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. 

Mets Trying to Fleece A’s

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Courtesy of Ken Rosenthal, we learn that the New York Mets are desperately trying to acquire a top notch starting pitcher but are falling short because they simply don’t have the chips to acquire one.

Sensing that they have little shot at Twins ace Johan Santana unless they include star shortstop Jose Reyes in a deal, Rosenthal reports the Mets are taking a “preemptive” strike at Oakland A’s starters Dan Haren and Joe Blanton by offering falling prospects Lastings Milledge (OF) and Aaaron Heilman (SP), among others.  (By the way, can we stop calling Heilman a prospect?  He’s almost 30.  He’s a setup guy, plain and simple).

A’s general manager Billy Beane appears to be scoffing at such a blatant fleece attempt, even though he tried to acquire both players for Barry Zito in the summer of 2006.   Both of the prospects mentioned – as well as other Met prospects like Mike Pelfrey and Philip Humber – have seen their trade value plummet in the last few years.  At the same time, the A’s have seen their need for outfield help like Milledge diminish with the emergence of Nick Swisher and Travis Buck.

Rosenthal even reports that’s one A’s source mentioned the Mets made an offer for Dan Haren that “seemed more suitable for Blanton,” suggesting the Mets are out to fleece. 

It looks like the Mets will have to include their top prospect, outfielder Carlos Gomez, in any deal.  But even then, their offers may be more “lamb” than lion.  Happy Fleecing, Omar.

Rockies Close to Re-signing Torrealba and Herges

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According to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post, the Rockies could announce the signings of catcher Yorvit Torrealba and relief pitcher Matt Herges as soon as Thursday.  Both players played solid roles in getting the Rockies to their 1st World Series apperance in franchise history, where they were ultimately swept by the Boston Red Sox. 

Torrealba hit .255 last season, with 8 HR’s and 47 RBI in 113 games for the Rox.  He was however battling a shoulder injury, and his defensive numbers also suffered because of it.  Matt Herges was a wonderful surprise for the Rockies, posting a 5-1 record with a 2.96 ERA in 35 appearances.  He also boasted a sensational .198 BAA for the season and a remarkable 0.89 WHIP after the All-Star break! 

Yorvit Torrealba has had quite an odd offseason so far.  He was all but signed to a multi-year deal with the New York Mets about a week ago, when it seems that Omar Minaya had a change of heart in the final hours.  The logical move for Torrealba after that was to return back to the Rockies.  Assuming he gets a 3-4 year deal from the Rox, it all turned out alllllriiight for him in the end.  The rumor is however that the Rockies will give him a 2-year deal at around $7M, with a 3rd year option.  Herges may call for a 2-year deal to get it done. 

Also mentioned in the article, the Rox are interested in bringing back RP LaTroy Hawkins as well.  2B is still a postion of need this offseason.  Maybe they play star prospect Ian Stewart there?

Mets Get a Pitcher – No Big Deal

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According to WFAN 660 AM, the Mets have acquired Brian Stokes from the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations.

Last year, Stokes was 2-7 in 59 appearances with a 7.07 ERA.

Garza to Seattle?; Bedard to the Mets?; and Jason Bay

We touched on the main news from Ken Rosenthal today – that being the Joe Nathan rumors.  But Rosenthal also had some other good tidbits.  Let’s take a look.

  • According to Rosenthal, “Matt Garza remains the young pitcher the Twins are most likely to move.”  Rosenthal mentions the Mariners as a potential partner with centerfield stud prospect Adam Jones as a return package.  I think that would be an absolute fleece for Minnesota, given their pitching depth (even after a Santana deal) and need for a center fielder.  Adam Jones is a future star.  And that’s no disrespect towards Matt Garza, who looks poised to be at least a future #2 starter.
  • The New York Mets made a “strong run” at Erik Bedard in last months GM meetings, but Baltimore president Andy McPhail wasn’t quite ready to deal the young ace then.  One would think the Mets would have to include Carlos Gomez and Lastings Milledge in a deal, among others.   Bedard is exactly what the Mets need in my opinion, and Baltimore is a team that Minaya has fleeced before (John Maine and Jorge Julio for Kris Benson).
  • Rosenthal speculates that the Pirates will try to hold on to Jason Bay until next winter to see if he can increase his trade value this season.  But if they get the right offer at next weeks winter meetings, they’ll pull the trigger.  Pittsburgh is looking at building around top prospects Andrew McCutcheon (CF) and Neil Walker (C), both 21 years old.  So look for Pitt to get younger for a potential run around 2010.
  • The Yankees will not be fleeced when signing middle relievers this year.  They apparently have a budget (yea, right) and will not overpay for the likes of Ron Mahay.  I say, FALSE.  

Minaya and Beane…can they finally make a deal?

   

Will the Mets get that long-coveted SP? David Lennon of Newsday thinks it might happen.

Seems like the Mets have all but bowed out of the Johan sweepstakes – admitting to themselves and their fans that they just don’t have the chips. So, let’s turn our attention to Oakland for the usual suspects of Haren and Blanton.

Minaya and Beane seemed to be linked together every offseason and trade deadline. Perhaps, it is because there is this perception out there that Beane loves Lastings Milledge. Or maybe it is because the Mets have desperately needed SP since the Hampton/Leiter combo helped get them to the Series in 2000.

Can the Mets get Haren? I don’t think so, unless they are willing to potentially fleece themselves. The Angels, D’Backs and Dodgers are all interested in Haren as well and the Mets farm systems are nowhere near any of the aforementioned teams.

Blanton is a more realistic target, but is sorta “more of the same.” He throws 200 innings every year, which is a need, but he kinda fits the Maine/Perez/Duque-type of a good pitcher but not the stopper. If Blanton is the upgrade, Minaya will need to strengthen the pen big time for this team to be dominant.

UPDATE: John Harper of the NY Daily News is reporting that the Mets are getting together their offer for Johan as we speak.

Oh, and Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mets made a “strong run” at Erik Bedard at the GM meetings.

Work them phones, Omar!

Great Moments In Fleece History: The Scott Kazmir Trade

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If you’re a fan of the New York Mets, don’t read any further.

On July 30, 2004, the New York Mets dealt top pitching prospect Scott Kazmir and pitcher Joselo Diaz to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for starting pitcher Victor Zambrano and relief pitcher Bartolome Fortunato. The Mets found themselves 6 games out of a playoff spot at the trading deadline that year, and increased pressure from the Wilpons to win “now” was the cause of Jim Duquette (then General Manager of the NY Mets) to push the panic button…and push it hard.

Victor Zambrano appeared in 39 games as a member of the Mets (35 starts) from 2004-2006. Zambrano went 10-14 in that time, posting a marginal ERA of roughly 4.45. He was oft-injured, and never achieved success with the Mets’ ball-club.

Scott Kazmir, on the other hand, has become one of the brightest young starters in baseball. While he has issues at times finding the plate, Kazmir has become a strikeout machine for the Devil Rays. Since the trade, Kazmir has posted a 34-29 record for Tampa, with an ERA of 3.64. He has 617 strikeouts in 570 2/3 innings pitched. Oh, and he is also turning just 24 in January of 2008.

The NY media has thrown fuel on the fire, making reference to this fleece quite often over the last few years, and who can blame them? To this date, no one truly knows what went on in the Mets’ front office that season to make them pull the trigger on such a monumental fleece. Duquette fitted himself, and every New York Mets fan with a warm, fuzzy, size XXXL fleece for years to come. Regardless of Kazmir’s success in the coming years, Zambrano’s failures will cement this trade in “the Hall of Shame”, while Kazmir’s achievements will serve as a reminder to the Mets organization: Oh, what could have been?