A few of the SB Nation bloggers in the AL Central, chatted over email with Sky Kalkman of Beyond the Boxscore, who served as moderator.
Sky Kalkman (Moderator): Which teams, under which circumstances, will be buyers over the next three weeks? How about sellers? If there are any undecideds, what will be the tipping point?
colintj(SSS): Great question, Sky. And let me just say what an honor it is to sit in with all these knowledgeable bloggers. We Sox fans would be totally lost without the guiding light of these heavyweights. Without stepping on the toes of any other roundtablers, it seems clear to me that the Sox are perhaps the only team likely to make a real splash. The Tigers may well be in a financial bind and have already sold off their farm talent for major leaguers. And Dontrelle Willis. The Twins have a clear need up the middle (and a logjam in the outfield), so they may be able to better distribute their talent if they're really going for it in '09. Finding a bargain bin 1 WAR type 2B shouldn't be that hard, so I guess the question is how much Bill Smith really wants it. There's got to be a revenue neutral solution there. The Royals are hopefully done after the inexplicable Betancourt deal. Best guess: Royals GMs hate Royals fans. And the Indians should consider seeing if they can't package Shapiro and Wedge with whomever else they send out for younger/cheaper talent.
Sky Kalkman (Moderator): What holes will teams be looking to fill? What are the biggest holes they *SHOULD* be looking to fill but don't seem to be concerned about? Which holes from the first half can be plugged internally, perhaps by improvement the same player?
colintj(SSS): Could someone else go first? I'm all a-twitter after all this "hole-filling" talk. Anyway, as mentioned, the Twins need a second baseman. The Tigers need pitching. The Sox? The third base problem has been more or less solved by Gordon Beckham. He's been league average through 150 PAs assuming he's had -10 defense. Center field and a back end starter are obviously the real upgrade possibilities at this point. Not to mention, the Sox are well positioned to package some minor leaguers, even after the Allen-Pena swap. It won't be a one-and-done type, though, unless it's along the lines of the Junior Griffey trade last season. Kenny loves aged vets if he can't get real players. Other holes to fill? The one between Dayton Moore's ears? That's a cheap shot. Honestly, I'm at a loss. Maybe I should ask Joe Cowley's wife...
Sky Kalkman (Moderator): Who are the most popular trade targets for those holes? Any targets flying under the radar? Any targets your team is especially intrigued in? Any popular names they're backing away from? Any rumors you'd like to start?
colintj(SSS): Some interesting answers from the panel. Anyway, Cheat typically covers these, but since he's been gone, I confess I haven't really been paying attention to the rumors. The way Kenny Williams works means not having to care. If it shows up in print, that means it's not happening. So really, all I'm looking for is a player to satisfy an obvious need with a contract that makes sense. KW can be relied upon do such most of the time. He spends the rest of the time totally baffling everyone. See: the Nick Swisher Saga. Trading for him made perfect sense. Giving him up was apparently forced on him? I guess? All I know is some guy named Nunez is who we're relying on to save that trade. And that Jeff Marquez sucks.
Sky Kalkman (Moderator): Which prospects and young major leaguers are most likely to change hands? Any that teams have deemed off-limits?
colintj(SSS): As I alluded to earlier, the Sox are pretty well set in this department. The pitchers are numerous: Aaron Poreda, Clayton Richard, Dexter Carter and Dan Hudson all make good trade bait and add up to a nice package. The typical play is to trade established starters for young arms. If it's possible, Kenny will make it happen. Position-wise, Beckham and Tyler Flowers are pretty much off the table. After that it's Jordan Danks, Dayan Viciedo and...? Jared Mitchell could be PTBNL'd I suppose, but that'd be a long wait. The Sox should be able to get what they want; if nothing goes through, fans should look skeptically on the idea that Kenny struck out at the trading table. Whatever he decides to do works for me. This is a tallest midget contest and the Sox have a good chance at the division just standing pat. Considering the upcoming departure of the old guard and the CF hole hedged with Mitchell and Danks, it may make the most sense to do just that. Another 1 WAR type 4th OF might make the most sense, given Wise's suck, Quentin's injury issues and Podsednik's soon to expire deal with Satan.
Sky Kalkman (Moderator): Without any trade-deadline moves, what has to happen for your team to win the division? How much more likely is your team to make the playoffs by plugging its holes or adding an impact player?
colintj(SSS): Quentin's health is probably the difference between winning and losing the division. If he's Q!, we just added a .380 wOBA type bat. Carlos Guillen coming back isn't going to stop that, sorry Ian. The more likely scenario is just Q. Which would be something along the lines of his CHONE projection (.268/.367/.487) and playing 2/3 of the remaining games. Without doing any real math, that might be enough. Worse case, his plantar fascitis goes America all over his ass.
Sky Kalkman (Moderator): For the teams probably out of the running, what acquisitions and decisions based on the 2010 and future seasons would you consider a "win"?
colintj(SSS): Oh, you said out of the running. Take it away, Jay and Will!