Tom Verducci's Mailbag

July 25, 2004

All the trade talk is about Randy Johnson, but are there any
sleeper trade targets who might make an impact?
MARVIN DORFLER, Chicago

VERDUCCI: If you want long shots, how about Carlos Beltran
getting traded again, this time if Houston continues to fade, and
Oakland making a very bold move with either Barry Zito (below) or
Mark Redman. More realistically, I like what Giants G.M. Brian
Sabean had to say about this year's trade market: "I don't think
there's any deals any one team in any division in baseball can do
that will cement anything for anybody. Personally I think it's a
lackluster group of players that could be available."

Why did everybody, including SI, underestimate the Cardinals?
Their lineup is stacked.
DAVID LISTER, St. Louis

VERDUCCI: Everyone knew St. Louis could hit. The Cardinals looked
like the third best team in the NL Central back in March because
their starting pitching did not appear to match up with the
glamour staffs of the Cubs and the Astros. The Cards' rotation
seemed to seriously fall off after Matt Morris and Woody
Williams. Jason Marquis, Chris Carpenter and Jeff Suppan won a
combined 13 games last year (all by Suppan). Those pitchers,
however, have turned out to be very dependable. St. Louis
starters have missed only one start this year and have shown
remarkable consistency. Credit the St. Louis defense and the
magic of pitching coach Dave Duncan, who has made a career of
squeezing better results from journeyman veterans.

For the entire mailbag, go to si.com/baseball.

COLOR PHOTO: MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY(VERDUCCI) COLOR PHOTO: DAMIAN STROHMEYER (ZITO)

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