Despite the fact that we are still two months away from pitchers and catchers meeting for spring training, there is plenty of action going on. The Winter Meetings signal the actual start to free agency, where the majority of big name free agents will either sign their contracts or begin to put the specifics of an upcoming contract down.
This is a time where General Managers beginning checking off items from their shopping lists, and where the off-season plan either comes to fruition or is the start of "plan B".
But the most exciting part of Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings are the rumors, and the speculation. This is the time of year where a team can do nothing and find fans turning against them. This is where fans should figure out exactly how invalid the majority of rumors are.
Let's kick it off with the most outlandish one:
Kansas City will trade Zach Greinke to the Atlanta Braves for Jeff Francouer.
There are two sides to what is an obviously inaccurate trade rumor.
First, if this trade is literally on the table and the Braves front office is not running to Bud Selig with the details, they should be kicked out of the league. There is not an easier move to make then this speculated one.
That being said, if the price tag on Greinke is as low as a player such as Jeff Francouer then the front office of 28 other Major League teams should be burned down. Literally. There is not a reason for any team to not want to make a move such as this. At 25 years old, Greinke may well be one of the most valuable players in baseball.
True, a Tim Lincecum is obviously worth more and there are plenty of other pitchers and hitters that are making the low salary that Greinke is. However, how many of them would cost a player with as little value as Francouer? The 24 year old with a career .318 wOBA (which is brutal for an outfielder).
The only nugget of truth here is that Dayton Moore openly wants Francouer. However, even Moore, Frenchy's biggest fan, wouldn't send Greinke in this deal. That said, it's safe to assume the conversation went more along the lines of:
DM - I'm interested in bringing Jeff Francouer to Kansas City.
Frank Wren - He's expendable.
DM - How much?
FW - Let's start with Zach Greinke.
DM - Let's stop talking.
DM - If I give you Zach Greinke would you be willing to move Jeff Francouer?
FW - I'll even give you my Blue Man Group tickets!!!
Also, do we really think that Dayton Moore would want to add another outfielder? Is his job as General Manager not already difficult enough that he wants to create more log jams?
Interesting rumor number two:
Jermaine Dye leaving Chicago.
The Reds already shot down the speculation that Dye would come to town in exchange for Homer Bailey, how far are we from Frank Wren shooting down a Dye for Tommy Hanson swap. Wait, did I just start a rumor?
Kenny Williams certainly is trying to move Dye, but I think the understanding of that is clouding the better judgement of reporters. That is, why report a rumor of a trade that you wouldn't do?
The rumor that won't die—Jake Peavy joining the world's greatest pitching staff.
Everyone is reporting this and everyone has a different story. Long story short, whatever you read in the next 12 hours is false.
There may be pieces that are accurate, but for the most part we are hearing a couple of names from different people. Interestingly, the team that is reported to give up the best player is easily getting the worst package in return.
That being said, ignore everything you hear until you come home from work on Wednesday.
An accurate rumor:
Matt Weiters is being handed the starting backstop job in Baltimore, and Ryan Freel is going to get an orange uniform dirty. Freel goes to Baltimore for Ramon Hernandez.
This trade doesn't make sense for the Reds, but neither did the big contract they handed out to Eric Milton. Maybe the Reds don't have a plan?
I also wonder why the Orioles aren't looking for a prospect in return instead of Freel. Although the possibility of another Red prospect going to Baltimore makes some more sense.
There's lots going on, most of which can be ignored. Needless to say, this is a very exciting time of year.