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Get ready for a little wheeling and dealing before baseball's trading deadline expires July 31. Philadelphia just completed a deal for Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt. Imagine how their rotation could have looked if Lee wasn't traded? Halladay, Lee, Hamels & Oswalt. Four #1 starters. Oswalt is a superb addition. Philadelphia is riding a 5 game win streak. Oswalt should be able to help Philly retake first place from Atlanta. It'll be a dogfight to the finish.
A few teams have surprised baseball handicappers. Texas is very strong. Adding Lee goes a long way towards playoff legitimacy. Cincinnati and St. Louis figure to go toe to toe right down to the wire. San Diego's pitching keeps steaming along. San Francisco finds themselves back in the West race after fading. Ozzie's White Sox are finally creating positive headlines. Twins have been banged up all year long. They keep finding ways to win as good teams usually do.
There's an epic division battle shaping up in AL East. Yankees vs Rays while the Red Sox lurk ever so close. Yanks lineup is second to none. Relievers has been iffy. Tampa plays big. Starting pitchers and timely hitting earn the Rays baseball's second best record.
Which teams will be active buyers? Sellers? MLB non waiver trading deadline ends midnight Sunday. Yanks need relievers. Rays could use a heavy bat. If they were smart then Milwaukee's Fielder should be on their radar. I'm sure he's not but talk about a perfect fit. Giants, Padres, Dodgers need bats. Red Sox could use a shot in the arm up the middle. Tigers need help as key players are dropping like flies. They'll have a tough time finding a good deal. It's just a case of bad luck in Detroit.
Here's how I see the pennant race shaking out (as of now).
EAST Yanks, Rays, Sox, Jays, O's.
CENTRAL Sox, Twins, Tigers, Royals, Indians.
WEST Rangers, Angels, A's, Mariners.
EAST Phils, Braves, Mets, Marlins, Nats.
CENTRAL Reds, Cards, Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, Astros.
WEST Padres, Giants, Dodgers, Rockies, DBacks.
WILD CARD: AL Rays, NL Giants.
WORLD SERIES: Phils over Yanks 4-1.