At the Half: Buyers and Sellers, NL Edition
One of the oddities of this season is a great number of teams are “in contention”--either over .500 or within four games in the standings. In the NL, that’s ten teams--not counting the Phillies, who were at .500 but have fallen five games under. So, who needs what to get over the top? Let’s take a look at the NL today.
Neither buyers nor sellers. The Braves have what they need. They strike out a lot, but you can’t trade to alleviate that at this point in the year.
They could upgrade catcher, shortstop, and third base to get better hitters. But really, why play with what works? Their defense is stout, and they have some kind of mojo lately that has allowed them to win 9 straight to snatch the best record in baseball.
The Cardinals really don’t need much--they are going to the postseason again and are strong all the way around, with the highest run differential in the NL. They have also scored the most runs in the NL.
Will this Jekyll-and-Hyde team please identify itself? We already know they have the talent, and the rest of the NL West is mediocre, but they need to play up to their talent level. Not sure they need anything right now, other than to get their mojo back.
Buyers. The Diamondbacks need a starting pitcher. An upgrade from Trevor Cahill, who has 10 losses already, would be helpful. The hitting is passable, and they could put distance between them and the rest of the mediocre NL West with a hot streak.
The Reds have not been the world beaters this year that they were last year; their biggest issue is that, while the pitching has been good on the whole and their hitters hit for power, they also strike out a lot and are not hitting for average. The problem seems to be a systemic one, up and down the lineup. Adding another bat, who hits for average and can get on base in a pinch, would be the Reds’ biggest need.
The Nats have also had hitting woes this year, and have one of the lowest batting averages in the NL. Bryce Harper should help here, but they could really use a speedster who gets on base- a fourth outfielder type, to serve as insurance for Bryce Harper and his balky knee. They could also use a starting pitcher to replace Dan Haren, whose best days are clearly behind him and whose 5.00-plus ERA impresses no one.
My kingdom for a starting pitcher! This team needs competent starters in the worst way. Their offense is very good- as you expect for a Coors Field team- but they do need someone, probably two or three starters, to just pitch average and give the offense a chance to win games.
Ditto Colorado, except they don’t have the excuse of playing in Coors Field, and don’t have the outstanding offense. Their position players are young, but they would have a chance with better starters.
L.A. could be both buyers and sellers here. Clearly they will spend to win, and spent they have, but won they have not. Still, they are only 3.5 games out of first! Their biggest need at this point is some bats--they are next to last in runs scored in baseball. Upgrades at second and third would prove helpful here.
Time to out with the old and in with the new. They have the older starting pitchers one would want to sell, and could bring up some of the younger players and pitchers who served them well to this point (See: Brown, Domonic). The Phillies should continue their youth movement and sell their older starters, and they might just find themselves in the thick of things come October.
New York Mets
New York Mess is more like it. Caught between a youth movement and expensive, unproductive players. If they can find anyone to take some of those players on, the Mets will be sellers. David Wright and Marlon Byrd would fetch good returns; the Mets should seriously consider trading one or both to restock their farm system.
Ahh, must be nice to roll a team out on Wrigley Field and never have to win. The pitching staff is actually decent and the bats are terrible. There may not be many takers, but the Cubbies need to trade whomever they can and get whatever they can in return--blow up the franchise and start fresh. Expensive and losing is no way to go through a century.
Wasn’t this team good, just a couple years ago? Not anymore- a decent offense has been coupled with very pedestrian pitching. This team just doesn’t have enough talent to compete--they should sell Ryan Braun and a few other stars to bring them the pitching talent they will need to compete in the future.
Giancarlo Stanton, reserve your moving trucks now! The Marlins’ winning June notwithstanding, this team lacks talent and should acquire young players for the future. It’s the Marlins Way.