CHANGES COMING?

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Brian and Shaun did an excellent job talking about this on the podcast last night with the whole Piniella situation. I'm wondering how his recent comments affect his players. Will they take it as a challenge, or will they replay the disappearing act we've seen all year? Will Joshua be let go later this season (doubtful...but with Hendry and Piniella, you just never know)? Will any other coaches be fired? Will Hendry have enough of Piniella's shenanigans, and fire him? Will the sale of the team ever happen? These are all some very interesting questions that will probably be answered VERY soon.

If, by chance, we do lose the series to the Cards (again, I hope not...but it's quite likely now), then you have to think going into the All-Star break that Hendry is going to have to make some big changes. As Brian and Shaun said, the worst possible thing that could happen to this team is if the Utay group wins the bid, as they have absolutely no interest in winning. If that's the case, then I think you'd see a fire sale. If it's the Rickett's family that wins, then you might see some minor tweaking with a big splash.

So, here's my take on all of this:

Rickett's Win (good for us...and good for the league as a whole):
Miles, Fontenot, Blanco, and Harden are almost surely gone in trades/options/DFA.

I believe the next move would be a swap of bad contracts, which is what I mentioned here the last few days with the Wells, Rios, Ryan (since DFA'd) for Soriano, Fukudome, and Bradley. The trade makes sense on so many levels both in terms of salary matches, and changes of scenery helping all players out. Or, it could be a swap of say Soriano for Zito (with a subsequent trade of Harden), or a swap of Bradley for Matthews Jr. Who knows?

There are many, many names floating out there right now, and I'll list a few (both free agents and trades):
Pitchers (FA)-Sheets, Mulder, BJ Ryan, Paul Byrd, Keith Foulke, Vizcaino (LOL...just had to throw that one in there), Colume, Turnbow, Kenny Rogers, Pedro Martinez, Backe, Jamie Walker, Kip Wells, Chuck James, Adam Eaton
Pitchers (trade)- Halladay, Meche, Qualls, Valverde, Wagner (after he comes back, likely DFA for Mets), Brad Penny, Dana Eveland

Catchers (FA)- Rob Bowen, Toby Hall, Paul Lo Duca, Javier Valentin
Catchers (trade)-Victor Martinez, Miguel Olivo

Infielders (FA)-Sexson, Durham, Easley, Grudz
Infielders (trade)-Felipe Lopez, Nick Johnson, Mark Teahen, Freddy Sanchez, Josh Fields, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Cristian Guzman, Jose Reyes (was rumored earlier this season...don't know about now), Betancourt, Russell Branyan, Jamey Carroll, Polanco, Orlando Cabrera, Tejada, Beltre, Figgins, Atkins, Jack Wilson, Adam LaRoche

Outfielders (FA)- Wily Mo Pena, Alou, Luis Gonzalez, Russ Adams, Jay Payton, Shannon Stewart, Dave Roberts, Jim Edmonds, Geoff Jenkins
Outfielders (trade)- Holliday, Crawford, Dunn, Kearns, Giles, Dye, Brian Anderson, Spilbourghs, Hawpe, Seth Smith

As you can see, there's really not of pitchers rumored to be on the block, but there's plenty of position players that are either free agents, or on the block. That means, that if we really need a bat, we can get one with our pitching depth. Consider this...Our depth chart right now (aside from injuries) looks like this:

Starting:
Z-Dempster-Lilly-Harden-Wells
*Hart-Ascanio-Samardzija-Caridad-Mathes (all ERA's at or below 4)
**Atkins-Jay Jackson-Coleman-Mateo-Cashner (all ERA's at or below 4, except for Atkins)
***Lambert-Searle-McDaniel-Dolis-Carpenter (again, all ERA's at or below 4)

Our pen depth is even deeper, with the likes of Hart, Ascanio, Samardzija, Papelbon, etc. all splitting time between the pen and the rotation with good success. We also have Gaub, Stevens, Parker, Carillo, and others waiting in the wings.

So, technically, if the new owner wanted to get some big bats, he might be able to do just that (provided he convince Soriano and Fukudome to waive no-trades...getting rid of Bradley would be a bonus), but in addition to those guys with albatross contracts, he could look at trading Lilly, Harden, Marshall, and a few minor league arms, along with other guys with small contracts and no-trades like Theriot and Fontenot...maybe even Soto could command a decent return.

But structuring deals around those type of players is a good place to start. You keep your core of Z-Dempster-Wells in the rotation, and Marmol and Guzman in the pen, along with ARAM, Lee, Fox, and Hoffpauir in the field, and you have a pretty decent base to start with, and you're hardly losing anything offensively, that much is for sure.

So, the lineup (assuming you don't trade Soto) would like like this without even considering the haul you'd receive from the likes of Lilly, Harden, Theriot, Fontenot, Soriano, Fukudome, and even Bradley:

Fuld-CF
Barney-SS
Hoffpauir-RF
Lee-1B
ARAM-3B
Fox-LF
Soto/Clevenger-C
Spears/Thomas/Camp/Scales-2B

Marquez Smith will back up ARAM at 3B, while the rest of the bench consists of one of the 2B mentioned above, one of the catchers mentioned above, Reed Johnson, and Doug Deeds (unless Brad Snyder is healthy by then).

If I were to consider a perfect trade partner at this time, it'd obviously be the Blue Jays...Secondary to that might be the Colorado Rockies. They're still very much in the race in their division AND especially the Wild Card. But what they lack is a third baseman, a 4th/5th starter, and bullpen help. If we wanted to get real crazy, we could center a package around Harden and/or Lilly for Hawpe. But a more reasonable scenario might be to trade bullpen help for their 4th OF, Seth Smith, who with 6 hr, 20 RBI, .284 avg, and .404 OBP in limited duty would really fit in well with our team, and would allow him and Hoffpauir to split time in RF or in LF with Jake Fox (which would allow Fox to spell ARAM at 3B). If we wanted to expand it even more to offer them a starter and a few relievers like Gaub and Stevens, we might be able to pry Atkins AND Smith in the same deal, and Atkins could spell ARAM 3 days a week, and keep Lee fresh at 1B, thus allowing Fox to play everyday in LF. I think it's a tremendous idea.

If we pull of all trades suggested, we'd then have a lineup consisting of:

Wells-CF
Barney-SS
Rios-RF
Lee/Atkins-1B
ARAM/Atkins-3B
Fox-LF
Soto-C
Whoever we want at 2B...maybe even Jeff Baker?

bench-Clevenger/K Hill, middle infielder, Hoffpauir, Seth Smith, and Atkins when he's not playing

The rotation, we could fill in Harden and Lilly's spots with Kevin Hart, and either Marshall/Papelbon/Mathes (if you wanted a lefty), or throw in Samardzija or Ascanio, and I highly doubt we'd miss a beat there....we actually might be even better without Harden.

What do you guys think?