Here are six, as listed by Buster Olney of ESPN.com, who assumes the Braves are looking to trade Yunel Escobar and Javier Vazquez. (Didn’t someone we know address the Escobar issue last week? And didn’t the same someone suggest the Vazquez thing two months ago?) Since this is an ESPN Insiders thing and the link requires registration, I’ll again quote extensively:
Boston: “In order to make a deal for Escobar, the Red Sox would probably have to engage a third team, and here’s the thing — they are perfectly suited to do this, because they have the commodity that everybody else want: pitching. In theory [and what immediately follows is pure speculation], they could engage the Brewers about Corey Hart, or the Indians about someone like Shin-Soo Choo or Matt LaPorta. The Red Sox could flip a pitcher to another team, and that team could flip a hitter to the Braves. Boston also could eat a lot of money on Julio Lugo’s contract and hand him over to Atlanta, as a short-term stopgap at shortstop. [The Red Sox are not interested in Jeff Francoeur, by the way.]”
Kansas City: “The Braves and the Royals match like puzzle pieces in a possible Escobar deal. The Royals want and need a shortstop. The Braves could use someone like Mark Teahen, who could give Atlanta great flexibility. Teahen, a solid veteran hitter, could play third in place of Jones, or start in left field or right field, or first base, or even second base. If the Braves required the Royals to take on some money, then Francoeur could be added to the trade; Dayton Moore, the Kansas City GM, has known Francoeur for years and coveted him, and he could use the last months of this season to evaluate him. The Braves could use another middle reliever; the Royals have Juan Cruz and Ron Mahay, pieces that Atlanta knows well. Moore knows the Braves’ farm system. A lot of elements in place here.”
Milwaukee: “If the Braves were to market Vazquez, they could just deal with the Brewers directly. Milwaukee has no need for Escobar, because the Brewers have Alcides Escobar on the rise. Milwaukee would not consider trading Ryan Braun in any deal, and more than likely Prince Fielder would be out of the question. [He's a Boras client and the Braves have already been down the path of a Boras-client-type of rental with Mark Teixeira, a situation that didn't pan out.]
“Hart would be the natural fit, although it’s unclear whether he would necessarily be a significant upgrade over Francoeur, given the streaky nature of his offense. “There are times when he just looks like he has no clue,” said one longtime talent evaluator. “I’ve seen him this season when he’s looked absolutely lost.” Hart, 27, is hitting .246 and nine homers, and if Milwaukee talked about a possible Hart/Vazquez swap, the Brewers would obviously have to include another really nice piece in the deal.”
Minnesota: “Escobar would be perfect for the Twins in many respects, and Minnesota has an array of outfielders to choose from, whether it be Michael Cuddyer or Denard Span; Delmon Young is hitting .264 with three homers, and it’s hard to imagine that the Braves would seriously consider him in any trade. But the Twins’ focus is on relief pitching, and an aggressive midseason deal really doesn’t fit their style — and if Escobar’s conduct in Atlanta has turned off the Braves’ coaching staff, then this is certainly not the type of thing that the Twins would go for. Span is an interesting name, though, because his service time [and salary] is close to that of Escobar, and he is widely seen as a player on the rise.”
Los Angeles Dodgers: “GM Ned Colletti is looking for pitching, and Vazquez would be absolutely perfect for L.A.’s rotation. He would give them a veteran, frontline innings-eater along the lines of what they had in Derek Lowe last year, and Joe Torre knows him well and would certainly endorse an acquisition of him. The Dodgers also have some payroll flexibility, and they have an extra outfielder, as the world knows. Juan Pierre hit .318 during Manny Ramirez’s absence, but presumably, the Braves would prefer someone with a little more thump.”
Oakland: “Escobar could be a long-term answer at shortstop now that the Bobby Crosby era is over, and the Athletics could not only deliver Matt Holliday and Orlando Cabrera to Atlanta to help in the short-term, but they might also be in position to pay a lot of their salaries, as well. But given an array of choices, the Braves would prefer to trade Escobar for pieces that would help them beyond 2009; Holliday and Cabrera would walk away as free agents after the season.”
OK, you’re asking — well, maybe you’re not asking — what do I think? I don’t see any deal for Yunel Escobar happening unless the Braves get a shortstop in return, and why trade for a shortstop when you already have a shortstop and your greater need is elsewhere? As for Francoeur-for-Hart: The latter is hitting .249. Why trade like for like?
As I’ve said, it makes more sense to deal Vazquez — this assumes Tim Huson looks strong in rehab work — for a big bat. Maybe Cuddyer would be that bat, but I wonder. (He likewise hit .249 last season.) For all Mr. Olney’s fine work, I don’t see a real match above.
My match: Adam Dunn of Washington.
This correspondent suggested the Hawks make Garret Siler their No. 2 pick in last month’s draft. Astonishingly, Rick Sund and Dave Pendergraft failed to heed that high-priced advice. But the Hawks have apparently seen fit to give the 7-footer a look.
Reports Stan Byrdy of Augusta’s NBC affiliate, WAGT: Siler is headed to Las Vegas to play for Minnesota in the NBA’s summer league for rookies and free agents — and then will report to minicamp for your Atlanta Hawks.