1. What happens to Phil Nevin now?

Not surprisingly, the Padres first baseman was booed lustily by the fans in San Diego -- ironically the place where he insists he wants to be. He has lost his job at first base to two of his closest friends on the team in Xavier Nady and Mark Sweeney. Since he is friendly with many of the Padres players it is doubtful he will be rejected by them. They all can relate to his desire to be near his family.

Then, with management irked that he had turned down a trade to the Orioles for Sidney Ponson, the team came to him this week with a strange proposition: Could he catch? Regular catcher Ramon Hernandez had surgery on torn cartilage in his left hand and the team needed a catcher. Nevin, who once was a catcher, agreed and may now have re-invented himself as the Padres' emergency catcher.

"I guarantee you, Phil gained a ton of respect from his teammates in the clubhouse by doing this today," Padres general manager Kevin Towers told the San Diego Union-Tribune the day Nevin caught.

For now he stays put, though there is still an excellent chance he gets traded again -- just not to Baltimore.

2. Will A.J. Burnett be traded?

Days ago it seemed a certainty. But after the trade to the Orioles fell through, no one knows what to think. The Marlins have stopped trying to attach Mike Lowell to any Burnett trade, yet the pitcher himself has become a problem. He wants a lot of money to sign with a new team. Signing with the new team is a must as Burnett is a free agent at season's end.

His people are talking about the four-year, $40 million contract the Yankees gave Carl Pavano. This makes teams gulp hard because Burnett has not proven to be more than a barely-above-.500 pitcher.

In other words it is looking more and more likely that he will make Saturday's start against the Nationals, unless the White Sox decide they have to have him.

3. Do the Giants trade Jason Schmidt?

With all the talk about Burnett, Schmidt has fallen off the trade table somewhat. But it appears he is still in play, at least somewhat. The Giants are apparently listening to any offers, not just for Schmidt but for Scott Eyre, Ray Durham and Edgar Alfonzo as well.

Dealing Schmidt would clear salary room. He is going to make more than $10 million next year and they have to wonder if it is worth letting him go. He is, after all, about all they have when it comes to pitchers. And they expect Barry Bonds back next season.

Anyone landing him is going to have to be able to trade a major league pitcher and perhaps an outfielder as well.

4. Can the Angels make a move?

They're sure acting like it. The problem is the same for them as it is for most of the other teams in the majors: Not enough teams think they are out of the race to start dumping players. Some of the players they have asked about include Roger Clemens, Burnett and Kevin Millwood. The Astros are too good right now to trade Clemens and probably wouldn't anyway. Florida wants a big league pitcher in return for Burnett and the Indians think they are close enough in the race to hold onto Millwood.

The left-handed relievers they pursued are unavailable or will come at too steep a price. And the thing they might need most -- an extra hitter -- is not out there. They might well be quiet this weekend.

5. Are the White Sox going to do something big?

They seem to think this might be as good a chance as any to make a World Series run, so even though they are lapping the rest of the American League Central they are now looking for players who can help them in October. So they have immersed themselves right into talks for Burnett, Danys Baez and Aubrey Huff. They've also watched Schmidt.

The sense is they will probably get either Burnett or Schmidt with the idea that the pitcher can fit in with Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland and Freddy Garcia and leave the team without a rotation hole in a seven-game series. To do such a deal they are prepared to offer Brandon McCarthy, a top pitching prospect, or even Joe Borchard, their top minor league position player.