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Monday, June 21, 2004
Updated: June 22, 11:13 AM ET
Mota a valuable asset for L.A.

By Peter Gammons
Special to

June 21

  • A's general manager Billy Beane tried to put together a three-way deal that would have sent Carlos Beltran to the Dodgers and Guillermo Mota to the A's, but Paul DePodesta, his former assistant and now counterpart with L.A., did not want to trade Mota.

    Guillermo Mota

    Carlos Beltran

    "Our game is to try to shut down the opposition after the sixth inning," said Dodgers manager Jim Tracy. "And Mota is too big a part of our club."

    It's interesting that the Royals really like a lot of Oakland's "Moneyball" prospects, especially third baseman Mark Teahan and pitcher Joe Blanton.

  • While the Dodgers and Yankees are both going hard after Freddy Garcia, one GM on Monday said, "the reading we're getting is that the Mariners are not giving up on this season because of their fans. So (Seattle's trading of) Garcia may be a ways off." The Yanks apparently also have interest in Jamie Moyer, who according to someone who knows, would waive his 10/5 rights "in a heartbeat" if he were to land in New York or Boston.

  • Royals GM Allard Baird viewed players in eight different places, looking at potential returns for Beltran, Jason Grimsley and Joe Randa. The Orioles traded pitcher Denny Bautista for Grismley late Monday. Baird presently does not want or plan to deal Mike Sweeney.

    Baird says there are four teams currently in the Beltran hunt, with the A's, Red Sox and Yankees three of the four (could the Marlins be the fourth?). Baird and Beane worked on the three-way trade that would have included the Dodgers, then spent the weekend working with Theo Epstein on a three-way deal that in the Red Sox's world would have sent Beltran to Boston, Kevin Youkilis and Scott Williamson to Oakland and A's third baseman Mark Teahan (Kansas City's favorite), Red Sox catcher Kelly Shoppach and Oakland pitcher Mike Wood to Kansas City.

    Scott Williamson

    But the A's are not convinced that Williamson is their answer at closer, and Youkilis would eventually have to be moved once franchise player and Gold Glove winner Eric Chavez returns in a month from a broken right hand. Every team Oakland talks to wants reliever Jairo Garcia, who throws 97 to 98 mph and at Class A Kane County has 16 saves, has allowed one earned run and has a 49/6 strikeout/walk ratio in 30 innings. Boston may be able to pull off a trade for Beltran, but Epstein will have to come up with some new parts in order to do so.

    While the Red Sox think about putting Beltran in right field and having Manny Ramirez and Trot Nixon switch between left field and DH, Oakland has a lot of decisions to make in the near future.

    That dealin' time of year
    While we wait to see where Beltran and Garcia will go -- can someone scoop in on the Dodgers and Yankees? -- here are some ideas:

    Six trades that make sense

    1. Los Angeles trades catcher Koyie Hill, pitcher Joel Hanrahan and outfielders Xavier Paul and Reggie Abercrombie to Seattle for Freddy Garcia. The Dodgers need a starter more than anything. Garcia has pitched well (he's sixth in the AL with a 3.21 ERA and has had only 20 runs of support) and would be a shot in the arm to the Dodgers' staff. Mariners GM Bill Bavasi knows the Dodgers' system well because he previously worked for L.A. and played a big part in restoring it.

    Barry Zito

    2. Oakland trades Barry Zito, Wood, Dan Johnson, Arthur Rhodes and cash to Texas for Mark Teixeira and Francisco Cordero. The Rangers get a No. 1 starter in Zito, and he's left-handed. Oakland gets its closer in Cordero and a huge potential bat whose agent is on the Rangers' B list.

    3. The Cardinals trade right-handed pitcher Brad Thompson to Toronto for Frank Catalanotto. Catalanotto is a terrific hitter who would step right into their hole in left field.

    4. The Padres trade Xavier Nady to Pittsburgh for Kris Benson. In his start last Thursday, Benson threw better than in a long while, and this atmosphere might be perfect for him. Nady was almost in the Brian Giles deal last season, and could play first, third or the outfield.

    Mike Maroth

    Ugueth Urbina

    5. San Francisco trades right-handed pitcher Matt Cain and infielder Lance Niekro to Detroit for closer Ugueth Urbina and starting pitcher Mike Maroth. For the Giants, the future is now. For the Tigers, two years from now to have Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, Kyle Sleeth and Cain for the rotation will get them a lot closer to where they want to be rather than shooting for .500 in 2004.

    6. The White Sox trade outfielder Jeremy Reed and pitcher Jon Rauch to Colorado for pitchers Jason Jennings and Shawn Chacon.

    Around the majors
  • GM Terry Ryan and the entire Minnesota organization have done a remarkable job contending for three straight years, with one more playoff series won than the Astros and Rangers have in their combined histories. But keeping the club afloat with a limited payroll and some very good players like Torii Hunter ($8 million per year) is difficult and will be treacherous this winter, which is why it will be difficult for them to take on any contracts.

    Torii Hunter

    With Hunter, Doug Mientkiewicz, Joe Mays and Shannon Stewart, they already have close to $25 million in commitments for 2005. Cristian Guzman has an option for $5.25 million that the Twins are unlikely to pick up. Brad Radke and Corey Koskie will be free agents as well at season's end.

    And check their list of arbitration eligibles: Jacque Jones (fifth year eligible, coming off making $4.35 million this season), Kyle Lohse, Joe Nathan, J.C. Romero, Carlos Silva, Johan Santana, Luis Rivas and Matthew LeCroy. That many players means they'll have to find replacements at second base, shortstop and third base.

  • From one scout: "Why don't teams treat Jim Thome the way they do Barry Bonds? All of (the Phillies') other key hitters strike out too often (to risk pitching to Thome)."

  • Speaking of Bonds. His derogatory comments about Boston, a place he's never visited, were ill-conceived and an intellectually-bankrupt blanket indictment beneath someone of Bonds' intelligence. The best thing about Junior Griffey's renewed excitement is that fans can see the joy of a man whose greatest joy is spent while with his children. Let's face it: Junior is defensive, Barry is offensive.

    Steve Finley

  • If a team can't acquire Beltran, why not take a chance on going after Steve Finley?

  • Hey, trading Richard Hidalgo cleared more than $1 million for Astros GM Gerry Hunsicker to use.

    Numbers just don't fit
    Teams like the A's, Dodgers and others like to look at prospects in terms of their pure hitting skills, judged by more extra-base hits and walks than strikeouts.

    There aren't many prime prospects who have those types of numbers. In fact, there are only two:

    (The statistics for the following players reflect in order; extra-base hits, walks and strikeouts.)

    Casey Kotchman, 1B, Angels, Double-A and Triple-A: 18, 13, 12
    Jeff Salazar, OF, Rockies, Class A: 35, 32, 16

    A few who are close:
    Jason Kubel, OF, Twins, Double-A and Triple-A: 28, 24, 26
    Dan Johnson, 1B, A's, Triple-A: 31, 45, 33
    David Wright, 3B, Mets, Double-A and Triple-A: 42, 41, 46
    Russ Adams, SS, Blue Jays, Triple-A: 26, 33, 28
    Daric Barton, C, Cardinals, Class A: 14, 25, 17
    Conor Jackson, OF, Diamondbacks, Class A: 31, 44, 34
    Andy LaRoche, SS, Dodgers, Class A: 33, 29, 30