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The Week Ahead: Wheeling and dealing

With the non-waiver trade deadline looming on Friday, this coming week is one of the most exciting of the baseball season. It’s not quite the World Series, but is not unlike the World Series of Poker.

Player 1: You don’t want to give up your entire minor league system for my pitcher? Fine, then I’ll deal with this other guy.

Player 2: No problem, I think player No. 3’s pitcher is better anyway.

Player 3: Really? Cool!

You know some teams are bluffing, others are slow-playing their winning hands, while still others are just hanging around, trying to gum up the works. That is what is so fascinating about the march to the trade deadline.

Roy Halladay is, of course, the big prize out there. Will he be traded? Sometimes it seems inevitable, other times unlikely. It all depends on the day of the week hour of the day.

Will Doc go to the Phillies? The Red Sox? The Rangers? Would the Yankees (GASP) part with Joba Chamberlain?

It’s enough to make the head spin. And that’s just Halladay.

What about Cliff Lee, the Indians ace who won the 2008 AL Cy Young award? The Dodgers, Angels and Phillies (if they’re really giving up on Halladay) appear to be lurking. Will Cleveland also deal Victor Martinez?

Looking further down the list, teams might be turning to the likes of Jarrod Washburn, who is quietly having his best season since at least 2002, maybe ever.

With the Mariners’ destruction at the hands of the Indians over the weekend, the departure of Washburn (scheduled to pitch Tuesday) and Russell Branyan could be imminent. Could a match be found with the Brewers?

And how about the disaster known as the Washington Nationals? Nick Johnson, Adam Dunn and others could all be heading (they hope) to newer, sunnier destinations where fans go to games and jersey adornments are spelled correctly.

And that, friends, is the tip of the iceberg. It will be a wild week, a rollercoaster of sketchy rumors, breathless television updates and, of course, terrific Tweets.

We’ll do our best to keep you updated on everything here at Circling the Bases, as well as on our rumors page.

Oh and one last thing: Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but here are five reasons trade deadline deals are overrated. Don’t let it spoil your fun.

More after the jump ...


*Yankees at Rays, July 27-29: The Rays have to at least hold their own in this series to stay within reach. Especially when you consider that the Red Sox are right there ahead of them, too.

*Astros at Cubs, July 27-29: The Cubs have ridden a four-game winning streak to the top of the NL Central. But in this amazingly tight division, the Astros, just two games back, have a chance to make some noise.

*Dodgers at Cardinals, July 27-30: The Matt Holliday deal has Cardinals fans buzzing, although the team has not yet taken off. Now, with a four-game series against the league’s best team (record-wise), it’s time to deliver.

*Blue Jays at Mariners, July 27-29: Neither one of these teams appear to be going anywhere as far as the postseason is concerned, but the trade deadline is another matter. Jarrod Washburn and Roy Halladay are both scheduled to pitch in this series, and a number of other potential trade candidates will take the field.

*Phillies at Giants, July 30-Aug. 2: The defending champions are on a roll, having won eight of their last 10 games. The surprising Giants are in the thick of the NL wild card race, but this four-game series could prove crucial.


Monday, 7:05 p.m. ET: Dodgers at Cardinals (ESPN)

Wednesday, 7:08 p.m.: Yankees at Rays (ESPN)

*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Yankees at White Sox (FOX)

*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Royals at Rays (FOX)

*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Dodgers at Braves (FOX)

Sunday, 4 p.m.: Phillies at Giants (TBS)

Sunday, 8:05 p.m.: Dodgers at Braves (ESPN)

*Check local listings