If you needed starting pitching a month ago, you knew the Phillies were taking calls for Cole Hamels but probably not prepared to make a deal. You might've traded for Kyle Lohse, or you might've waited for the Reds to discuss Johnny Cueto. There was more demand than supply, a seller's market.
The whole thing has flipped since the All-Star break, however. You don't need an advanced degree in math to figure out that it has become a buyer's market.
Teams looking for starting pitching:
1. The Dodgers (two starters, actually)
2. The Blue Jays
3. The Cubs
4. The Royals
5. The Rangers, under the right circumstances.
6. Maybe the Tigers, maybe the Red Sox, maybe the Orioles.
On the other hand, these are the available starters:
1. Maybe David Price, if the Tigers decide to sell.
5. Mike Leake
8. Ian Kennedy
10. Dan Haren
11. Aaron Harang
12. Mat Latos
13. And probably others.
So if you are the Toronto Blue Jays and you finished second or third in the bidding for Scott Kazmir, you know there will be somebody available to you. If the Dodgers get Gallardo -- a Jayson Stark forecast -- you'll probably have a legitimate shot at Samardzija, who is pitching well lately and has thrown at least seven innings in each of his past nine starts, or Leake, whose ground-ball tendencies could fit in your ballpark.
If you are the Cubs, it doesn't appear as if there really is that much competition for Hamels. And somebody is probably going to get Cueto -- who needs to at least perform as if he's healthy in his start Saturday night at Colorado ("The biggest start of his life," says one executive, referencing Cueto's impending free agency) -- for a cost lower than would have been expected a week ago.
This is why it was adept of Oakland to move Kazmir now, rather than wait and watch the contenders fill their needs, and why the Reds should've moved Cueto last month and the Phillies probably should've traded Hamels last summer. It's why the Padres are in a really difficult spot just a week before the trade deadline, with few apparent spots to place their most expensive pitchers.
We talked about all this on Baseball Tonight.
• The Astros had an eventful day and grabbed the first big piece in the trade market, as Evan Drellich writes. Kazmir will pitch Friday.
• Later, Jose Altuve walked it off for the Astros.
• Gordon Wittenmyer on how the Kazmir trade affects the Cubs.
• Keith Law breaks down the top five prospects the Royals and Dodgers could offer in a trade.
• Chris Singleton breaks down what areas the Angels need to address at the trade deadline.
Mets’ offense continues to struggle
• Clayton Kershaw had a perfect game through six innings and it seemed inevitable, because he's so good and he has gotten better and better as this season has progressed, in classic Kershaw fashion.
But it also felt inevitable because the Mets' lineup Thursday night was historically bad. From Elias: The Mets were the second team in the live ball era (since 1920) to have its fourth and fifth batters in the starting lineup enter the game with at least 100 at-bats and a batting average under .180. The other game was Sept. 25, 1975 -- Oakland hosted the White Sox, after it had clinched the American League West. Ray Fosse (.147 in 129 at bats entering play) batted fourth for the A's, and Teddy Martinez (.168 in 101 at-bats) batted fifth.
Pittsburgh's Aramis Ramirez acquisition came down to money, with the small-market Pirates, with their $85 million payroll, agreeing to assume a shade under $3 million of the nearly $6 million owed to the third baseman for the rest of the season. If you look at Ramirez's average and figure he probably won't help that much, keep in mind that he has 11 homers this season -- or seven more homers than the Mets' third basemen have compiled this season. Heck, the Mets should call the Indians about Lonnie Chisenhall, who is stowed away in the minors and owed about $900,000 for the rest of this year. The left-handed hitter could be part of a platoon.
Just do something.
General manager Sandy Alderson says he could make a big splashy move, or do nothing at all. The Mets have no quick fix for this embarrassment, writes Andy Martino. The Mets need to stop acting like minor leaguers, writes Kevin Kernan. Alderson owes it to Mets fans to make a move, writes Anthony Rieber.
The Mets might call up Michael Conforto Friday. This has a chance to be absolutely awful for the young outfielder, who should not be put in the position of being propped up as a savior.
The Mets have no answer for the streaking Kershaw, writes Danny Knobler.