Regular Articles
The season has progressed and we have finally gotten to the dog days of August. This is the time of year that the contenders will be separated from the pretenders and there are certainly a lot of contenders remaining. Many teams will rely heavily one that one addition made at the trade deadline or returning from the Disabled List for their run into the postseason. Here are nine players who have the heat upon them.

9. SP Brad Penny (Los Angeles Dodgers, acquired from Florida Marlins): The Los Angeles Dodgers of recent years have lacked having a great offense to support their strong pitching staffs. Well, this year they have a good offense, but not an ace of the pitching staff - someone who can be a stopper. GM Paul DePodesta wagered a lot to see if Brad Penny was that guy, as he did win two games in the World Series last year. Chance of doing his job: 7 (of ten, where higher is better).

8. SP Josh Beckett (Florida Marlins, acquired from DL): The Florida Marlins are reeling in the standings, as they are seven games behind the Braves for the division title and 5.5 behind the Cubs for the wild card. The biggest key to their team is the performance of their starting rotation. The biggest key to their rotation is what they can get out of Josh Beckett, 2003 World Series MVP. The follicle-blessed Beckett has started only fifteen times this season due to rib cage and blister problems and has a 4.54 ERA in those starts. The Marlins need Beckett to be at the front of their rotation with an ERA two runs lower per nine than that. Chance of doing his job: 6.

7. SP Jose Contreras (Chicago White Sox, acquired from New York Yankees): The Chicago White Sox need some kind of roster shakeup or something to get them going. They should have been the winners of the division for the past few years, but to no avail. Perhaps the addition of Jose Contreras will bring the White Sox an ace to slide in with Freddy Garcia and Mark Buehrle. At least the White Sox hope so. Chance of doing his job: 4.

6. CF Steve Finley (Los Angeles Dodgers, acquired from Arizona Diamondbacks): The Los Angeles Dodgers made another move to acquire Steve Finley for their outfield (and to keep him from going to the Padres or Giants). This was an astute addition, as Finley has produced a lot this season and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Maybe his addition will help Shawn Green get back on track, even though it would probably require more than that. Chance of doing his job: 8.

5. RP Darren Dreifort (Los Angeles Dodgers, moved from rotation to bullpen): The Dodgers were using this guy in the rotation and he was not pitching with good results. Well, he did an Eric Gagne, kind of. His ERA is 3.70, but with a WHIP of 1.42. He seems like he can strike out a good number of batters, but he tends to walk a few. The Dodgers really need to guy to turn into Guillermo Mota and soon. Chance of doing his job: 6.

4. SS Orlando Cabrera and 1B Doug Mientkiewicz (Boston Red Sox, acquired from Chicago Cubs – with a few steps in between): Both of these players were unhappy with their former teams before coming to the Red Sox. Orlando was unhappy with all the travel time and uncertainty surrounding the Expos and Mientkiewicz had all but lost his job to Justin Morneu at first. They came over sporting a .246 batting average and were thrown straight into a wild card race. The Red Sox need these two to play Gold Glove -- and no less -- defense with some good numbers at the plate. Chance of doing his job: 6 and 6, respectively.

3. SP Kris Benson and SP Victor Zambrano (New York Mets, acquired from Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, respectively): Benson was pitching all right with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but many scouts said that he did not have the makeup to perform in a battleground like New York. But Benson kept pitching -- quite well I might add -- during his last outings with the Pirates. This did show the righty had some poise about him. The Mets also acquired Victor Zambrano on the trade deadline, but it might not be that wise a move. They gave up Scott Kazmir for a guy with a 4.47 career ERA. Yes, I know Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson said he could fix Zambrano “in 10 minutes.” What the Mets need is for these two to pitch them into the postseason. Chance of doing his job: 7 and 5, respectively.

2. SS Nomar Garciaparra (Chicago Cubs, acquired from Boston Red Sox): The one married to soccer goddess Mia Hamm was brought out of Boston and to the north side of Chicago. Many reports from Boston said that it seemed like Nomar (or Nomah, depending on your location in the country) was not having much fun out there and wasn’t doing too well. Well, the Red Sox brass determined that they needed to move their erstwhile shortstop and Jim Hendry was glad to take him off their hands. Now the Cubs need a shortstop to his .320 with an on base percentage around .370 with perhaps a little pop. Chance of doing his job: 9.

1. SP Kevin Brown, SP Mike Mussina, SP Esteban Loaiza, SP Javier Vazquez (New York Yankees, acquired from DL, DL, White Sox, already there): What the Boss wants the Boss gets. What the Boss wants is a World Championship and if it not delivered there will be some serious consequences. The major part of the blame will fall on the starting rotation if a championship isn’t delivered. Kevin Brown has returned from the Disabled List and pitched eight shutout innings against Oakland on the 5th, but his true test will be against Texas on the 10th. Mike Mussina is probably the make-it or break-it guy. He was placed on the 15-day DL on the 7th of July and it’s been 15 days, but he hasn’t returned. The Yankees are calling it a sore elbow, but Mussina needs to get back to pitching for New York as soon as he can. Esteban Loaiza was acquired from the White Sox in a brilliant move by GM Brian Cashman. Esteban is a solid veteran who has made the All Star team this year and was second in the Cy Young balloting last year. He needs to find his old cutter (isn’t pitching on the same team as Mariano Rivera good) and return to last year’s form. Javier Vazquez has been the Yanks best starter all year, but he hasn’t approached last year’s numbers. The Yankee brass would like to see him drop that ERA number and return to the dominating form he was with the Expos. Chance of doing his job: 7, 5, 6, and 8, respectively.