Only two weeks left until MLB baseball’s trade deadline

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With less than two weeks left until baseball’s trade deadline we should expect quite a few moves as teams try to best prepare themselves for a playoff push.

I’m looking around for viable players teams are looking for as the trade deadline nears, but I’m not getting excited about too many names. We don’t have that one big player who’s being dangled around for the highest bidder.

What we do have is a couple of good players, a few fifth starters and two prized Padres relievers on the block.

A game changer like Jose Reyes to somebody would be a big deal. The Red Sox would look pretty formidable with Reyes in the lineup, but it seems doubtful the Mets would give up their valued shortstop.

However, Carlos Beltran (.285, 59 RBI) could be up for grabs and looks to be the most attractive among available players. When the Mets dealt Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers, it was a sign they were ready to make some big changes within their organization.

Beltran has shown he can still provide some pop, while relatively healthy most of the season. A few teams could find the prospect of renting Beltran attractive in the same sense Houston did with him all the way to the World Series in 2005. Teams that could make a run for Beltran include the Pirates, Giants or Braves.

The Phillies may look for more run scoring opportunities as well since the combination of Domonic Brown (.240), John Mayberry Jr. (.235) and Raul Ibanez (.249) aren’t panning out as expected.

The real interesting trade would be to see Pittsburgh make a run when they have forever been the team giving away players. Their farm system is stacked now to where they could make a big deal and not have it affect the team too much.

Although Alex Presley (.365) has stepped in nicely the last few weeks, the Bucs can’t be banking on him to continue his torrid pace. Beltran would look pretty nice hitting before or after Andrew McCutchen. Oakland’s Josh Willingham has also been inquired.

The Giants interest in acquiring Beltran may now be forced with Pat Burrell going down. Burrell was already finding less time in the Giants lineup. Freddy Sanchez and Cody Ross were the keys last season.

Nate Schierholtz (.289) has been a pleasant surprise thus far for San Francisco, but Ross (.270), Burrell (.233) Aaron Rowand (.241) and Andres Torres (.224) haven’t been getting it done. Yet, amazingly, they still win.

Aramis Ramirez (.297, 15 HR’s, 51 RBI’s) has been smoking the ball for the Cubs over the last month and could be a major contributor right away for a team making a playoff run. Not only do you get the big stick, but he’s also got a pretty good glove. Ramirez has the sixth best fielding percentage (.968) among all MLB third-baseman.

Despite the Braves being in contention, they are welcoming offers for Derek Lowe (5-7, 4.30 ERA). Someone looking for the old form of the former Red Sox hero may not get that exact player from seven years ago, but they’d be getting a pretty serviceable innings chewer who plays bigger in the spotlight.

Lowe is one of the few starters on the trade block to get excited about with the Tigers showing some interest. After that, there’s White Sox pitcher Edwin Jackson (6-7, 3.97 ERA) who has done just about the same as Lowe this year.

Chicago moving Jackson got easier after his 5-0 complete game, shutout win at Detroit last Saturday. Despite being hit or miss nightly, Jackson may have caught the eye of some GM around the league. The White Sox do get John Danks back this week and may feel better served staying with a five-man rotation instead of the six.

The Orioles are waving this year’s biggest loser, Jeremy Guthrie (3-13, 4.45 ERA), to see if there are any takers. I’d be hard pressed to find any contender that finds Guthrie better than what they already have as their No. 5.

The steal of the trade season could be acquiring Dodgers right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (6-10, 3.16 ERA) who has pitched well all season, but has no run support. Kuroda can make an impact, but can veto a trade. It’s said he doesn’t want to play for an East Coast team. You can’t blame him for wanting to stay out West.

The two Padres relievers have found all kinds of suitors. Heath Bell (26 SV’s, 2.61 ERA) was thought to have been the savior for any floundering bullpen. Most contenders likely have no intention of signing Bell for future years, so it would be a two-month rental.

There’s also a lot of life for Bell’s set-up man Mike Adams (19 holds, 1.29 ERA) because he is bound another year to a small contract. The Padres thinking was they would deal Bell and have Adams for themselves next year, but they may have to rethink it if juicy offers from teams like the Phillies keep coming.

Philadelphia is looking ahead because they lose Ryan Madson (15 SV’s, 1.97 ERA) at the end of the year. Adams has the stuff that has all the scouts drooling and has become a hotter commodity than Bell.

Teams that could use Bell’s services include the Cardinals or Angels. Bell also could become a part-time closer/set-up man for other teams like Rodriguez has become for Milwaukee.

The Oakland A’s always have a bunch of players to offer after it’s clear they will be out of contention again. This year’s offerings include Willingham (.246, 12 HR), reliever Andrew Bailey (9 SV, 2.25 ERA) and Coco Crisp (.263, 26 SB).

Seeing the Giants’ moves from last season that led to their championship, it may serve as a notice you don’t need the big bopper, but someone just to fit in without the big name, ego and baggage.

Someone like Houston’s Jeff Keppinger (.314), who can play all the infield positions, would be delighted to fit into any team’s role down the stretch after playing with Houston all year.

Rumors have spread about Ubaldo Jimenez being on the block. Reports have the Rockies at least listening to some offers, but there doesn’t appear to be anything there.

Jimenez has three years left on a cheap contract. If it were to happen, it would have to be a Herschel Walker-type of deal. So far, the Yankees have been scouting him and could make an offer.

Capps relieved

Matt Capps has officially been demoted from the Minnesota closer role after his seventh blown save was the straw that broke the Twinkies’ back.

Taking over the role will be Joe Nathan who hasn’t allowed a run in his last seven appearances dating back to June 28. The job was Nathan’s at the beginning of the season, but he took himself out of the role, identifying quickly that he wasn’t back to his 2009 form.

Thome Hall of Famer?

Jim Thome hit home run No. 596 on Sunday, something only seven players before him have done, yet his accomplishments are being diminished somewhat because of the era he plays in.

Three of the most recent players to hit 600 home runs – Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa – all have a cloud of steroids tainting their numbers. Many baseball writers suggest Thome will have a long time to wait because it’s a tainted era and his achievement isn’t that significant.

Thome should be voted in for his integrity during the era and accomplishing what he did without having to use the needle.

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