Many of us are going through the same thing. We once had Froot Loops on the table. Now, there is a box of the awkwardly named store brand, sans the toucan. Baseball owners may have a more generous breakfast budget, but they are looking to save money these days, too. Between now and next Friday's non-waiver trade deadline, I expect a common sentiment will be expressed within contending front offices throughout the majors. Yeah, I'm sure that guy would be great for us. But is there any way to find someone cheaper? You might have heard that the Blue Jays have opened the bidding on Roy Halladay. Well, not everyone can afford him. In fact, only a small percentage can. Modestly financed contenders will attempt to upgrade in other ways. So, here's a look at eight categories in which teams will be shopping for players over the next 10 days. I've listed two players under each heading, one relatively expensive option (for the given role) and a cheaper alternative. P
Dan Petry division (middle-rotation right-handed starter)
HIGH COST: Jon Garland, Arizona, $6.25 million Garland hasn't been able to duplicate the success he had with the White Sox in 2005 and 2006 a 36-17 record and one World Series ring but he's still a durable starter who generally keeps his team close. July has been his best month this season, and he's allowed more than three earned runs only once in his past seven starts. An unfavorable buyout ($2.5 million) on next year's mutual option could hinder his value. LOW COST: Carl Pavano, Cleveland, $1.5 million Not much has gone right for the Indians this year, but the bargain signing of Pavano has a chance to bring back another prospect or two. Pavano has pitched into the seventh inning in three of his past four outings.
Zane Smith division (30ish left-handed starter)
HIGH COST: Cliff Lee, Cleveland, $5.75 million It's far from certain that Lee will be moved before the deadline, but the Indians appear more open-minded to dealing their ace than originally thought. His numbers aren't far off last year's Cy Young Award campaign, making him the most sought-after starter on this year's midsummer market ... aside from Roy Halladay. LOW COST: Doug Davis, Arizona, $8.75 million Davis is listed as the cheaper option, for the simple reason that the prospect cost for Lee will be significantly greater. Davis has been one of baseball's hard-luck starters this year, with 10 losses already despite an ERA under 4.00. A flyball pitcher, Davis' appeal may depend on the suitor's home ballpark.
Rick Honeycutt division (late-inning left-handed reliever)
HIGH COST: George Sherrill, Baltimore, $2.75 million Sherrill is in demand, attracting interest from multiple contenders. But the Orioles have him under control through 2011, so there's a good chance he will stay in Baltimore. He has a much-improved walk rate this year, his second as Baltimore's closer. One thing to watch: Over his career, Sherrill has traditionally pitched much better before the All-Star break than after. LOW COST: John Grabow, Pittsburgh, $2.3 million He is set to become a free agent after this season, meaning Pirates general manager Neal Huntington shouldn't have much trouble moving him for prospects. Grabow is two years removed from a stay on the disabled list because of trouble with his throwing elbow, so his outings are sure to be monitored carefully between now and the deadline.
HIGH COST: Chad Qualls, Arizona, $2.535 million The Diamondbacks will be less likely to move Qualls after trading Tony Pena to the White Sox, but general manager Josh Byrnes will certainly listen to offers. Qualls has closed for Arizona this season but has enjoyed his greatest success as a setup man. A perfect four-out save on Tuesday night was a sign that he's throwing well. LOW COST: Jason Frasor, Toronto, $1.45 million Frasor is in the same salary arbitration class as Qualls (due to enter free agency after next season) albeit at a lower pay grade. He's in the midst of his finest big-league season, shaving nearly two runs off last year's ERA and performing well in an eighth-inning role.
Moises Alou division (right-handed run producer)
HIGH COST: Matt Holliday, Oakland, $13.5 million At the time the A's acquired Holliday, the idea was that they could flip him at the trade deadline if they weren't in contention. Well, they aren't in contention, but a deal is far from certain. Billy Beane may opt to hold onto Holliday for the time being and offer him salary arbitration after the season. On cue, Holliday is having a big July. That's great news for the A's. LOW COST: Jonny Gomes, Cincinnati, $600,000 The Reds now stand closer to the last-place Pirates than the three-team second-place tie, so the sale should start soon. One major league source said late Tuesday that the team has started listening to offers on its veteran players. This would be a good time to sell high on Gomes, who isn't a very good defender but could help an American League club as an outfielder/designated hitter. At present, he has a career-high .571 slugging percentage in a part-time role.
HIGH COST: Freddy Sanchez, Pittsburgh, $6.1 million It's hard to imagine the Pirates will sign Sanchez to an extension in the coming days, so expect him to be available. He's played second base almost exclusively since 2007 and has been a productive No. 2 hitter this year. His $8 million option for next year is likely to vest based on plate appearances, so this would be more than a two-month rental. LOW COST: Marco Scutaro, Toronto, $1.1 million He's been worth every penny to the Blue Jays this year, making him the anti-Vernon Wells. Scutaro is set to become a free agent, meaning J.P. Ricciardi could flip him for prospects irrespective of Halladay's status. There's a lot to like about Scutaro the low cost, the postseason experience, the ability to bat leadoff and the defensive versatility (shortstop, second, third).
Tim Wallach division (right-handed-hitting third basemen)
HIGH COST: Scott Rolen, Toronto, $11 million He would be an ideal addition for any contender with a need at third base, given his professionalism and World Series experience. While not the power hitter he once was, Rolen is in the midst of his best offensive season since 2006. He is due to earn $11 million next year, which could limit the number of suitors to clubs that have significant money coming off the books. LOW COST: Garrett Atkins, Colorado, $7.05 million The Rockies will be deadline buyers, not sellers, but it's difficult to envision Atkins as a big part of their second-half push. With young Ian Stewart growing more comfortable at third base, Atkins has become a very expensive reserve corner infielder. The Rockies might be able to move him for a bullpen arm; an interested club could evaluate him over two months and then decide whether to tender him for 2010.
Darrell Evans division (left-handed-hitting first basemen)
HIGH COST: Aubrey Huff, Baltimore, $8 million Huff's numbers are down from last year, but he's still on pace to finish with around 20 home runs and 100 RBIs. He's been traded at the deadline before, in 2006, so he knows the drill. Huff will be a free agent at the end of this season, but it's not a given that the last-place Orioles will move him. As our Ken Rosenthal reported earlier this week, they may offer him salary arbitration in an attempt to bring him back for 2010. LOW COST: Chad Tracy, Arizona, $4.75 million The Diamondbacks are active sellers, having already traded reliever Tony Pena and infielder Felipe Lopez. Tracy could be next. He hasn't been healthy over a full season since 2006, but he's upped his trade value by hitting better in July after returning from his latest stay on the disabled list. But his .386 slugging percentage over the season is a career low.