The emergence of Ruben Gotay aside, I’m hoping there’s smoke to the fire described below by the Newark Star-Ledger’s Dan Graziano and Ed Price.

According to officials with two different major league teams, who requested anonymity because the deal has yet to be announced, the Mets and the Minnesota Twins were closing in on a deal that would bring second baseman Luis Castillo to Queens in exhange for two minor-league prospects, possibly Double-A Binghamton catcher Drew Butera and Class A St. Lucie outfielder Dustin Martin.

Castillo would give the Mets the second baseman they need with Jose Valentin out for the year with a leg injury. He likely would bat second in the batting order, behind Jose Reyes. The Mets have had problems getting consistent production from that No. 2 spot in their lineup this year, and the speedy Castillo could help there as well as shore up the infield defense.

While Gordon Edes is cynical about Boston’s chances of prying Jermaine Dye from the White Sox, it would appear the Braves have made their 2nd manuever of the afternoon, as the KC Star’s Bob Dutton reports they’re on the brink of obtaining former Mets reliever Octavio Dotel from the Royals in exchange for righty Kyle Davies.

Yahoo’s Tim Brown claims Texas’ Eric Gagne is a Red Sox target, but the goggle-faced Canadian will require a serious payoff to accept a) a trade to one of the 16 clubs on his veto list or b) any scenario where he’ll not be closing.

Only those with very short memories will fail to recall that Houston’s Jason Jennings gave up 11 earned runs while retiring just two batters in the Astros’ 18-11 loss to the Padres on Sunday.  In case you forgot, the Houston Chronicle’s Richard Justice would love to rub it in :

If you’re keeping score, Jason Hirsh has two more quality starts than Jennings. Hirsh’s ERA is lower, his record better. He has pitched more innings and is making $4 million less.

For a couple of months, the Jennings trade was evaluated in terms of all he players involved. That’s no longer necessary. Had Purpura traded either Hirsh or Willy Taveras to Colorado for Jennings, the hair of the Astros general manager would still be on fire.
If it were one of Jennings’ few bad days, that would be one thing. It wasn’t. In five July starts, Jennings is 1-4 with an 11.35 ERA. Hopefully, he’ll never have another outing like Sunday’s, in which he was lit up for 11 earned runs in two-thirds of an inning as the Astros suffered an 18-11 loss to San Diego.

I asked a friend with another team if he could check where this start ranked on the all-time stinkeroo list. An hour later, he e-mails: “Sorry, but our database only goes back 50 years.”

When you’ve had a bad start and someone says, “Eisenhower administration,” you know it’s not good.