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Wednesday Morning Thread:

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I know a couple of readers expressed thoughts that Jay Payton could be coming back to help with our centerfield void, however, the Oakland A's picked up his $4 million option for 2006 making the point moot. I really don't think he's going to be worth that next year, and wouldn't be surprised if he's traded again come the July deadline.

I also took note of the Rockies response in Troy Renck's column in the Denver Post to Boston's renewed interest in Larry Bigbie. Translated, "We want to wait and see how this outfield experiment with Shealy pans out before we consider trading him," means "We want you to sweeten the pot before we consider trading him."

It's a tough trade and I don't know if it will ever get completed. Shoppach and Stern combined are worth more than Bigbie, but Bigbie's probably worth more than either one of those two individually in 2006 terms. Throw in Shealy and it becomes lopsided the other way, and throwing in Abe Alvarez doesn't quite cut it as fair return value for him, but somebody like Papelbon is likely too much for the Red Sox to give.

Anyhow, it's looking like both the Angels' Bengie Molina and the Padres' Ramon Hernandez can expect big paydays this offseason and will likely rise beyond our price range - so some trade for catcher seems likely. As far as relievers go, I never commented on the potential pursuit of Elmer Dessens even though I brought it up the other day. Our interest in Dessens seems to be for him to take the Jamey Wright or Byung Hyun Kim role as a supposed swing man out of the pen who winds up being our number four starter anyway. Our future with the other two seems somewhat doubtful at this point and while Dessens is a clear upgrade over Wright, Kim remains an enigma.

Peoria got rained out yesterday, but the day before Ian Stewart went three for four with a walk to snap out of his slump. The same can't be said for anybody else, Jim Miller in fact gave up the game winning homerun in blowing his second straight save opportunity (he wound up getting the win the first time three days ago when the Javs came back themselves).