I've decided to make this into a bit of a miniseries, each night (time and effort allowing) analyzing a different D-Back who is on the trading block, and the possibilities of where that D-Back might be traded. After going through The Chris Snyder trade market yesterday, inspired by Miguel Montero's remarkable play, tonight's edition will discuss the possibilities of moving Chad Tracy due to the remarkable play of, well, Chad Tracy. Tracy's season has been a roller coaster, to be sure, beginning the season with a .270/.304/.476 line in April, tanking with a .127/.213/.255 line in May, missing all of June, and now rebounding with a ridiculous .306/.372/.528 (!!!) line in July, going 11-36 with two doubles, two homers, ten RBI's, scoring six runs, and a 5/4 BB/K. Recently, Josh Whitesell was called up from the minors to see if he can be the guy in an everyday basis (or at least see if we want him to be Brandon Allen's backup) in 2010, but really has yet to get a chance to play everyday, despite manager A.J. Hinch telling the pair that Whitesell would get most of the PT. And, indeed, Tracy got another start tonight, going 2-4 with an RBI in the D-Backs' loss to Pittsburgh. I can only speculate that this has to do with the fact that the D-Backs are looking to market the streaking Tracy to other teams in the event they can get the final $2M or so they're paying him this season off of their books, and take a flier the fringe prospect or two they would get in return for three months of Tracy.
Once again, there are a set of necessary circumstances that must be in place for a Tracy deal. First, the team must likely be willing to take on Tracy's salary, because otherwise the prospect cost would be too much for anybody to swallow (in other words, unless the other team is willing to pay the $2M, the D-Backs are going to ask for prospect value far above what Tracy is worth). Second, the team is going to have to be a contender, because Tracy's team option for next season at $7M (w/ a $1M buyout the other team will also have to give Tracy) is not getting picked up by anybody, making him simply a rent-a-bat for three months unless the team then re-negotiates a new deal with him. But, these costs considered, there is a lot that a Chad Tracy can contribute to a team. He's a left-handed bat who can mash right-handed pitching, can pinch-hit for NL teams (as evidenced by his pinch-hit 3-run blast yesterday), and play first and third base as well as be a DH platoon partner for AL teams - for $3M and a fringe prospect or two, that's pretty good value to be had if you can swallow the injury risks. The rest after the break.
In analyzing a potential Chad Tracy deal, the number of teams interested is greatly cut down, since the only interest would come from contending teams. The list I'll use is the same one I used in a comment on the Felipe Lopez trade - the Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Tigers, White Sox, Twins, Angels, Mariners, Phillies, Cardinals, Cubs, Brewers, Astros, and Dodgers - with the additions of the Braves, Giants, and Rockies, who are all in the NL Wild Card race.
Los Angeles Angels: The Angels would only go for Tracy if they dont' have confidence that Vladimir Guerrero will be able to DH for them in the postseason, and if they'd like someone to DH on days against righties, but it seems for as much as they're paying Guerrero, they're going to let him get as many chances as he needs to produce. However, they're set at the corner with Chone Figgins putting up near-All Star numbers and switch-hitting Kendry Morales faring much better against right-handers.
Seattle Mariners: A VERY interesting situation. Current 3B Adrian Beltre is on the DL, and the Mariners have been rumored to be going after 3B like the vastly more expensive, struggling, and even still Coors-enhanced Garret Atkins to fill in while Beltre is out. Then comes their DH platoon. They currently have one in place, with right-hander Mike Sweeney (who actually hits righties better than lefties, perhaps complicating things a tad) and left-hander Ken Griffey Jr., whose struggles at the plate this season (except against Tony Pena) show that he's clearly over the hill and simply ineffective. He hasn't hit lefties, and he hasn't hit righties, and, were he not Ken Griffey Jr. and playing in Seattle, would be DFA material. Getting Chad Tracy would be a definite talent upgrade for them both while Beltre is out, and once Beltre returns, but at the same time, nobody's quite certain if they're still thinking of buying. After the Yuniesky Betancourt trade, things seem to point in the opposite direction (although Betancourt does, to put it simply, suck), towards the Mariners selling and rebuilding (and if that's the case, Russell Branyan, Jarrod Washburn, and Eric Bedard would be prime pieces to trade, and they could get good value for them). If they were more in the thick of the race, this would probably be the most likely Tracy destination, but the way things are now, they're not much more than a very intriguing option.
Texas Rangers: Their DH platoon has been producing very well, with Andruw Jones slugging .579 against lefties, and Hank Blalock continuing to punish righties, so there's no need for Tracy there. However, they have been spending most of their year penciling-in the mostly useless Chris Davis at 1B, and have no other natural 1B on the 40-man roster, so Tracy could get a chance to play everyday for a pennant run. With yesterday's mention of Texas as a good landing spot for Chris Snyder, and PhoenixFly spoiling my next edition of the D-Backs Deadline Possibilities by already mentioning that Jon Garland would be a welcome addition with the Rangers being in the market for another starting pitcher (Dustin Nippert just made a spot-start and Vincente Padilla was just diagnosed with Swine Flu), it's just a matter of which pieces of ours they want most and what kind of prospects we'd be able to pry from them amongst their duly noted stockpiled power arms. A great potential landing place for Tracy.
Chicago White Sox: Current left-handed batter DH Jim Thome has 13 of his 16 home runs off of righties, and hits them for a much better average, so Tracy isn't needed for a DH platoon. 3B stud prospect Gordan Beckham was recently brought up, and has been faring pretty well in the majors, and despite having a modest LHP/RHP split, it's nothing that requires a platoon partner, especially for a kid who you want to get as many major-league ABs as you can at this point in his career. 1B is likely Paul Konerko's for the keeping, despite the fact that he has an OPS .300 points lower against righties than against lefties. Telling Paul Konerko to platoon when he's hitting .289 with 18 homers and 64 RBI probably won't work well... Plus, if they'd really wanted a platoon for Konerko at 1B, they already had Brandon Allen. Schwoops. In other words, they're not trading a 1B prospect to a team and then renting that same team's veteran 1B for a platoon partner. Kenny would be slaughtered. Literally. "I killed Paul Allen... with an axe in the face."
Detroit Tigers: Wow, do they need a left-handed platoon partner with DH Marcus Thames. They're trying out Jeff Larish, but he's hitting a gentleman's .216 at the moment. Tracy would be perfect for the Tigers.
Minnesota Twins: First is Justin Morneau's, DH is Jason Kubel's, and it's debatable on whether or not they could use Tracy at third. At a glance, Joe Crede is hitting .239 and is right handed, but he also has 14 home runs and has a much higher OPS (.144 higher) against right-handed pitching than against left-handed pitching, as well as all fourteen of his home runs coming against righties. So really, there's no fit here.
Boston Red Sox: Just traded for Adam LaRoche as Mike Lowell insurance, and have Youkilis. The Sox may have had interest in Tracy as Lowell insurance before the LaRoche deal, since Tracy's a better hitter when healthy, but not anymore. Also, David Ortiz has rebounded fairly well from his early-season struggles at DH, and hits from the left side, so Tracy isn't needed much there either.
New York Yankees: Have Texeira and A-Rod as everyday guys, recently acquired lefty Eric Hinske for their bench (although he hits lefties better than righties, oddly enough), and have lefty Hideki Matsui as their DH. Being in the AL and having two corner infielders who have very little trouble hitting righties, as well as a lefty DH who is putting up decent numbers, there's not much need for Tracy.
Tampa Bay Rays: Pat Burrell has been absolutely miserable at DH this season for the Rays, and Tracy could be a significant upgrade, especially since Burrell hits from the right side. Granted, Burrell doesn't have a very distinct LHP/RHP split, but perhaps at his age, the extra time off could allow for some increased production. Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena have the infield locked down, though. However, if Pena is forced to miss any time, they don't appear to have a natural 1B backup in place, and getting Tracy as a DH platoon/emergency 1B wouldn't be a bad idea.
Colorado Rockies: If we're willing to trade in-division, Colorado's not a bad place for Tracy to end up. Their 3B situation has been a disaster all season, with the struggling Garret Atkins losing PT to suck artist Ian Stewart. Considering that they're playing at Coors, both of them batting in the .220's is pretty pitiful. At first glance, it appear that they don't really need another left-handed pinch-hit bat though, with 4 outfielders on the big-league roster who either bat left-handed or are switch-hitters, but, oddly enough, the only one of those four who hits righties better than lefties is Brad Hawpe, who certainly isn't going to be used to pinch-hit anytime soon, and the other three have fairly prounounced splits actually favoring left-handed pitching. Tracy would instantly become their best righty-masher off the bench before factoring in the Coors Field power boost.
Los Angeles Dodgers: While James Loney and Casey Blake are firmly entrenched at 1B and 3B, and Juan Pierre is their pinch-hitter extraordinaire, their backup 3B is Blake DeWitt, who, despite being a lefty and getting 28 of his 29 ABs against right-handers, is hitting below .200. However, Doug Mientkiewicz is scheduled to come off the DL within the next couple of weeks as a left-handed corner-infielder bench bat, and DeWitt will then be send back down to AAA. No fit here. And they're the fricking Dodgers...
San Francisco Giants: For all intensive purposes, they have two 1B disguised as a 1B and 3B in Sandoval (faking it as a 3B) and Travis Ishikawa. Then there's Juan Uribe, who has been playing 3B validly enough, although he did have the error that ruined Sanchez's perfect game, bless his soul. Problem with Uribe is that he can't hit. However, their plethora of corner infielders, despite how misplaced they may be, makes them likely not in the market for Tracy for this purpose. As for as needing a lefty pinch-hit bat, they've already run out of space to play Fred Lewis and Nate Schierholz alongside the $19.2M duo of Aaron Rowand and Randy Winn, and Lewis and Schierholz are both lefties (although Schierholz is actually remarkably abusive to righties, and average against lefties), so there's no fit there either.
Chicago Cubs: The Cubs have way too many players at the corner infield, as they're struggling to find places to play Jake Fox, Micah Hoffpauir, and Alfonso Soriano with Derek Lee at 1B and only one spot open in the OF. The fact that they're thinking of putting Soriano back at 2B tells you a lot. Their need for a left-handed bat is a decent question, a role that is currently split between Mike Fontenot and Sam Fuld. However, when Aaron Miles gets off the DL, he has traditionally been better as a switch-hitter against right-handed pitching, and could fill in that role, so it's not enough of a need to believe the Cubs are going to make a Tracy deal.
Houston Astros: They have Lance Berkman at first, and Geoff Blum at third, but they could really use a left-handed bat. The big-league roster has switch-hitters Berkman, Blum, and Kaz Matsui all starting, and left-handed hitter Michael Bourn starting, with switch-hitter Matt Kata (that Matt Kata) and left-handed hitter Matt Bugosevic in the minors, and washed-up Darin Erstad on the DL. And other than that, their entire bench consists of nothing but right-handed bats. While it would be more convenient to acquire a left-handed outfield bat, getting Tracy certainly wouldn't be a bad move for the Astros, especially since they keep winning and appear very capable of reaching the postseason.
Milwaukee Brewers: Have Prince Fielder at first, Bill Hall and Casey McGeehee at third, and Craig Counsell OPSing .802 against righties this year as their new left-handed pinch-hit specialist after the Flip Lopez trade. No need for Tracy here, although they could certainly use other additions from us.
St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals certainly do seem to be doing whatever they can possibly do to add bats and pieces for a playoff run with the recent deals for Julio Lugo and Matt Holliday, but they also only have four left-handed bats on their 40-man roster, to go along with a grand total of zero switch-hitters. The lefties are everyday guys Colby Rasmus and Skip Schumaker, bench hitter Joe Thurston, and the struggling Rick Ankiel. Thurston certainly isn't crushing the ball off of righties (or anybody), and a bench left-handed bat would be very much welcome as the Cards continue to try to add somefirepower around Pujols. Speaking of Pujols, he obviously has the everyday 1B job, but Tracy could also be of help as a 3B, where right-handed hitter Mark DeRosa has a .366 split separating his OPS against right-handed pitchers and the poor, poor lefties that have to go up against his 1.078 OPS. Putting Chad Tracy to platoon there with DeRosa would not only allow Tony LaRussa to make the most use of DeRosa's ability to play nearly every position on the diamond, but also allow DeRosa to sit out a few games, which would be of huge help as DeRosa is playing through a wrist injury that he'll need to have surgery on in the summer. A great fit with a team that clearly is looking to add pieces.
Atlanta Braves: The Braves have no need for Tracy as a starter/platoon guy with righty-mashing Casey Kotchman at first and everybody-mashing Chipper Jones at third. They also have plenty of left-handed bats, and will add another once Kelly Johnson gets back from the DL. The Braves aren't a fit for Tracy.
Philadelphia Phillies: Pedro Feliz at third mashes righties and blows against lefties, despite being a right-handed hitter. Ryan Howard, for all his failings in batting average and defense, is clearly loved by Charlie Manuel and not going anywhere at first. Further, the left-handed duo of Matt Stairs and Greg Dobbs takes care of pinch-hitting duties against right-handers. Not a fit.
So, to once again summarize, the teams with any need for Chad Tracy appear to be Seattle (if they decide to piss off every fan they have and ditch Griffey), Texas, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Colorado, Houston, and St. Louis, and the best fits being in Texas, Detroit, Colorado, Houston, and St. Louis. Part 3 will likely be Jon Garland, unless his whining behind is already dealt before I can get around to it.