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MLB Warms December With Off-Season Chestnuts

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Baseball’s general managers are in Dallas this week for the annual winter meetings, discussing what teams are looking to accomplish.

Though every team is looking to achieve success in their own ways, some teams made headlines in November, while others have yet to sign anyone relevant. And some teams — by that I mean the Florida Marlins — are just trying to uproot their roster, unload expensive players and start over.

Early noisemakers

Mets — The team just acquired Carlos Delgado, Billy Wagner and Paul Lo Duca, and now they’re going after Manny Ramirez and Mark Grudzielanek to fill their “holes.” You’d expect this from a New York team, but not the one in Queens.

Marlins — Although Florida Fire Sale II may disappoint all 14 local fans, remember that the first Fire Sale made way for another championship team. Even with losing Delgado, Lo Duca, A.J. Burnett, Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Luis Castillo, the team is now a nuclear stockpile of prospects, with seven pitchers — notably Anibal Sanchez — as well as Mets farm-hen Mike Jacobs. The Marlins are finally the team of Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.

Red Sox — The other team with some newly acquired Miami Fish, the Sawx add pitcher Beckett and third baseman Lowell to stabilize an uncertain pitching rotation and the infield defense.

In the middle (without Eric and Phillip)

Cubs — With all these East coast moves, it’s easy to ignore the Cubs inking deals with two middle relievers, although one of those, Scott Eyre, is the best lefty setup man in the game. Chicago also lured away Bob Howry from the Indians, meaning if the Cubs are to blow games this year, it will be on starting pitching or the 9th inning.

Behind the 8-ball

Blue Jays — The goal was to have a recognizable pitcher on the team not named Roy Halladay. So they poured $47 million into flameballing closer B.J. Ryan. They locked up the coveted Burnett with a $55 million contract. And while there’s a combined 12 years of MLB service between them, Ryan only has 36 career saves and Burnett has a 49-50 record. While “promising” is an accurate label for these two hurlers, with a $100+ million price tag “unproven” is more fitting.

Keep what works

White Sox — Re-signing Paul Konerko is tantamount to the Red Sox keeping Jason Varitek after their ’04 campaign. The first baseman was their biggest weapon offensively, and will keep that lineup anchored for another run at the World Series next year.

Padres — Trevor Hoffman will probably split the scene, but they kept Giles, who would have been an ideal fit for the Yankees in center field.

Say bye bye

Nationals — Esteban Loaiza bolted to the A’s, and Hector Carrasco was picked up by the Angels. Tony Armas and Jose Guillen are two more key free agents left hanging in the air, and if they’re not careful the Nationals could lose a good number of role players.

You don’t need more of those

Dodgers — Shortstop Rafael Furcal will get $39 million over 3 years, meaning All-Star Cesar Izturis has no home.

Indians — Only one pitcher beat the White Sox in the playoffs, and that had to have given Paul Byrd more desirability in the market. But he signed with the Indians, who already have a full slate of good starters: C.C. Sabathia, Jason Westbrook, Kevin Millwood, Cliff Lee and Scott Elarton. And even if Millwood signs elsewhere, Jason Davis is ready to take the 5-spot in that rotation.

Curiously silent

Yankees — Two signings? Just two? And you haven’t broke $20 million yet? In any other year, a Kyle Farnsworth to a 3-year, 17-million deal would be sixth-page news for the Men in Stripes. But so far Farnsworth and his 100-mph fastball is the marquee pickup, with second (and last place) thus far is nabbing the graying catcher Kelly Stinnett. But with Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez deals murmuring around the league, perhaps the large movement has yet to strike.

Tigers — Finally, finally, finally sloughing off Bobby Higginson will free up money for the team, as well as likely departures by the pricey Jason Johnson and Rondell White. They were supposed to be in the running for Burnett. But nothing from them. They can compete, but won’t unless they get one more player either on the mound or at the plate.

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  • Eric Olsen

    ah, but Elarton is also a free agent, so the Indians defintiely needed someone like Byrd. Now they may go after Elarton for the fifth spot and will have gained three wins (9-12) from last year replacing Millwood with Byrd. Now obviously Byrd isn’t the pitcher Millwood is and M’s low win total from last year was just a fluke given that he won the AL ERA title, but still, you aren’t losing many wins.

    The Indians are also goingafter Trevor Hoffman, feelign they pressed their luck hard with Wicky last year and that the luck wouldn’t continue next year with him.

  • Eric Olsen

    they also need a big right-handed bat

  • I forgot about Elarton’s FA status. (Slaps forehead)

    But right, that’s not their biggest concern. They need someone at the hot corner besides Aaron Boone, like also-former-Red Joe Randa, but that won’t happen. From what I’ve read, Boone’s not budging.

  • Eric Olsen

    Boone will be much better next year – it took him three months to get up to speed after a full year off

  • .267 / 24 / 96. Is that good enough for a starter?

    ‘Cause that was Boone’s best year, in ’03 before the basketball accident.

  • Pretty good for a third baseman…

  • Damn, these big trades just keep on comin.

    Soriano traded to the Nationals.

    Edgar Renteria shipped to the Braves.

    Blue Jays traded for Lyle Overbay. (DJRadioHead: I knew he’d be dealt somewhere! Just not that team.)

    Red Sox and Padres swap Doug Mirabelli and Mark Loretta.

    And Hoffman didn’t go to the Indians, as thought yesterday. He’s staying with the Padres.

    Among others.

  • david r. mark

    Rumor is a three-way deal among the Sox, O’s and Mets, which would send Ramirez and Julio to the Mets, Tejada to the Red Sox, and something like Benson, Milledge and Heilman to the O’s.

    As a Sox fan, I like it.

    But the better proposal was the one with the Sox, Phils and Dodgers, which would have sent
    Ramirez to the Dodgers, Bobby Abreu and J.D. Drew to Boston and Derek Lowe and Trot Nixon to Philadelphia.

    Unfortunately, that one appears dead.

  • Doesn’t look probable, now that Tejada is saying he doesn’t want to be traded:

    “I never said I wanted to be traded. I said I want to see a better team. I don’t want to keep losing like we have the past two years.”

    At least that’s how he “spins” it. 🙂

  • david r. mark

    We’ll see. There are conflicting signals as to what Tejada wants, and whether the O’s care.

  • If things keep going the way they are in D.C., the Nationals’ big trades may not be worth much…

  • Considering the Nats now have to great second baseman, and Soriano doesn’t seem to happy about playing outfield.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    As a Phils fan, I only hope that Abreu will bring a much, much better pitcher than Derek Lowe. If not, you’ve gotta keep him, even considering last year’s second half was his worst half-season since he came into the league.

    That Gold Glove was puzzling, no? They usually give those to players who try a lot harder in the ol’ field.

    BTW, I kid cuz I love. Abreu’s actually my favorite player, despite the flaws.

  • I haven’t heard much about Abreu on the trading block. What are they saying in Philtown?

  • The Theory

    He’s tradable, assuming the Phils get a very good deal in return. Right now the major thing is starting pitching.

    I have conflicted feelings on Abreu. On the one hand when he’s on he is a lightning bolt that no one can touch. But after his performance in the home run derby the rest of his season he did practically nothing at the plate, both in home runs and batting average (which wasn’t horrible for a normal player, but definitly sub-normal Abreu levels).