The best of Baseball Today

As the Fastest 15 Minutes in Baseball, "Baseball Today" has to wake up each morning perky and ready to roll. We cover the games. We parse the pennant races. And we break down the trades, with lines like this from Jayson Stark: "I just could see Pat Gillick going into the press conference with Bobby Abreu at his side saying, 'Oh, we didn't get anything back, but at least we saved 23 million dollars on our car insurance.' "

Below is even more of the great stuff our guests had to offer last week -- along with our top listener mail (click here to send us your own comments/ravings) and our ever-anticipated Crystal Ball standings. Join the growing legions of "Baseball Today" listeners either by subscribing (for free!) via iTunes -- see below for easy instructions -- or by bookmarking this page.

Quotes Of The Week
Monday, July 31
Jayson Stark, ESPN.com

On the Orioles' not trading Miguel Tejada:

When it's all said and done, how are they going to look back on saying "no" when the Angels [offered] Ervin Santana and Erick Aybar, who's a really good middle infield/shortstop prospect. ... Santana is the kind of guy you just can't trade for.

Tuesday, Aug. 1
Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com

On the Nationals keeping Alfonso Soriano:

If they do sign Soriano, he's a guy you can build around -- he's a young player, fan favorite, dynamic. But it only works if you sign him. If he's only there for two more months and then he chases the free-agent dollars to Anaheim or somewhere else, what good does he do for your franchise?

Wednesday, Aug. 2
Steve Phillips, ESPN

On putting star players through waivers:

"I did it to try to drum up interest. ...You do it just to see what it does, and you make a list to remember who has interest and who claims players -- so that if there's a deal at some point in the future that might make sense, you already know what parties have raised their hands and said, "I'm in."

Thursday, Aug. 3
Gary Gillette, ESPN.com

On the Abreu trade:

[The Yankees] hornswoggled the Phillies in that Abreu trade. They got Lidle for essentially nothing. And the difference between having Lidle every fifth day and Chacon is tremendous. That may put them over the top. ... Lidle's appreciated, for one thing, he takes the ball and he's durable and he doesn't make many excuses. And that's something that's very valuable at the back end of a rotation. And given the Yankees' problems this year, it's something they could really use.

Friday, Aug. 4
Rob Neyer, ESPN.com

On Greg Maddux being removed in Dodgers debut because of rain delay despite six no-hit innings:

I'll bet you anything that Greg Maddux didn't mind at all. At this point in his career, all he cares about is getting the win for his team. He's seen it all and done it all. ... I've seen him ask out of many games, and I don't mean that in a negative way. Many times, I've seen him tell Leo Mazzone or Bobby Cox, "I'm not your best pitcher right now. Take me out." That doesn't bother me at all.

Best Listener Mail
(To contribute a comment for the show, click here)

I enjoy the podcast, but ... I have to take exception to your comments on the consecutive game hitting streak. From a fan's perspective, a streak like this adds a layer of intrigue to the game, particularly if you're a Philly fan (which I'm not), and you've just seen your team's owners foreclose on the balance of the season through trades. (You have to admit, as much as you don't like the stat, it held enough interest that you offered it as a Crystal Ball question at the end of your 8/3 show.
-- Dave Ross

The Reds are the best team in the wild-card race, possibly the third-best team in the entire National League so far this season. They have made a series of moves targeting their longstanding weakness and they gave up two very replaceable players (albeit starters) in return. I think it's time they not only get credit in the front office, but also as the clear leader and favorite in the wild-card chase and as a legitimate threat in their own division. Hide from it as long as you can, the truth shall set you free.
-- Aaron, Lake Havasu City, Ariz.

I hope you're going to dock Steve Phillips two Crystal Ball points for not only missing your question about waiver deals but laughing because it was such an easy question. Two days later, Javy Lopez is in Boston and Steve goes down swinging.
-- Chris, Ontario

Speaking of which ...

Crystal Ball Standings
Clearly, our Crystal Ball segment, which ends every show, has become as intriguing as any pennant race. We've got quite a dogfight on our hands with Mr. Outside, Rob Neyer, going 2-1 last week to take over first place from Mr. Inside, Steve Phillips. (And Jayson Stark isn't far behind.) We hope to soon have a way for you, loyal listener, to join the competition by making the same predictions as our guests each day via the Web. Here are the standings as Monday began:

Alan Schwarz is the host of ESPN.com's Baseball Today and the senior writer of Baseball America. His book, "The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics," can be ordered on Alan's Web site.