The running joke on Beerleaguer is that Cory Lidle is so predictable, he’s hardly worth watching. This afternoon, scouts from around baseball won’t miss a pitch when the low-key right-hander takes the mound against Arizona.
The direction of the 2007 season could change this afternoon.
What does that mean? For starters, the 2006 season is over. A record 45,000-plus got Ryan Howard bobbleheads last night. From now until the end of the season, only Chase Utley's continued hitting streak or Howard's quest for Phillies home-run history will top that.
Now the Phillies are focused on another date: July 31, the non-waiver trade deadline. The closer they get, the more it seems the high-priced corner outfielders – Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell – will remain in Philadelphia.
So now it seems the hot names have been narrowed to three players: Jon Lieber, who pitched 7 innings of 4-run ball last night; David Dellucci, who hit his seventh home run of the season; and Lidle, who’s coming off perhaps his best outing of the season. Lidle has won three-straight decisions.
The Phillies want young talent to build toward the future, hence, this start will have more to do with 2007 than 2006.
According to this morning’s Daily News, sources indicated the Blue Jays are one of the leading candidates to land Lidle in a deal for prospects. They are one of six or seven teams with reported interest.
Lieber and Dellucci also fall into the category of having several teams interested, while Abreu and Burrell have drawn interest only from select clubs.
According to FoxSports, the three AL East contenders — the Yankees, Sox and Jays — all sent scouts to watch Lieber pitch last night. The Cardinals and Reds were also represented. How did he look? I can tell you first-hand that Arizona hit him hard. Lieber has surrendered a stunning number of line-drives this season.
As for Dellucci, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com believes he’s the player in hottest demand. Stark says ten teams are interested, but the Phillies are waiting to see if they can move Abreu or Burrell first before they flip Dellucci.