Buy, sell or stand pat?
Red Sox, Orioles and D-backs are in a tough spot as trade deadline nears
1. Red Sox: Buy, sell or stand pat?
Nick J. Faleris (@NickJFaleris ), Camden Depot: Buy. The offense is a non-issue, as the Red Sox are fifth in the AL in wOBA (.328) and are just now enjoying the return of Jacoby Ellsbury and the revitalization of Adrian Gonzalez. A strong season on the farm means Boston has the pieces for an arm; Theo Epstein in Chicago has wares to sell -- Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza -- and a familiarity with BoSox prospects.
Michael Baumann (@atomicruckus ), Crashburn Alley: Stand pat. Boston is 4½ games out of the wild card despite having about as bad a first 100 games as we could have expected. Between injuries, the bizarre ineffectiveness of their top starters and Bobby Valentine managing with all the panache and sensitivity of Captain Bligh, things should start to look up simply because they can't get any worse.
Matt Meyers (@mtmeyers ), ESPN.com: Buy. However, they should only be looking to trade for guys they can control beyond this year, such as Matt Garza. For me, you should only trade for a rental if it significantly increases your chances of winning the division, which is more meaningful in the two wild-card environment.
2. Diamondbacks: Buy, sell or stand pat?
Faleris: Stand pat. The buzz has been around Justin Upton's supposed availability, but moving him makes little sense unless it is for a fleet of impact youngsters. The Pirates, Cardinals and Braves are a tough troika to leapfrog, not to mention the Dodgers who now have Matt Kemp back. The D-backs would be wise to stick to the script and ride their stable of young arms to contention in 2013 and beyond.
Baumann: Stand pat. Not close enough to buy, but too much future potential to sell. Arizona could still take advantage of a joint Dodger/Giant collapse if and when it happens. Otherwise, patience has to be the word for a team that stands poised to have a fantastic young rotation and a rebounding Upton in a weak division next year.
Meyers: Stand pat. On paper, this team is at least as talented as the Dodgers and Giants, but they are 6½ back of San Francisco, and I don't think they should be trading any of their talented young arms, such as Tyler Skaggs, Trevor Bauer or Archie Bradley, for a run this year. The whole Upton saga has cast a cloud over the organization, and I think they need to reassess where they are this winter.
3. Orioles: Buy, sell or stand pat?
Faleris: Go big or go home. Small moves are unlikely to help the O's with their seemingly unsustainable playoff run. A down year on the farm means the "untouchable" duo of Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado are now "touchable" if GM Dan Duquette wants to try and chase the playoffs. Baltimore needs to land an impact bat (Chase Headley) and arm (Zack Greinke), which could mean an aggregate cost of Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz and more. Is it worth it for a coin flip shot at the wild card?
Baumann: Sell. That the Orioles are 1½ games out of the wild card with a minus-53 run differential on the last weekend in July is a testament to an excellent bullpen and the cruel vagaries of fate in the American League. The Orioles have the players necessary to build a contender: They're named Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado, and neither will be in the majors anytime soon. Sell high on the overachievers and get ready to go all-in in two or three years.
Meyers: This team has been outscored by 53 runs, about the same as Kansas City. The O's success is a mirage, and while I think their best course of action is to sell, that would be a PR nightmare. They need to sit tight and hope to compete in two years when Matt Wieters and Adam Jones are joined by Machado and Bundy.