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With the July 31 trade deadline approaching, it's time for
baseball's annual summer-clearance sales. Teams in the pennant
race are shopping for impact players at bargain-basement prices,
while teams out of the chase are emptying their showrooms to
clear space for the 1998 models. Blockbuster trades are even
more likely this season, because each team will be allowed to
protect only 15 players in the expansion draft to be held in
November. It makes sense for clubs to deal away top players and
prospects they will be unable to safeguard.

General managers confirmed last week that the phone lines have
been burning like never before, and they said the most active
shoppers were the Giants, Indians, Mariners, Marlins, Orioles
and Yankees. The most aggressive salespeople were the A's, the
Phillies and the Red Sox. Meanwhile the Cubs, the Rangers and
the Reds were trying to decide if they were standpatters or
sellers. "I'm expecting a flurry of activity in the three or
four days leading up to the deadline," said Reds general manager
Jim Bowden, "with the biggest trades right before the midnight

In recent seasons many elite players have been traded down the
stretch, with mixed results (chart). And while some acquisitions
have helped ensure postseason success, general managers must be
wary. Among the once anonymous prospects given up by contenders
in stretch deals were John Smoltz (for Doyle Alexander), Jay
Buhner (Ken Phelps), Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling (Mike
Boddicker), Sammy Sosa and Wilson Alvarez (Harold Baines),
Moises Alou (Zane Smith) and Jeff Bagwell (Larry Andersen).

With the warning of Let the buyer beware, here's a list of
big-ticket items that are now available:

--Mark McGwire. Only in the 1990s could a player be chasing
Roger Maris's home run record and still be on the trading block.
But McGwire is scheduled to be a free agent next season, and
Oakland can't afford to re-sign him. But trading him won't be
easy, despite his major-league-leading 34 home runs at the end
of last week. As a veteran with at least 10 years of experience
and at least five seasons with one team, McGwire can veto any
trade, which could limit Oakland's options. The Cardinals and
the Marlins, to cite two examples, have both expressed interest
in McGwire, but he is reluctant to switch leagues in midseason.
He also wishes to finish his career in Southern California, so
that he can be close to his son, Matthew, who lives with his
ex-wife in Orange County. That leaves the Angels as the best
fit. Oakland rejected Anaheim's recent offer of centerfielder
Jim Edmonds for McGwire, asking instead for outfielder Garret
Anderson and a pitching prospect. According to A's general
manager Sandy Alderson, the chance that McGwire will be dealt is

--Curt Schilling. The Phillies righthander is the most coveted
starter on the market and is signed through 2000, making him
more desirable trade bait than McGwire. (Schilling, the National
League strikeout leader through Sunday, also has a no-trade
clause, but he has suggested to the press a number of the teams
he would agree to join.) Among the many clubs interested are the
Angels, Braves, Giants, Indians, Mariners, Marlins, Orioles and
Yankees. In exchange the Phillies want three young prospects who
will be ready for the majors soon. That leaves Cleveland, which
could put together a package of promising pitchers Jaret Wright
and Bartolo Colon and outfielder Brian Giles, as the most likely

--Terry Mulholland. Traded by Philadelphia to Seattle in a
deadline deal last season, the lefthanded Mulholland went 5-4
for the Mariners in 12 starts down the stretch and then was
signed to a one-year deal by the Cubs as a free agent in the
off-season. Because Mulholland is in the final year of his
contract, clubs may be reluctant to give up too much for him,
but he also has a solid 3.61 ERA for Chicago. Suitors will
probably hold off on him until they've taken their best shot at
getting Schilling.

--Dante Bichette. Despite his .307 average and 69 RBIs, Bichette
might be dealt to open up a spot in the Rockies' lineup for top
prospect Todd Helton. Bichette's trade value is surprisingly
weak because of doubts about his surgically repaired left knee
and his productivity outside the friendly confines of Coors
Field. The Yankees would love to unload disgruntled pitcher
Kenny Rogers as part of a deal for Bichette, but talks along
those lines have stalled.

--Mike Timlin. The Blue Jays reliever had blown four saves
through Sunday and may lose his job to impressive rookie Kelvim
Escobar, but he still looks attractive to the Mariners, who had
seen their bullpen blow 14 saves. If Seattle can't work out a
deal, both the Braves and the Mets have shown interest in
acquiring Timlin as a setup man.


The likelihood that the Angels would trade for McGwire was
diminished by a rather startling development: Overachieving
Anaheim had won 12 of its last 13 games through Sunday. "We're
not going to shake up the core of this team when they've been
playing real good baseball for a month," Angels president Tony
Tavares said. "Why give up the boat now?"

Indeed, Anaheim was the hottest team in baseball, giving its
part-owners, the Disney Co., another feel-good summer hit. At
week's end, the Angels trailed first-place Seattle by only a
half game in the American League West, thanks to a true team
effort. No Angel had hit as many as 20 homers and only one had
knocked in 70 or more runs. "You see stars like Ken Griffey Jr.,
and we don't have that," manager Terry Collins says. "We have a
bunch of guys with 40 RBIs and a few with 10 homers, and what
that tells me is that different players have stepped up and come
through when we've needed them."

On the pitching side Anaheim is getting such effective
performances from starters Jason Dickson, Chuck Finley, Dennis
Springer and Allen Watson that the Angels are experimenting with
a four-man rotation, at least until Mark Langston returns from
the disabled list in August. The pitchers have been aided by
stellar defense, especially from Jim Edmonds, who has made some
spectacular catches in centerfield.

Anaheim's fortunes began to improve on May 18, the day the
Angels acquired Tony Phillips in a trade with the White Sox.
Before Phillips arrived Anaheim was 20-19 and misusing Darin
Erstad in the leadoff spot. Since then the Angels had gone
34-24, scoring a half run more per game with Phillips at the top
of the order and Erstad batting second.

Phillips was a member of the 1995 Angels, who had an 11-game
lead on Aug. 9 and eventually lost a one-game playoff to the
Mariners, and he is one of many on the club who are motivated by
that experience. "Seattle came back and got us that year, so why
can't we return the favor?" he says. "My mind isn't set on the
wild card. It's set on payback."


As stunning as last week's firing of Mets general manager Joe
McIlvaine appeared to be--New York had the fourth-best record in
the National League at the time--perhaps it should not have been
a complete shock. According to team sources, co-owner Fred
Wilpon had been unhappy with McIlvaine's work habits almost
since the day McIlvaine, who was in the Mets front office for 10
years before going to the Padres as general manager in 1990, was
rehired in '93. One source says Wilpon wanted to fire McIlvaine
earlier this season, but only in the past few weeks did he
persuade co-owner Nelson Doubleday that McIlvaine was ill-suited
to his job. Steve Phillips, McIlvaine's 34-year-old assistant,
replaced him.

"Joe had no interest in doing the kind of executive work that
goes along with the job," one source told SI. "He's a scout's
scout." Said another source, "He was told [to change], but it
never got any better."

For instance McIlvaine rarely traveled with the Mets; he
resisted Wilpon's urging to carry a cellular phone; and he
disliked Wilpon's penchant for holding front-office conference
calls about once every two weeks. One time this season the Mets
could not locate McIlvaine when they needed to make a roster
move because of an injury. According to a source, Phillips made
the roster move and McIlvaine "read about it in the next day's
paper. It didn't bother him."

McIlvaine set his travel schedule--much of which was devoted to
minor league scouting--at the start of the season and adhered
strictly to it. "He was almost obsessive-compulsive that way," a
source said. "If he happened to be traveling from Port St. Lucie
[home of both the Mets' Class A and rookie league teams in
Florida] to Kingsport [home of their other rookie team, in
Tennessee] when Fred wanted a conference call, he wouldn't
change his schedule. Joe is the kind of guy who would rather
watch a minor league game than be with the major league team."

McIlvaine also apparently showed little interest in negotiating
contracts; he farmed out most of that responsibility to Phillips
and senior vice president Dave Howard. He was also distant with
the media--much to Wilpon's regret--at a time when his club was
buried behind the Yankees in New York's consciousness.

Wilpon offered to retain McIlvaine as a scouting adviser at
nearly his general manager's salary, but McIlvaine indicated
that he would explore offers from other organizations before
making a decision. When questioned about his work habits, he
responded, "It's a seven-days-a-week, 12-months-a-year job. I
spent 208 days last year in hotel rooms. When I was hired, Fred
told me, 'You're the best talent evaluator.' I've always watched
the minor league teams and overseen the draft. It probably took
me away [from the big league club] about 45 days each season."

McIlvaine acknowledged that he does not like cell phones, but he
said Wilpon never insisted that he carry one. "Is that a reason
to fire someone?" he asked. He also admitted that he passed on
much of his administrative work to his assistants. "I've always
liked to groom my assistants to be general managers," he
explained. "There's no doubt that my favorite part of the job is
evaluating talent."



Quick now, who is the only pitcher this season to have won nine
consecutive starts? Roger Clemens? Randy Johnson? Greg Maddux?
No, Twins righthander Brad Radke, who ran his record to 13-5 on
Sunday with his ninth straight victory, a five-hit,
complete-game, 1-0 defeat of the A's.

Radke's accomplishment--especially impressive because he plays
for a Twins team that was eight games below .500 at week's
end--represents quite a turnaround for a pitcher who had been
renowned for his propensity to throw the gopher ball. Last
season Radke gave up 40 home runs, tying for the major league
high. The 72 homers he allowed over the past two seasons are by
far the most by any pitcher in baseball. Things got so bad for
Radke that last summer he showed up in a television commercial
for a video game that featured computer-generated Cleveland
Indians cracking homers off him and then forming a conga line of
home run trots.

Radke doesn't try to disavow his reputation, knowing that he
gives up long balls because he pitches in the hitter-friendly
Metrodome and because his pitching style is aggressive. "I try
to throw strikes, and I don't like to nibble, nibble, nibble,"
says Radke, who had allowed the sixth-most hits and the
third-fewest walks per nine innings in the American League
through Sunday. "When I give up a homer I want it to be a solo
shot, and then I just tell myself, Big deal, let's get the next

Radke got off to a sputtering start this season, reaching his
nadir on June 2 when he allowed 13 hits in six innings at Texas
and suffered an 8-0 loss, dropping his record to 4-5 with a 5.00
ERA. Since then he had gone 9-0 with a 2.11 ERA through Sunday's
victory. He claims not to have altered his approach except to
throw more changeups and keep them down in the strike zone.
"He's got four pitches working at the same time," Twins catcher
Terry Steinbach says. "He's throwing better-quality pitches,
and, of course, he's getting good run support."

During his streak Radke also had allowed just three home runs
and for the year had given up only 13. "I'm pretty sure I won't
win my last 14 starts this season," he says, "so I'm prepared to
lose again, but I'm stalling that day as long as I can."


Timing is everything. Just ask Blue Jays first
baseman-designated hitter Carlos Delgado, who was wearing number
21 when three-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens signed
with Toronto as a free agent in December. After Delgado
graciously volunteered to give up number 21, which Clemens had
worn for 13 seasons with the Red Sox, Clemens showed his
appreciation by presenting a $20,000 Rolex watch to Delgado on
the first day of spring training.

Since then, it seems, Delgado has synchronized his hitting to
whenever Clemens takes the mound. After collecting two homers
and five RBIs while Clemens beat the Rangers 9-1 last Thursday,
Delgado had hit .323 with seven homers and 19 RBIs in Clemens's
20 starts. He was hitting only .255 with 14 homers and 36 RBIs
in 68 other games. And Clemens was 12 games over .500, while the
rest of the Toronto staff was 14 games under.

COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS Schilling will cost a pretty penny for any team looking for help down the stretch. [Curt Schilling pitching]


In baseball, contenders have always made trades to get an extra
starting pitcher or a spare bat for the stretch drive. Nowadays,
though, even the biggest names in the game might be dealt,
either to pare a losing team's payroll or to obtain prospects in
exchange for a veteran free-agent-to-be. For the most part, the
acquisition of a star never hurts, but just because a top player
joins a contender late in the season doesn't assure that club of
a playoff spot. Here are some of the stars who have switched
teams in the 1990s and a look at what they did for their new
ball clubs.


8-28-96 DENNY NEAGLE Pirates Braves

Went 2-3 with a 5.59 ERA in the stretch for Atlanta and was
winless in the postseason

7-31-96 CECIL FIELDER Tigers Yankees

Hit 13 homers with 37 RBIs in 53 regular-season games and
knocked in 14 runs in 14 postseason games

7-31-96 GREG VAUGHN Brewers Padres

Hit .206 with 10 homers as San Diego made the playoffs and was
hitless in three at bats in the playoffs

7-31-95 ANDY BENES Padres Mariners

Was 7-2 despite a 5.86 ERA as Seattle made the playoffs but was
lit up in all three postseason appearances

7-28-95 BOBBY BONILLA Mets Orioles

Hit .333 with 10 homers and 46 RBIs in 61 games, but Baltimore
failed to make the postseason

7-28-95 DAVID CONE Blue Jays Yankees

Was 9-2 as New York made the postseason for the first time in 14
years and was 1-0 in the playoffs

7-27-95 KEN HILL Cardinals Indians

Went 4-1 with a 3.98 ERA in 11 starts and was 2-0 with a 0.00
ERA in first two playoff appearances

7-06-95 RICK AGUILERA Twins Red Sox

Converted 20 of 21 save opportunities as the Sox made the
playoffs but was ineffective in the postseason

7-31-93 RICKEY HENDERSON A's Blue Jays

Hit only .215 in 44 regular-season games and was worse in
postseason (.170) as Toronto won World Series

7-18-93 FRED MCGRIFF Padres Braves

Hit .310 as Atlanta made the playoffs and then batted .435 in
six postseason games

8-31-92 JOSE CANSECO A's Rangers

Had 15 RBIs in only 22 games, but that wasn't enough as the
Rangers failed to make the postseason

8-30-92 JEFF REARDON Red Sox Braves

In 14 games he was 3-0 with three saves and then had a win and a
loss as Atlanta fell in the playoffs

8-28-92 DAVID CONE Mets Blue Jays

One of the first Rent-a-Players, he went 4-3 in the stretch and
then signed with the Royals in off-season