Addition of Pedro Unlikely to Overhaul NL East

The Major League Baseball trade deadline is now just 17 days away.
With several marquee players on the market and plenty of teams still in
contention, the rumor mill is heating up.

In a four-part series, Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors will share his insights on potential deadline deals now that the first half of the season is over. Here is Part II of the epic deadline discussion (for Part I click here):

NESN.com: Following Sunday’s game against the Royals, Terry Francona announced that Clay Buchholz
would start on Friday against Toronto — the first game after the break
for the Red Sox. Right now the Red Sox have five starters on the roster
without Buchholz, so it seems a bit strange for them to finally give
him a start with the entire rotation healthy. Is this a move to
showcase Buchholz at the major league level to other clubs, or the next
step in finally moving Brad Penny?

Ben Nicholson-Smith: The Blue Jays will watch
Buchholz intently, and I wouldn’t be surprised if other teams (the
Indians, perhaps) watch his 2009 debut, too. But this is nothing new
for the Jays, who have scouted Buchholz before. No single start will change his trade value considerably and the Jays, like Buchholz himself, will likely care more about his approach than his line at the end of the night.

And could Penny be on the block? We haven’t heard any rumblings
about Penny in weeks, which feels like an eternity given all the rumors
about him in June. The Red Sox held onto Penny last month because he
gives them depth and he’s still just as valuable today. Sure, other
teams would have interest in him, but the Red Sox don’t have gaping
holes to fill, so they can afford the luxury of keeping an extra
starter around.

NESN.com: Early on it seemed like Penny was a good
fit for the Phillies or Mets, but a lot has changed since then. The
Mets need a lot more than one starter, and the Phillies are about to
land Pedro Martinez while also leading the hunt for Roy Halladay.

When you look at the Mets’ rotation, it’s hard for Omar Minaya
to justify passing up on Pedro during the offseason given his staff’s
current state of disarray. And now the former Met is about to join the
Mets’ biggest rival and the division leader.

How significant of a signing will Pedro be for the Phillies once he
finally signs on the dotted line, and how will this impact Minaya and
the Mets’ front office following the season if he has a successful
second half for the Phils and plays a role in keeping the Mets out of
the postseason?

Ben Nicholson-Smith: The Mets probably would have been better off with more Pedro and less Tim Redding and Livan Hernandez
this year, but would they be much closer to the playoffs with Pedro
around? With all the injuries they’ve suffered, it seems unlikely.
They’re not out of it yet — Baseball Prospectus gives them a 14 percent chance of making the playoffsbut Pedro isn’t good enough to transform a 42-win team into a 50-win team.

That doesn’t mean he can’t help the Phillies, however. The Phils can’t count on Rodrigo Lopez to continue pitching like this, and while Pedro may not be much more effective than Jamie Moyer or Antonio Bastardo, he would offer the Phillies much-needed depth and he won’t cost them any top prospects.

Just don’t expect Pedro to resemble the pitcher he was 10 years ago.
He throws in the upper 80s now, without the precision he had in his
prime. Last year he had the lowest strikeout rate of his career and the
highest walk rate since John Kruk and Mitch Williams
were Phillies. He should help the Phils, even as a 37-year-old, but
he’s no longer an elite pitcher, so it’s hard to imagine this move
changing the way the Mets make decisions this offseason.

NESN.com: If the Phillies are adding depth to their
rotation, then the Mets have to do something, don’t they? This team is
on the verge of missing the postseason for the third straight year
after two colossal collapses and playing in a new ballpark as the
second-rate team in New York. How can they not at least make a move to
show the fans they aren’t giving up on the 2009 season?

The Mets are depleted by injuries, and who knows if the core of the team or manager Jerry Manuel will be back next season. But will Minaya make any other deals aside from the Ryan ChurchJeff Francoeur swap?

Ben Nicholson-Smith: More than anything, the Mets need to see how their team looks when Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes
and the rest of their disabled players return to action. They could
still contend in 2009, so I’m not about to rule them out, but they
can’t make a desperation move just to show their fan base they want to
win.

They could try to acquire Halladay or Matt Holliday, but they’d have to take on salary and give up top prospects like Brad Holt and Fernando Martinez. When your team is 6 1/2 games back and as banged up as the Mets are, no new player can guarantee they’ll contend.

Mark DeRosa would have been a nice fit for the
Mets, since he’s versatile enough to play in the infield or outfield.
They missed out on him, but Mark Teahen would be an
equally good fit. He’s a good defender at either corner outfield
position, and he can play first, third and even a little second. He has
pop against righties, so he could spell right-handed bats like Fernando Tatis, Gary Sheffield
and Francoeur. Best of all, he’s just 27, affordable ($3.6 million this
year) and won’t hit free agency for another two and a half years.

***

Thanks again to Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors. Stay tuned Wednesday for Part III of the deadline discussion.

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