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Deadline coming up fast

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Chris Ruddick Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Major League Baseball's non-waiver trade deadline is a week away, and we are already starting to hear the rumors. Actually we have been hearing the rumors for a while now, but as we get closer to 3 p.m. (EDT) on July 31, they start to take on more credibility.

That said, I am not expecting a whole lot of action next Thursday. Maybe a spare part here and a spare part there, but for those of you waiting for that Matt Holliday blockbuster that was talked about last week, you are going to be disappointed.

The big-name starting pitchers have already been dealt. You will probably see a few moves in that area, but there are no CC Sabathias and Rich Hardens left on the market.

The Yankees are going to add a pitcher. Their recent run has them right back in the mix of things and if you think they are going to make a push with Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson going every fourth and fifth day, you are sadly mistaken. It won't be a big move, though. Maybe Seattle's Jarrod Washburn or Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo. Someone along those lines.

I wouldn't count on the Atlanta Braves dealing Mark Teixeira either. The Braves are not going to get anything in return for a two-month rental that will match the two primo draft picks they will receive when he leaves as a free agent.

The Braves could get screwed, though. If Teixeira leaves for a team like Baltimore, which has been rumored, the Braves will miss out on the Orioles' top pick, since it will likely be a top-15 selection, which is protected.

Still, there are some bats available like Cincinnati's Adam Dunn, Pittsburgh's Jason Bay and Xavier Nady and Seattle's Raul Ibanez.

How many teams would trade for Ryan Howard if the Phillies made him available? Just about all of them, right? Well, then why hasn't a team pulled the trigger on Adam Dunn yet? Dunn is essentially Howard without the benefit of a great lineup. You put Adam Dunn on the Phillies and he would be leading the league in RBI too. Yes he strikes out a lot, but who cares? The last time I checked, wins and losses are determined by who scores the most.

Every team that is looking for a corner outfielder has called Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington about Nady and Bay. I understand the affection for Bay, who next year will only cost a team $7 million or so, but what is the attraction to Nady? Sure he is having a fine season, but if you are the New York Mets do you want to deal top prospect Fernando Martinez - which apparently is the asking price - for Xavier Nady?

Pittsburgh's asking prices are apparently out of control, and not just for the outfielders, either. The Pirates are supposedly looking for at least two top of the line prospects for left-handed reliever Damaso Marte.

Left-handed relievers are like gold at this time of the year. You would think Brian Fuentes was the second coming of Mariano Rivera with what Colorado has apparently been asking for in return for his services.

The guy that I think has the best chance of being moved, though, is Ibanez. Trust me, if you are looking for a corner outfielder with a little pop, you could do a lot worse than him. Plus he is not going to cost you a heck of a lot - certainly less than Nady, which is amazing to me.

If I am Ibanez, I would start searching for apartments near Shea Stadium.

The talk leading up to the deadline is what makes the MLB trade deadline so exciting. Rarely does it live up to anything, though, and this year will be no exception.

IS MUSSINA A HALL OF FAMER?

Mike Mussina won his 13th game of the season - two more than he won all of last season - and the 263rd contest of his career on Wednesday.

Last year, and early on this season, it looked as if the 39-year-old Mussina was done. Now it appears he could be headed towards the first 20-win season of his career, and him pitching somewhere in the league at least next year seems almost a certainty.

So, I am asking the question...when it is all said and done, will Mussina be a Hall of Famer?

Here are the things working against him. Mussina has never been the best pitcher in the league at any point in his career, but he has been real close. He's also never won 20 games in a season, something every starting pitcher elected to the Hall has done.

But, if you want to make a case for Mussina, he has pitched in the hitter- friendly AL East his entire career, in the steroid era no less (which, by the way he is the first to point out). And he is going to finish very close to 300 wins and finish his career more than 100 games above .500.

While there has never been a Hall of Fame starter without a 20-win season under his belt, there has also never been a starter snubbed with a winning percentage as high as Mussina's.

I never really thought of Mussina as a Hall of Fame pitcher. If there was a Hall of Very Good, he would be a five-year lock. But there are a lot of pitchers in the Hall with credentials far worse than Mussina's.

It will be an interesting debate, though, when the time comes.

CARDS COLLPSING?

Baseball is a funny sport. I was all prepared to write a column this week on what a great job the St. Louis Cardinals were doing. Even though the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers both acquired bona fide front-of-the-line starters, making it a foregone conclusion in some people's eyes that they would be the teams fighting it out for a division title, here were the Cardinals still hanging around in the NL Central.

I was ready to wax poetic on this maybe being the best job Tony La Russa has ever done, how Albert Pujols is on his way to an MVP Award and how everyone missed the boat on Kyle Lohse.

So what do the Cardinals do? They go out and lose the first three games of their four-game series at home with the Brewers. Thanks.

As I write this, the Cards are still just two games back in the Wild Card and three games behind the NL Central-leading Cubs, but the "greatness of La Russa" piece is on hold.

Something I really don't mind, by the way.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.