The baseball season is one of benchmarks, incremental chapters in what turns into the book of every hardball campaign. With the All-Star Game behind us, we've passed one of those benchmarks and can turn our full attention to the next one: the July 31 trade deadline.
This year, the term "deadline" is not used as loosely as in the past. This season, for the first time in a long while, there is in fact only one deadline, with the waiver-wire transactions of Augusts past no longer possible, thanks to a new agreement between the league and the players' association. There remain some vague avenues for player movement after the end of this month, but for the most part, this is it. Teams must declare themselves over the next three weeks as buyers or sellers, setting themselves up for this October or aiming for Octobers to come.
That's the theme for this month's Stock Watch. We're going to divide the teams into buyers and sellers. For the buyers, we'll identify each club's primary need, then float some possible trade targets. For the sellers, we'll do more of an asset inventory of possibly available big leaguers.
One additional number included that is not normally part of the Stock Watch format is an aggressiveness rating. This is a subjective index of how aggressive teams should be in acquiring players from now until the deadline. A 5 is neutral -- neither buyer nor seller, really. Anything above that denotes a buyer, with 10 being the most aggressive. Below 5 are the sellers, with 1 denoting the teams most desperate to turn present value into future hope.
The middle range -- those teams given a 5 or 6 in aggressiveness rating -- remain in that murky land between buying and selling. This season, with so many teams within a few games of a wild-card spot and just a few games above or below .500, this is a status that can change weekly. For now, this is how the teams stack up, with half the teams designated as buyers and half as sellers.
Note: Teams are grouped as buyers or sellers based on aggressiveness rating, but the ranking before each team is based on current win forecasts generated by rest-of-season simulations.