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Baseball in July

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I absolutely hate the MLB All-Star game. Even before the totally blown farce of attaching home field advantage in the World Series to the game, it was an absolute bore, and a patent joke. Starting with the play of the game down through the fact that every team has to be represented, whether they deserve it or not, he entire thing just sucks.

That said, there’s one thing that keeps me absolutely enamored with baseball through July; trades. It’s arguably the most interesting period in the baseball calendar, as prospects and All-Stars get swapped and rosters get made over for short and long term considerations, depending on how your season is going. With that in mind, I now present to you the 5 players who should most be traded by their teams.

1. Ichiro Suzuki OF Seattle Mariners

We don’t mess around here, so we’re starting with the big dogs. Ichiro is a perennial All-Star and gold glove candidate who has speed as is arguably the best contact hitter anywhere in the game. He has also been the face of the Mariners franchise since his rookie season, so it’s extremely unlikely he’ll be moved. But nevertheless, it’s probably the only decent move Seattle could make at this point. The Mariners were expecting big things after a mildly surprising season last year and a much regarded off season this part winter that turned out to be a major bust. Ichiro is 34 years old, so his window to help a team that is going to have to rebuild over the next 5 year period or so is extremely limited. Even in a down year, by his standards, he still has 100 hits and a .297 batting average at the moment, to go along with second to none defensive talent. Any number of playoff contedors not set around the outfield and/or at the top of the order with prospects to spare would love to have Ichiro. Seattle should shoot for a bevy of prospects and maybe a middle of the rotation starter in exchange and start building a deep, young, team designed to compete at a high level 3-5 years down the road, a best case scenario as it is, and a point at which Ichiro will be on his way out of the game.

2. Victor Martinez Catcher Cleveland Indians

Yes he’s battling injuries and decreased production, but that just makes him a bargain. He’s still coming in at a .278 batting average in 198 AB’s this season, which is actually one of the better marks in Cleveland. The Indians are the biggest disappointment in baseball this year, going from the ALCS 8 months ago to 9 games under .500 and the cellar of the AL Central (that means behind Kansas City) today. They need to do some reorganizing, and do it quickly. Martinez is going to have to make some kind of a move, either to another city or to another position, as catchers tend to hit a downturn in productivity around 30, which Martinez will be turning over the off season. First base would be the place for Martinez to move, but with Ryan Garko and Travis Hafner on the roster, that’s not going to happen. Someone has to move, and Martinez probably offers the best chance to get something useful in return, even if his value is diminished at the moment. If nothing else, they could save some money to put towards retaining C.C. Sabathia this off season.

3. Melky Cabrera OF New York Yankees/Phil Hughes RHP NYY

I include Cabrera and Hughes together because they’ll probably have to be moved in tandem. Hughes is a highly thought of pitching prospect who is now developing injury problems, who probably should have been traded in the off season (and rought start not withstanding, how dumb do the Yankees look for not pulling the deal on the Santana trade?). Likewise, Cabrera is highly regarded and a near perfect fit for a moneyballing team like Oakland, Minnesota, etc. The Yankees desperately need left handed pitching, and are deep in terms of center field prospects in the organization, so Cabrera is likely to be moved at some point. Packaging Hughes into the deal for a lefty or 2 who could pitch down the stretch this year would provide the most immediate short term boost to the Yankees rotation, and arguably their defense, as Giambi could be moved to the DH role for a substantial defensive upgrade at first base.

4. Adam Dunn OF Cincinnati Red

The single most overrated player in baseball. Chicks really do dig the long ball, and that’s more or less the only reason anyone would consider wasting a spot in their lineup on Adam Dunn. But outside of his ability to hit 40-45 home runs every year, Dunn is just a terrible player to trot out there. Yes he walks a lot, but in all honesty he’s selective to a fault. You want your leadoff or 2 hole hitter working waks, not your cleanup guy. With 1 out and runners on 2nd and 3rd, you’d much prefer your clean up guy to drive a fly ball deep into the outfield on a sac fly. But the last time Dunn hit a sac fly George Bush was probably still hovering around a 40% approval rating. Instead, Dunn would be more likely to look at pitches around the corners hoping to work a walk; or strike out. I don’t think the strike outs need a lot of attention paid to them, so instead I’ll point out that, despite 4 seasons of 40 home runs or better, his career best for RBI’s is 106. And his best season in terms of batting average is a paltry .266, in a year when he struck out 195 times. And we’re not even going to go into his defense, which isn’t so much bad as it is lazy.

All of that, and the $13 million he’s making this year before he hits the free agent market, are both principal reasons he should be traded and why no one is likely to want him simultaneously.

5. AJ Burnett SP Toronto Blue Jays

Burnett is no longer the much anticipated prospect he once was, but he’s certainly still a serviceable pitcher. Yes he has an ERA around 4.75 and a WHIP of nearly 1.5, but he is 8-7 with 108 strikeouts in 106 innings pitched. Toronto is another team that needs to rebuild, having gone from the perennial “best of the rest” team to the cellar of the AL East. Burnett isn’t likely to fetch much on the trade market, but the goal here should not necessarily be to pick up a wide assortment of prospects so much as it should be to unload Burnet’ss $13.25 million contract. Toronto should shop him to playoff contenders looking to upgrade their 3rd or 4th spot in the rotation for the playoff push, in exchange for 1 or 2 marginal prospects and/or cash considerations as well as picking up the bulk of his contract this year. Burnett is a free agent after this season, so any potential buyers wouldn’t be eating a long term financial liability, and Toronto shouldn’t seek top tier prospects. They should be happy to get something in exchange for dumping Burnett, and put the saved money toward organization building.

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