Over the past week, the owners of the various National League West blogs have been back and forthing with each other, in a discussion about the current state of the division. Hosted by Sky Kalkman, from Beyond the Box Score, topics covered included who'll be buyers and sellers at the impending trade deadline, the surprising stories of the first half, and what we might see in the second half of the season. After the jump, you'll find the first part of the transcript; I'll post the second part tomorrow. [The random stats article has been shelved for a future date]
Sky Kalkman (Moderator): Which teams, under which circumstances, will be buyers over the next three weeks? How about sellers? If there are any undecideds, what will be the tipping point?
Russ Oates (Purple Row): Unless the Rockies fall out of the gate after the All-Star Break, they won't be selling off any players. Oh, how far the Rockies have come since mid-May when it looked like they would be sellers! They'll be moderate buyers, not looking to make a huge splash, but not looking to do exactly nothing.
Dex Bustarde (Gaslamp Ball): I've never liked the "buyer" and "seller" tags. For example, I think the Giants should be acquiring as fast as possible and in the process, may be actively trying to move guys for value. The Dodgers are doing so well right now that they should be thinking of being in buyer mode just to ensure they have pitching for a proper World Series run. The Padres will try to sell for value. Nobody's safe on the team at this point. I wouldn't be completely surprised to see Adrian Gonzalez moved before the 2010 season.
Grant Brisbee (McCovey Chronicles): Yeah, the move from "Wait 'til 2010" to "buy, buy, buy!" came quickly for the Giants, and I'm on board. I don't think there's a hitter worth one of the top four prospects (Bumgarner, Alderson, Villalona, Posey) but I think there's a way to shore up the right side of the infield without burning down the farm.
Jim McLennan (AZ SnakePit): We've been putting up the 'For Sale' signs since Bob Melvin got fired. The only place we might be looking to acquire any players with major-league experience is perhaps the bullpen, but having sold Tony Peña for a prospect, even that seems less likely.
Sky Kalkman (Moderator): What holes will teams be looking to fill? What are the biggest holes they *SHOULD* be looking to fill but don't seem to be concerned about? Which holes from the first half can be plugged internally, perhaps by improvement the same player?
Russ Oates (Purple Row): The team could still look for another bullpen arm. Alan Embree's out for the season after a nasty ball to the leg, but now Matt Belisle's back with the team. One should hope that having Franklin Morales pitch out of the bullpen will work out.
Eric Stephen (True Blue LA): The Dodgers should be looking for a good lefty bat off the bench, but those don't exactly grow on trees.
Dex Bustarde (Gaslamp Ball): The Padres will be looking for more ways to fill the pie holes of fans in various ways, be it breakfasts, lunches, dinners or pies. The holes they should be filling are on the team and those won't be getting filled anytime this year in any significant way.
Grant Brisbee (McCovey Chronicles): Mmm, Felix Pie. What was the question? Oh, right. A hole the Giants should be concerned about? Bengie Molina is dragging down the lineup now, but there's no way he'll be replaced this year. As far as internal solutions, for all of the Matt Holliday talk, the Giants would probably do just as well to give John Bowker a ton of at-bats. For his entire pro career, Bowker was a low-average, high-strikeout slugger. Then Hensley Meulens -- the AAA hitting coach -- said something like, "Hey, have you ever tried that crazy new 'wait-for-a-good-pitch-to-hit' fad?", and now Bowker is a base-on-balls/home run machine in AAA. The Giants have a glut of lefty hitting, semi-promising corner outfielders, so it'll be interesting to see how they play it.
Jim McLennan (AZ SnakePit): With Doug Davis and Jon Garland free agents at the end of this season, Arizona will be looking to fill at least one of those spots for the 2010 rotation. That's especially necessary, as it's uncertain whether Brandon Webb [team option for 2010, but made only one start so far] will be around either. Most other positions have people to fill them, except second-base where Felipe Lopez is also a free-agent, though he has expressed some interest in re-signing. [That's a typo. What I meant to say was, "expressed some interest in getting himself traded to the Brewers for a couple of prospects."]
Sky Kalkman (Moderator): Who are the most popular trade targets for those holes? Any targets flying under the radar? Any targets your team is especially intrigued in? Any popular names they're backing away from? Any rumors you'd like to start?
Russ Oates (Purple Row): Rumor mongering? What, like Roy Halladay to the Rockies?
Eric Stephen (True Blue LA): There will probably be rumors of the Dodgers going after a frontline starter, but I don't expect them to pay the price (in prospects or salary) for a guy like Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee. If they make a move, it will likely be for a veteran reliever of some sort, especially with recent injuries to Ronald Belisario and Jonathan Broxton.
Grant Brisbee (McCovey Chronicles): The Giants are close to acquiring Freddy Sanchez and Adam LaRoche for Kevin Frandsen, Travis Ishikawa, and Kevin Pucetas. I read that on a divisional roundtable of bloggers somewhere.
Jim McLennan (AZ SnakePit): I heard Roy Halladay is going to the Rockies, from an impeccable source.
Sky Kalkman (Moderator): Which prospects and young major leaguers are most likely to change hands? Any that teams have deemed off-limits?
Russ Oates (Purple Row): I really don't see any major prospects or young major leaguers moving out of the organization.
Eric Stephen (True Blue LA): I've seen some of the Halladay or Lee rumors, and frankly I'm not sure where they are coming from. Clayton Kershaw and even Chad Billingsley have been mentioned as potential trade candidates, but I'm fairly certain those two would have to be pried from Ned Colletti's cold, dead hands.
Grant Brisbee (McCovey Chronicles): One of Fred Lewis or Nate Schierholtz is gone, if only to relieve the logjam in the outfield. It the target is a really good player who is under contract for 2010: Tim Alderson is the most likely to go. Otherwise, the top prospects aren't going anywhere.
Jim McLennan (AZ SnakePit): Most Arizona prospects are already in the majors, so it's unlikely we'll be trading anyone. They're much more likely to be going the other way, with us taking back prospects for the likes of Davis, Lopez or Garland.
Sky Kalkman (Moderator): Without any trade-deadline moves, what has to happen for your team to win the division? How much more likely is your team to make the playoffs by plugging its holes or adding an impact player?
Russ Oates (Purple Row): The Dodgers need to slow down. If the Dodgers hadn't started off that great, the NL West would be quite tight right now.
Jim McLennan (AZ SnakePit): The Big One hits California, removing the Giants and Dodgers from the equation, and topples the Rocky Mountains down on top of Coors Field. We might be able to handle what's left of the Padres, if Jake Peavy is appointed Governor of what remains of the state. Yeah: we're toast. Ted Williams couldn't help us now.
Dex Bustarde (Gaslamp Ball): Jim, I think even then, we'd have to take the best of both the Padres and D-Backs in an unholy union of snake and friar for either of us to see post season wins if either of us were handed the division by miracle default.
Eric Stephen (True Blue LA): As long as the sun comes up each day, I expect the Dodgers to play well beyond October 4.
Grant Brisbee (McCovey Chronicles): Barry Zito and Randy Johnson need to pitch better to negate the other pitchers coming down to earth. Someone other than Pablo Sandoval needs to hit, and Bengie Molina needs to get the hell out of the cleanup spot.