In his latest column, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark writes that Astros players have told their friends on other teams that they already think Roger Clemens' arrival in Houston is a done deal. An old friend of Clemens himself also told Stark that he is convinced The Rocket is gearing up for a big league comeback. Here's more from Stark..
- The Dodgers have $181.3MM committed to 17 players for next season, putting them at $3.3MM over the $178MM tax threshold. However, team president Stan Kasten says that he isn't terribly concerned about it. "I don't know. It's not something we've focused on yet," he said. "To us, that's a secondary issue. First, we want to put the best team on the field now and worry about other things later. We're not focusing on that yet." In the long term, Dodgers' brass wants to lean heavily on scouting and player development with a payroll close to what other teams in "similar markets" have, according to Kasten.
- The Red Sox are giving agents and other teams the vibe that they aren't in a rush to spend just because of their new found payroll space. People who have talked with Boston predict that they're more likely to make creative moves this offseason rather than eat an undesirable contract like that of a Joe Mauer or Cliff Lee.
- Speaking of Mauer one exec that checked in on him says trade talk surrounding the catcher lately is "garbage." As for Lee, Stark writes that he is also likely to stay as the Phillies made it clear earlier this year that they have no interest in moving him.
- Stark asked an AL scout and an NL scout about their thoughts on Dan Haren, who will be a free agent after the Angels buy out his final option year. Both said that while there are concerns about his velocity and his all-around stuff, he could be an intriguing one-year pickup at the right price.
- The scouts were also asked about Jeremy Guthrie and neither scout was terribly high on him. The NL scout pointed out his high volume of mistakes over the plate but said that he would install him in the back of a rotation on a one-year deal. The AL scout on the other hand said he would rather take his chances with Daisuke Matsuzaka or Haren.