- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
The Indians played at San Francisco on June 26, and as the Cleveland players began to stretch on the field for batting practice, Orlando Cabrera walked away from the pack and went to shake the hand of someone standing next to the cage -- San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy.
This was a day after the first published report tying the Giants in a possible match with the infielder, and just a couple of days after Cabrera had been told by Manny Acta that he wouldn't be a regular player for the Indians anymore.
As Cabrera walked away from Bochy, he glanced over and saw that I had seen his conversation with the San Francisco manager. And Cabrera smiled and winked: He knew there was a fit for him with San Francisco.
Players say out loud that they ignore the trade rumors and they don't pay attention to it, but the truth is that they can't get away from it this time of year. If their names appear in a trade rumor, their family, friends and teammates will alert them.
Few players have taken the field under more unusual circumstances than Ubaldo Jimenez. After weeks of trade speculation, a deal between the Rockies and Indians was at the 1-yard line on Saturday evening -- but not quite finished, contrary to many reports -- and so Jimenez took the mound, as the two teams finished their haggling over the last piece of the deal. And predictably, given the distractions at hand, Jimenez was awful.
The last few hours before the trade deadline today will be very anxious, especially for Ryan Ludwick, who is almost certainly going to be dealt to the Indians for Denard Span -- the object of the Nationals' obsessive search for a center fielder -- and for the small army of right-handed relievers likely to be moved today: Grant Balfour (Arizona?), Heath Bell (Texas remains a possible fit), Rafael Betancourt, Kyle Farnsworth and many others.
General managers had been saying for a few weeks that there have been a lot of trade discussions, and that while there hadn't been many deals, there would be a bunch coming down the line.
• The Indians were not scared off by the warning signs that hovered over Jimenez and scared off other teams -- the diminished velocity and performance, and the effort by Colorado to trade him in spite of his team-friendly contract.
The Yankees had asked the Rockies if they could give Jimenez a physical examination if a trade agreement were reached, and were told no. The Red Sox had similar concerns.
But the Indians are taking the chance, in agreeing to trade Drew Pomeranz and others; once Cleveland agreed to put Pomeranz in the deal, one GM said, it was a worthwhile trade for the Rockies. The Rockies did agree to allow the Indians to give Jimenez a physical later today, although it's not exactly clear how extensive the exam will be. One inning was a bad way to end it for Jimenez with the Rockies, writes Dave Krieger.
One scout tells Paul Hoynes that he can't believe the Rockies traded Jimenez.
From Stephen Oh of Accuscore: Cleveland's chance of making the postseason increased from 17 percent to 23 percent, and the net improvement is 1.1 wins over the rest of the season. This makes sense given how many starts (about 12) Jimenez figures to make the rest of the season.
The Yankees told the Rockies on Thursday night that they would not be involved in a Jimenez deal, because of concerns about the pitcher.
It appears the Yankees won't be able to improve their rotation before the deadline, Joel Sherman writes.
• The Cabrera deal was an acknowledgment that Miguel Tejada can't be the Giants' shortstop for the pennant drive, writes Henry Schulman. The Giants clearly value Cabrera's ability to play short over that of Tejada, writes Andrew Baggarly, because the offensive numbers for the two players are similar.
• The Tigers made a deal that didn't have star power, in adding Doug Fister and David Pauley, but it might turn out to be a difference-maker for Detroit. And Detroit didn't have to give up its best young arms, Lynn Henning writes.
• The Rangers' bullpen has been among the worst in the American League, but now it adds Koji Uehara, who has 117 strikeouts and 13 walks as a reliever, and they could add Bell, as well, and transform their relief corps from a weakness into a strength. Texas GM Jon Daniels says he'll be satisfied even if Uehara is the only addition.
• The trade deadline suspense is growing in Atlanta, because the Braves' opponents are getting stronger and Atlanta hasn't made a move yet; they've been working on a possible Michael Bourn deal. (Update: Bourn was traded to the Braves this morning for outfielder Jordan Schaefer and three pitchers.)
• If it's about getting maximum value, then the best time for Houston to trade Bourn is right now.
• The Diamondbacks decided 10 days ago that they would not trade any assets for a short-term rental, given the gap between Arizona and San Francisco. But the tough week for Atlanta, the wild-card front-runner, may have emboldened the Diamondbacks and nudged them into taking on Jason Marquis and his salary to boost the rotation. The Braves lost Brian McCann to injury and didn't land either Carlos Beltran or Hunter Pence to augment their offense. Arizona is taking its shot.
Marquis makes the Arizona staff stronger, Kirk Gibson tells Nick Piecoro.
• Ryan Theriot supports the Cardinals' acquisition of Rafael Furcal; Theriot's right shoulder has been balky and the Cardinals intend to make him the everyday second baseman. Furcal won't cost the Cardinals much at all.
• It figures to be a very busy day for the Padres, who are expected to deal Ludwick, Bell and Chad Qualls today.
• The Twins keep talking about adding a reliever, Joe Christensen writes.
• The Reds say they are not selling, but that doesn't mean they won't work out a trade of Ramon Hernandez, given what's in their farm system -- and the Giants are a perfect fit for Hernandez. Hernandez is trying to ignore the speculation.
• For the Mariners, the trade of Fister and David Pauley is just one step, writes Larry Stone.
• Was asked by a number of executives on Saturday: What do you think the Rays are going to do? So far, they've been quiet, Marc Topkin writes.
• The White Sox are done dealing, says Kenny Williams.
• The Marlins continue to be in a holding pattern, with the full intention of holding on to Leo Nunez, Randy Choate, etc., because they feel those players will help them in 2012, the first year in Florida's new park.
• Pence made his debut for the Phillies.
• Houston GM Ed Wade doesn't get the benefit of the doubt, writes Richard Justice.
• Some Mets have taken the Beltran trade as a slap in the face.
And today will be better than yesterday.
Buster Olney runs down the latest rumors before the MLB trade deadline and analyzes the Ubaldo Jimenez deal.