The Major League Baseball trade deadline is quickly approaching and the rumors are rampant. Teams that are looking to make post-season runs and teams that are looking to retool their rosters are making and taking offers in an effort to affect change on their respective teams.
Even teams in first place, apparently.
The New York Mets are comfortably leading the National League East, yet are rumored to be inquiring about Oakland A's starting pitcher Barry Zito.
All the Mets have to give up is all-world prospect outfielder Lastings Milledge, which sounds too much like Victor Zambrano-for-Scott Kazmir for my liking.
The facts don't lie -- barring a heroic collapse, the Mets will make the playoffs. Even though the back end of their starting rotation is somewhat suspect, once those playoffs start that issue becomes moot as teams normally shift to a three-man rotation.
Can the Mets win with Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine and Steve Trachsel? Oh yes!
So I can't honestly believe that this trade would be made to help this year, but rather to provide a long-term solution to stabilizing the pitching.
However, the Mets may already have the answers in place. Young pitchers like Brian Bannister, John Maine and Mike Pelfrey have shown promise. Outside of the occasional shaky outing by closer Billy Wagner, the bullpen is solid and can shut people down from the 6th inning on.
The outfield situation is a bit more shaky.
Left-fielder Cliff Floyd is aging and some observers are a bit cynical about how many productive years he has left. Right-fielder Xavier Nady is having an outstanding year, but could be a one-year-wonder.
So with question marks at the corner outfielder spots, why deal your only bonafide "five-tool" prospect who has already played well in albeit limited action this year?
There is no answer to that question and I cannot believe Mets GM Omar Minaya would do that. He is rumored to have worked out a clause that would give the Mets two 1st round draft picks if they cannot re-sign Zito after the year, but that is little return for a player on the cusp of living up to expectations in the next year or two.
Hopefully, Minaya has learned from his predecessors and won't miss the forest for the trees.