Winter Meetings Rapidly Approaching!!

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In only 4 short days, the best time of the baseball offseason begins.  Yes, that’s right, the Winter Meetings.  On Monday, December 3rd, the meetings will kick-off in Nashville, Tenn.

There are so many huge names being thrown around in the trade market, and this will surely dominate the talks among GM’s.  Some of the bigger stories to follow:

  • #1 will be the availability of Twins ace Johan Santana – Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and Dodgers will be the most likely destinations.
  • The possible trade of Miguel Cabrera to the Angels or Dodgers – the team that gets him or Johan will likely be out of the other race
  • Mets will be looking for an ace pitcher – Bedard, Haren and Blanton remain the most likely prospects; Pelfry/Humber/Gomez are bargaining chips
  • D-Backs will also be in the market for another ace to slot behind Brandon Webb – they appear to be in on the Haren/Blanton sweepstakes as well; Carlos Quentin and Carlos Gonzalez look like the trade bait here
  • The possible trade of Miguel Tejada – we probably won’t see this until after (if) Cabrera gets traded
  • Phils are also looking for pitching depth – Hiroki Kuroda looks like their main target
  • Cubs are looking to upgrade their offense – main target will be Japanese OF Fukudome, who would improve their much-needed OBP; they will also likely fleece themselves on Kaz Matsui
  • Detroit will look to upgrade their bullpen – Dotel? 

Man, I absolutely live for this time of year!  I hope you all are as excited as I am?!  We will keep you abreast of all the rumors, trades and signings. 

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D-Train to the D-Backs?

Nick Piecoro of azcentral.com reports that the Arizona Diamondbacks may look to acquire Dontrelle Willis later this offseason.

Piecoro points out that a primary D’Backs need is a starter to slot in behind ace Brandon Webb.   And although the club has plenty of young stars to acquire Johan Santana, Erik Bedard or Dan Haren, they most likely will not trade away Justin Upton, Chris Young, Mark Reynolds or Stephen Drew as they continue to build up a solid foundation that can compete in the present.

Enter a Dontrelle Willis – a second tier pitcher available via trade this winter.   Piecoro speculates the D’Backs could eventually engage the Marlins by using outfielders Carlos Quentin and/or Carlos Gonzalez.  It seems a logical fit to me, although given the trade demands for pitchers this year, I’d imagine it would take more to land Willis even though he is coming off a down year.

The Diamondbacks have also been rumored to be in on a possible Haren or Blanton trade as well.

D-Backs Make Offer to Kuroda

dbacks-logo.jpgAccording to AZCentral.com, the Arizona Diamondbacks have made a 3-year offer worth a reported $27 million to free agent Japanese right-hander Hiroki Kuroda. Thanks to mlbtraderumors.com for the link.

The Seattle Mariners are still viewed as the favorite to land the coveted pitcher from Japan, but this offer, if true, serves as a bench mark for Kuroda. It is apparent he may receive $10 million per season, even though many scouts project him as a # 3 starter in the MLB.

If Kuroda should decide to accept an offer from Arizona, he could serve as an upgrade over FA starter Livan Hernandez. Or, he could be the second coming of Kei Igawa, the Japanese lefty who fleeced Brian Cashman and the NYY last winter to the tune of 5 years and $20 million (not to mention the $26 million posting fee, which does not count against the club’s payroll, but is still noteworthy).

The Kansas City Royals have been involved with Kuroda rumors as well.

Joe Kennedy, 28, Passes Away

It is with great sadness that we pass along the news today that pitcher Joe Kennedy has passed away.

Kennedy, 28, pitched 7 years in the majors for five different teams (Tampa, Colorado, Arizona, Oakland and Toronto).  Our thoughts are with the Kennedy family today. 

A Look Back: The Curt Schilling Thanksgiving Day Fleece

 

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what you are thankful for.  Perhaps Curt Schilling and Theo Epstein are thinking of their Thanksgiving day fleece 4 years ago that got Curt Schilling in red socks.

It was Thanksgiving day 2003, and Theo Epstein, among other Red Sox brass, had traveled to Arizona to feast with the Schillings and to convince Curt that Boston was the right place for  him.   Boston and Arizona had already agreed on the principles of the trade – Arizona would receive left handed pitcher Casey Fossum and righty Brandon Lyon – but the Red Sox had a short window to work out a contract extension with Schilling or else the deal would die.  As documented in a very interesting post on Mr. Schilling’s personal blog, negotiations were very intense, and Epstein and Schilling both left their Thanksgiving meal feeling a deal would not be worked out.   But alas, the official deal and fleece of Arizona was completed, with Schilling receiving a 2 year extension worth $25M with a 3rd year option worth $13M per year.   Lyon and Fossum have not had prestigious D’Back careers.

As we all know by now, the Schilling acquisition was a major piece that lifted the Red Sox over the proverbial hump and got them past the Yankees.   We all know the bloody sock story, when Schilling heroically lifted the Sox over the Yankees in game 5 of the 2004 ALCS, helping the Sox eventually come back from a 3 game deficit in that series.  Schilling would then help the Sox win their first World Series in 86 years that year, and of course, this year the Sox won another title, fulfilling Curt Schilling’s desire.  Schilling had said the day after Thanksgiving in 2003:  “I want to be a part of bringing the first World Series in modern history to Boston.  And hopefully more than one over the next four years.”

Olney: A’s Firesale?

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At ESPN, Buster Olney reports that Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane is deciding on whether or not to test the trade market with starting pitchers Danny Haren and Joe Blanton. Speculation is that if one was to go, chances are both would be traded (possibly including closer Huston Street as well) in an attempt to rebuild the team for the coming years. Haren could command four or five top flight prospects, and Blanton could command roughly three prospects.  Billy Beane would be attemtping to fleece some organization’s farm system in return for the two young pitchers.

Omar Minaya of the New York Mets has been determined to land a top flight SP this offseason, and Blanton and Haren would provide such an upgrade. Billy Beane has been said to covet Mets’ outfielder Lastings Milledge, as well as pitchers Aaron Heilman and John Maine. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers have also called Billy Beane to inquire on the players’ availability. Expect the Boston Red Sox to be heavily involved, as well, should Danny Haren hit the trade market. Theo Epstein and “Red Sox Nation” would be salivating over a potential pitching rotation of: Beckett, Haren, Schilling, Dice-K, and Wakefield.

Small Market Hot Stove Rumblings

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Some teams have been noticeably quiet so far in this Hot Stove Season.  Let’s take a peak at some smaller market teams and see what’s going on:

  • The Oakland A’s are still deciding whether or not to rebuild this offseason.  If they decide to rebuild, General Manager Billy Beane will entertain offers for young ace Dan Haren, of whom they can expect a bounty in return.   The A’s have also seemingly taken themselves out of any Barry Bonds sweepstakes due to the whole federal indictment thing. 
  • The Arizona Diamondbacks have been relatively quiet so far.  However, they have been tied to possible bottom barrel bargains like Matt Clement or Bartolo Colon if the price is right.   My guess is they’ll let Livan Hernandez fleece someone else.
  • The Washington Nationals have been mentioned as a sleeper in the Torii Hunter sweepstakes, but it appears more likely that they’ll sit back and try to grab a leftover center fielder like Corey Patterson or Mike Cameron, if anything.  Also, GM Jim Bowden is known to fire up a huge fleece every now and then, so don’t take your eye off of the Nats.  The Padres are interested in Ryan Church, for example, and Bowden is apparently asking for a lot.
  • Kind of an old rumor, but the Tampa Bay Rays are one of ten teams interested in Troy Percival.  Not a bad idea for a small market team – take a chance on an old fire baller and see what happens.   The Rays are also in on Juan Uribe.