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Just got a note from my favorite source today. Remember our New York barber friend who’s in tight with Octavio Dotel? My source got another haircut today, and Dotel’s preference was revealed to be the Yankees.
According to my source, both the barber and another friend of Dotel’s were confident that the reliever wants to pitch for the Yankees. In addition, Dotel believes he will be ready to pitch by opening day.
Signing Dotel could make up for the Yanks’ failure to get Rudy Seanez and would give them a strikeout heavy, dominant bullpen. In Mariano Rivera, Kyle Farnsworth, and Octavio Dotel, the Yankees would have three men capable of closing games. It could be reminiscent of the famous Lidge-Dotel-Wagner trio.
No new word on Dotel’s merengue album at this time.
Update: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Yanks are closing in on a one-year, $2MM deal with Dotel. Looks like the reliever got his wish. Rosenthal mentions a possible June return to a Major League mound for Dotel; based on my info I think it’ll happen in May.
Thanks to Dan
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick spoke to Adam Eaton last week, and his article definitely gives the vibe that the righthander won’t be staying in San Diego past 2006.
Eaton’s opinion of the Padres’ three-year, $17MM offer?
"It was almost like a slap in the face compared to what I’m capable of doing."
That’s an amusing statement. Here’s my translation:
"I’ve pitched almost 800 Major League innings and have posted a medicore 4.35 ERA for my career. I’ve never pitched more than 200 innings or had an ERA below 4 in a season, in a pitcher’s ballpark to boot. But since I’m under 30 and don’t completely suck, I’m worth at least $10MM per season. I’m insulted that you’ve only offered me $5MM per season."
Given that impressive resume, it’s no surprise teams are beating down the door to acquire Eaton. No, really, they are. These are the interested parties, according to Crasnick:
Thoughts on a few of these suitors:
The Rangers have been shaky about including both Gerald Laird and Adrian Gonzalez to get a deal done, and they reportedly backed out of such a deal earlier this month. Eaton has been below average in home run prevention throughout his career, so I’m not sure he’s the best fit for Ameriquest. But Texas can’t count on Vicente Padilla to fill the void left by Kenny Rogers, so it’s likely they’ll bring another starter in this winter.
If Eaton could remain healthy, he’d give Washington solid starting pitching depth. 1-5, it’d go John Patterson, Livan Hernandez, Eaton, Brian Lawrence, and Ryan Drese. Top prospect Mike Hinckley will need some time before he’s ready to step in. A swap of Ryan Church for Eaton sounds like fair value to me, and Church would be a nice fit in left field for the Pads.
I’m not sure that the Cubs have what Padres GM Kevin Towers would want for Eaton. Plus, the point of Hendry adding another starter was seemingly to add a durable pitcher to the mix in the event that Kerry Wood can’t make 30 starts. Eaton is anything but durable.
According to ESPN.com and other sources, the Dodgers have signed Nomar Garciaparra to a one-year deal worth between $6 and $8MM. He’ll play first base, a position he’s never played in his Major League career. The move from shortstop to first shouldn’t be a major hurdle. Grady Little will have an extra infielder on his hands when Cesar Izturis returns, but that’s not really a bad thing.
The Dodgers have begun to craft a solid veteran lineup. They will be relying on the health of players like Garciaparra, J.D. Drew, and possibly Reggie Sanders.
With Garciaparra off the free agent market, the options are slim for the Orioles and Astros. Both have vacancies they hoped to fill via free agency. The Astros will likely settle for Rondell White or Juan Encarnacion for their outfield. A signing would illustrate a lack of confidence in Jeff Bagwell‘s ability to play first base on a regular basis. A retirement would be a classy move by Bagwell that would save the team $17MM. Obviously he’s entitled to the full terms of his contract, but maybe the team can convince him to retire with a $10MM buyout. The Astros are already on the hook for Bagwell’s $7MM buyout for 2008.
This offseason, the Orioles managed to snag the best available catcher in Ramon Hernandez and upset Javy Lopez in the process. Look for Lopez to be shipped off in what’s become a buyer’s market. After all, Bengie Molina is still available and could take a one year deal at this point. Lopez will make $8.5MM in the last year of his contract in 2006. Lopez could be a decent fit in San Diego should the Padres realize that Doug Mirabelli is not a starting catcher.
A Damon signing doesn’t make sense for the Orioles at this point, who probably don’t have the players to place better than 4th in the AL East. The O’s should ship catcher Eli Whiteside and/or a mid-level pitching prospect off to Philadelphia for Jason Michaels. They can promote outfielder Nick Markakis by midseason to round out the outfield.
Hee Seop Choi, a remnant of the DePodesta Administration, is a lame duck at first base for the Dodgers. The club has nowhere to play Choi and no desire to keep him around. Where could the Korean 1B end up this winter?
The Athletics figure to split time at first base between Nick Swisher and mostly Dan Johnson. However, one of them could play DH and the starting job could be handed to Choi. Bargain players with something to prove are right up Billy Beane’s alley, as evidenced by the Milton Bradley trade.
Choi would also fit nicely in the low pressure environment of Tampa Bay. If Travis Lee doesn’t accept arbitration with the D-Rays, they could plug Choi in and give him at least 400 ABs at first. Choi’s prospect window is closing after 363 Major League games, but he’s never gotten more than 320 at-bats in a season. It would be a low-risk, high-reward move similar to the Sean Burroughs trade.
A couple of readers have been asking about Japanese gyroball pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. Is he still available for posting? Is there any chance he comes to the U.S. for 2006? I assumed he would come over, naming him the best available free agent pitcher (excluding Clemens). The always helpful Gary Garland of Japan Baseball Daily was willing to answer our questions.
On Matsuzaka’s 2006:
Matsuzaka just signed a new contract with Seibu and will not be posted this offseason. Seibu seems to be now saying that they are going to make Matsuzaka wait until he is a free agent, but I think the situation is a little more fluid than that.
On a Mets fan favorite, Kaz Ishii:
Incidentally, a little housekeeping matter: according to Hochi Sports, Kazuhisa Ishii has decided to re-sign with Yakult.
On the Hawaiin Winter League:
Finally, it looks like the Hawaiin Winter League will be revived. In tha past, Japanese teams have sent players to that league for a little extra seasoning. Among past graduates of that league is Ichiro Suzuki.The Korean pro league will also send some youngsters to be part of the four team circuit, according to Nikkan Sports.
As always, thanks for the informative Japanese baseball info, Gary.
Good stuff today from my main Astros guy.
First off, the Astros are talking to the White Sox about what it would take to acquire Jon Garland. It’s well known that Garland is on the market, and the Astros do have some interesting young arms that are sure to come up in the discussion. Southpaw Troy Patton had a nice run in high Class A this year, and righty Jason Hirsh righted the ship at Double A Corpus Christi. Both pitchers are very highly regarded by Baseball America. Assuming a well-rested Roger Clemens rejoins the Astros in June, the team could once again rest its playoff hopes on starting pitching.
My source also mentioned that Nomar Garciaparra has narrowed his suitors down to the Dodgers and Astros. I admit, the Astros didn’t cross my mind back in September as a possible destination for the game’s current best available free agent (Clemens excluded). I still think a two-year deal is in order.
Today, a source close to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays updated me on their efforts to trade Joey Gathright. The word is that the Marlins and Dodgers are the frontrunners, while the Rangers and Cubs are still "in the mix."
Three days ago, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com mentioned that the Marlins could send Scott Olsen to the Rays for Gathright. Gathright essentially is Juan Pierre, and the Marlins would have a formidable 1-5 in their order, believe it or not. Call me crazy, but the Fish are a few well-timed breakouts, reliever success stories, and a couple of miracles away from sniffing .500 in ’06. I know you’re probably bookmarking this story right now to disparage me at the end of the season for hinting that the Marlins could be a .500 team.
Anyway, it’s unclear to my source whether the Marlins actually offered Olsen for Gathright. He did mention that the Devil Rays like Olsen a lot, despite his late-season elbow inflammation. Olsen flashed huge strikeout potential in the minors, and jumped past Triple A this year to start four games for the Marlins.
The Dodgers’ interest probably hinges on Kenny Lofton‘s decision, as L.A. has an offer out to him. The Cubs seem an unlikely destination. Plugging in Gathright could result in a severely power-deficient outfield. Gathright would be a nice fit for Texas, and could score a boatload of runs fronting that lineup.
I caught wind of a December 14th James Renwick article by way of loyal reader Brian today. According to Renwick, "Shawn Green is going to be dealt, probably to the Chicago Cubs, in the next couple of days." Keep in mind that Green has a no-trade clause that stipulates he can veto a trade to any team besides the Angels, Dodgers, and Padres. It’s been said that Green’s wife prefers to live in Arizona or California, although it should be noted that Green is from Des Plaines, IL.
The D’Backs would love to trade Green, but it won’t be easy. I’m still pretty confident that the Cubs’ new RF will be one of the eligible players from this list. As mentioned then, it appears that the frontrunners for the job are Aubrey Huff, Kevin Mench, and Craig Monroe. Preston Wilson, Juan Encarnacion, and Jacque Jones are also legitimate possibilities.