1. Do the Padres have enough to hold on?
They probably do in the NL West, where they are the only club over .500 and seem to be the only team capable of making a sustained second-half run. The Dodgers are too injured and the Diamondbacks do not seem to have the pitching.
But the Padres won't make it easy on themselves. Knowing their competition is beaten down and that his own team is somewhat banged up, Manager Bruce Bochy has elected to slide into the all-star break by resting as many of his partially injured players as possible.
This means holding off on rushing injured first baseman Phil Nevin and pitcher Adam Eaton back to the team. Outfielder Dave Roberts, often hampered by hamstring problems, is coming back slowly as well. In fact, the Padres have only two productive hitters right now -- Brian Giles, who is on an eight-game hitting streak and leads the league in walks, and Damian Jackson.
2. How much will the Reds be sellers?
It seems nearly every trade rumor swirling around right now involves a Reds player. With the team mired at the bottom of the standings and apparently in some disarray after the firing of manager Dave Miley, it doesn't seem Cincinnati can get itself together to make any kind of run.
But what does that mean for Adam Dunn, Austin Kearns and even Ken Griffey Jr.?
Griffey has the right to veto any trade as a 10 and 5 player and he has been adamant about saying he wants to finish his career in his hometown. The only other place he has shown a great interest in is going back to his old team in Seattle, which is highly unlikely.
Dunn will probably not be traded until after the year because he has a chance to make real money in arbitration in the winter and might scare some teams off. Kearns is still in his minor league banishment and could possibly be had; so too could Wily Mo Pena. New manager Jerry Narron has asked management to keep the team together until the all-star break to see what he can do with it. But the Reds have too many appealing pieces, including Joe Randa, David Weathers and Kent Mercker, for the team not to make some kind of deal.
3. Is it an advantage or disadvantage to have a good season and play for the all-star manager?
For Cardinals pitcher Matt Morris it is apparently a bad thing. Manager Tony La Russa, also the National League manager in next week's All-Star game, did not select Morris for the team, in large part because La Russa already had six St. Louis players on the team.
"We couldn't have seven players on the team," La Russa told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. "It's certainly not because he isn't capable. It's because six Cardinals is a lot of representation already."
Morris is 10-1 with a 3.17 ERA and 70 strikeouts but just 16 walks in 962/3 innings.
4. Have the Rangers turned into the biggest bunch of goons in baseball?
It would seem like it. Since last September the team has collected 53 games in suspensions and run up more than $100,000 in fines. Much of the blame in the Dallas media seems to be going to manager Buck Showalter, whose system filled with rules and internal tension has caused friction in his other two managing stops in New York and Arizona. That said, those teams also won.
But in just the last few months Frankie Francisco threw a chair into the stands in Oakland, Ryan Drese (now with the Nationals) fought in the dugout with catcher Rod Barajas, Francisco Cordero drew national scorn for grabbing his crotch at the fans in Kansas City and pitcher Kenny Rogers attacked two television cameramen.
"Maybe people have wound us too tightly, who knows?" shortstop Michael Young told the Dallas Morning News.
5. Does the Jason Grimsley-Denny Bautista deal still look like a dud?
The Orioles took an enormous amount of heat for dealing Bautista, one of their top pitching prospects, last season for Grimsley who wound up undergoing Tommy John surgery in the offseason. But Bautista has been injured as well.
After struggling in the early weeks of the season, putting up a 2-2 record and a 5.80 ERA, Bautista, still just 24, complained of shoulder soreness and was put on the disabled list on May 16 with tendinitis. Finally, as it looked like he was ready to return last week, he left after three innings of his rehabilitation start in Class AAA Omaha with soreness in his arm.
"It was in the same place," Bautista told the Kansas City Star. "I felt a little bit but it's not too bad. I was feeling good. My fastball was 96-97 mph."