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.
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.
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.