Its been a month since the Braves took over 1st place in the NL East and they don't appear to be going away any time soon. The All-Star Break is 2 weeks away and the division will likely be a three team race afterwards. Lets take a quick look at what these 3 teams will do to try and upgrade their teams by the trade deadline in order to make their final push.
Atlanta: With Jurrjens returning to the hill tonight, the focus or the Braves will be adding another outfield bat. FoxSports is reporting that Cory Hart, Jose Batista, and Josh Willingham are possible targets. That would give the Braves another big-time power stick in the middle of the order and give them an excellent shot to make a deep playoff run.
Philly: The Phils need to get healthy offensively, but could certainly use depth in their rotation. They will most likely add 2 arms, with one of them being Pedro. The other will be a 3-4 rotation type guy, like Brett Myers or Fausto Carmona.
Mets: The Mets are a little scary because they will probably get either Oswalt or Cliff Lee by the end of the month. A Santana-Lee-Pelphrey rotation is pretty dang good. They have also been getting great starts from Jonathan Niese and RA Dickey. Throw in the return of Beltran in a few weeks and their order looks pretty good too with Reyes-Beltran-Wright-Bay.
The NBA Free Agent frenzy starts tomorrow and will last for several weeks. Paul Pierce is the newest name to throw their name in the free agent circle. Why wouldn't he? So many teams have cleared cap room for max deals (NJ, Washington, Chicago, Miami, NY, etc) and their aren't enough max-players to fill all the holes. Why not get 6 years and 100+ million from some team that doesn't want to look foolish by clearing space for no one?
It will be a mess once the chips start falling. Bosh should follow either James or Wade somewhere and play second fiddle, win titles, and still make 100+ million. It looks more and more like Joe Johnson will sign elsewhere and he needs to find a spot where he can do less ball-handling and more scoring. Chicago seems like a good spot playing alongside Derrick Rose.
The Bulls are the favorite in Vegas to land LBJ, and if he goes there with Bosh they will be an instant favorite in 10-11. Miami is unlikely to land 3 max guys, but could bring in Boozer to play with Wade.
Too many things to predict...It is however, good to see the Hawks have a plan B if JJ leaves with John Salmons.
On to the World Cup...
While the USA's performance in the World Cup was not a disaster, there was a potentially once-in-a-lifetime draw for them to reach the semi's. They were able to avoid all world-powers during the tournament except for dreadful England. I know the US has a lot of young players (Bradley, Jozy, Feilhaber, etc), but there are no guarantees in this tournament. They could get placed in a group of death or lose players to injury in 2014.
Looking back at 0 goals for the 2nd straight World Cup from strikers, what could have been with Charlie Davies healthy??
Everyone with World Cup hangover can watch the US play potential world champion Brazil on August 10th in a friendly and then gear up for the Gold Cup next summer. I know it isn't a big-time tournament around the world, but having the chance to win a trophy away from Mexico is big in my eyes.