Wednesday, June 27, 2012

More Wild Cards and More Trades? Maybe Not

      By Ross Newhan

     One day you're in and one day you're out?

     Not necessarily. Not under the new playoff system by which two wild card teams qualify in each of the major leagues.

     Approaching July, of the 30 teams, only seven appear to have no wild card oppportunity and are definitly out.

    In the National League, Chicago, Houston, San Diego and Colorado seem without a chance, joining Seattle, Kansas City and Minnesota in the American League.

   Entering Wednesday's play, Washington (42 wins), Cincinnati (41) and the fading Dodgers (43) led their respective divisions.

   San Francisco, with 42 wins, would be the wild card under the old format, but there are seven teams within six games of 42, meaning the two wild cards are up for grabs.

   The same situation existed in the American League, where Texas (46 wins), Chicago (39) and New York (45) led the three divisions.

   The Angels and Baltimore were tied for the wild card under the old system with 41 wins, but seven other teams were within five games of 41 wins, including every team in the AL East.

   What is the immediate impact of this potential playoff logjam?

   Well, aside from the smile on the face of Commissioner Bud Selig and aside from cell towers buzzing everywhere as general managers prepare for the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the question is this:

  Will there be that many more trades or even fewer with that many more teams thinking they are already in the hunt with a set roster?

  I have talked to several general managers and there is no consensus.

  "I don't see anything really changing in the sense that no one is giving anything away and no one is going to help a team with obvious problems," said a member of the Dodger front office, desperate for another starting pitcher and at least two or three position players as their offense and division lead disappears with the injuries to Matt Kemp and now Andre Eithier.

 "I'm just not sure there is going to be that much more activity even though there are that many more teams involved," he continued. "Besides, one issue hasn't changed and never seems to change. Every one wants pitching and who has a surplus to give away?"

 The Dodger situation, of course, is critical.

 They lost eight of nine games on a road trip that ended Wednesday, scoring three runs or less in eight of the games and being shutout in all three of a sweep by the Giants, who are now tied with the Dodgers for the West Division lead.

  Kemp is out for another three weeks, perhaps, and Eithier could be down for a month with an oblique strain suffered Wednesday. The farm cupboard is bare, so they have no prospect to trade for a key hitter, and they now come home to play four games with the New York Mets and three with the Reds.

  In the year of the wild cards, they have turned very, very mild at a bad time, new owners or not.


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