OAKLAND -- The July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, and just about every Major League manager has his wish list. Rangers skipper Ron Washington is no different than anybody else. "I'd like a bona fide leadoff hitter and a couple of lefties in the bullpen," Washington said. "But I think everybody is wishing for that." What about starting pitching?
"And starting pitching," said Washington, who has three rookies in his rotation right now.The wish for a leadoff hitter is a little bit of a surprise, considering Ian Kinsler is leading the league in hitting from the top of the order. "I'm talking about a high-on-base, steal-bases, cause-havoc leadoff hitter," Washington said. "Let Kins hit down in the order and drive in runs." That may not be a bad idea considering Kinsler is hitting .433 with runners in scoring position, the second highest in the American League. But the type of leadoff hitter that Washington is talking about is rare in baseball. Rickey Henderson, Kenny Lofton and Tim Raines are all retired. "This is only a wish list," Washington said. "If we can do anything that improves us without subtracting too much, we will. I don't know how active we'll be, one way or another. I know [general manager] Jon Daniels and [assistant GM Thad Levine] are having discussions with people, but they haven't brought anything to me as far as what their plans are." The Trade Deadline time is always fraught with uncertainty, especially with a team like the Rangers, who are borderline contenders. The Rangers were 53-50 and in second place in the American League West going into Saturday's games, but they were also 10 1/2 games out of first place in the division and 6 1/2 games out of the Wild Card race. Daniels said there will be no fire sale. He also made it clear that the Rangers weren't interested in trading their best prospects for high-priced rental players or short-term quick fixes. He would like to add pitching help but knows that's expensive and tricky. The Rangers would either like to add players that will be a big part of their future or possible short-term help if it comes at a bargain price. "We're all in favor of us getting better," shortstop Michael Young said. "There's more than one way of doing that. It's not as easy as going out and getting Player A, B and C. But [the Trade Deadline] hasn't been a topic of conversation. This team has always been good at focusing on what we need to do today. We've been good at that since Day 1. We rebounded from a tough start and have continued to play well, and the primary reason is we have been able to focus on the task at hand." The flip side is unloading veterans for future help. Daniels said that's not going to happen on the same scale as last season when the Rangers traded Mark Teixeira, Ron Mahay, Eric Gagne and Lofton before the deadline. But that doesn't mean there is still talk and plenty of rumors. There is no doubt that teams have interest of a varying degree in a number of Rangers players, including position players Hank Blalock, Milton Bradley, Marlon Byrd, Frank Catalanotto and any one of four catchers, and pitchers Eddie Guardado, Vicente Padilla and Jamey Wright. "I've heard my name out there, I've heard Eddie's name, Hank's name out there ..." Byrd said. "Until it happens, you never know. I'm not going to let it bug me. You have to have trust in Jon Daniels and Nolan [Ryan] that they're going to make the right decisions to better this team." The deadline is 3 p.m. CT on Thursday. Up to that point, players can be traded without having to clear waivers. After that, deals can still be made, but the players have to clear waivers first. So the uncertainty and the wish lists don't necessarily end at that point. But it's part of the business. "It seems like every year my name comes up and nothing ever happens," Catalanotto said. "So there's no reason to worry about it. If it happens, it happens."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.