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Baseball insider and 7th-inning stretch

San Diego Padres relief pitcher Heath Bell reacts

San Diego Padres relief pitcher Heath Bell reacts after striking out Boston Red Sox's J.D. Drew to end the game in the ninth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston. (June 21, 2011) Credit: AP

In honor of Derek Jeter's birthday today, let's do a lightning-round entry featuring 2,994 items. Give or take 2,986.


1 Most seasons, the July 31 non-waivers trade deadline seems to "run through" a certain team. The club with the most chips to deal.

It seemed as though the Mets would be that team in 2011, but they're clearly inclined to hold on to Carlos Beltran and especially Jose Reyes if they possess even a long-shot chance at making the playoffs.

So if that holds, the trade-deadline headquarters might just be Petco Park in San Diego.

The Padres, predictable trailers this year after trading Adrian Gonzalez, already have been receiving calls from clubs interested in closer Heath Bell, an impending free agent. The Yankees, in need of a setup man, have called but haven't been as aggressive as other teams that would use Bell to close. Philadelphia, St. Louis and Texas all could use bullpen help.

San Diego also has veteran reliever Chad Qualls, starting pitcher Aaron Harang and outfielder Ryan Ludwick, all in the walk years of their deals.


2 The Yankees, in general, appear inclined to wait on the trade front. They want to monitor the rehabilitation of current disabled-list occupants Bartolo Colon, Phil Hughes and Rafael Soriano.

3 Reyes, who met with his representatives, Peter Greenberg and Chris Leible, on Monday, seriously considered listening to the Mets' contract offer, according to Greenberg. He ultimately decided against it.

Good move. That offer was essentially a trap. There was no way Reyes, this close to free agency, would accept. And the Mets, with an eye on public relations, would happily announce that they tried to keep Reyes but he turned down their offer.


4 Outside of San Diego, there isn't much of interest available. The Cubs would have to pay a large part of Carlos Zambrano's salary (he's making $17,875,000 this year and $18 million next year) in order to generate a market. The Astros have Brett Myers. Of course, as time progresses, more teams could fall out of the race and become sellers.

5 Given the paucity of lefthanded relief help, keep an eye on J.C. Romero, whom the Phillies released Friday and who should clear waivers Tuesday. Romero's walks-to-strikeouts ratio has been dreadful for many years now, but he still can get lefty batters out.

6 On May 22, in this space, we advised you to bet on Philadelphia's Roy Oswalt opting for free agency and trying for one more big contract. Hope you didn't bet too much. Oswalt's recurring back problems, which just placed him on the disabled list for the second time this season, have put his long-term future in doubt.


7 The organizers of the Futures Game, which is July 10 at Chase Field, asked the Yankees about the availability of six prospects, including Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Jesus Montero and Austin Romine. The Yankees, as is their right, approved only Montero and Romine.

Only Romine will attend, his second straight Futures Game. Montero played in the 2008 and 2009 exhibitions, and the folks who run the game steer away from players making a third appearance.


8 As we approach the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Mets continue to lead the way in helping those who lost loved ones that horrible day. This past week, the Mets announced their contributions to The First Responder Alliance Mentoring Program, a project of Tuesday's Children, a non-profit that helps people impacted by the attacks.

Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, in the news conference, credited former manager Bobby Valentine for leading the Mets' initial charge and Mets vice president of media relations Jay Horwitz for carrying the torch.

"This is all about Jay Horwitz," Valentine said in a telephone interview. "For anyone else to take any credit is almost blasphemy."

Valentine credited Horwitz for initiating the Mets' relationship with Tuesday's Children and for organizing visits to New York City firehouses and other downtown locales.

Horwitz, though appreciative, insisted that Valentine led the way, with help from Mets players John Franco, Al Leiter and Robin Ventura.


Pop quiz


In the 1991 film "Only the Lonely," Danny (John Candy) and Theresa (Ally Sheedy) have their first date at a ballpark that is no longer with us. Name the ballpark.



Three managers still on the bubble (and who haven't quit yet)


1. Mike Quade, Cubs. With general manager Jim Hendry likely a goner, Quade would lose his top advocate.

2. Don Mattingly, Dodgers. The Dodgers are in turmoil, and it's uncertain whether Donnie Baseball can ride out the storm.

3. Brad Mills, Astros. The team is in the process of being sold, and there's little reason to think that either Mills or GM Ed Wade is safe.



Three teams hurt by the Mets' (very changeable) inclination to not trade Jose Reyes


1. Giants. Reyes would fit perfectly in the Giants' lineup, in their infield and at their ballpark.

2. Reds. Paul Janish is an asset defensively and a disaster offensively.

3. Rays. The Rays, with prospects to deal, would benefit greatly from a shortstop upgrade.



Quote of the week:


"I just felt that I know I'm not Casey Stengel, but I do feel like I know what I'm doing, and it's not a situation where I felt like I should continue on with such a short leash where every little hill and valley is life and death." Jim Riggleman, after resigning as Nationals manager.



Pop quiz answer


The original Comiskey Park. Thanks to Fred Snyder of Farmingville for the suggestion.


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