Time to trade is now as deadline looms

Time to trade is now as deadline looms

How strange is this? The Red Sox have become the Yankees, with Manny Ramirez starring in the role of Reggie Jackson.

And that, of course, is not necessarily a bad thing for Red Sox Nation.

As Thursday's 4 p.m ET Trade Deadline draws closer, all eyes are on Ramirez and the Red Sox now that the madcap left fielder has gone on record claiming he'd approve of a trade, any trade, if it can make everybody happy. He told ESPN Deportes that "I don't care where I play -- I can even play in Iraq if need be."

Pure Reggie.

"I'm tired of them," Ramirez said, referring to Red Sox management, presumably. "They're tired of me."

Sure, maybe so, but the public eats this stuff up.

It was just like this all the way through Reggie's reign in The Bronx: championships and fights, home runs and hostility intertwined from start to finish. It was draining, intoxicating, irritating, uplifting -- great theater. That's what we have now with Manny being Manny and everyone weighing in on what that means in the grand scheme of things.

What it meant on Sunday night at Fenway Park was that Ramirez apparently relishes the swirl around him just as Reggie did. He helped drive the Sox to a much-needed triumph that enabled them to avoid a sweep at the hands of those surging Yankees.

It is highly unlikely, if not utterly implausible, that Ramirez is leaving the Sox. The Phillies have been mentioned as a possible destination, largely because of Ramirez's history with manager Charlie Manuel, but Manuel managing Manny by the end of the week is not something to seriously anticipate.

While Ramirez was the entire weekend focus, another major talent quietly was rumored to be on the block. That would be Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, one of the few performers in the game capable of making a very good team great.

Weary, the story goes, of chasing and not catching the big guys in the AL East, Halladay -- his seven complete games more than any rotation in the Majors has produced -- evidently is getting a little restless. And who, after all, could blame him?

Reputations are made in the postseason. Look what October has done for Josh Beckett, a pitcher of comparable skill. Halladay surely would love to test himself when autumn provides its bottom-line final exams for ballplayers.

A list of teams that would benefit immensely from Halladay's presence would run as deep as the standings. There are teams that conceivably could make it happen -- teams not dwelling in the American League East -- but it's almost as unlikely as Ramirez leaving Boston.

The Braves' Mark Teixeira and the Rockies' Matt Holliday, the other stars making the rumor rounds, also figure to stay right where they are. Now, A.J. Burnett, Halladay's gifted if less durable mound mate, is another story altogether. Burnett could be the biggest chip to fall by the deadline, with the Cardinals among the possible landing spots for the big right-hander.

Elsewhere, the Rays and Mariners are worth watching, for entirely different reasons. The Rays for the first time have reason to invest, while the woebegone Mariners look to divest.

Rays manager Joe Maddon could use a right-handed bat, a southpaw for the back of the bullpen and a starting pitcher. The Mariners, trying to fit Jarrod Washburn into the Yankees plans, could fill all the Rays' needs with Adrian Beltre, Arthur Rhodes and Erik Bedard. Seemingly everyone but Ichiro Suzuki is available in Seattle, with the Mets angling for Raul Ibanez's productive bat.

It was Bedard's arrival at the expense of five players that elevated expectations immeasurably in the Pacific Northwest with his arrival. It turns out it was, indeed, a steal -- for the Orioles. They probably wouldn't return Adam Jones, their new center fielder, straight up now for Bedard.

Another of the pieces the Orioles accepted for their talented lefty, southpaw reliever George Sherrill, has become so productive closing in Baltimore that the Birds apparently are making demands not expected to be met at the swap meet.

Among starters, the Reds' Bronson Arroyo could use a change of scenery, and the Rockies reportedly are interested. Cincinnati is looking for athletes as it builds around Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips and Edinson Volquez.

The A's, always willing to listen to proposals, could add to their youthful stockpile of talent if they take calls on All-Star right-hander Justin Duchscherer. He could be another difference-maker for a club on the threshold of big things.

Adding an impact player without damaging the nucleus is the trick. But it can be done, judging by the Brewers' air-lifting of CC Sabathia out of Cleveland.

Milwaukee has the fever again, thinking big with its large and gifted import. The bullpen could use a shot in the arm, which places the Brewers in competition with at least a half-dozen contenders looking to upgrade with a shut-down reliever who can shorten a game and spread confidence through the ranks. Sherrill could tie everything together, but it won't be easy yanking him out of Camden Yards.

The Rays, keenly aware of the wear on closer Troy Percival's arm, are thinking about joining the Brewers, Tigers, Cards, Phillies, White Sox, Red Sox, maybe the Cubs and Angels in pursuit of relief.

With southpaws in high demand, as always, there are others available even if the Rockies hold onto Brian Fuentes. The NL West is so wide open, the Rockies might be buyers rather than sellers. That's why they won't move Holliday, who could win that division practically by himself.

Lefties in the bullpen mix include Eddie Guardado, Will Ohman, Jack Taschner, Ron Mahay, Scott Schoeneweis and John Grabow.

There isn't as much depth, surprisingly, in right-handers. The A's have in Huston Street a proven closer of value, and Billy Beane hasn't made a deal in at least 20 minutes.

Giants catcher Bengie Molina could help a lot of clubs, including brother Jose's Yankees.

While Barry Bonds remains unemployed, other big bats have been bandied about for weeks without movement apart from the Yankees' muscling up with versatile, productive Xavier Nady.

Teixeira, eligible for free agency after the season and under Scott Boras' expansive wing, probably would be a three-month rental, diminishing the potential return

Jason Bay could follow Nady out of Pittsburgh -- he'd look splendid in right field in Tampa Bay or Queens. But the Bucs would like to keep a run-producer aligned with Nate McLouth -- and keep the turnstiles clicking. The Giants' Randy Winn might be a fit with the Mets.

Perhaps most likely of the sluggers to relocate is the Reds' Adam Dunn, whose immense power plays anywhere. He's a free agent in waiting, and the Reds have to see what his value is.

In the meantime, enjoy Manny being Reggie.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.