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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Santana Update: Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers

Time for a quick update on the Johan Santana trade rumors involving three of the major players:  

  • Boston currently has the best offer on the table, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  The offer would send Coco Crisp and lefty Jon Lester to Minnesota along with prospects Jed Lowrie (SS,2B), and Justin Masterson (RHP).   If the Red Sox could land Santana without giving up Clay Buchholz or Jacoby Ellsbury, it would be huge fleece for the World Champions.
  • The New York Post is reporting that the Twins are looking for a package of “well beyond” Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera from the Yankees.   This is surprising, as I think Hughes has more potential than anyone in the Red Sox current offer, including Jon Lester.  I also think Cabrera is already better than Crisp.  Maybe the Yankees haven’t technically made that offer, though.
  • According to NBC’s Rotoworld, “A source with knowledge of the Twins’ position told the Los Angeles Daily News that the club is asking the Dodgers for a package of three or four players from a pool of six: Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp, Andy LaRoche, Jonathan Broxton and Andre Ethier in Johan Santana discussions.”  Getting 3 of those players would be a huge fleece for Minnesota.   Two of them would be more than adequate.

Dodgers Keeping Youngsters?

lad.jpgAccording to the LA Times, GM Ned Coletti has stated that due to the high price of acquiring talent in the trade market this off-season, the Dodgers may be holding onto their blue chip prospects rather than making a run at an impact player, like Florida’s Miguel Cabrera or Baltimore’s Erik Bedard (As previously reported here at MLB Fleece Factor.

Rumor has it when speaking with Florida about Cabrera, the Marlins were seeking four players from LA in return. Rumors have surfaced about OF Matt Kemp, SP Chad Billingsley, 1B James Loney, and top pitching prospect Clayton Kershaw, amongst others.

It is possible the only “big splash” Coletti will have announced this off-season was the hiring of manager Joe Torre. It has become apparent that Coletti is concerned with fleecing himself, and does not want to appear in a story on this site a few years from now under the category “Great Moments in Fleece History”. With the tremendous amount of young talent in the Dodgers’ system, however, the door will remain open for a fleece to occur.
 

Rumor: Bedard to Dodgers Stalled

bedard.jpg According to the LA Times, talks between the Dodgers and Orioles centering around Baltimore lefty Erik Bedard have stalled.  Apparently the Orioles will wait and see how the Miguel Cabrera trade rumors unfold, as the prospects rumored in any Cabrera deal will be the prospects they would want from the Dodgers.  (Probably Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp, among others).  The article mentions Hiroki Kuroda as a possible fallback for LA.

As mentioned here at The Fleece Factor, Baltimore should ask for the moon for Bedard.  Their bounty should probably exceed Johan Sanatana’s as Bedard is not a free agent until 2009.   From LA, Baltimore should seek Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp and at least one other top prospect, such as James Loney or Chad Billingsley.

Cubs Willing to trade Prior

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According to Espn.com’s Buster Olney, rival executives of the Chicago Cubs have stated that the team is open to trading their oft-injured star pitcher.  It appears the Cubs would like to sign him to a 1-year deal with a vesting option for a second season rather than go through arbitration with him this winter, but it seems Prior is looking for a deal more long-term. 

Pretty ballsy of Prior if you ask me, considering he didn’t even pitch in the 2007 season, and is just 18-17 in his last 35 decisions.  But I guess he knows that the combination of his name (cause he went 18-6 in 2003) and the amount of money pitchers with half his talent are getting over many years, makes him marketable for a comparable deal.  The Cubs already have 3 pitchers notched to long-term deals however (Zambrano, Lilly and Marquis), and seem hesitent to add Prior as the fourth. 

Mark Prior could certainly be a great addition to a contending team’s staff (Mets, Yankees, Dodgers, Phils) , if the price isn’t exorbitant (multiple top prospects).  You have team’s out there willing to give up 3-4 blue-chip guys for the likes of Santana and Haren… but maybe you take a shot on a Prior for one high-level prospect, and hope he can contribute to the club at least in the second-half of 2008, and beyond. 

Great Moments in Fleece History: Chan Ho Park Robs the Rangers

Let’s take a look at another one of the worst free agent fleecings in MLB history:  Chan Ho Park’s robbery of the Texas Rangers in 2002.  (By the way, you can always take a look at all of our inductees into the Greatest Moments in Fleece History by clicking on the category to the left). 

In 2001, the Texas Rangers offense was dominant.  They managed to score 890 runs as Alex Rodriguez joined Ivan Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Ruben Sierra and Gabe Kapler (17 hr’s, 72 RBI in 2001) to form a dangerous middle of the lineup.  However, the Rangers also had the worst pitching staff in the majors that year, giving up a whopping 968 runs, leading to a record below .500.   Needless to say, owner Tom Hicks and new GM Jon Hart were desperate for pitching that offseason.  And desperation often begets fleecing when it comes to Major League Baseball Free Agency.   Enter Chan Ho Park.

The Date:  January 16, 2002

The Players:Rangers owner Tom Hicks and GM Jon Hart (The fleecees), and right handed pitcher Chan Ho Park and his agent, none other than Captain Fleece, Scott Boras (the fleecers).

 The Fleece:  The Texas Rangers signed Park to a 5 year, $65M deal.

The Result:  In short, miserable.   After winning 75 games in 5 years for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chan Ho Park won just 22 games for the Rangers and lasted just 3 and a half years in Arlington.  He threw only 381 innings for the Rangers over that span.  He made just 7 starts in 2003 and only 16 in 2004, mainly due to annoying injuries like hamstring strains, back strains and blisters.   (Note that Park’s last year in LA was marked by recurring back problems, something that should have prevented Jon Hart from giving him $65,000,000.00. )

Performance-wise, Chan Ho Park’s Texas ERA’s for 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 were surely Texas sized:  5.75, 7.58, 5.46, and 5.66, respectively.   His WHIPS for those years were just as awful: 1.59, 1.99, 1.44 and 1.68.  He was a complete disaster from the start and embarrassed himself in nearly appearance.  (In some starts, he even looked like he felt bad, as he saw Jon Hart sweating to death wearing a big fleece in the Texas heat).   Even in 2005, when Park finally managed to stay healthy enough to throw 20 straight starts, opponents still hit nearly .300 against him and his 8 wins were mainly the product of that deep Texas offense. 

Finally, in the summer of 2005, Texas jumped at the chance to rid themselves of Chan Ho by flipping him to the San Diego Padres for Phil Nevin.   Park finished out his obscene contract with the Padres in 2006, posting a horrendous (by Petco Park standards) 4.81 ERA in 24 appearances.  Park won just 33 times during his 5 year contract, equating to almost $2M per win.  Pathetic. 

John Hart stepped down as Texas GM after the 2005 season to take another job in the Rangers front office.   The team went 331-337 during his reign as general manager.  Awful.   Rumors are that he still wears the heavy fleece Chan Ho Park gave him on cold nights.

Cafardo Rumors: Cabrera, Lincecum, Andruw, etc.

  • The most significant rumor from the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo this Sunday:   “It appears (Giants GM) Sabean is after Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera and is willing to offer a package that could include prized right hander Tim Lincecum.”   Could that deal be straight up?  Not sure who would wear the fleece in that one.  That would be a nice bounty for Florida although Lincecum’s size and delivery worry me.  I think they’d want at least one more top prospect.  But if Lincecum is available, the Giants have to be considered the new Cabrera front runners, especially since…..
  • If you listen to Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, it seems like LA will not be making any major moves this offseason but instead moving forward with their young crop of prospects (Matt Kemp, Andy Laroche, James Loney, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw) and hoping 2007 acquisitions like Jason Schmidt and Juan Pierre can step up in 2008.  Says McCourt: “I think we’re in a good position right now.  We don’t have to make a deal. We made the biggest move we needed to make in signing Joe (Torre).  I don’t anticipate any nonsense in that clubhouse. He gives us instant credibility and we’re thrilled to have him.”
  • Andruw Jones will not accept a one year deal, according to Scott Boras.  The Nationals seem to be the most interested in Jones.
  • Bump the Chicago White Sox up the list on prospective teams that may acquire Coco Crisp from Boston.   According to Cafardo, the ChiSox might be interested after being spurned by Torii Hunter.  An obvious match for Chicago and Boston doesn’t jump out at me, however.
  • Cafardo speculates that the A’s trade of Marco Scutaro could be a signal that the team will take the rebuilding route this year, meaning Danny Haren, Joe Blanton and Huston Street could be traded next month in three separate fleeces for Oakland.
  • Cafardo ruins the Mets acquisition of Johnny Estrada, pointing out that Estrada threw out only 6 of 79 baserunners last year and had clubhouse issues.  Apparently he “had conflicts with Brewers pitching coach Mike Maddux, and got into a shouting match in the dugout with teammate Tony Graffanino late in the season.”