Pirates, Phillies may switch places at trade deadline | Larry Stone notebook
Right now, the Pittsburgh Pirates are poised to be buyers at the trade deadline. Let that sink in: Pirates. Buyers. The same Pirates who...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Right now, the Pittsburgh Pirates are poised to be buyers at the trade deadline.
Let that sink in: Pirates. Buyers.
The same Pirates who haven't had a winning season since 1992. The same Pirates who annually provide contending teams with players in July as they attempt to fuel their latest rebuilding plan by trading off veterans.
But this year, the Pirates see themselves as contenders. The word around baseball is that they plan to be aggressive in the trade market to maximize this rare opportunity to play meaningful games in August and September.
In fact, there's a chance the Pirates could deal now rather than waiting until the July 31 deadline. Apparently, owner Bob Nutting has given permission to general manager Neal Huntington to add to the payroll.
The Pirates are looking to improve their .279 on-base percentage. Some names that have been thrown around are Padres third baseman Chase Headley and Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair (possibly expendable because the Cubs' top minor-league prospect, Anthony Rizzo, is a first baseman).
By the same token, there's a chance the struggling Phillies could be sellers at the trade deadline, particularly if Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay, all sidelined with long-term injuries, aren't going to be back in time to make a difference.
Yes, the same Phillies who have won five straight division titles, plus two pennants and a World Series in that stretch.
It's a topsy-turvy world, folks.
Back to square one?
Rumors persist that Tony La Russa — who will come out of retirement to manage the National League in the All-Star Game — could eventually wind up with the White Sox as team president. His first managerial job was with the White Sox from 1979 to '86.
"The White Sox are in good hands in their front office with Kenny (Williams)," La Russa told the Chicago Tribune. "He's surrounded by smart people."
Notes and quotes
• Matt Cain on his hug with catcher Buster Posey after completing Wednesday's perfect game: "He landed first and I hugged him like he was saving my life. It was kind of funny, corny and awesome at the same time."
• The Vladimir Guerrero era in Toronto ended Tuesday without him playing one game for the Blue Jays. Via mutual agreement, Guerrero walked away from the team on Tuesday. The Jays didn't think he was ready for the majors yet, and Guerrero didn't want to spend any more time at Class AAA.
In his final game for AAA Las Vegas, Guerrero, 37, went 4 for 5 to raise his average in eight games to .303. In four games with Class A Dunedin, Guerrero hit .450 with four homers and eight RBI.
• That feud between Cleveland pitcher Derek Lowe and Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker is wild, to say the least. And stay tuned: Lowe is scheduled to pitch Monday vs. the Reds in Cleveland.
• Speaking of Cleveland, Indians radio announcer Tom Hamilton has a lot to be excited about these days. In addition to calling a first-place team, his son, Nick, is the designated hitter for Kent State, which defeated Kentucky, Purdue and Oregon to make its first College World Series.
Oh, yeah — the Indians drafted Nick Hamilton in the 35th round a couple of weeks ago.
• This has been quite a year for Brian Runge, who was the plate umpire for both Philip Humber's perfect game and the Mariners' six-man no-hitter at Safeco Field. Then he was the third-base umpire for Cain's perfecto. Only George "Foghorn" Bradley (1880) and Tommy Connolly (1908) have called a perfect game and no-hitter in the same season.
Ted Barrett, Cain's plate umpire, became the first major-league umpire to call two perfect games. He was also behind the plate for David Cone's in 1999.
• Few players are hotter than 41-year-old Jim Thome, who entered the weekend having hit .458 with three homers and 13 RBI in his last six games.
But all six games were interleague road games, in which Thome could be the Phillies' designated hitter. Before that, he was 2 for 20 with a pair of singles.
The Phillies face a dilemma when the road interleague games end Sunday. Thome will likely have to go back to being a pinch-hitter, because his days playing first base are pretty much done due to ongoing back issues.
Sounds like a guy who is an ideal candidate to be traded to an American League contender.