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The Shapeshifting National League Careens to the Trade Deadline

I have some serious decisions to make in my two MLB draft leagues. Several players, it turns out, have not performed up to draft day expectations and need to be replaced.

One league is held at historic McNally’s Irish Pub in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood. The other is out of the equally historic Kingfish Pub and Cafe also on the north side of Oakland. Luckily, both leagues have a trade deadline of August 30th, so there’s plenty of time to ponder whether I should jettison the Rangers’ Neftali Feliz or see if he comes back in early August and tears up the American League.

For Major League baseball teams, however, the non-waiver trade deadline clock is running out a lot quicker. The final alarm goes off on Tuesday July 31st at 1:00PM Pacific, 4:00PM Eastern Standard time.

General managers have four days left to pull the trigger on the moves that might put their franchises into the post season, where, as Yogi Berra might have put it, even the losers are big winners.

In the past week trade jockeying in the National League played like a series of outtakes from “The Matrix”. Some teams have stumbled into a spectacular muti-dimensional free-fall while others have started strapping on rocket-launchers and putting black on their faces in preparation for all out war.

Slipping on a series of extra large banana peels in the first half of the season are the Florida Marlins who appear to have strapped “for sale” signs on the backs of every player except Giancarlo Stanton. Just-emptied lockers in Miami’s new baseball stadium include those of SP Anibal Sanchez and IF Omar Infante who joined the contending Detriot Tigers, and IF Hanley Ramirez and RP Randy Choate who are now LA Dodgers.

It was quaint the way Marlins’ General Manager Michael Hill and owner Jeffrey Loria insisted to the media that overpriced underachieving free agents Jose Reyes (.741 OPS, 48 RS @ $106m) and Mark Buehele (9-9 @ $58m) are “untouchable”. And once again the Houston Astros are denied the final two pieces that would have put them over the top.

Pitcher Josh Johnson looks to be the next Marlin tossed out of the boat, except Florida is asking for Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in return. Take a quick photo of Carlos Lee, Ricky Nolasco, and Carlos Zambrano in their Marlin jerseys before they’re put in cement and deep sixed.

I’m thinking it’s just a matter of time before Marlin’s Manager Ozzie Guillen calls another press conference to discuss Cuban politics and what’s right with Fidel Castro.   

There was no indication the San Francisco Giants made a move on Hanley Ramirez and that’s understandable. By all accounts Ramirez is a spoiled child with an ego the size of New Jersey. He could melt amid the temporal temptations of Hollywoodland. But I must admit that Ramirez does start to make the Dodger line-up look potentially scary. And that’s scary.

It appears the new Dodger ownership has only started opening up their collective wallets. LA has expressed interest in a half dozen starting pitchers and any number of hitters, including OF Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs who is still owed $36m in 2013-14.

Apparently Chicago is so desperate to dump Soriano they are offering to pay virtually his entire remaining salary to any team willing to take him off their hands. The Cubs will also pack his suitcase, provide a limo to take him from Wrigley Field directly to his new team’s stadium, and throw in a lifetime supply of sunflower seeds. If the Dodgers get Soriano along with Hanley Ramirez, and somehow entice Manny Ramirez out of retirement, I would pay cash money to see that nightmare on Sunset Boulevard.

The Houston Astros have given up going through the motions and at this point are simply refusing to come out of the team hotel until they have officially been moved to the American League West. And the once feared Philadelphia Phillies have absolutely no clue what they’re doing. Half the time the Phils are saying they’re open to trading anyone who can hold a baseball, half the time they’re definitely standing pat.

BillyBrewerThe Milwaukee Brewers, who won the NL Central with 96 wins last season, have shipped top National League pitcher Zack Greinke to the Angels. Funny what a 44-54 record will make you do on July 27th.

Word is the Brewers’ loveable mascot Billy Brewer will be quietly put to sleep this weekend in a salary savings move by ownership.  

The Colorado Rockies are 17.5 games out of 1st place in the NL West and falling. Unofficial reports are that team owners have asked Commissioner Bud Selig if they could also please go to the American League just like the Astros. Selig has promised to set up a commission to study the request.

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