It's the last day of May, which means it's never too early to look ahead to the July 31 trading deadline. In fact, with several teams on the cusp of packing the season in, an early move could make sense for organizations looking to unload free agents-to-be. The pitching-needy Phillies could be the beneficiaries. Here are some starters who could be dangled in front of general manager Pat Gillick.
Pitcher, team Statistics Upside Downside
Miguel Batista, M's 3-6, 5.98 Better than #s Inconsistent
, A's 3-6, 3.92 Just wins Billy Beane
, Rockies 1-5, 6.15 Still young A long shot
, A's 3-0, 2.60 Look at stats Injury prone
, Padres 3-4, 3.76 Hall of Famer Six-inning arm
, Astros 4-5, 5.45 He's Oswalt No-trade clause
, Tigers 2-5, 5.88 Uhh . . . Paper tiger
, Indians 3-6, 4.74 '07 Cy Young Due big deal
, M's 2-5, 6.54 Eats innings Hitters eat him
, Padres 3-4, 4.59 Wolf pack Hates Bank
The incredible Larry Wayne Jones Jr.
No matter your take on the Braves - or Larry, er, Chipper Jones - it's exciting to watch a player carry a .400-plus average into the summer. Even if he were to go 0 for 9 over the next two games, Jones would still carry an average above .400 into June, making him the 15th player since 1980 to hit the mark. High & Inside can't claim authorship of the following chart - having ripped off si.com - but here are the last 14 assaults on .400. Ted Williams, by the way, was the last player to reach the full-season milestone when he hit .406 in 1941.
Player, Team Avg. Date Finish
George Brett, Royals .400 Sept. 19, 1980 .390
, Blue Jays .400 Aug. 2, 1993 .363
, Red Sox .403 July 20, 2000 .372
, Rockies .402 July 18, 1997 .366
, Padres .402 July 14, 1997 .372
, Angels .402 July 14, 1983 .339
, Rockies .400 July 5, 1993 .370
, Blue Jays .400 June 29, 1999 .328
, Phillies .401 June 11, 1990 .325
, Yankees .405 June 16, 1994 .357
, Rockies .400 June 10, 2000 .372
, Orioles .404 June 10, 1996 .328
, Red Sox .401 June 7, 1986 .357
, Athletics .402 June 6, 1988 .279
The Braves put outfielder Mark Kotsay on the 15-day disabled list with a strained lower back and are expecting righthander John Smoltz to be activated from the 15-day disabled list next week. He's expected to come back as the closer. . . . The Cardinals optioned outfielder Chris Duncan to triple-A Memphis and called up outfielder Joe Mather.