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These teams are in legitimate contention for the National League Playoffs this year (either as Division Champs or wildcard):

Atlanta, St. Louis, Arizona, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cincy, Houston, and New York.

Of those teams, St. Louis, LA, Frisco, and Cincy have already made trades to improve their teams, with the St. Louis deal being the toughest on the Astros since the Cards are leading the division and got the third basemen (Scott Rolen) the Astros desperately need.

Atlanta has the best record in baseball, and probably doesn't feel like it needs to make a major trade, and the same may be true of Arizona, the defending champs. The Mets are supposedly shopping for a pitcher, although they haven't made a deal yet.

And the Astros? Unlikely to make any sort of deal, because owner Drayton McLane probably isn't going to let Gerry Hunsicker take on payroll. With a possible strike looming, the Astros have already stopped trying to sign their minor-league draft picks.

That can't be very inspiring for a team that's played really well over the last few weeks to get itself into contention.

[Posted at 10:52 CST on 07/30/02] [Link]

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