Diving into the (trading) Pool

This is the time of the baseball calendar when an endless parade of shopped players will have some hyperventilating fans breathing into empty bags, and some upset fans reaching for air-sickness bags. Your bag will depend on whether your team is a player looking for reinforcements, or a prayer looking to bail.

That sound you hear are the CEOs of Bekins, Mayflower and United clinking champagne glasses.

After July 31, it’s a waiver world; to attempt deals, you will first have to expose the involved players to the claiming process. Until then, it will be simply a waver world; GMs will vacillate over pulling the trigger, or just pulling their hair out.

This is also the time of the year the Five W’s of Journalism expand to Six: Who, What, Where, When and How and joined by Wow. The Wow factor is very huge in reporting trade rumors.

Between now and then, big named will feed the buzz. Players on losers could be hitting the road, with their six tools and seven figures. Or, they could be going nowhere, just like their teams.

Whenever it all becomes a little too dizzying, just raise your hand, snap your fingers and call out, "Reality check, please!" In no time, we’ll be there to serve a dish of raw truth. No spices, no sweetening — definitely no preservatives.

Setting the tone …

AL superiority could pull the plug on the market

Historically, the biggest Trade Deadline moves have been across league lines. Mark McGwire, Carlos Beltran, Nomar Garciaparra, and so on. It makes sense: Unleash an unfamiliar weapon on the opposition.

But the AL’s utter dominance may snarl this cross-league traffic. AL executives are going to think long and hard before extending themselves for an NL hot-shot, fearful of statistics inflated by the inferior company he keeps.

That puts a major warning label on two of the biggest sellers: Washington and Pittsburgh.

So-long Soriano: However which way, Jim Bowden will figure out a way to move Alfonso Soriano who, when he pulls on his next uniform, will be with his fourth team in four years. I hope his next manager asks Alfonso to play shortstop. Just to see his reaction.

Another MVP (Most Variable Player): Give Phil Nevin credit. Not many overall No. 1 draft choices could have gotten off to the wretched start he did with Houston, and bounced back to salvage a very decent career. But Nevin’s pride can still betray him. Soon after his lips move, he moves. Nevin could soon be on his way to his fourth team in years, because he has been miserable about getting to the Cubs (from Texas) just in time to sink with them.

Manny Ramirez recently had his regular mid-season audience with Theo Epstein to inform the Red Sox GM that … he’s happy, doesn’t want to go anywhere else, wants to finish his career in Boston.

Did the Cardinals insist that the Angels package a shrink in the Jeff Weaver deal? Being released in favor of your younger brother has got to leave emotional scars. Who knew Jeff was his brother’s (roster-spot) keeper?

Till next shift …

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