The MLB Hot Stove action is starting to pick up to the speed of the snow falling outside.
Apologies to those in snow-heavy areas worse than Northeast Ohio, and no apologies to those in the sunshine and nice weather, you lucky dogs.
The Winter Meetings get going in Las Vegas this week and General Managers are going to be gambling heavily this week.
No, I don’t mean at the blackjack table or on the slot machines.
Unless you plan on sticking a coin in CC Sabathia and getting a strikeout.
That sounds like a good idea actually. Not sure CC would go for it though.
Let's get to the stories before I further embarrass myself with lame jokes about Tom Mastny being sent to Japan.
Furcal for the Taking
Oakland missed its chance of making the first and second biggest splash of the offseason by acquiring Rafael Furcal via Free Agency.
Unless Furcal looks back and says, "I'll take your four-year deal," Oakland is out of the mix.
If Furcal is healthy, there's no telling how good a team can be with him at the top of the lineup and in the middle of the infield.
Oh, that crafty Bill Beane.
Too bad though, Oakland would look a little more serious with Matt Holliday and Rafael Furcal coming in. Not to say they aren't now, but you can't tell me a couple of All-Star talents being added to your lineup won't make a huge difference.
Provided both are healthy.
Think of how much more money Rafael Furcal could make if he could just stay healthy.
Think of how much more eager I'd be for the Indians to go after him if he could just stay healthy.
K-Rod Controls the Closer Market
Talk to the sky, big guy, you might as well control it as well.
Cleveland is probably one of the most eager suitors for a closer, right there with the Mets.
However, can anyone expect them to sign one of the big targets, Francisco Rodriguez or Brian Fuentes?
As expected, Rodriguez controls the market as the must-have guy. New York controls it from the team perspective as the team willing to shell out the money for him.
So why don't they just do it already?!
If Cleveland is the second most eager team to sign a closer, it isn't good for you, K-Rod. You better take the best offer New York has and just be happy with it. That, or just return to Los Angeles for the deal it offered you.
New York is perfectly willing to sign a Brian Fuentes or Kerry Wood; you are not in a position of power.
Even though every other closer and team depends on you getting a deal done as soon as possible.
So, talk to the sky for your answer if you must. But New York is the place you are destined to be if you are looking for the most cash, but don't expect the Mets to increase their offer.
That is, unless Omar Minaya isn't smart about this.
St. Louis Gets Its Greene Card
I'm on fire with these headlines today.
Khalil Greene is on his way to St. Louis in the latest attempt by San Diego to slash payroll.
I'll be honest, aside from Jody Gerut, I don't keep tabs on how well many Padres are playing.
But are there any more messed up career numbers than what Khalil Greene has put together in his six-some years?
I don't exactly picture Greene as power hitter, yet he has a year of 27 home runs.
Last year, granted he missed time with an injury, he hit just .217 after he's had an average as high as .273.
He's all over the place man!
I think getting away from PETCO will be a bit of a plus for Greene though. He's a wizard with the glove and now he doesn't have to hit in what has to feel like a desert with no home run wall.
Big Game Vazquez Takes His Act to Hotlanta
Javier Vazquez and A.J. Burnett, sounds like a match made in heaven.
I'm not sure if Burnett is still possible, but it looks like the Braves are committed in getting some pitching in there.
Javier Vazquez was plan-B after the Jake Peavy-plan fell through.
Look, Javier Vazquez has stuff that's right there with a lot of pitchers in the game.
But that's a pretty cruddy second plan.
Vazquez's own manager even called him out as being a guy who can't pitch in the big game.
He just doesn't win!
Wherever he's gone, he's struggled to win. Even when he hasn't had a lack of run support, the guy can't seem to win games, he's a .500 pitcher. Actually, he's a below-.500 pitcher, I've given him more credit than he deserves.
I don't know how good Tyler Flowers or Brent Lillibridge are. I really don't.
But if they are anything, anything at all, Chicago made right by trading Javier Vazquez away.
Granted, Yunel Escobar and Brian McCann are probably your franchise at this point in time, as the best young players on your team. So trading two prospects that play their positions isn't a bad idea.
But, Javier Vazquez?
I'd be pretty upset as a Braves fan. After they cut off talks with San Diego for a Cy Young winner, instead of waiting and revisiting the deal at a later date. They basically go after their second option while their first is still out there.
Blah, it doesn’t make much sense to me.
Goodbye Mad Dog
Today, we are expected to get the official retirement of Greg Maddux.
Let me say what just about everyone that loves the game of baseball wants to say.
Sure, Greg Maddux could have played a few more years to the age of 45, he wouldn't be the first or the last do so. Maybe move up into the top five in career wins.
He's passed Roger Clemens, which I'm sure he is giddy about, he's got 355 wins, a bunch of gold gloves, some Cy Young awards they give out to the best pitcher, and a one-way ticket into the Hall of Fame in five years.
Why not I guess?
Greg Maddux could pitch in any era for as long as he wants. Sure, he wasn't as good these past few years as he was in his hey-day, but he was still making rotations and contributing to teams on a yearly basis.
He isn't flashy, he doesn't throw hard, and he probably isn't the first guy picked for kickball.
But it's hard for me to not think Greg Maddux is the best pitcher I've ever witnessed.
Granted, I'm not old enough to see a guy like Nolan Ryan in his prime.
But from now until the end of time, I think Greg Maddux is the guy a lot of young people are going to hold to as their standard of greatness.
When I watch a pitcher and evaluate his career, is it on the level of Greg Maddux?
Is it close to Greg Maddux?
He's my gold-standard and I feel honored as a baseball fan to have watched him pitch.
The game won't be the same without Maddux. Thanks Mad Dog for giving true baseball fans something to appreciate.
What I Am Randomly Talking About
The Red Sox signed Junichi Tazawa to a deal. Is it a minor-league one? I guess so, because that's where he's starting. I'm sure there is a nice bonus in there, like the one they give high draft picks.
Or low ones, who are coming out of High School.
Who's going to win Mark Teixeira's services? I don't know, but it looks like he's the biggest chip to fall. Derek Lowe won't sign until CC Sabathia does, and Sabathia won't until Teixeira does.
You go first! No, YOU go first! No, you BOTH go first!
Alex Rodriguez is playing for the Dominican Republic in the WBC in 2009. Dual-citizenship must be great...traitor.
The Tigers found their catcher for 2009 and his name is Gerald Laird. Texas probably still has their three most hot commodities at the position though.
Boston's locked up its MVP for six years, which bites into his free agency years. Dustin Pedroia's contract is very friendly, for an MVP. Another solid move by Boston.
I hinted at Tom Mastny being sold/traded to a Japanese team. It looks like he'll be joining guys like Kameron Loe and Kevin Mench, who is no stranger to Japan. Have fun over there guys.
Nice signing by Houston this past week. Mike Hampton might be plagued with injuries, but we know he has talent. Now that he's not making millions and millions and millions of dollars yearly for sitting on the DL, he might actually be good and healthy!
The Giants have signed Edgar Renteria to a two-year deal. It seems like the guy has his best years for N.L. teams, so maybe he'll stay there for good now.