Welcome to Reality Check 2005
Every year it’s the same. Every year it’s a little bit different. You know, kind of like baseball itself. The countdown to the July 31 trade deadline has started, and it’s only a matter of time before something comes down. Meanwhile, a whole lot of nothing will be out there, and only a few rumors will really come true.
The names are already trickling out, and July’s not even here yet. In our hearts, we all know that pretty much all of the names will be listed on the same rosters come Aug. 1 that they’re on now.
But that doesn’t make the annual trip around the rumor mill any less fun, does it? Speculation, rumor, innuendo — it’s all part of the game.
At some point, somebody has to separate the fantasy from the reality, the fiction from the truth, the hooey from the dealio. And that’s what we’re here for at the Reality Check.
Fifteen years into a baseball writing career, this is a first — blogdom. (To paraphrase sports talk radio: Longtime writer, first-time blogger.) This as good a forum as any to get a blog career going, because there will be plenty of fodder over the next several weeks before the non-waiver deadline to take some of the, uh, stuff that’s being thrown up against the wall, give it a gander and evaluate it as possible or just plain silly. Hence the name, the Reality Check.
Now let’s remember: This is just one guy’s take, with a little help from baseball execs, a little knowledge of the national baseball media circles and a whole lot of insight from our crack staff of beat writers here at MLB.com. This isn’t gospel, just semi-educated conjecture based on the best information available.
Here’s a quick take on where we stand at the moment:
What’s the same about this year is that right around the first of July the sellers are asking way too much and the buyers are all looking for the same thing — a frontline starter or a big bat. What’s a little different than last year, at least, is that we don’t have a deal yet, certainly nothing like last year’s three-way Carlos Beltran she-bang. So it’s wait-and-see mode for a bit.
Frankly, there’s not a lot out there so far. But the one guy you always have to keep an eye on is Billy Beane. For the moment, forget about Barry Zito or Eric Chavez — you still have to look at them as the cornerstones of the future in Oakland. Think Mark Kotsay, if anyone. He’s got a player option year coming up, and extension talks aren’t going anywhere yet. The Yankees are said to be interested, but they’ve got diddly to give a team like the A’s. That said, Beane’s the master of the three-way deal, so don’t rule it out. The Cubs might throw a line in that water, too.
See? There’s a little somethin’-somethin’ to get us started. No real basis. Just a little rumor, speculation and innuendo. Fun.
Listen, nobody — not even the GMs who know more than the rest of us — knows what’ll happen before July 31, or after with guys being sent through waivers. The stuff’s only starting to be flung, and the phones are only starting to buzz around baseball’s front offices. The fun’s only beginning. But there will be plenty of rumors to come, and this here Reality Check is ready to roll.