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Melvin: 'Let's make a deal' not easy game

THE BALTIMORE SUN

It's the first time he's had his finger on the trade trigger, and Doug Melvin is finding out how difficult it is to pull.

As a former Orioles assistant general manager, Melvin has participated in these discussions in the past. Now, as the general manager of the Texas Rangers, the ultimate decision is his.

And as much as he'd like to acquire a pitcher who could help a team that took an eight-game losing streak into last night's game with the Orioles, Melvin isn't counting on it.

"Right now the biggest thing for us is to get the monkey off our backs and get a win here," he said. "We're fortunate that we played well enough early to keep us in contention."

While not ruling anything out, Melvin indicated the Rangers' chances hinged more on the team regrouping than a possible trade.

"I'm not as encouraged or optimistic [about a trade] as I was previously," he said. "There's a lot more to it than people think. In that regard, the talk shows are misleading to the fans. They talk about people being available, but when you talk to other GMs they say they have no intention of doing anything," said Melvin.

There are many other considerations as well, and Melvin says the most prominent is baseball's expanded postseason format. "I think the wild-card situation has made a big difference. More teams are reluctant [to trade] because they think they have a chance. I'm sure our losing streak has put some teams back in the race."

While the Orioles contemplate a trade for New York Mets outfielder/third baseman Bobby Bonilla and other teams wonder if pitchers like Toronto right-hander David Cone are worth the risk, Melvin is guided by two factors -- reality and cost, both short- and long-term. "You have to ask yourself if one player can make the difference with 61 games left to play," he said.

"Can a pitcher, with 10 or 12 starts, have as much of an impact for one team [such as the Rangers] as a position player might for another [Bonilla and the Orioles]? In our case, sometimes I have to remind people about the deal the Rangers made a few years ago [1989] when they were six games out. They needed a hitter and got Harold Baines, but they had to give up Sammy Sosa and Wilson Alvarez -- and didn't win.

"They got the hitter they wanted, but Sosa became an All-Star and you

can't touch Alvarez in a trade now. Those two would've come in handy over the next few years."

Melvin acknowledges that one thing working against the Rangers on the trade front is the absence of top prospects at the Double-A and Triple-A levels. But his minor-league background would make him cautious, but not overly hesitant, if the right trade opportunity presented itself.

"When you've got a chance to win, you can't be afraid to pull the trigger. With the exception of the [AL] Central, I don't think anybody's given up on their division yet -- and the wild card has kept a lot of teams in contention for the playoffs."

That in turn has restricted trade possibilities, but much more so for the Rangers than the Orioles, who are trying to deal with one of the few teams [the Mets] already counted out.

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