Paul Hagen | Teams pick up trade signals from front office

Posted: July 27, 2007

WHEN THE GAVEL comes down Tuesday afternoon, signaling the end of trading without waivers, deals will have been made, the pennant races will have been altered and it will be pretty easy to figure out - on paper - which teams have helped themselves the most.

What can be more difficult to decipher is how moves, or lack of moves, will impact the clubhouse psyche.

Just the seductive whisper that they could be close to getting Mark Teixeira from the Rangers for uberprospect Jarrod Saltalamacchia, shortstop prospect Elvis Andrus and a minor league pitcher was a pick-me-up for the Braves. "You put somebody else like that in our lineup, a guy like that who mashes, it will be scary," enthused second baseman Kelly Johnson.

There's a flip side to that, too. The Padres, who are in a dogfight in their division, took the news hard when reliever Scott Linebrink was traded to the Brewers for three minor league pitchers on Wednesday. "Incomprehensible," fumed closer Trevor Hoffman. "Four other teams in the National League West are awfully excited."

Added All-Star righthander Jake Peavy: "You have to trust your front office when you're in the middle of a playoff run. But, man, to trade away your setup man . . . what kind of message are we sending here?"

That doesn't mean that the Braves will overtake the Mets if the Teixeira deal is finalized, especially since it seems likely that New York will also do something to improve. It doesn't mean that the Padres can't finish first without Linebrink who, to be fair, hasn't been very good recently.

It does mean that, whether they mean to or not, players seem to take a cue from what the general manager does. Or, in some cases, isn't able to do.

"We can't rely on the front office to make a trade to get us willing and wanting to play," Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer said. "We have to be willing and wanting to do that."

He's right. But, for better or worse, teams often seem to react to smoke signals coming from the executive suites, instead.

The hot corner

-- The market for infielder Ty Wigginton seems to be heating up. The Devil Rays would like to get bullpen help in return. The Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers are among the interested teams.

-- The Twins' recent swoon has likely turned Minnesota from buyers into sellers at the deadline, with potential free agents Torii Hunter, Luis Castillo and Carlos Silva now believed to be available.

-- There are reports that commissioner Bud Selig is pushing Joe Garagiola Jr. to be the next Pirates CEO, replacing Kevin McClatchy, who is stepping down.

-- The Rangers were happy to celebrate Sammy Sosa's 600th career home run, but are now looking to move him in order to make room for young sluggers Jason Botts and Nelson Cruz, now at Triple A.

Around the bases

-- The Angels are the latest team to report haunted house-type occurrences at the Renaissance Vinoy hotel in St. Petersburg, Fla. Pitching coach Mike Butcher said his lights came on at 4:11 a.m. and another team official said a magazine that had been closed the night before was mysteriously open the next morning.

-- Atlanta's Willie Harris went 6-for-6 in a game last weekend. But what makes the story interesting is that the first three came using a commemorative bat that was given to Braves employees in recognition of the team's 14 straight division titles. He was talked into it by pitcher Tim Hudson. "The bat was terrible," Harris said. "It didn't feel good at all in my hand."

-- Padres outfielder Milton Bradley knows he's regarded as a malcontent, but doesn't think that's accurate. "I don't think you ever get a fresh start," he told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "When I was a rookie in 2000, I attended an orientation given by [former big-leaguer] Jeffrey Hammond. He said, 'You're going to get a label as a player and that label is going to stick with you forever.' I've got a label.' "

On deck

Cheers: For new Reds manager Pete Mackanin. Taking infield practice is a dying art. Teams frequently skip it entirely and, when they have it, the stars are often absent. Mackanin has made it mandatory before every home game.

"We'll work on little specifics," he said. "Five minutes, tops. It doesn't wear anybody out. You have to do it. If you don't work on your skills, you lose them."

JEERS: To Marlins lefthander Scott Olsen. This guy is fast becoming the Lindsay Lohan of baseball. After several scuffles with teammates, the 23-year-old was finally suspended after a fight that started when another player mentioned that he had a broken button on his uniform.

He quickly followed that up by being arrested for resisting arrest, fleeing a police officer and driving under the influence. He eventually had to be subdued with a stun gun.

"There is something with him we don't know about, something maybe deeper," said Spanish language broadcaster Cookie Rojas, who has seen a lot in his 50 years in the game. "I believe the club has to take action in trying to find him some help. He's too young and he's got too much talent to be screwing up like he's doing right now."

BY THE NUMBERS: 5: Teams without a complete game from a starting pitcher, three of them in the NL East: Braves, Marlins, Nationals, Royals and Rangers.

74: Pitches used by Colorado's Aaron Cook in a complete-game win over the Padres on Wednesday.

84: Innings without allowing a home run for Dodgers reliever Jonathon Broxton, going into last night's game at Colorado.

134: Innings without a home run for the Angels before Garret Anderson connected against the Twins on Sunday. It was the second-longest homerless streak in franchise history. In 1979 the team went 170 innings without a long ball.

UP NEXT: Mets lefthander Tom Glavine will go for his milestone 300th career win Tuesday night against the Brewers at Miller Park.

"I'm proud of the company I'm getting to join," he said. "These are the great players of the game. But by no means do I feel I'm there yet. I still need one more win and then, hopefully, more beyond that."

Glavine admitted it won't be just another start. "I liken it to the World Series games I've pitched," he said.

Weeklies

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Righthander Scott Linebrink, on being sent to the Brewers on Wednesday after being the center of trade speculation for 2 years: "I hadn't been hearing any rumors. It's always the one you don't hear that gets you."

NICKNAME OF THE WEEK: Pirates righthander Ian Snell is called "Baby Sheff" by teammate Shawn Chacon, a reference to outspoken Tigers outfielder Gary Sheffield and Snell's recent string of controversial remarks. "He just says whatever comes to his mind and he wears his emotions on his sleeve," Chacon explained.

AMAZING JULIO FRANCO FACT OF THE WEEK: When the soon-to-be-49-year-old signed with the Braves last week after being released by the Mets, five players on Atlanta's active roster hadn't even been born when he made his major league debut in 1982.

BAD IDEA OF THE WEEK: With the Mariners in a free fall, somebody got the brilliant idea that everyone around the team should get a haircut as a gesture of solidarity. When it was over, most had opted for crew cuts, but designated hitter Jose Vidro's head was completely shaved and Ben Broussard had a mohawk.

So, when will the team picture be taken?

Finally

There have been rumors that the Reds could trade Ken Griffey Jr. Except that neither Griffey nor his agent have been contacted to see if he'd be willing to waive his right to veto a deal.

There was a rumor this week in Kansas City that outfielder Reggie Sanders had been traded. It turned out that a deliveryman picked up some boxes at his house that were to be shipped to Arizona, jumped to a conclusion and called a local radio station.

There will be a thousand rumors between now and the deadline to make trades without waivers next Tuesday. That can be a lot of fun. Just remember that a vast majority of them have no chance of actually happening. *

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