14 November 2004

Hot Stove Rumblings...

The New York Daily News- a dubious source at best- is reporting that the Sammy Sosa-to-Mets deal is starting to get some legs. Here is a quick exerpt from Roger Rubin & T.J. Quinn's article:

The Players Association appears ready to permit Sosa to negate the part of his contract that has been slowing the deal down.
There is a provision in Sosa's current deal that would add $18 million to his price tag if he is involved in a trade. But because Sosa wants out of Chicago, and because the additional money is not guaranteed, the union could be prepared to allow Sosa to remove the provision from his deal.

Inquiries to the union have been made by Sosa's agent, Adam Katz, and not by the Mets, according to a club source.

This seems to be a bit of a lateral move personell-wise to me: reports have it that the Cubs would get back Cliff Floyd in the deal. Ultimately though, the teams would each get a big off-the-field boost (however counterproductive it may ultimately be): Chicago will get out from under Sosa's contract and deal a guy they're begging to get rid of (and, according to the above article, the feeling's mutual). They get a guy who, if healthy, can certainly replicate Sosa's 2004 campaign. Minaya gets his "Isaiah-Thomas-requisite-new-NYC-GM-big-splash-move." Bring one of the biggest Dominican athletes in history to New York. They'd love him here.

That being said, there are certainly downsides. Sammy had a serious decline year in one of baseball's most home run friendly parks. He'd be moving to one of baseball's not home run friendly parks, and would conceivably be continually deteriorating with age (and a lack of another substance possibly?) while cash-draining the Mets into another third/ fourth place finish.

The Cubs would get a guy in Cliff Floyd who's put together exactly two healthy years in 12 (2001 and 2002) and who makes 7 million through 2006. Not awful, but not insuring when you consider how often he's hurt. If he was healthy though, he'd probably hit a ton at Wrigley.

In a more minor move, Theo Epstein picked up lefty reliever Billy Traber off waivers about three days ago, getting a young lefty for nothing. A low risk move that could pay off with some patience, Traber has been hurt early, but he had a fantastic minor league career with good control and a decent K-rate. From a snippet in the Boston Globe, by Good Ol' Gordon Edes:

This one didn't get past Epstein

Give Epstein high marks for plucking lefty Billy Traber off waivers from the Cleveland Indians. Traber was a No. 1 pick of the Mets (16th overall, 2000) who went to the Indians in the Robbie Alomar deal and was promoted to the big leagues in 2003 when a history of elbow problems caught up with him. Traber underwent Tommy John reconstruction surgery, but Epstein is predicting that he will be fully recovered by spring training, and he could prove to be a major sleeper. Indians GM Mark Shapiro told reporters he hoped to sneak Traber through waivers instead of putting him on the 40-man roster.

God dammit I love our GM.

Speaking of the Sox, the Globe has a great page discussing the "Buzz" on a number of Red Sox and MLB free agents. Updated often, it has current info. For instance-

Troy Glaus

According to the Boston Herald, the Red Sox might be interested in Glaus, particularly if they fail to re-sign Jason Varitek and have to replace him with a less offensive-minded catcher. With third baseman Bill Mueller already under contract for 2005, the Sox would either have to move Mueller or trade him. ``Certainly I would say with regards to the criteria that are important to him, Boston fulfills those criteria,'' Glaus' agent told the Boston Herald. According to the Herald, "Glaus' wife is an equestrian rider who competes up and down the East Coast during the summer, said his agent, so moving to this side of the country is quite doable. Glaus has played in Southern California all his life and is open to seeing some new sights. Glaus would also be willing to play first base if the situation were right, if the Red Sox found a way to move both Kevin Millar and Doug Mientkiewicz." ... "He would prefer third base, but if a situation comes up where all other things considered he is content and they wanted him to play first base, he is not going to shut the door,'' his agent said.

The Glaus rumors are particularly vexing- he would, offensively, be a great replacement of Varitek's offense. He isn't as patient as Jason, though they both strikeout a lot. Glaus, obviously, has a lot more power. The issue though is where to play him. The Red Sox have already picked up Bill Mueller's 2005 option, and there are myriad concerns over Glaus' ability to play 3rd due to his injuries over the last 4 seasons (particular the last one). Another very viable option would be playing him at first- which would require our trading either Millar, Mientkiewicz, or both. The latter seems the most plausible to me- with Mientkiewicz the likely trade chip- he's said he doesn't want to ride the pine, and he's right.

You could then retain Millar or not- either use him for bench help/ prospects, or keep him as a platoon partner for Nixon in the event Kapler goes elsewhere. It seems like a lot of shuffling, but ultimately it COULD work. Moreover, Varitek is doing himself no favors asking for 5 years, 50 million with a not trade clause (a clause that, if offered, would trigger similar clauses in Manny Ramirez and Trot Nixon's contracts). Ivan Rodgriguez couldn't get such a fat contract- and Tek is no I-Rod. Add to that the Sox not being in the business of offering contracts more than 3 years and not being in the business of offering no-trade clauses as well.

Similarly, there is talk of a deal for Montreal/ Washington's Brian Schneider in the event that Varitek leaves. Schneider is a brilliant defensive player (I voted him my 2004 NL Gold Glove), but not much of a hitter. Check him out here:

Pretty average numbers for a catcher, but a great glove.

OK, so you're Jon Lieber. You're on a team that routinely overpays players- including every player in the everyday lineup, the top three in the Opening Day rotation, and nearly every vital bullpen arm- excessively. You were one of the only dependable starters for the team down the stretch. You are paid, if not AT your market value, a little under. You were the only truly dependable postseason pitcher on your staff (including maybe Mike Mussina). So what happens in the offseason?

The Yankees decline your option in hopes of signing you for less than the 8 million the option was worth. The team that almost literally prints money decides, for some odd reason, to get frugal with you, despite overpaying nearly everyone else- that includes guys that helped lose the ALCS for the team. I'm not saying Lieber is insulted by the transaction- but I would be, and I honestly don't understand it from the Yankees. I'm on my knees hoping that the Red Sox make him a serious offer. Here's some info on it-

Jon Lieber

The Boston Herald reported the Red Sox could get involved in the hunt for Lieber, whose $8 million option for 2005 was turned down by the Yankees. According to the Herald, "the Red Sox were interested in signing the right-hander when he was coming off of elbow surgery a couple of years ago but the Yankees won that battle."

He pounds the strike zone, doesn't walk anybody, gets outs. Not top-of-the rotation, but definitely a great guy to have. Let's do it (if for no other reason than to drive up his price a bit).

This, while a tremendous long shot, was my favorite rumor- started by Gammons in one of his columns and reported on here by the Globe Buzz page:

Tim Hudson

Peter Gammons stoked the trade rumor mill on Thursday when he wrote on ESPN.com that "Boston moved for Hudson with Bronson Arroyo and Byung-Hyun Kim, which isn't getting it done. But the Red Sox can go further if they can take a bunch of their best prospects and get Beane players he wants, although Arizona will not trade 1B-OF Conor Jackson, no matter if Boston gives up LHP Jon Lester, whom the Diamondbacks lust after."

Please, please, please, please, please, please, please. Please.

Finally, here are some neat features on free agency at ESPN.com
  • Free Agent Tracker

  • Sean McAdam's take on the Free Agent OF class

  • ESPN's Ranking of the Top 50 Free Agents

  • Included in the top 50 rankings is a rather dubious set of predictions- Radke to the Devil Rays?!, Vizquel is already nearly a WHITE Sox, not a Red one- so take it with a grain of salt.

    ______________________________ |