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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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.

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.

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!

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.”

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. 

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.