MLB Winter Meetings: What's The Deal?

Alan ThomsonCorrespondent IDecember 5, 2008

Ever since I was a kid I’ve wondered what exactly the deal was with the baseball winter meetings. Yeah, I know that it’s where GMs get together to discuss trades and meet with players’ agents and whatnot.

I guess I just never quite understood why the meetings were necessary.

The other fifty-one weeks out of the year, deals are made just fine over the phone. Is there something about Walt Jocketty being able to gaze into the eyes of Dave Dombrowski when discussing a deal that somehow adds to the transaction?

I keep trying to get a picture in my mind of how exactly things happen there. For example, what is the format? Is it like GM speed dating?

“Hi. I’m Brian Cashman. I’m looking for a starting pitcher to spend the next seven years with. I enjoy fastballs, sinkers and sliders. I offer a fat wallet, a brand new home to play in and all the media attention a person could ever want.”

Or is it less formal?

Will Jim Hendry just happen to bump into Kevin Towers in the Bellagio lobby where they’ll decide to catch a show, play a few slots and end up at a strip club talking about Jake Peavy while getting lap dances? Talk about a man thinking about baseball in order to keep his mind preoccupied.

And how must Scott Boras feel?

Does he slink about with his hand over his drink so no one drops something unmentionable into it? I can just see him sitting there as a couple of nearby GMs try to control their laughter while another strolls by and flips him off behind his back.

Although you do have to admire Boras’ ability to inflate the asking price of his players so high that when they are finally signed, for less money than his original demand but still far more than they’re worth, GMs are left feeling as though they’ve gotten a four-hour prostate exam, but at a bargain price.

And why are this year’s meetings being held in Las Vegas, by the way? What kind of message does that send to fans, children and Pete Rose?

Of course the biggest star of the 2008 meetings is C.C. Sabathia, who is still dragging his feet over whether to accept the Yankees offer. Apparently a $140 million contract is not something a fellow haphazardly rushes into.

And then there is Manny Ramirez, who, by the way, happens to be represented by Boras, waiting for the call that his four-year, $100 million contract is inked and awaiting his signature.

What must that relationship be like, I wonder, with Manny being Manny and Scott being Scott?

Although as Manny’s agent, when negotiating on his behalf, Scott has to be Scott being Manny. Scratch that. Scott being Scott has to be Scott being Scott being Manny being Manny. Is it even possible to measure the beastliness of such a creature?

At least with the meetings taking place in Las Vegas there is hope that a couple of fun stories will emerge.

Perhaps Drayton McLain will gamble away his ownership stake in the Astros to Peter Magowan. Or maybe Omar Minaya will get caught slipping down to the sportsbook to lay a bundle on his team to win the Series, just before announcing the signing of C.C. Sabathia, Manny Ramirez and Mark Teixeira.

To be honest, I don’t really care whether Major League Baseball has its winter meetings or not. I’m still not convinced of their necessity, but they do tend to make for some interesting reading.