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What day had the highest readership so far this offseason (yesterday)? How many visitors? - Corbin
Yesterday we had about 200K pageviews, which still pales in comparison to the second day of the Winter Meetings (over 736K pageviews). I am hoping to break this record on July 31st.
There seems to be more of a trend lately for teams to step up and extend key players before they reach free agency. Will this trend continue, and will the FA market at the end of 2008 end up looking as bare as the past market was? Does the Player's Association have any concerns with this trend and the effect it could have on salaries (if any)? - The Stork
I can't speak for the Player's Association, but I can't see what they could do about it even if they were concerned. Players like security, teams like cost certainty and possible discounts. I think the trend will continue. Look at the Cubs with Aramis Ramirez. They let him hit free agency and signed him at 5/75, but could've done better if they signed him earlier.
I was wondering if you really see a place for Coco Crisp somewhere other than Boston. - Tim
The Cardinals, Reds, White Sox, and A's are four possibilities I can think of, and all of these destinations have reasons against. With Crisp under contract through 2010 (assuming his option is exercised), Theo should be in no hurry despite whatever Crisp's agent says.
You clearly need to pay attention to the local press for each team to sniff out trade rumors across baseball. We all know which markets have the heaviest media coverage of their baseball teams. Which markets do you find have the lightest local media coverage? - Kevin
The Orioles seem a bit light from my vantage point - it's only really the Sun getting scoops. The A's are neglected, but fortunately we have Susan Slusser on the beat. The Marlins seem really light to me on blog coverage.
Are there any truth to the rumors that the Chicago White Sox are shopping outfielder Brian Anderson? I have heard that the Cincinnati Reds are a possible destination for him. How would Anderson fit into the Reds plans and what type of package would net a player like Anderson? - Rob
Haven't heard the Reds rumor, Rob. I guess he could make sense for them just to add some depth. Given that Anderson does not have a role on the White Sox, the price should be low. A minor league pitcher or two that I've never heard of.
Tim, what teams do you think had the three best offseasons? The three worst? Thanks! - Judy
The magnitude of the Santana trade has to put the Mets in as one of the three best. I know it's simplistic but I will take the D'Backs and Tigers as the other two, just for adding impact players via trade without hurting their MLB clubs. The Royals are among my worst. I didn't like the Guillen and Olivo signings or the trade of Billy Buckner. The Astros signed Kaz Matsui, didn't get any starting pitching, and traded the farm for Miguel Tejada (who has a few issues). I will also nominate the Pirates, who mostly just sat around.
I know Josh Fogg is not a big-name guy, but do you have anything on his status? - Clay
It's been strangely quiet on the Fogg front. Interest was mostly confined to the Reds. Maybe they'll still get him at a discount. Or maybe he'll re-up with Colorado.
Who are the early favorites of guys who could be moved come July 31st with contracts ending? - Greg
Joe Crede, Mark Ellis, Mark Grudzielanek, Orlando Hudson, Felipe Lopez, Milton Bradley, Adam Dunn, Ryan Dempster, Matt Morris, Mike Mussina, Brian Fuentes, and Damaso Marte are my picks.
Is there any chance of Twins trying to sign another starting pitcher? Without Santanna it leaves Liriano, Bonser, Baker, Slowey for sure to start it seems. It really seems to look like the 4 and 5 spots are going to be filled with unproven pitchers. Is maybe Livan Hernandez or one of the other guys the Mets were looking at a possibility? - Nate
I hadn't thought of this Nate but a bargain veteran does seem possible. Tony Armas Jr., Eric Milton, Jeff Weaver, Odalis Perez, some random $3MM guy like that. Probably not Livan and definitely not Kyle Lohse.
Now that the Johan Santana business is pretty much done with, what are you going to do now? -04Forever
The rumors never stop. They just keep coming and coming and coming. There's never a letup, It's relentless. Every day they pile up more and more, but the more you get out, the more they keep coming. And then the bar code reader breaks. And then it's Publisher's Clearinghouse day.
I want to do regular Wednesday mailbags, but skipped last week's. Sorry 'bout that. Submit your mailbag questions to email@example.com. Just to mix it up let's keep the questions Johan/Bedard/Roberts-free this week.
Time for this week's mailbag. You can hit it up at firstname.lastname@example.org to get in your question for next week.
Do you see the Twins signing a big name middle of the order bopper or trading for one before the opening of the new stadium in 2010? - Jordan
Funny you ask this. I recently asked LEN3 whether the Twins would have a $100MM payroll for the 2010 season, and he said, "I don't see it." So I'll go with his wisdom and say business as usual for the Twins despite the stadium.
Why are the White Sox not aggressively pursuing any pitching? Do they realistically think that Gavin Floyd and John Danks can hold down the #4 and #5 spots in the rotation on a contender? I believe we need to fill the holes with some veteran pitching such as Livan Hernandez who can eat up innings and possibly add Corey Patterson at center field. - Joel
I was just discussing this with a former coworker of mine. I can't see the White Sox sneaking into a Wild Card berth with this rotation, but what's the alternative? I don't like the Livan idea. I would consider signing a couple of swingmen/injury risk types such as Brett Tomko or Bartolo Colon if he looks decent. Just a few low risk/OK reward guys with good stuff who could pay off. There's no place for Patterson in the current Chicago outfield, I wouldn't do that.
Were the Cubs holding off on the Brian Roberts trade until they got Lieber? - Bryant
The Cubs/Roberts thing still seems possible, and trading both Sean Marshall and Sean Gallagher is slightly easier to stomach with Lieber on board. If I were Jim Hendry I would let the whole Roberts idea go though.
What is the likelihood of the Braves signing Mark Teixeira long-term? - Matthew
I'll put it at a 10% chance. This is a $100MM+ contract and he's represented by Scott Boras. He'll probably want to test the open market, and there could be some ridiculous bids.
When, just when will this Santana situation be over?! It's just killing me! - Dan
We all feel your pain Dan. Most folks seem sick of reading similar rehashed rumors about this. I would be surprised if we don't know Santana's fate one month from now. Of course if his fate is to start the season with the Twins, then the rumors will restart in June.
Are there any trade rumors involving Joe Nathan? - Justin
C'mon Justin, you know I'd never hold out rumors on you. If Bill Smith is shopping Nathan around or getting inquiries, all parties are running very tight ships. Desperation for closers seems to kick in midseason, when certain bullpens are established as clearly crappy. So guys like Nathan and Huston Street may be more likely to be moved in June or July.
Why did the Josh Beckett/Mike Lowell for Hank Blalock/John Danks deal fall through back in November of '05? - Oliver
The Rangers believed the deal was done, and hoped to avoid any leaks before it was official. However, a source tipped off the Palm Beach Post. The Post and a Texas newspaper ran with it. It was at that point the Boston front office found out, swooped in, and beat the Rangers' offer. Those reporters altered history.
What do you see the Milwaukee Brewers doing with their pitching surplus? Do you see them maybe using some of their excess pitchers like Capuano and Bush to acquire a young catcher with some upside? - Tyler
We've seen it a million times - these winter pitching surpluses turn into deficits by May. There is certainly a case to be made for the Brewers to just stand pat, though all those arms would be tough to squeeze in given the bullpen acquisitions. MLB.com's Adam McCalvy expects some of the surplus to be traded before Spring Training. I like the catcher idea - Jeff Clement (Mariners), Bryan Anderson (Cardinals), or Taylor Teagarden/Gerald Laird (Rangers) seem like possible matches.
Do the Yankees sign Bobby Abreu after the 2008 season? - Andrew
Andrew notes that the Yanks have some money coming off the books after the '08 season. The right field alternatives are weak, so Abreu could make sense. If he'd take a two or three-year extension midseason I could see Cashman doing it.
Did you ever sell your place in Lombard? - Steve
Thankfully I did. I tried selling by owner for a month and barely got any bites. Then I hired an agent and she sold it in three days.
As I mentioned earlier, I'm going to make the MLBTR mailbag a regular Wednesday feature. I noticed in the recent survey that some folks were bummed that their questions don't get answered whether sent to the mailbag or my personal address. Unfortunately with hundreds of questions coming in I can only take a handful. A great alternative would be the discussion board on MLBTR's Facebook page.
I've got a new email address for this purpose: email@example.com. Send in the questions, and I'll answer some later today.
Let's dig into the MLBTR mailbag once again. You could ask a question by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
What moves would you like to see the Rockies make to improve their starting rotation? - Sean
The Rockies seem to have decent rotation depth - Aaron Cook, Jeff Francis, Jason Hirsh, Ubaldo Jimenez, Franklin Morales, Taylor Buchholz, even Kip Wells and Mark Redman. I would like to see Dan O'Dowd toss an injury-recovering free agent into the mix. The one I like is Rodrigo Lopez. He was quietly very solid for a half-season in Colorado this year. He had surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his elbow in August but there's no timetable quite yet. Adding a wrinkle is that Scott Boras represents him.
Why don't the White Sox go after Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon or something like that? - Tim
Two clubs that have seen Colon's medical reports and/or price tag have already backed off (Astros, Rangers). The Cardinals, Nationals, and Mets may have lingering interest, but we don't have great information here. How healthy is he? Would he take a one-year deal? On December 4th, Bill Ladson suggested he was not open to one year. Anyway, I like the idea of Colon returning to the White Sox in theory, and they've got the money and need, but it's hard for an outsider to say whether this is a good investment.
I read a piece last night that noted the Yankees have pulled Robinson Cano from winter ball. Do you think there is a chance that the Yanks are holding him up while he is doing well (Cano was hitting .389 in 9 games) and considering a revised offer that would include him in a Santana deal? - Steve
While there is a chance, this doesn't seem likely to me. I've always read that Phil Hughes was the one Yankee the Twins had to have in a Santana deal, and including Cano would probably mean he's out. Plus Cano has two years of service time, so he's more expensive than Hughes.
Let's open up the MLBTR mailbag until some new rumors come along.
I won't necessarily agree with you when you say that Tom Glavine was a bad signing. By adding Glavine, it gives the Braves three solid options at the top of their rotation. - David
I don't disagree that Glavine adds depth on a reasonably priced one-year deal. What changed my opinion of this signing was the loss of the Braves' 18th overall draft pick in 2008 - to the Mets.
Does it/should it matter that if the Red Sox trade Coco Crisp, there will be zero African American players on the team? - Kevin
Is this accurate? I haven't thoroughly combed Boston's roster. C.C. Sabathia has expressed concern about this trend across baseball - only 8.5% of Major Leaguers are African American. Red Sox owner John Henry has acknowledged the team's obvious past racial intolerance, and said all the right things. This is a tough issue and I don't have answers, but let's not point fingers at the current Red Sox regime either.
Why don't the Mets come to their senses and realize that Livan Hernandez is the best option available to them via the free agent market? - Josh
I can almost see Livan being the best available free agent for the Mets, but that doesn't mean he's a good idea. Signing him seems like doing something just to do something. How much better is Livan than Kevin Mulvey right now? I would gauge the cost of Joe Blanton or A.J. Burnett but probably wouldn't dip into the free agent market.
With the looming return of Nick Johnson to the Nationals, the glut of outfielders in Austin Kearns, Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge, and Wily Mo Pena, and the contract Dmitri Young signed last summer, who becomes the odd man out? I know Young can play OF, but with the three new acquisitions this past six months does this make Johnson expendable? Is there a matchup between the Nats and Giants for Johnson?
On the surface it appears that the Nats have six players for four spots. However using Dmitri in left seems kind of crazy to me. So really I consider it as Dmitri and Johnson battling at first base and Kearns/Dukes/Milledge/Pena fighting for the outfield spots. I could definitely see injuries/bad Dukes behavior removing this logjam. But if everyone's healthy and lawful you have to look to move the more expensive guys.
Young makes $5MM in '08, $5MM in '09, and has a very possible vesting option for '10 at $6MM. Johnson makes $5.5MM in '08 and $5.5MM in '09 and is talking about being ready for Spring Training after his terrible leg fracture in '06. If so, Young becomes a pricey bench player. Kearns makes $5MM in '08, $8MM in '09, and has a $10MM club option for '10 with a $1MM buyout.
Dmitri has the least trade value, given his age and defensive limitations. Plus, no one offered much for him at the '07 deadline. Johnson is injury-prone but makes for an intriguing buy-low high-OBP candidate. If the Giants are trying to contend, he'd be a good fit. Kearns is interesting but needs to rebuild value after an off year. I think Jim Bowden will play Kearns and Johnson regularly for the first few months of '08 and trade one of them.
Feel free to hit up the MLBTR mailbag at email@example.com.
Do you think it is really in the Reds' best interest to even talk about moving a prospect such as Homer Bailey or Joey Votto for Erik Bedard? - Ryan
If it's a deal centered around Bailey and Votto, then yes. The NL Central is winnable and neither player is a sure thing. Bedard could be a Cy Young contender in that division.
In terms of "interesting rumblings" that come up at the end of the winter meetings, with new potential deals in the mix, what is circling around about the Angels? I haven't heard a thing about any deals and logic has to suggest that they are at least TRYING to get a big bat somewhere. - Scott
I agree, the Angels' hot stove has been very quiet lately. I would not be surprised to see them get Scott Rolen though. Troy Glaus is another one I could see.
Where do you see Fukudome signing and when do you think it will happen? - Terrence
I see Fukudome landing with the Cubs at three years, $42MM. I think it happens this week.
Have the White Sox given up on Brian Anderson? Despite the fact he is not hitting, he is such a gazelle in CF. Have they considered trading him? What is the current situation? - Karena
Yes, I think they've given up on him. Anderson and the White Sox just don't see eye to eye. I would be surprised if he's not traded before Opening Day.
This is such a pathetic question: What does each number mean when you write something like "He hit .267/.305/.441 for the..."? Sigh, I feel embarrassed even asking. - Amish
That is not a dumb question at all - it's my fault for not being more clear. When I do the "triple slash" stats like that it refers to AVG/OBP/SLG.
Who do you see Alexei Ramirez signing with...Not much has been said about him so far this off season. Do you think the Cardinals might be players with him or not? - Alireza
I don't see the Cards going after him; their priority is starting pitching. I could see the White Sox getting Ramirez. He could compete for the second base job if the Sox trade Juan Uribe. He might be able to help out in center field, and the presence of fellow Cuban defector Jose Contreras might help his transition to the United States.
What happened to the Needs/Luxuries postings for each team? I really enjoyed reading them. And as a Phils fan I was looking forward to other opinions on what the team needs/doesn't need. - Mike
It's been a while since I made a new entry in this series, due to the demands of the Winter Meetings and other things. Look for them to resume around January.
Any teams rumored to be interested in Juan Pierre? - Eric
Chris DeLuca thinks he might be a fit for the White Sox. I wouldn't be surprised if the Sox are at least mulling him over. It's the four more years that's the problem. Many teams might get involved if it was one or two years. The Rangers have also been connected to Pierre, but I think he stays put.
I'd like to hear your thoughts in further depth about the Milledge trade by the Mets. - Mike
My feeling is that if Schneider and Church was the best Omar Minaya could get, he was better off keeping Milledge to play right field. Milledge isn't even 23; he hasn't really gotten a chance. And being cocky seems to be the worst offense he's committed recently. I would've just made Castro the full-time catcher and tried Milledge in right.
The Orioles have said they want to rebuild around young pitching, so why is there zero talk about trading Nick Markakis for Lincecum or Cain? - David
I could almost see this working, but building around young pitching doesn't mean you have to trade your star outfielder. Markakis was quietly excellent as a 23 year-old. Swapping him for Lincecum adds risk for the Orioles. Also, he's a fan/Peter Angelos favorite from what I've read.
Please, please, please get rid of the white on black. let me know when you do. - Matthew
Maybe one day...but in a survey this year 2/3 of MLBTR readers said to keep it the way it is. I know 2/3 isn't an overwhelming majority. But I feel the white on black has become part of the MLBTR brand. Only thing I don't like about it is that it might make it harder for you to covertly read at work.
Things have slowed down just a bit lately on the hot stove. Maybe we can try to bust out the ol' mailbag. Email me a question at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, you can hit up the MLBTR mailbag at email@example.com. September and October are good months for mailbag questions given the relative hot stove inactivity.
John P. writes:
What do you see the Braves doing about finding some starting pitching next season? The gaping hole this year can't be allowed to continue. Do they have anyone left in the minors? We all know about the free agent situation this winter, or lack thereof.
First let's talk about who's under contract and locked in for the '08 rotation.
There's Mike Hampton, who will earn a whopping $15MM in '08 (all of it paid by the Braves unfortunately). The 35 year-old southpaw had Tommy John surgery but hopes to be ready by Spring Training. The Braves might be able to pencil him into the #5 slot if he impresses in winter ball. But they can't really count on him for anything.
Tim Hudson's signed at $13MM for '08. His excellent '07 season has been a huge surprise to me. Even with some mild regression Hudson should be quite good.
John Smoltz is locked in at $14MM. Wow, this is shaping up to be a pricey rotation. Smoltz will be 41 next season and spent time on the DL this year with shoulder inflammation. It''s hard to argue with results but you have to be a little concerned that he can keep doing this for another two years.
Chuck James is the #3, and he's nice and cheap still. He had a DL stint this year with a tired arm/tight shoulder.
That's where it starts getting iffy. Other pitchers given starts by Atlanta this year: Buddy Carlyle, Kyle Davies, Lance Cormier, Jo-Jo Reyes, Mark Redman, and Anthony Lerew. Of those who remain with the team there are none you feel comfortable penciling in as the #4 (which could become the #3 if Smoltz or James return to the DL in '08). Carlyle, Cormier, and Reyes have not been effective in the bigs. Davies and Redman are with other teams and Lerew went down with TJ surgery. Of the group, Reyes seems most likely to contribute. Matt Harrison was the team's best pitching prospect, and he's gone to Texas in the Teixeira deal.
Bottom line: the Braves need to come up with one starter to bridge the gap between Smoltz-Hudson-James and the fifth guy.
Free agency does present options. Tom Glavine could finish his career in Atlanta. John Schuerholz could make an injury play like Matt Clement, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Randy Wolf, Jaret Wright, or Jason Jennings. They could hit up Japan for Koji Uehara. They've had interest in Carlos Silva and Livan Hernandez in the past.
The Braves could reignite trade talks for Bronson Arroyo, Jon Garland, Carl Pavano, or Jose Contreras. Edgar Renteria could be the best trading chip, though he doesn't work for all those teams. Unfortunately the Braves don't have much to deal beyond Renteria. The Braves liked Kei Igawa last winter, and could engage the Yankees on that topic. The Yankees don't really seem to have a place for Igawa in their 2008 rotation.
If you're a Braves fan, you shouldn't be terribly concerned. The Braves need one starter, and Schuerholz could go in a million different directions.
Feel free to hit up the mailbag at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rusty from San Diego writes:
Given the large list of potential free agent CFs for 2008, which teams do you think are likely to replace from within the organization, which ones are likely to retain their current guy with a new deal, and which are likely to sign one of the many free agents? Who is going to make the biggest splash in the CF market? Who is going to make the biggest mistake?
Interesting question. First, a review of available players who can play center:
At the least, we have to figure out what the Mariners, Braves, Twins, Orioles, Phillies, Padres, and Rangers will do in center field. Other teams that could acquire a CF: Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox, Nationals, Marlins, and Pirates. About 9 CFs (if you count Byrnes and Patterson), anywhere from 7-13 teams with a possible need. A lot of different combinations.
Mariners - Bring up Adam Jones to play center field; let Ichiro go. Jones, hitting .318/.388/.594 in Triple A before his 22nd birthday, is the real deal. The Ms could always retain Ichiro and use him in right field, but I see them as more likely to invest in pitching this offseason as a reaction to their current staff.
Braves - Sign Cameron, let Andruw go. This has been speculated by Ken Rosenthal and others, and it makes perfect sense to me. For the Braves' sake, hopefully a two-year contract.
Twins - Sign Lofton, let Hunter go. The first part is just a guess, but the Twins are never big spenders and I don't see anyone who can step up from within. Bradley could be another option here. The Twins are still in a pennant race, so they can't afford to trade Hunter for a prospect-type CF.
Orioles - Sign Andruw Jones, let Patterson go. Could Andruw be the next face of the franchise? Miguel Tejada may be on his way out, and acquiring/signing Mark Teixeira is no small task. If the O's get Matt Wieters signed, negotiating with Boras on a huge deal like Andruw's seems more possible. Plus, Andy MacPhail and the Cubs have never had issues with Boras. I'll call this one the biggest mistake.
Phillies - Let Rowand go, fill internally. The Phils have two solid center field candidates in Michael Bourn and Shane Victorino, so I think Rowand is a goner.
Padres - Sign Rowand, let Cameron go. Just a guess here, I have to fit the pieces somehow. We know the Padres have some interest in Rowand, and they seem unlikely to pony up for one of the Big Three.
Rangers - Sign Hunter, let Lofton go. Will Jon Daniels use 2008 as a rebuilding year? It seems unlikely to me, given some of the large unmovable contracts on the roster. Why not add another in Hunter? Vernon Wells is no longer an option, and the Rangers don't have anyone in the pipeline. Andruw could certainly make sense here too.
Red Sox - Continue using Crisp, promote Jacoby Ellsbury early in the season. I think the pressure of being Boston's Opening Day CF could be too much for Ellsbury, but waiting a month or two could alleviate the pressure. That's about the most the Sox could take of Crisp. Slight chance of a stopgap insurance plan like Bradley or Lofton.
Yankees - Stick with Damon. Not ideal, but the Yanks are locked in with Damon and may have much more pressing needs to fill this winter.
White Sox - Sign Ichiro. This just seems right. It would help bring some attention back to the South Side following what could be a very ugly second half. Any kind of fire sale is going to leave fans bitter, and making a splash with Ichiro could help ease the pain of losing Mark Buehrle. Of course, Rowand remains a strong option as well. I'll call this one the biggest splash.
Nationals - Sign Patterson. Toolsy, Bowden's type (assuming Bowden is still around). My guess is that C-Patt's awful '07 coupled with the surplus of available CFs leaves him with a weak Ron Belliard type deal. As a Boras client, he'll probably be encouraging to sign for only one year as an attempt to re-establish value.
Marlins - Fill position without free agency. It's been a while since the Fish had a decent, regular CF. I predict that by the end of this season, they'll acquire a young player. Could be Elijah Dukes, could be Matt Kemp via a Dontrelle Willis trade, who knows.
Pirates - I was going to conveniently slide Eric Byrnes in here, but that doesn't make sense. Byrnes is set to snag a three-year deal. Let's sidestep him by saying he signs on somewhere to play a corner position. The Bucs will perhaps employ some sort of stopgap and hope Andrew McCutchen is ready by All-Star break '08 or even sooner. The kid needs to figure out Double A first though. He's only 20.
Weigh in below! How would you sort this thing out?