This is Economics 101. It's called the Law of Supply and Demand and it's the first thing taught to anyone who studies business or finance.

When an item is plentiful and not particularly desired that item isn't likely to sell for a big price. But if it's rare and highly coveted, the sky's the limit.

At first glance that law would seem to be driving the baseball market as it counts down to Monday's trade deadline. How many teams have something of value that they're willing to sell? How many teams are eager to buy?

Remember, this year 16 teams will qualify for the postseason and when they get there they will all stand toe-to-toe at the same starting line. Any of the 16 could reach the World Series. As of Wednesday morning there were 24 clubs either inside the playoff window or no more than three games outside.

Run that through your supply-and-demand computer. Six sellers and 24 buyers. The sellers would appear to have a clear advantage if they have something to sell. They can dangle a trade piece and listen to 24 wannabe world champions as they make their best offers.

Except there's a problem with all that. Most supply-and-demand computers don't come equipped with pandemic-season software.

This is a season like no other and it is surely going to be a trade deadline like no other. The timing is different. The rules are different. Even the stakes are different.

In some cases it will be impossible for a team to offer a prize prospect for an established major leaguer. Every team is functioning with a 60-man player pool and anyone who is not inside that pool cannot be traded.

Also, this year non-waiver deals will not be permitted. That's technical jargon to most fans, but it isn't to general managers. What it means, essentially, is there aren't the usual loopholes that often allow trades to be made even after the deadline. As of 4 p.m. Monday every team's organizational roster will be frozen. Any further roster moves will involve shuttling players from the "alternate work site" to the big league roster.

Thus, as the seconds count down on Monday afternoon any GM considering a move will have to make up his mind.

That probably won't be every GM. Some owners might have already put out an order to cool it. They won't admit that, of course, but they might have sound reasons for making that decision.

This year no club is banking revenue from ticket sales and all the extras that come with it such as parking fees, concessions and income from advertisers who pay big bucks to paint their signs in the ballparks. The owners are still pocketing plenty of television but they claim to be operating at a deficit.

Who knows? They might even be telling the truth. That would be a good reason for some of them to refuse to take on additional salary even if it would improve their team's chances of winning.

No matter how much Major League Baseball and its television partners try to dress it up, the reward for winning this year will not be the same. The playoff atmosphere will be missing. There won't be the glitz and glamour and the air of excitement that usually comes with a few special games being played in your ballpark in front of your fans with television networks focused on your city.

Heck, making the postseason might not even mean a home playoff game. At last report the commissioner was trying to assemble a postseason "bubble" similar to what basketball and hockey are doing. That could involve bringing all eight American League teams to one city and all eight National League teams to another and playing the entire postseason in those two ballparks.

Even if there is no bubble, many of the postseason participants will not play any home games in the playoffs. The current format calls for a best-of-three first round with all of the games being played at the higher seed's park. That round, of course, will eliminate half the field.

When its all over there will be two league champions and one world champion, just like any other year, but there will be no victory parade. The results will be in the record book without an asterisk but that doesn't mean there won't be a mental asterisk in the eyes of most beholders. Most people see this season as a hiccup and future historians will probably view it the same way.

An owner whose team is on the bubble has to ask himself a serious question: Is it really worthwhile to part with a promising prospect and take on additional salary just for a chance to join a 16-team field vying for the championship that doesn't seem to be totally real?

I think some of them will decide that it isn't and because of that I expect a less-than-dynamic trade deadline. But I do expect some serious movement.

The Red Sox, only two years removed from their last World Championship are struggling with a rotten pitching. They still have some quality players in their lineup and they might be willing to part with some of them. First baseman Mitch Moreland appears expendable but the Bosox might go all out and put shortstop Xavier Bogaerts and/or designated hitter J.D. Martinez on the block as well. If they do, they'll have a chance to do plenty of business.

As of Wednesday the Royals had won only 12 games, but Trevor Rosenthal had saved seven of them while compiling a 1.46 earned run average. Many teams need bullpen help and Rosenthal could make a huge difference for a number of clubs. If the Royals are willing to part with him they could net a handsome return.

There's even the chance of a big deal between two teams that appear playoff-bound — the Yankees and the Indians. Injuries have left the Yanks short of starting pitching and the Indians have an overload. It appears the Yanks are willing to offer an attractive package of major league-ready prospects in exchange for a Cleveland pitcher — probably Mike Clevinger. But that deal will probably occur only if New York cannot persuade the Rangers to part with Lance Lynn.

We'll know on Monday.

A FEW STATISTICS (Wednesday's games not included): Albert Pujols, now of the Angels, secured his 2087th career RBI this week. He now trails only Henry Aaron and Babe Ruth on the all-time list...Anthony Santander of the Orioles has 33 hits. Only 11 of them have been singles...In 31 games the Twins have been charged with only eight errors...The Phillies have allowed 210 runs -- 60 of them from the seventh inning on...Eddie Alvarez and Jon Berti are the only players to have stolen home this year. Both play for the Marlins...The Padres have recorded 10 sacrifice bunts in 31 games. Seven teams have recorded zero...Jesse Winkler of the Reds has a .299 average and six home runs. Oddly, he has only 10 RBIs...The Cubs have used only five starting pitchers, but they have combined to post a 15-9 record. The bullpen, collectively, is only 3-2...Angels catcher Max Stassi as allowed 21 stolen bases. No other catcher has allowed more than 15...Rays pitcher Blake Snell has faced 20 left-handed batters in 23 2/3 innings. He has retired 18 of them, allowing only one walk and one single...The Astros' Jose Altuve has been picked off base three times...The Diamondbacks have hit 26 homers and allowed 57...Ten complete games have been pitched. Two of them have been seven-inning shutouts by Trevor Bauer of the Reds...The White Sox have a .479 slugging percentage, which is the highest in the majors...Tommy LaStella of the Angels has struck out only seven times in 117 plate appearances.

Hall of Fame voter Jay Dunn has written baseball for The Trentonian for 52 years. Contact him at jaydunn8@aol.com

comments powered by Disqus