I'll start out with the futility of trading for a first baseman. Let's assume that guys like Pujols, Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, and the ugly guy in Boston are not in play. Prince Fielder is a great hitter, but what do you do with him next year when Kendry comes back? Plus Fielder would cost a ton of prospects, so let's assume he's not going to be an Angel. There are a few first basemen who fit into the rental category. Here they are along with their projected linear weights runs above average per 150 games:
Lance Berkman +17
Adam Dunn +20
Paul Konerko +16
Derrek Lee +11
Adam LaRoche +3
The guy we have right now, Mike Napoli, projects at +17. He's just as good with the bat as this crew and to my complete surprise, can field at first base. We could spend a lot of money and surrender minor league depth to put a different (not better) first baseman out there, but why anyone thinks this is a good idea is beyond me.
How about third base? This is another position where the really good guys are not available. There's no way on earth we can get David Wright, Evan Longoria, or Ryan Zimmerman. On one hand, you've got once promising players who have played their way off major league rosters like Hank Blalock and Edwin "EE-5" Encarnacion. Then you've got once great, but now shadows of themselves like Mike Lowell and Miguel Tejada. There is Jorge Cantu in Florida, but he's just an average hitter and a terrible fielder. I see no reason to dip into this pool when we can just get some high OBP from Kevin Frandsen, who shall not whiff, and Maicer Izturis, when he gets better.
I do have a few proposals though.
1. Trade Hank Conger, Will Smith, and a player to be named later to Kansas City for David Dejesus. Dejesus projects as a +9 hitter and a +10 fielder. He has range we could sorely use in the outfield corners, and could lead off or bat second. He's having a career year, hitting .331. He gets on base, can play all three outfield positions, and has a strong throwing arm. He also has a cheap option for a 2011 contract.
2. Trade Juan Rivera and a Rich Thompson to San Diego for Heath Bell. San Diego has a ridiculous number of no-name dominant relievers, just like we used to. Maybe it has something to do with Bud Black. Bud can probably make Rich into another. Meanwhile, we get a reliever we can trust right now to bump Fuentes out of the 9th inning. San Diego left fielders have combined to hit .196 with a .582 OPS, so Rivera would be a good fit for them and expendable for us if we got DeJesus.
Make the deals, and let's get back into the flag flying business.