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MLB trade deadline: The bad teams that won't commit to selling

Not yet, at least

Ezra Shaw

Just over a month ago, on June 22, the Dodgers were nine games under .500, in last place, and 9½ out. Now they're in first place. All they had to do is win 21 of their next 26 games.

See? It's that easy. Just take the bull by the horns, put one foot in front of the other, give 110 percent, take it one day at a time, and play to win. Eventually your team will start winning because you're bound to hit a hot stretch at some point. Those are just the odds.

At least, that's what I'm guessing some teams are thinking. Because there's a preponderance of bad teams still saying they aren't in sell mode. More than I can remember. Here's a look at those teams, what they have to trade, what they've said, and how likely they are to hold onto their trade assets.

Bad team: Kansas City Royals

Trade assets:
Luke Hochevar, Ervin Santana, James Shields, Jeff Francoeur

Evidence they aren't selling
From Ken Rosenthal:

The Kansas City Royals have given little indication that they will trade veterans before the July 31 non-waiver deadline. But if they were going to make an exception, right-hander Luke Hochevar would be an obvious candidate. (July 23)

Wait, They Can't Be Serious? Scale
The scale is 1-to-10, with 1 representing "No, they're selling" and 10 representing "oh no no no they're actually keeping their veterans." The Royals are about a five. They can't be serious. But I'm not sure if they're not serious. They might be serious. Good gravy, they might be serious.

If the Royals could trade Santana for half of what the Cubs got for Matt Garza, they would be fools not to. I've read some historical works on the Royals , and I'm starting to wonder if, indeed, they might be prone to foolish decisions every so often. And I'm thinking they can get more than half of what the Cubs got. There isn't a lot of pitching out there. Someone will overpay.

The Royals made a brilliant gamble to get Santana in the first place, and then everyone on the team stopped hitting. That's just the worst. But hanging on to Santana -- to, what, sign him to an extension? -- is bizarre at best, negligent at worst. Or reasonable in the middle! But I'll wager an entire dollar that if the Royals sign Santana to an extension, it won't be reasonable.

Though if they do get the prospects, all they'll do is screw them up.

Hell, do whatever you want, Royals. Do whatever you want.

Bad team: Seattle Mariners

Trade assets:
Kendrys Morales, Mike Morse, Raul Ibanez, Oliver Perez, Tom Wilhelmsen and Joe Saunders

Evidence they aren't selling:

Wait, They Can't Be Serious? Scale
Three. They pretty much can't be serious.

The Mariners are actually doing the scenario up there from the opening paragraph. They've won and won and won, and they've climbed closer and closer and closer. Except they don't play in the NL West like the Dodgers. And all that winning has put them 11 games back in the AL West. They're 8½ games back of the second wild card, behind four other teams.

Maybe someone should give Jack Zdru … Jack Zdern … Bill Bavasi a homework assignment. He should write the best-case scenario for the 2013 Mariners, and read it out loud to himself. Maybe that'll make him realize how ridiculous it is to choose the minuscule chances of a second wild-card berth at the expense of shiny prospects. Maybe he should read it out loud to the other GM when he's declining a trade offer, and see if the other guy starts tittering. Especially when he gets to the part about Jay Buhner riding a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Bad team: San Francisco Giants

Trade assets:
Hunter Pence, Sergio Romo, Tim Lincecum, Javier Lopez

Signal that they aren't selling
First, via Alex Pavlovic:

During an interview on KNBR on Thursday, general manager Brian Sabean shot down recent Lincecum trade rumors.

"I expect Timmy to be in a Giant uniform," Sabean said. "I find it hard to believe that he'd pitch elsewhere this year."

and this:

Wait, They Can't Be Serious? Scale
Eight. They most certainly can be serious.

Unlike the Royals and Mariners, the Giants haven't had a bad year in a while. They have a sellout streak going and fans who expect to win. Even when the Giants were awful from 2005 through 2008, they never really had a fire sale. They never traded Jason Schmidt or Randy Winn, for example.

They also want to keep Pence, I'd gather. They don't have any young outfielders in the wings, and if they trade him, they'll have to spend money on an outfielder they might want less than Pence. Which, okay, so they want Pence. But if he's not going to sign an extension before the deadline, he's going to test the market anyway. So … let him take the embroidered towels, pay for the rest of his lease, and start the talks up again in November. The Rangers like Pence, and they have shiny prospects.

It's unlikely, though. And if the Giants can win a few mirages against the Cubs this weekend, they might even be buyers. Terrifying. Hey, if they go 44-17 over the next two months, they'll get to 90 wins. From there? Probably another championship. Probably another championship.

Bad team: Philadelphia Phillies

Trade assets:
Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, Antonio Bastardo, Michael Young

Signal that they aren't selling:

Wait, They Can't Be Serious? Scale
Six. They just might be serious.

First: The Phillies aren't bad, per se. They're just out of the race. They're eight games back. That's, look, remember the A's miracle charge in the second half last year? Remember how they just couldn't lose? After their 101st game, they were 4½ out in the West. That's closer than the Phillies are to the Braves or the second wild card. It's over. Fetch is never going to happen.

And the best part is that the Phillies have a chance to trade Jonathan Papelbon, who is still good, but way overpaid. The Phillies still owe Ryan Howard vats of liquid palladium. How can they not pounce on the chance?

Maybe Ruben Amaro, Jr. is as stubborn as I think, or maybe there's an owner whose ego doesn't allow him to be associated with a rebuilding project. Except trading Papelbon isn't something that signifies a rebuilding project. He was already the diamond-studded air freshener in the luxury car. He made a little sense as a pitcher for the team that had everything. He makes no sense for the Phillies now.

For complaining about the Phillies, please visit The Good Phight. For complaining about the Royals, please visit Royals Review. For complaining about the Mariners, please visit Lookout Landing. For complaining about the Giants, please visit McCovey Chronicles.

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