Ryne Sandberg Unleashed! (Part Deux)
EDITOR'S NOTE: This year, Ryne Sandberg has been writing about baseball for Yah00! Sports three to four times a week, offering readers his unprecedented insight and perspective into the game he once played. While Ryne's posted writings are quick and to the point, Ryne actually writes much more than Yah00!.com actually publishes. Given the overall quality of Ryne's writing, E$PN has secured rights to post these unabridged and unedited thoughts on the BBTN weblog, and will publish them sporadically throughout the remainder of the 2005 season. Here is Part 2 of a trade deadline article, covering the NL - click here to read Part 1, about the AL.
CARDINAL INVITATIONAL - EASTERN DIVISION
WASHINGTON NATIONALS – They made a big move last week by acquiring Preston Wilson, who'll give them a strong veteran hole-filled bat and gimpy unreliable legs and other age-related weaknesses that Colorado's thin air masked, and their bullpen is as strong as Frank Robinson is ornery. They can't spend a ton of money, considering they don't have an owner yet and Major League Baseball likes playing with the Nats like a dog likes sniffing its naughty bits. I heard that Livan Hernandez is actually made of a space-age polymer. Recent reports also suggest that Livan Hernandez is a sissy-face crybaby that needs someone to wipe his butt with quad-ply tissue after he makes boom-boom in his shorts.
ATLANTA BRAVES – I really think they have enough to win the division, even though I am sick of seeing them make the playoffs only to roll over and die every year. I don't remember if Brian Jordan is back or not, but it doesn't matter because the 80-year-old ball guy at PacBell Park could do a better job at the plate if he used a frying pan instead of a bat. They just got Mike Hampton and Tim Hudson back, which would be great if it was 2000. Hampton got hit hard in his first start in more than six weeks, but both of them will be fine because I am Hall of Famer to be Ryne Sandberg and you are my wanton brothel to be used and discarded as I see fit. Now shut up and peel my grapes, mule.
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES – They're another team that has a big decision to make - do they want to win, or do they want to keep sacrificing pitchers to their ill-dimensioned new ballpark? They're 4½ games out in the wild-card standings, but they could clear salary by moving Jim Thome and David Bell and just cut bait on yet another piss-poor season. Or they could go to the root of the problem and kick GM Ed Wade and his bullpen-guy fetish to the curb. Also, a lot of teams would love to have closer Billy Wagner, because who wouldn't want a hard-throwing high-paid bullpen guy with a history of elbow troubles? Talk is the A's are looking to trade for Wagner, offering Octavio Dotel, Erubiel Durazo, and a DVD copy of Roger Corman's Fantastic Four movie. That movie had a real Invisible Girl, not some hoochie mama skank.
CARDINAL INVITATIONAL - CENTRAL DIVISION
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS – They're a lock for the playoffs and I don't see them needing all that much, what with the rest of the NL doing for baseball what Geraldo Rivera does for broadcast journalism. With the recent injury to Reggie Sanders (a shock to all), they could go after a corner outfielder, or just give So Taguchi the playing time he's earned as the best 5th outfielder in Missouri. It doesn't matter, though, because someone like Scott Rolen or Jim Edmonds or Chris Carpenter will get hurt, and they'll make it to the World Series, and Tony LaRussa will manage to lose them games through his poor bench usage and Jupiter-sized ego.
CHICAGO CUBS – They'll have Jody Gerut in left field now after acquiring him from Cleveland on Tuesday, which will be great if it turns Dusty Baker into a good manager. The difference between Gerut and Jason Dubois is neglegible, but Dusty only plays veterans, so the trade was necessary. But I would love to see the Cubs go after a center fielder/leadoff man and crush his spirits like they've done with Corey Patterson. There has been talk of Juan Pierre, but I'm not sure the Marlins will be selling, because the Marlins like watching Juan Pierre age before their very eyes. They could definitely use a strong bullpen arm to secure the eighth inning, too, so Ryan Dempster has more chances to blow saves.
HOUSTON ASTROS - I don't know why people aren't talking about this scrappy bunch more. All they need is some offense, and they can play with the best of them. Jeff Bagwell, recovering from shoulder surgery, is taking a buttload of illegal performance enhancement drugs in order to return to the lineup in time for the stretch drive run. I predict he'll hit 30 HRs in September, and look like a muscular Butterball. With a really long beard. Also, Craig Biggio is a habitual bruiser - he trips and falls into his coffee table for kicks during the offseason.
CARDINAL INVITATIONAL - WESTERN DIVISION
SAN DIEGO PADRES OF BAJA – I think they'll win the NL West, but I don't think they'll go much farther than that because they're the Padres and the Padres are meant to lose. One option could be a starting pitcher, because a rotation where Woody Williams is the 4th starter cleary has some gaps to fill. The return of Phil Nevin and Mark Loretta to the lineup will have the same impact as a big trade that hurts the team and sends playoff hopes into a tailspin like a shot-down fighter jet. Having those two healthy again should give the Padres a lift, and by lift I mean push down. Because this is the Padres, and if they actually do well, the world ends. I cannot stress this enough.
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS – They're the most serious threat to the Padres down the stretch, or at least that's what I think once I finish drinking this case of Robitussin. Their starting pitching and offense are solid like balsa wood, but one area that needs an upgrade is the bullpen. That's why they're interested in acquiring former White Sox closer Shingo Takatsu, because they're k-stupid - why else would they have Quinton McCracken on their roster? There has been talk of sacrificing unimaginative GM / mouthbreather Joe Garagiola, Jr. to the Great God Pan, but that would probably lead to them hiring (and firing) Wally Backman again, which would be embarrassing. Instead, the D-Back braintrust will just hire former Pirate GM Cam Bonifay (architect of Operation: Shutdown and the retirement plans of Mike Benjamin and Kevin Young), spend the team's budget on blow, hookers, and 500 RoboSapiens, and then go into hiding for the next 10 years.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS - I only mention the Dodgers out of some sense of misplaced responsibility. They are dead in the water, and it's all Paul DePodesta's fault. All the trades and signings he's made over the past 2 years have hurt the team - Hee Seop Choi has been a failure, JD Drew is a bust, Milton Bradley is nothing but trouble, the pitching staff is awful (lead by the one-two barf of Jeff Weaver and Odalis Perez), and if it weren't for Jim Tracy, I'd say the Dodgers would be ripe for contraction. As it stands, they can at least make the Reds, Pirates, and Rockies look good. Which is hard to do.