With the July 31st MLB trade deadline looming, there are some teams looking to make a run at the playoffs.  With a second Wild Card team added to the mix, more teams will be trying to buy than sell.  Whether they are looking to buy or stay put, a lot of the teams at the top of the ranks are weighing their options, while the teams in second or a few games back are trying to figure out where they can improve this year’s team with a free agent without breaking the bank or the farm (system).  Here is my take on all the NL teams; whether they’re buying, selling or staying put and what those buyer’s are looking for:

Atlanta Braves: Buyers
    The Braves have the offensive firepower to make a run and when they get Simmons back healthy at SS, they’ll be sitting pretty…now the rotation is a different story.  Brandon Beachy was their best pitcher as a rookie, but since he went down and Delgado was sent back to the minors, the Braves need a solid arm every fifth day.  Ben Sheets had a good introduction to the 404, but he has had health issues the last five years.  Mike Minor has been very inconsistent and Jurrjens (bless his heart) got rocked in his first appearance in a couple of months.  ATL needs to find a good arm to go with Hudson and Hanson.  If they do so, they have all the parts to be dangerous and push the Tomahawks deep in the playoffs.
Miami Marlins: Buyers
    They HAVE to buy.  After doing what they’ve done in the Free Agent market before the season started, after going and getting Carlos Lee, the Marlins have to keep pushing to make the playoffs or they will hear it from their fans.  Lee is a good addition to the middle of their line-up, they have a solid rotation (not great), but their bullpen is hideous right now.  Poor Heath Bell has floundered this season and Miami can’t find a guy to finish out a game.  If they sure up their bullpen, and they’re bats get hot, they will make noise in the land of pastel murials.
New York Mets: Buyers/Sellers
    This is mixed because they are a little back in the NL East and no one is sure if they can catch up and maintain.  The problem is that if they had a good bullpen, they’d be at the top.  Their rotation has been better than expected and the line-up has been better than the rotation.  They can put runs on the board with anyone, they just can’t finish games.  If they get bullpen help and finish out the games that they get ahead in, they’ll be there and be the Rays of the NL.
Philadelphia Phillies: Buyers
    Now, I say they’re buyers because they believe they’re buyers.  The Phils believe that if they get a couple pieces, they’ll catch-up and make the playoffs…and if they make the playoffs anything can happen (they experienced that against StL last year).  With Utley and Howard coming back to the line-up to add to the offensive firepower and Doc Halladay coming back to the rotation, they’ll pick up some more wins.  Cliff Lee has pitched well this year, but he has had bad luck.  The Phils need a LF that can produce and probably another arm in the pen.  They believe that if they do that, they’ll be playing in mid-October.  I’m not so sure of that…I think they need to sell about 6 playes off, free up some salary cap room for upcoming FAs, get younger and get ready for next year.  That’s just me, though.
Washington Nationals: Buyers
    When they were in first at the beginning of the season and they started losing guys left and right, no one expected them to still be in first at this point in the year.  The starting pitching has been outstanding, their bullpen has been good and the offense has produced enough runs to win games.  They do need to bulk up a little to give them a chance to move beyond the NLDS.  They will get Wang back to put in the rotation to possibly help with the Strasburg situation, Storen might be back by Sept, but they have to find someone to play CF and lead-off to move Harper to RF and put Morse in LF.  If they can do that, they might have a good chance of finishing in first.
Chicago Cubs: Sellers
   Theo has been selling with the Cubs since he got there.  He’s selling everything, but the ivy.  It’s not a bad idea.  Theo loaded the farm while he was the GM of the Red Sox and turned them into a winner and perennial powerhouse.  That’s why Chicago got him and that’s what he’s looking to do right now.  He’s going to get rid of everyone playing right now except Rizzo, probably Castro and probably Samardzija, get good young pieces, sign some good FAs and within 3-5 years be fighting at the top of the NL Central.
Cincinnati Reds: Buyers
    With Votto going down, the Reds will still have the offense to win games and will continue when he comes back, but I believe they need to get another SP.  Arroyo has been good, but Bailey is inconsistent and Leake hasn’t proven to be a guy that can help a team win a big playoff game.  They need a #3 guy.  If they do that, they can win the Central.
Houston Astros: Sellers
    They have already started selling.  What the Astros front office has to be thinking about now is that they’re going to be in the AL West starting next year.  They need to look at what they have, build their team to be an AL team, and load up their farm system.  They have a few guys that will bring interest from Buyers.
Milwaukee Brewers: Buyers/Sellers
    They are on the cusp and could go either way.  They have Marcum coming back to help the rotation and Lucroy is coming back to call the pitches, but they need a SS and probably another arm in the bullpen (depending on how good KRod can be), but are they going to be able to catch-up and make the playoffs.  If not, you’ll see them unloading some guys to get deeper for the future.  It’s still too early to call it for them.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Buyers
    With McCutchen having an MVP season and leading the offense, the rotation has been great and the bullpen has been just as good, they are looking to improve the offense.  Presley has been solid and had promise, Garrett Jones has been solid, McGehee has good power & Barmes has been decent, but they can get upgrades in those areas.  I’m not saying all of those areas.  Jones can play some 1B and platoon in the OF if need be, but they need more consistency in the line-up, especially from the lead-off spot and 4-5 holes.  If they do, Cutch is hot and the pitching will carry them to the playoffs.
St. Louis Cardinals: Buyers
    With Berkman coming back, Holliday goes down (for who knows how long), Allen Craig will play everyday for a while.  If he stayed healthy all season, he’d be putting up eye-popping numbers (look at his production compared to the game played).  With Carpenter out for the season, Jaime Garcia out for a little longer than expected, the Cards need to get another arm in the rotation and the pen where they’re shaky.  We know what they can do IF they make the playoffs, but remember one thing…Tony LaRussa isn’t leading the troops anymore.  He’s a bigger loss to this franchise than most people realize.  He’s more important to them than Pujols was.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Sellers
    This has been one of the biggest disappointments of the MLB season.  There are some good players on this team, but most haven’t come to play.  They have plenty of players that other teams would love to have and I think that Arizona will let some go…I don’t think they’ll unload though.  They want to have something to build on for next season & for seasons to come.
Colorado Rockies: Sellers
    The Rockies rotation has been horrible, Tulo has been injured all season, Helton’s production and health has been sliding the last couple of years, and the Rockies don’t have a lot of young pieces to build around except CarGo, Tulo and a couple of pitchers.  They need help and the only way they can do that is by selling now.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Buyers
    For as negative as their off-season was, they have the pieces to do something big.  They have Kemp & Ethier to lead the offense and Kershaw & Billingsley to lead the rotation.  The Dodgers need a solid 3B option, another SP to sure-up their rotation, a closer/set-up man and another middle IF to rotate around 2B/SS.  I like Dee Gordon, but if he falls off the offensive production wagon, then they need someone.  Kennedy & Uribe have been platooning at 3B, but they’re production is terrible.
San Diego Padres: Sellers
    The poor, poor Padres…the only thing I like about San Diego is, “San Diego…drink it in.  It always goes down smooth.”  Is it bad when the best thing I think about San Diego is Ron Burgundy?  I like about 8 players on the team and I’m not even sure how good half of them are.  They need to unload and get help with young players.  Expect them to get rid of about 3 or 4 guys and try to load up the farm.
San Francisco Giants: Buyers
    With the strength of their team being the rotation and bullpen (as surprising as that is with losing Brian Wilson), the Giants can be a NLCS/World Series contender.  What they need is two more good bats and possibly another arm in the bullpen, but the offense is the weakness right now.  They could use a middle IF that can hit and a good, power hitting 1B to move the line-up around and be more productive.  I like them as a dark horse in the NL.  Lincecum is starting to look strong again, Cain has been great and the combo of Bumgarner & Vogelsong has been the surprise, maybe, of the year.  Watch for them to make some moves & noise very soon.
    This completes the 31 MLB teams and the direction they are going over the next two weeks.  Next up, who is on the block and where they might be going.  I’ll look into the crystal ball and see what it says…or call Kenny Kingston for some help.