have been talking about trading Dunn for a while now and they could use some more young pitching and a catcher. The Reds' current main catcher Paul Bako is batting .258 but his career BA is .235. While Greg Zaun isn't way better (career BA of .252), he's still a better switch-hitting bat that is more capable of starting than Bako. So that will plug one of the Reds' bigger holes that they've had for far too long. As for Litsch, plug him into that rotation with Aaron Harang, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, and Edinson Volquez and you have a rotation that on paper looks dynamite for the next 10 or so years. And in the NL Central, that could mean division champs every year. Hell, that could mean WS every year. As for the Blue Jays side of things, they have pitching already. Halladay, Dustin McGowan, and Shaun Marcum will be a dominant trio in the near future (Marcum and Halladay have been pretty great this year already and Dustin has the stuff). The thing that has killed the Blue Jays this year has been lack of punch. And when you're in the same division as the Red Sox, Yanks, and Rays, lack of punch stands out. Dunn would solve that problem right away. He'd make the whole line-up better with his presence and could slide right into the DH slot or play the field. This would be one of those trades that wouldn't help either team make the playoffs this year, but it would help both right away and in the coming years.

That's good enough for now I suppose. Will any of these trades happen? Naw, probably not. But it's always cool to play it out. If you have any suggestions there's the comment section for ya. Thanks for reading.

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