Results tagged ‘ Hot Stove ’
The Atlanta Braves have not been shy or silent they need to find a trade partner for Evan Gattis this winter. The Braves current C/OF needs to find a new home so the ATL squad can give the catching reigns fully to young defensive wunderkind Christian Bethancourt this spring.
A team that could dangle a veteran starter with some team control could become the ideal trade partner that could help the team seal their rotation hole and help them give Bethancourt control behind the plate heading into 2015.
And the Tampa Bay Rays could quite possibly be the team that helps facilitate this for the Braves.
As we head into the M L B G M Meeting in Arizona, both teams have a need to subtract personnel this winter with the Rays wanting to find a trade ally for starter Jeremy Hellickson.
The first glaring point that most Braves might bring to the forefront is the fact Hellickson only pitched 63 2/3rds innings in 2014 after a pre-spring surgery to remove some loose fragments in his pitching elbow. Since his return, Hellickson was a valued Rays starter proving he was healthy and suffering no setbacks from his prior injury.
The addition of a versatile player like Gattis would be a great addition for the Rays who need some offensive firepower heading into 2015. Even though Gattis himself had some health concerns in 2014 with a bulging disc in his back.
Combine Gattis’s back issue with Hellickson’s elbow you would think each team would do their due diligence via their respective medical staffs before any conversation escalates past the preliminary stage.
Even if both players did have darkened clouds surrounding their health in 2014, but each finished the season on high notes providing a brighter outlook for either player being considered in a possible trade package.
Hopefully the Brave realize even with a small statistical model in 2014, the pure fact over the last 2 seasons Hellboy’s has increased his strikeout rate (7.9 K/9 innings) while also lowering his walks issued (2.7 per 9 innings pitched) should show the veteran hurler has overcome some past control issues and would be a solid contributor to the Braves rotation.
Adding another nugget of goodness to the Braves trading for Hellickson is the fact he was the 2010 American League Rookie of the Year as well as a Gold Glover. Players like that usually do not come up as trade pieces when there is still team control in play. The fact Hellboy is even up on the block is a testament to the younger hurlers on the Rays current staff of developing faster than expected and might be pushing a player of Hellickson’s caliber towards another team.
Gattis would come to the Rays as a firm offensive upgrade especially at the Rays catching position and finished the 2014 season while maintaining a .263 average in 401 plate appearances. Even more glaring is the fact Gattis’s 22 HRs easily outpaced all 5 players who caught for the team and hit only 6 HRs in total with Ryan Hanigan garnering 5 of those HRs.
Helping Gattis in his case as a possible Rays trade target is the fact he has fielding versatility. Not only could he provide at bats as a catcher, but also at Designated Hitter and as a possible corner outfielder during InterLeague play.
It is not often that you could possibly trade for a single player who could help adjust or eliminate so many glaring holes in your roster. Both with a bat and glove Gattis is an instant Rays upgrade at DH and catcher (Sorry Ryan).
Another get selling point for Hellickson is the fact he is under team control until the end of 2016 and his projected arbitration salary is an affordable $3.5-3.9 million for 2015. That would give the Braves a bit of salary relief as well as bring on a starter with a proven M L B track record that would solidify the middle to back-end of the Braves rotation for at least the next 2 seasons. Of course this also works great for the Rays who have to cut a significant amount of payroll heading into 2015.
Gattis would also bring the Rays some salary relief as well as he is under team control for another 4 seasons. But one glaring point that might come with any trade chats about Gattis is that those 4 seasons of possible salary stability for a team like the fiscally-challenged Rays might come at the cost of another player at or near the M L B level.
The Braves will certainly want to up the ante because of Gattis’s 4 years of control, and it might be a hidden godsend as the Rays could include some like Brandon Guyer, Tim Beckham (Georgia native) or another player who might find their career path blocked as they near the M L B level.
A straight-up trade of Gattis for Hellickson will not happen oir be entertained by the Braves or Rays, but these two M L B caliber players should be a great starting point for both front offices to facilitate some chatter towards a possible Rays and Braves swap of talent.
In the waning moments of the 2010 Major League Baseball Winter Meeting there is an increasing chilly wind whistling around the ornate columns of the Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort. Within the sound swirling through the colorfully decorated corridors, the name heard on the cusp of the wind is that of Rays starting pitcher Matt Garza. The Rays front office has more than let it be known that they will listen to offers and discuss their young budding star, and possibly provide him as additional luggage for some lucky GM before they hit the tarmac off Sand Lake Road.
But more than a few will balk at the attached price tag, while others will try and haggle and possibly snatch the young pitcher but he will not come as a bargain basement item. Garza can easily be thrust up into the top three pitchers made available during the Winter Meetings joining fellow starters Cliff Lee and the Royals Zack Greinke as the 1-2-3 combo of pitcher currently wetting the lips of fellow MLB GM’s. With Lee basically pigeon-holed to the top tier of moneymakers like the Yankees, Nats and Rangers, that leave right-handers Greinke and Garza as top dollar showpieces.
That being said, the Rays would love to keep someone of Garza’s ability and future potential, but the market sometimes dictates the flow and impending exit visa of a player like Garza. And he has gained the most possible trade inquiries instead of fellow starter James Shields. If you melt Garza’s last three season together you get the persona of a highly competitive hurler with an extremely emotional passion for the game. With a projected arbitration guesstimate of $ 5.5 million for 2011, he would be a financially viable option.
One of the possible negatives surrounding Garza might be the return the Rays would expect to pluck Garza from the Rays roster. Even with the aspect of a reduction the Rays payroll with sending Garza to another team, the Rays will want more than a single player in return. And that can be a defining factor that could quickly eliminate more than a few MLB teams from even calling about the right-hander.
But a crafty GM who knows about the Rays impending fiscal binds combined with the stark reality that the Rays might need to pursue a trade with one of their pitchers before the 2011 season to unblock the path of top prospect Jeremy Hellickson who has shown he is ready for full-time MLB duty. After an impressive September, Hellickson is not guaranteed a rotation slot or even a roster spot for the Rays in 2011, but am impressive Spring could force the Rays into a snap judgment pitching decision.
Maybe it is time for all of us within the Rays Republic to accept that even with Garza’s increased proficiency on the mound, maybe he has reached his ultimate zenith in trade value. That by trading him at his highest level, Garza will bring a healthy player return that will fundamentally secure the Rays next level of player development. With the Rays currently having up to 6 open slots in their bullpen for 2011, using Garza to gain some impending relief depth might be the best playable card in the Rays deck of cards.
Most in the Rays Republic might want the team to shop fellow starter James Shields instead of Garza, but Shields is coming off a sub-par 2010 season and needs to reestablish his value in the trade market before the Rays dangle him on a line. Garza has also received the most nibbles by prospective MLB teams, and could provide some internal team control since he is a Super-two arbitration eligible player and a prospective team could control him longer before Garza would hit the free agency trail. But then again, posting a No-hitter automatically has more than a few mouths watering around the league.
It is that classic “Dang if you do, Dang if you don’t” scenario that even putting Garza out there to entice the rest of the league could come back to bite the Rays in the end. We have seen recently that the Rays are trying to get the most in return for anyone they consider “tradable”. With recent Jason Bartlett trade rumors falling by the wayside, it is becoming evident that the Rays value quantity as well as quality in their trade talks. Some teams might want to strike while the Rays iron is hot in the coals and steal Garza away, but that will not happen.
The Rays do not have to trade Garza or any other player currently on their roster to afford them. But the underlying aspect of possibly getting two or three players under contract for the same $ 5.5 million might entice the Rays to trade Garza a little less in return right now. But the deal will still be on the Rays terms, and will involve the players they as either future keystones or possible 2011 foundations rocks to rebuilding the franchise’s current weak spots. The Rays have never been a club that will thrust up the K-mart blue light and proclaim a special low cost price for one of their players. It is not known yet if the Rays will pull the trigger on a trade of any of their players during the Winter Meetings or before the team again begin to assemble this February.
The cool Florida winds are still blowing through the Resort lobby, but somewhere beyond our eyesight I can still feel the warmth of the Rays taking calls and making inquires trying to find those special pieces of cordwood to stoke their Hot Stove fires.
The more I read about this guy, the more I am liking the Rays possibilities in 2010. But the reality is now set in stone that the Tampa Bay Rays have traded for Rafael Soriano to man the back of the Rays Bullpen for 2010. And what a beautiful birthday present (Dec 19th) this turned out to be for Soriano that he got a bundle of money ($ 7.25 million dollars) and a chance to play in 74 degree weather for 81 games a year in Florida.
I mean the minute I heard the deal was about to be completed, I started to do some research on the guy and found some thing I automatically loved and caused concern about the Rays new closer. But the true fact that he is not Troy Percival is the first good news I have heard in the last two seasons for the Rays Bullpen. Soriano is from the Dominican Republic, and as most players from that region, did not start out as a pitching prospect. He was originally signed as an outfielder before being converted to a pitcher.
In 1999, Soriano was finally began his conversion into a pitcher while with the Everett and the move was considered an instant success as he finished his first season as a pitcher second in ERA and strikeouts, but also third in walks. Control would come with time as the young pitcher began to tweak his finger grips and learn the art of pitching.
And his pitching progression showed in 2000 as he was boasted a 2.87 ERA and was considered the third best pitcher prospect in the Mariner’s organization in 2000. Soriano also surrendered only one Home Run in the 167 batters he faced that season. And during the 2000 offseason, he got his first taste of Winter Ball as he was selected to play for Escogido in the Dominican League.
And his impression during his escalation through the minors was not missed by the Seattle front office which selected him from the Double-A San Antonio on May 8,2002 and he made his Major League debut against the Boston Red Sox on May 10th and earned his first MLB save in a 7-2 Seattle win. During 2002, he ended up only appearing in 10 games for the Mariners, but started 6 games during his tour with the big club.
There is one thing that bothers me a bit about Soriano. Early on in his career he did show a pattern of getting injured when he first went down with a right shoulder injury while up with the Mariners on July 10,2002. and was put on the disabled list. Soriano suffered a strained oblique muscle in Spring Training 2004 and saw very limited action before the regular season.
He then suffered another injury in May 2004 when while he was up with the Mariners he developed a right elbow strain. He sat out until July and tried to pitch during a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma, but the pain came back in the elbow. Soriano was diagnosed with a ulnar collateral ligament tear in the elbow and Dr Lewis Yocum performed Tommy John’s surgery on the aliment on August 17, 2004.
Soriano spent the rest of the 2004 season rehabbing from the surgery and after multiple rehab assignment in the minor leagues, finally returned to the Major Leagues on September 10,2005 for the Mariners and stayed with the club the rest of the season appearing in seven games that season. Soriano ended his season right by not allowing a run in his last five games of the season.
During the 2006 season you might have remembered Soriano as the pitcher that got clocked in the right ear off a line drive from the bat of Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero during the eighth inning August 29th contest at Safeco Field between the Angels and Mariners. Mariners Team Medical Director Edward Khalfayan said that Soriano was hit right beyond the right ear region and he never lost consciousness before being transported to Harborview Medical Center for further testing.
Soriano spent the night at Harborview after suffering a concussion, but was finally released the following afternoon. But the Mariners took a cautionary route and Soriano did not pitch again in the 2006 season. Prior to the August 29th incident, Soriano spent time on the DL for right shoulder fatigue before being reinstated in early August. That would be his last appearance for the Seattle Mariners as he was traded to the Atlanta Braves on December 6,2006 for fellow reliever Horacio Ramirez.
Soriano has been known to throw the ball in triple digits before, but suffered in his first season with the Braves setting up Braves closer Bob Wickman. After seeing Soriano begin to emerge in the Bullpen and Wickman starting to show regression, the Braves made a move in August 2006 by designating Soriano into the closer’s roles and designating Wickman for assignment.
But the drama was not over for Soriano in 2006. In September during a game against division rivals, the Florida Marlins, Soriano drilled Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla with a pitch and drew a four game suspension from the National League front office. After appealing the sentence, it was reduced to two games, but Soriano ended his first Braves season with mixed reviews providing a 3-3 record and a 3.0 ERA for the season.
Soriano had stayed relatively injury free during his first two seasons with the Braves before finally feeling some right elbow pain, and went on his first stint on the DL with right elbow tendinitis during May. Soriano suffered another setback during the season and was activated from the DL on July 27th. Eventually, Soriano went back on the DL on August 3, and stayed there for the rest of the season. On August 28th, Dr James Andrews performed an ulnar nerve transposition surgery and removed some bone spurs from Soriano’s elbow.
The 2009 season was the first injury free season for Soriano in a long time. And his level of play did increase dramatically as he held righthanded batters to a .138 average during the season. He also converted 27 of 31 save opportunities while holding a 1-6 record on the season. But the season also saw new career highs in strikeouts (102) and innings pitched (75.2) to show that when healthy, Soriano is one of the rising closer stars in the Major Leagues.
During his three season with the Braves, Soriano might have only compiled a 4-10 record with 39 saves, but he gained valuable experience during the season gelling into the closer’s role for the Braves. And even if he only has three pitches in his arsenal, Soriano’s fastball maintains a consistent velocity in the upper 90’s, and has hit triple digits a few times last season. Combined with his hard-biting slider(81-84 mph) and a seldom used change-up(84-86) that he usually reserves for hard hitting left-handers.
But there is a level of concern that hits my brain about Soriano. There has not been a consistent level of health yet in his career for me to be jumping up and down yet about this trade. Sure I do not want a repeat of the last two seasons where you get ex
cited and looking forward to a closer taking it to the house for the Rays, then get saddened quickly by a sudden or hidden injury situation.
Maybe that is what is wrong to me about this trade. I like the pitching statistics of Soriano a lot, and really want him to be effective and healthy in 2010 for the Rays. But I was also excited to see what hard throwing reliever Jesse Chavez could do for this squad in 2010. It is an upgrade in instant talent, but for some odd reason, Chavez to me felt like a better long term addition.
But with the horrors of the “Percy” era still fresh in my mind, along with the wasted millions of dollars spent on him sitting in California on his duff while this team struggled without a bona fide closer. I am a bit more cautious to throw out the arms and welcome a closer now. Especially one who has only had one legitimate healthy season after several trips to the diasabled list in the past.
I truly hope that Soriano proves me wrong within the first few weeks of 2010. I want to again believe that we have a viable closing option on the Rays and that the “closer-by-committee” concept is thrown in the trash can and burned forever. But it is still funny to me the recent quote from Rays team owner Stuart Sternberg that this team payroll would not allow for a $ 7 million dollar closer. And he was right. But as is always the way with the Rays, irony had the last laugh as now we have a new $ 7.25 million dollar closer to put out hopes and playoff dreams upon in 2010.
I am not a true fan of crossword puzzles or games like Chess. But I got to tell you, I am so psyched right now to try and figure out this word puzzle/mystery. You see, Jason Grilli aka Grillcheese49 on Twitter has been leaving small clues and a few hints recently about his pitching destination for 2010. And I have to admit it here, but trolling the web looking for answers can get my endorphines kicking it at about 120 mph right now. I forgot how much fun it used to be following a lead, or just a simple photo and finding an aswer within it all.
I have a lot of respect for the insider job that ESPN’s Buster Onley does every day right now during the Hot Stove season. I honestly have not worked this hard to nail down a team or a possible player’s new location since college. And I am not working with a safety net right now, and could basically get it all wrong with a flick of the fingers upon this keyboard.
I do not possess the savvy insider sources that people like Peter Gammons or Onley have at their disposal daily. I do most of my work down here in the darkest recesses of light, and ever so often a beam shines down and I grab ahold of it tightly. Right now I am going by what Grilli has tweeted to all of us over the last week and using them as definite clues to piece this puzzle with more clarity. But the reality of this dark situation is that this new form of social interweaving like Twitter and Facebook can also work in deflecting people and organizations far away from the truth.
@Grillcheese49:There were 8 teams interested. One clear choice. Details coming soon. Hope to share by Monday. ( 4:57 PM Nov 27,2009 from UberTwitter)
Well Jason, it is now early Monday, and only a few hours before you “officially” tell the cyber-world of your playing intentions for 2010. I am going to try and piece together some of the previous information given out by you,and try and make an educated guess on where you are going to be playing in 2010. Hope you do not mind, but I might have a lead on your future employer by reading through the lines a bit, and hope
I am at least within the ballpark when you announce it sometime during today. I may end up being totally wrong, and that is okay too because I am a blogger with no real connections who is just using his mind for more than a hatrack right now.
@Grillcheese49: The answer is coming people this week. I promise. Let’s play the Feud. There are 30 teams in MLB. The top 5 answers are on the board.
(9:27 AM Nov 27,2009 from UberTwitter)
I have to admit, I did not take all 30 MLB teams when I was trying to figure out which team you might have scooped you up come Monday. I did however remove your prior teams like the Colorado Rockies,Texas Rangers,Chicago White Sox,Florida Marlins and Detroit Tigers. It was a bit hard to rule out the Marlins completely at first because you still have a home in Florida. But,I figure that for the most part, when a player leaves the Marlins, they are not too anxious to get back into the aqua blue uniforms.
@Grillcheese49: Longest drum roll ever…..I know. If it were up to me I would tell ya. Don’t want to be banned from Twitter like the NFL players do. Haha
( 3 hours ago from UberTwitter)
Do not worry Grilli, I am pretty sure there is nothing within the MLBPA union contract about social networks yet, but they probably will add it into the talks in 2011 when the MLBPA Union contract is up for renewal. I really wish I did have someone within a the MLB front offices that I could bounce this guess-timate off of at 1 AM on a Monday morning…..But I do not.
So I am out here in “Blog-ville” after 1 AM trying to piece the puzzle together considering you gave me an awesome clue with the Twitpic posted late on Sunday. And the wildest part of it all is going to be my own personal opinion on if you are seeking to play for a potential playoff team,or just a great opportunity to stay with a team’s Bullpen for a few years. That at first almost lead me to make the mistake of thinking you might be wearing a Tampa Bay Rays jersey in 2010, but something on your Twitpic tonight led me away from that conclusion quickly.
Someone trying to piece together puzzles like this need to have a keen eye for unobvious observations to sometimes notice things other leave behind as clues or even honest mistakes in their posts or comments. When you posted the picture tonight of your signature already on your 2010 contract, you left the biggest clue of them all. As most people can see now, the MLB authorized Club Representative signature might be the key to this entire puzzle.
So if I take that position of “Director of Baseball Administration” as a clue under the Club Reps signature, then I can quickly narrow it down to a total of six teams that have that position currently listed within their MLB front office. We have 3 clubs each in both the American League and the National League that employ a person in that present job title. But then again,it could just be an ambiguous job title that is printed on a standardized MLB/MLBPA contract for all I know. But a gut reaction has me really doubting that.
I could be wrong even about the title of the Club Representative, but I am going to roll the dice here on this one and hope Lady Luck is in my corner tonight/today. And for that simple reason, I am putting the following six MLB clubs could be your final destination for the 2010 MLB season:
Oakland Athletics: The A’s currently have Pam Pitts as the Director of Baseball administration for their club. I think you have more of a inclination right now to be looking for a team that is going to be fighting for a potential playoff spot in 2010. For that reason, I am eliminating the A’s from contention for your services. (75-1 chance)
Kansas City Royals: Jin Wong is posted as the active Director of Baseball Administration for the Royals on their MLB website. This is a team that I feel is more in the rebuilding stage than ready to take center stage right now. They could probably make some no
ise,but might not have the overall staying power in 2010 to get you closer towards a playoff chance. (50-1 chance)
Cleveland Indians: The Director of Baseball Administration for the Indians is Wendy Hoppel. For some reason I think this is the AL club that might make you salivate the most right now. With the young talent they have accumulated the last two seasons with trades involving CC Sabathia,Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee, the Indians could be a nice dark horse contender in the AL Central as early as 2010. (4-3 chance)
Out of the National League, I am considering these three clubs as your possible destination for the 2010 season:
Chicago Cubs: The Cubs, even if they are going through a ownership transition,still currently list Scott Nelson as their Director of Baseball Administration. But even with the dust settling in the front office after the final sale approval by MLB owners just recently, this club is a bit more fragile within their 25-man roster. Might not be a great fit, but could be a dark horse player for your services. (12-1 chance)
Atlanta Braves: This is the closest MLB team to your home now in Florida that has a person with the title of Director of Baseball Administration in their club’s front office. John Coppolella currently holds that post. Might be a location favorite, but also has a division you have pitched in before with the Marlins. ( 15-1 chance)
Philadelphia Phillies: This club is the last one to have a club representative with the title of Director of Baseball Administration in the MLB. With Susan Ingersoll Papaneri at the controls. I am going to go with a wild hunch that you are seeking a solid position on a team that could grow into an extended contract. With the Phillies, you may have a spot in their Bullpen renovation. If you do seek a good chance for a possible 2010 playoff scenario, then this just might be a great destination on a possible playoff team. ( 5-1 chance)
This is where the whole shebang of guessing can get a little more difficult for me. I think you can strive for more in both Cleveland and Philly without a major problem. And even if your 2009 salary was only $ 800,000, I can see you going maybe over $1 million with incentives without a real contract problem. Put that all together with the photo above and look at the possible first name lower loop in the signature, and I have to say the name seems to point towards Cleveland (Wendy Hoppel).
But that is the fun with guessing right? I think the perfect 2010 scenario might be with the Phillies to expand your career and get into a possible playoff situation in 2010. But it might also could be beneficial as a veteran on a young club to be with a team like Cleveland who could shock the AL like the Rays did in 2008 with their developing players leading the way coupled with experienced pitching behind them.
So I am going to guess that the Chief Wahoo will be proud you are with the Cleveland Indians in 2010. And even if I am wrong about all of this, I think it has been a great chance for me to practice some skills I have not used in a long, long time. It has been a lot of fun Jason.
I truly wish you the best of luck and hope you stay injury free in 2010. If you play for a team that does head into Tropicana Field, I will look for number 49 and introduce myself to you. And if you do become an Indian on Monday, get your player uniform number negotiation skills ready, because leftie pitcher Tony Sipp currently hold your number 49 on the Indians active roster. But then again, no one on the Phillies 40-man roster currently sports a “49” on their back.
I was thinking the other day about all these signings by the New York Yankees for their pitching staff, will these moves guarantee that the team will be better in 2009. On the surface, it looks like the team has made a huge upgrade in talent in their pitching staff, but does that always commute to a championship, or even a playoff berth. You only need to go a less than 500 or so miles to the west to get your answer here. Just because you took the Hot Stove season by surprise doesn’t put you in the playoffs in December.
In 2008, oddsmakers, fans and legions of experts ( including the talking heads in Bristol ) declared the Detroit Tigers the early favorite to win the whole enchilada after their blockbuster 7-player deal with the Florida Marlins. That deal was completed a little over a year ago at last season’s Winter Meetings when they pickjed up vital cogs , pitcher Dontrelle Willis and power hitter Miquel Cabrera. Along with the other upstart pitching they had, the Tigers looked like the runaway favorite to crush the American League Central enroute to a playoff berth.
In fact, it was a player outside of that 7-player merry-go-round who made the most impact in 2008. In a little thought of deal with the Teaxas Rangers, the Tigers picked up a young thrower, Armando Galarraga. During the season, Galarraga went 13-7, with a 3.73 ERA to be the standout pitcher, not the veteran Willis, who spent most of the year fighting control and delivery problems.
At one point in the season, Willis was pitching in the Class-A Florida State League for the Lakeland Flying Tigers before coming back up to the majors late in the season for the Tigers. When he did come back up, he had a poor performance in his 9 appearances, going 0-2, with a 9.38 ERA. Cabrera also got off to a rocky start , was playing musical chairs in the infield, and finally ended up at first base before righting his ship in 2008.
Cabrera did get the offensive side of his game going, and ended up strongly in 2008, but it a example of a little too much too late as the team was by then buried in the cellars of the American League Central division. By the time the entire team rebounded and played solid ball, it was too late and the dream was shattered as the team ended the season in the cellar of the division.
The 2008 Tigers are a prime example of the fact that big splashes do not always guarantee wins in this league. Some times the act of acquiring great players doesn’t add up in the wins column. They got a bit blindsided in a deal for Edgar Renteria where they gave up a promising righthanded starter, Jair Jurrjens, who went an unexpected 13-10, with a 3.68 ERA over 188.1 innings for the Atlanta Braves. Jurrjens ended up 2008, being a consistant pitcher for the Braves, and exceeded the teams expectations for him at his young age.
Tigers starter Kenny Rogers got old quick during the season. Reliable inning-eater Jeremy Bonderman got hurt, and Nate Robertson and Justin Verlander did not have the expected seasons, actually showing decreasing numbers and suspect pitching at times during the year. With the season seemingly going down the tubes, the team even traded away power-hitting catcher Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez to the New York Yankees at the Trading Deadline. Rodriguez at the time was in a offensive decline, which added to the Tigers; frustrations during the season.
So we come down to now, a year later, and the New York squad hit the neon-clad Vegas strip for the Winter Meetings with their purse strings wide open seeking the ‘ miracle fix’ for their upcoming season that showed the Yankees struggled all season long to even stay out of 4th place in the Americna League East. The team came into the Winter Meetings with an aggressive plan to upgrade and take the best players on the board back to their new shiny and sparkling cathedral to start the rebirth of promise in the Big Apple and reclaim the legend that is the Yankees.
The Yankees did seem to hit the jackpot early this off-season and made the biggest splash in the pool so far in the league, but will it be enough to even guarantee a playoff berth for the Bronx team. Two days after the Yankees signed C.C. Sabathia to a seven-year $ 161 million dollar deal, they agreed to give A.J. Burnett a five-year, $ 82.5 million dollar payday. With the Yankees still having their purse strings open, they might even still bring in another ace like Derek Lowe, or even solid leftie Andy Pettitte might come back to his old locker and play again for the Bronx bombers in the new digs.
There is still speculation that sluggers Mark Teixiera and even Manny Ramirez might even pack their respective West Coast bags and head to the City that never sleeps. With targets like that, can the Yankees even still claim a divisional title or even a Wild Card berth in their own division.
Most would these deals put the Yankees on the front burner in the A L East, or will they struggle against the up and coming Rays and Blue Jays, and the always offensive-minded Boston Red Sox. Both of the teams that the Yankees looked up at in the standings in 2008 come back for more with consistant squads both in the offensive and pitching departments. And the Blue Jays and Orioles can battle with the best of them when the matchups are equal.
Both Burnett and Sabathia had remarkable seasons in 2008, and should warrant a upgrade in their salaries and a better chance to claim a World Series ring, but will 2009 be that season, or will it just be the first year building up steam for future runs at the trophy. The once powerful Yankees offense still still seems to be churning on 7 cylinders in the off-season, with both Abreu and Rodriguez not in the fold any longer, can the pitching upgrade bring the team’s sudden offensive holes to a small diameter.
Hank Steinbrenner must now channel his best imitation of his father and figure out a fast fix for the offensive lineup of the Yankees. Two mainstays, A-Rod and Derek Jeter are back for another season, and should have consisitant years, but first base has a hole, rightfield is an issue, and catching must find an offensive leader to carry the team. Jorge Posada might finally move from behind the plate and be the upgrade the team needs at first base, or Designated Hitter. But that still leaves a huge hole to fill in rightfield.
Do the Yankees throw a bushel of money at Ramirez and move Xavier Nady to right and camp Ramirez in the left-field corner of the new Yankees Stadium. That answer might be forth coming in the next few weeks, but the issue of Teixeira maybe coming to the Bronx will be resolved in the next few days. He wants to have a solid playing location and residence area by the end of the 2008 year. With the clock ticking and money again being thrown at the top guys, can the pinstripes again be on a roll to the championship?
2009 is on the horizon for the Yankees, and with sure issues still going on in-house as to a payroll or even a roster, the team will plug and fill from now until Febuary. But can this upgrade on both sides of the ball even guarantee anything for them next year. Will the team go strong out of the gate and then suffer the curse of the Tigers in 2009. Or will an unsuspecting injury or injuries take the wind of out of the 2009 sails by May. This is the game of baseball, nothing is a sure thing, and no one player can take this team on their backs and lead them to glory.
The Yankees do look like the team to strive to beat every game in 2009, but all the Yankees have to do is look to the west and remember the pre-season expectations of the Detroit Tigers to remember that nothing is guaranteed in this game…………Not even the price of a hot dog and a beer.
The Hot Stove season is not over yet, and either slugger could make a huge offensive weak spot strong again. But the Yankees need to be smart and not just try and fill a hole, but fill them with the right players who will be productive for the next 4 years. The A L East has become a battleground, with the Yankees finally showing age and weak spots in 2008. Can they totally hide those spots, or will there be more signings and better numbers to follow in 2009.
Speculation is that the team is not done firing up the pen and signing a few more checks before all is said and done. By the time the team hits Tampa for Spring Training, the entire middle of the lineup might have a new feel. But this by no means is an indication that Yankees will need ‘ Hi, I’m_______ badges for the first few days after pitchers’ and catchers’ report .
When the World series ended with the upstart Tampa Bay Rays losing to the Philadelphia Phillies, it was the first bit of heat to the offseason’s Hot Stove predicitions and rumors. The Rays quickly made announcements on declining options and granting free agency to 4 of this years Rays’ players that helped the team land in the Fall classic.
First to hit the free agent market was Tampa Bay Rays’ mainstay Rocco Baldelli, who had his 2009 option actually turned down in the early atages of 2008 after he was diagnoised with fatigue syndrome. Baldelli still might sign back with the only club he has ever played for maybe more out of loyalty for all the years and times they took to secure his health and might even give a nice “hometown” discount to the Rays.
Baldelli has had a series of injuuries from Tommy Johns’ surgery, knee surgery, and his latest set back that the Rays stood behind him and kept him on their roster. Some other teams might have cut loose years ago, but the Rays felt they needed to get Baldelli and themselves on steady ground before committing to a future deal. Both sides will probable settle on an incentive laced agreement with playing time and offensive statistics playing heavy on the deal.
Eric Hinske came to the Rays and provided ample protction on the offensive side for the club while they searched for a right-handed bat for rightfield. With the renewed health of Baldelli, it gave Hinske less time in the field, and he was primarily a bench player after the trading deadline. Hinske will probably noy be with the club in 2009, and will seek more playing time either in the outfield or at third base on another squad.
One of the fee agent signees’ of 2008 that will not be back with the club might be Cliff Floyd. It was discovered during the World Series during Game 3 that Floyd had injured his shoulder in that contest while batting. He tried and rehab the shoulder before Game 4, but the Rays decided to de-activate Floyd and put Hinske on the 25-man World Series roster.
This injury was first thought to be career ending for Floyd, but recent reports have come out that if he opts for surgery, he might be ready in time for 2009 Spring Training. By refusing his $ 2.75 million dollar 2009 club option, it frees up money for the club to pursue another DH candidate for the Rays in 2009. Floyd has not stated if he intends to pursue the Rays as a free agent again in 2009, but he will have the surgery to repair his Labium tear in the coming weeks.
A club option that was turned down for Rays reliever Trever Miller might have more than a few heads turing or scratching this week. The team had a 2009 club option that would have paid him $ 2 million in salary for the season. The move might be a financial one, or it might be a sign that the Rays might want to look elsewhere for their lefty specialist. There have been rumors that the Rays still like miller and might resign him to a reduced contract before Spring Training.
Another rumor flying across the Internet is that the Rays are going to make a run at Atlanta Braves’ left-handed reliever Will Ohman, who the Rays tried to trade for duting the trade deadline in August of 2008. Because of the Rays intense involvement in trying to get Ohman earlier in the season, this might be a precursor to signing him.
Then there is the rumor starting to gain steam that the Rays might part with leftfielder, and 2-time All Star, Carl Crawford in a trade with the Colorado Rockies for Matt Holliday. Crawford is about to hit the high dollar marks for the Rays, and by trading him and maybe a major league ready pitching prospect, the team might be able to free enough salary space to afford the power bat of Holliday in rightfield for the Rays.
Alot of this depends on what the Rockies will ask for in return for Holliday. I think that a package with Crawford and maybe even a Edwin Jackson or Andy Sonnanstine might be attractive to the Rockies. They would get a replacement for Holliday, and get an upgrade in their starting rotation immediately.
I will keep my ear to the ground and see what happens with this rumor. Do not forget that the Rays saved up to 2.5 million by refusing their two club options for 2009, and relieving themselves of Crawford’s 2009 salary of $ 8.25 million dollars would free up about $ 10.75 million. Hollidays 2009 salary is set at about $ 13.5 million dollars.