On August 1 of each year, I wake up with a sense of relief that the trade deadline has concluded. And then I start planning for the playoffs, by looking at the current standings and, as per the postseason schedule, start booking hotels for October and November.

And here on the blog, with nearly two-thirds of the season complete, I start putting up the playoff seedings. If the season ended today, this is what we would have:

American League: Yankees (1) vs. White Sox (3), Texas (2) vs. Tampa Bay (4)

National League: San Diego (1) vs. St. Louis (3), Atlanta (2) vs. San Francisco (4)

From now until the end of the season, I will update these seedings whenever they change, with the exception of two instances: 1) I'm on vacation, later this month; or 2) I forget to do so. 

Now on the links and thoughts:

--At the Yankees game, I wrote about Joe Girardi's challenges in integrating his three new players. It has been a strange couple of days for me, work-wise, because despite the fact that we've had two outstanding games between baseball's two best clubs, I've been preoccupied with the trade deadline. I look forward to fully taking in the game today.

And going back to those playoff seeds, right now, the postseason series I anticipate the most is the ALCS between the Yankees and the survivor of Texas-Tampa Bay. And that Texas-Tampa Bay ALDS should be pretty awesome, too.

Of course, the Yankees lead the Rays by only two games, so the Yankees have extra motivation to win the division because they surely don't want to have to deal with Cliff Lee in a five-game series. Although, to further complicate things, the Rangers lead the White Sox by only two and a half games (two in the loss column) in the race for the second seed.

--In other Yankees news, Alex Rodriguez is sitting today - a sensible call, given how he has looked the last few days. He'll resume the quest for 600 at home, unless he pinch hits in today's game.

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--Andy Pettitte threw a "half-mound" - halfway up the mound, believe it or not - this morning, and says he feels very good.

--Kerry Wood arrived and will be available today.

--Speaking of the trade deadline, here are my winners and losers. MLBTradeRumors.com has a good roundup of other such judgments.

--The Mets won, but David Lennon was more interested, rightfully so, in addressing the Mets' refusal to make trades. Great column. I agree with Dave: This pretty much seals Jerry Manuel's fate. And sure, there's no harm in gauging the trade market for Carlos Beltran this winter.

I think part of the Mets' problem, not unusually, is they don't send a clear message to their fans about what they're thinking. If I were Jeff Wilpon, I would've come out yesterday and said something like this:


"Look, let's be honest: The odds are not in our favor here. It didn't make sense for us to give us a valuable trade chip that would only marginally increase our slim chances of making the playoffs.

"At the same time, we've got another 58 games to go. Stranger things have happened. We like our roster, and we expect these guys to play up to their potential and track records, as any major-leaguers would and should do in this situation. And it's not like trading season is fully over. There should be plenty of guys available this month, and if these guys make their case for re-enforcements with their results, then we'll work very hard to get something done.

"We understand that our fans are frustrated. We're frustrated, too. But if there's anything we've learned from our time running the Mets, particularly since we took full control in 2002, it's that trying for the quick fix is awfully dangerous. We're going to do this the right way, and that means continuing to build up our farm system and depth. By August 16, we'll have a whole new wave of draftees signed. The goal is to create a system which can be used to both provide cost-efficient players to our team and develop trading chips to use in deals.

"We know that we have a credibility gap with our fans, and we're working on that. We're going to cut ticket prices this winter for 2011, because we want more people to come to Citi Field to enjoy our ballpark and our team. 

"Thanks for listening."

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--Manuel is bothered by Jeff Francoeur's lack of patience. Took him long enough.

--Big day for Dwight Gooden today, as well as Darryl Strawberry, Davey Johnson and Frank Cashen.

--A reminder: Live chat at 11:00 tomorrow morning, and then two book giveaway contests this week.

--Have a great day.


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