Four MLB teams looking to build for a playoff push
Winning in baseball begins with the front office, where team officials cross the T's and dot the lowercase j’s. As the MLB schedule inches closer to the July 31 trade deadline, plenty of contending teams are shopping around for that one key ingredient to push them over the top.
Of course, the usual suspects – Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers, Yankees - are being mentioned among the stacks and stacks of trade rumors. However, there are a few smaller-profile clubs trying to boost their chances and make a run at a postseason spot.
Here are four teams looking to buy – and better yet – win with the help of some late-season additions:
Pittsburgh Pirates (52-40, +20.44 units)
The Pirates have overachieved so far, becoming the best bet in the majors. But while the Bucs have an underrated pitching staff (ranked sixth with a 3.55 ERA), they know they need serious help at the plate. All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen is keeping the offense afloat with his breakout season and an extra bat would give Pittsburgh the added pop to contend in the fall. Names like Justin Upton, Hunter Pence and Chase Headley are bouncing around the rumor mills.
Toronto Blue Jays (46-47, -5.28 units)
The Blue Jays didn’t waste any time plugging holes in their injury-riddled staff, making a 10-player swing with the Houston Astros that brought starter J.A. Happ and relievers Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter this week. Toronto is also reportedly after Cubs starter Matt Garza, who is being courted by numerous clubs. An extra arm in the rotation would be key, especially once the Jays' bats get healthy. Toronto is only 4.5 games out of a wild card spot and has historically been a solid second-half team. The Jays’ willingness to make moves shows they’re committed to qualifying for the postseason in 2012.
Cleveland Indians (47-46, +1.69 units)
The Tribe have fallen off the pace in the AL Central, thanks to a 2-5 skid heading into Saturday’s games. But they’re not letting a little bump in the road deter them from making a run at the playoffs. Cleveland is a buyer or a seller, depending on which rumors you believe. The Indians have been mentioned as suitors for Minnesota starter Francisco Liriano and have also been on the lookout for outfield help, possibly Jeff Francoeur or Carlos Quentin. GM Chris Antonetti still hasn’t tipped his hand yet, so Tribe backers should wait and see.
San Francisco Giants (52-41, +10.56)
If the Giants didn’t go on a big run in late June, the mood could be very different in the Bay Area heading into the trade deadline. San Francisco is currently on top of the NL West with six wins in its last seven games as of Saturday. Like every year, the Giants need help at the plate. Chicago’s Brian LaHair and Alfonso Soriano have been mentioned in rumors as well as Twins star Justin Moreau, who would bring a hefty contract to San Fran. They’re also looking for a closer to replace the injured Brian Wilson. Huston Street, Brett Myers, Francisco Rodriguez and Jonathan Broxton are all options.