3B Garrett Atkins could be a major upgrade for Florida.
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Meaning no disrespect, other than to Ryan Garko and any friends and family he may have in the Bay Area, no one is too excited that the San Francisco Giants have acquired the first baseman, who by being traded has now crossed the narrow line that marks off busted prospects from journeymen. Unlike star players involved in rumored blockbusters that will never happen, though, this journeyman will actually affect a real pennant race -- while Garko isn't great, he's better than what the Giants had. And this should remind us that trades are often less about players than situations and opportunities.
Several other teams are in much the same position as the Giants -- they weren't really expected to do all that much this year, they aren't in an especially brutal race, and they have a clear position of need. None of them are quite as fortunate as the Giants, who have perhaps the best rotation in baseball and will benefit greatly from any hitters they dredge up between now and the end of August. But if you're looking for other small moves that might affect a race, these teams are where to look.
Texas Rangers: As noted here several times, the Rangers could benefit more by adding a first baseman than pretty much any team could by adding Roy Halladay. The logic of it is just overwhelming, so one expects a move despite relative quiet in Arlington.
Chicago White Sox: While DeWayne Wise will likely never again be able to buy a beer in Bridgeport after saving Mark Buehrle's perfect game last week with a catch Willie Mays wouldn't have been ashamed to make, he isn't a real solution in center field. Ken Williams always has plots and plans and is quite realistic about how good his players are no matter what highlight reels they make, so don't be surprised if a center field version of Garko ends up making his way to the South Side.
Colorado Rockies: Since Dexter Fowler is tall, skinny and fast, people tend to think he's a good center fielder. He may develop into one with time, but going by such defensive stats as UZR, he isn't one yet. With their huge outfield, the Rockies could use a fly catcher to spell if not replace him, and those tend to come cheap.
Florida Marlins: Third baseman Emilio Bonifacio has been just miserable this year -- both his on base and slugging averages are hovering around .300, the equivalent of the Mendoza line -- and any live body for third would greatly improve their chances in the wild card race. Come to think of it, the Marlins have some spare outfielders, while the Rockies don't have much use for Garrett Atkins ...
Minnesota Twins: I believe the Twins' last in-season trade happened under Clark Griffith and involved the team picking up a twirler to back Walter Johnson. That said, is there a team that could more badly use a Garko-type for a position? Twins second basemen are hitting .183/.272/.231. Former Twins ace Johan Santana has a career slugging average of .255, by way of comparison.