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Dodgers, Mets need to make moves

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Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the FOXSports.com's Senior MLB Writer since August 2005. He appears weekly on MLB on FOX, FOX Sports Radio and MLB Network. He's a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.

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Every once in a while a little reminder is in order, lest anyone forget which teams we’re talking about here.

These are the Mets and Dodgers, for crying out loud.

MOST WANTED

Trade deadline is upon us. See where the key players left  are most likely to go.

High-revenue franchises that should be flexing their muscles in the trade market, bidding for Roy Oswalt, Dan Haren and any other big-money player who strikes their fancy.

Instead, the Mets and Dodgers — who face each other this weekend at Dodger Stadium (Saturday, MLB on FOX, 4:10 p.m. ET) — are more likely to settle for scraps as they each search for both a starter and reliever.

Maybe the Mets will get a starter such as Cubs left-hander Ted Lilly. Maybe the Dodgers will get a reliever such as Diamondbacks righty Chad Qualls.

But Oswalt? Haren? Please.

The Dodgers, in particular, might sniff around on both pitchers, and various reports indicate they are prepared to increase their payroll, if only modestly.

Well, Oswalt or Haren would require more than a modest increase. And the Divorce Court Dodgers, whose $95.3 million Opening Day payroll ranked 11th in the majors, likely will have their hands out again, offering better prospects in exchange for cash from their trading partners.

That was the kind of deal the Dodgers made with the Indians for third baseman Casey Blake at the non-waiver deadline in 2008 — well before Frank and Jamie McCourt embarked upon their messy little split.

That’s right, none of this is exactly new.

Blake proved a worthy pickup, helping the Dodgers to back-to-back appearances in the NLCS. But if the Dodgers had not needed the Indians to cover his salary, perhaps they could have made the deal without including catcher Carlos Santana, who is now emerging as one of the best young hitters in the majors.

General manager Ned Colletti has performed admirably under these obvious financial constraints, acquiring not just Blake, but also Manny Ramirez, Greg Maddux, Jim Thome, Ron Belliard and others in mid-season trades the past two years.

Perhaps he can work similar magic to land Oswalt, who is owed approximately $6 million for the rest of the season. The Astros are willing to include cash in the deal for the right players. But the Dodgers’ system is not what it was a few years back; Coletti has precious few players to give.

Frankly, the Dodgers already should have dealt for a pitcher of Oswalt’s caliber; they’ve had numerous chances. Specifically, if their budget had more accurately reflected their revenues, Colletti might have had the prospects and dollars to trade for left-hander Cliff Lee.

Instead, he struck out three times.

The Mets can’t exactly be accused of being cheap, not when their $134.4 Opening Day payroll was the fifth-highest in the majors. Still, their ability to spend was in question last offseason, when free-agent outfielder Jason Bust — er, Bay — was their only major acquisition.

Everyone knew the Mets needed pitching then, but club officials frowned upon the available free-agent solutions — the better, they said, to retain flexibility for future moves.

Well, the time for those moves has come. But Mets GM Omar Minaya, like Colletti, might not know his current financial parameters, major-league sources say.

Such is the parallel between the Mets and Dodgers. The financial positions of both teams are unclear, so they only can be judged by their actions.

Eight days until the non-waiver deadline.

Eight days until the next verdict is in.

Tagged: Indians, Cubs, Astros, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Casey Blake, Roy Oswalt, Dan Haren

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