The MLB games this weekend are almost going to seem like just an excuse to talk more about trades, both actual moves and rumoured ones.
Every game is important when the final standings are considered, but the commentators are likely to spend a fair amount of the time talking about off-the-field activity in place of analysing the on-the-field action this weekend.
Trades and games do go hand-in-hand of course, with players making debuts for their new team and potential trade targets being under closer inspection than normal.
Friday’s games were a good illustration of this. The Cardinals got an immediate boost from their recent trade as Edwin Jackson delivered a strong showing in his pitching debut for the Redbirds. Jeremy Guthrie possibly increased the likelihood of him moving to a contender with an impressive outing against the Yankees, while Erik Bedard’s struggles against the Rays only further increase his standing as a very risky acquisition.
And we had the sight of Hunter Pence coming out of the Astros’ game partway through due to him being traded to the Phillies. Will we see anyone else make a sharp mid-game exit? If the games are played in the daytime in the States, us in the UK will be able to find out live at a convenient time. Here are the early games, with all times in BST.
Saturday 30 July
18.05. Baltimore at NY Yankees (Tillman – Colon)
18.07. Texas at Toronto (Holland – Mills)
21.10. LA Angels at Detroit (Haren – Below)
21.10. Tampa Bay at Seattle (Cobb – Pineda)
21.10. Chicago Cubs at St. Louis (Lopez – Lohse)
A number of teams involved in early games on Saturday could be active at the trade deadline.
The Yankees are always liable to add a player or two, while the Rangers are being strongly linked with making a move for one or more of the San Diego Padres’ relief pitchers. The Angels and Tigers are both trying to improve their rosters and now that Pence is off the market, maybe someone will complete a long-rumoured trade for the Rays’ B.J. Upton.
None of the games are being shown on ESPN America as they are focusing on the X Games instead.
Sunday 31 July
18.05. Kansas City at Cleveland (Davies – Carmona)
18.05. LA Angels at Detroit (Weaver – Verlander)
18.05. Baltimore at NY Yankees (Arrieta – Garcia)
18.07. Texas at Toronto (Wilson – Morrow)
18.10. San Francisco at Cincinnati (Zito – Cueto)
18.35. Florida at Atlanta (Nolasco – Hanson) * ESPN America
18.35. NY Mets at Washington (Niese – Zimmermann)
18.35. Pittsburgh at Philadelphia (Karstens – Worley)
19.10. Boston at Chicago White Sox (Miller – Buehrle) * BBC 5 Live Sports Extra
19.10. Houston at Milwaukee (Myers – Narveson)
21.05. Minnesota at Oakland (Pavano – McCarthy)
21.05. Colorado at San Diego (Nicasio – Moseley)
21.10. Tampa Bay at Seattle (Hellickson – Vargas)
21.10. Arizona at LA Dodgers (Saunders – De La Rosa)
All but the ESPN Sunday Night Game (Cubs at Cardinals) are being played under daylight on Sunday and there is sure to be a host of trades – mostly minor but possibly a few surprises – as the games are in progress.
The probable pitchers above are subject to any last-minute changes due to them being dealt. The only two who immediately stand out as names that have been mentioned in trade rumours are the Astros’ Brett Myers and the Mariners’ Jason Vargas.
You can be certain that the Angels and Tigers will not be dealing away their scheduled Sunday starters and the Weaver-Verlander match up is the highlight of the fixtures. The ESPN America game involving Ricky Nolasco and Tommy Hanson should be a good one too.
Nat Coombs and Josh Chetwynd are scheduled to go on air on 5 Live Sports Extra at 18.30, although that could be pushed back by a late end to Day Three of the England-India Test match. They should be on in good time for the start of the White Sox-Red Sox game and will be covering all of the trade news as it happens throughout the evening.