Dodgers Close in on Bedard

WFAN in New York is reporting the Orioles and Dodgers are nearing a deal that would send pitcher Erik Bedard to Los Angeles for Matt Kemp and Jonathon Broxton.

Varied rumors have said that Bedard’s deal would be similar to what the Twins would get for Johan Santana.  Do you think the Dodgers can get Santana for Kemp and Broxton?  I don’t think so.

The Orioles need to be smart.  Bedard is in high demand right now.  Sure, he might not want to sign an extension, but it doesn’t mean they have to deal him this off-sesaon.  He’s still Orioles property for two more seasons.  If they were to trade him they need to get maximum value for him.  When dealing with the Dodgers not trade fro Bedard should go down without the Orioles receiving Clayton Kershaw in the package. 

Although Andy MacPhail is the new sheriff-in-town in the Emerald City, the Orioles have a history of making less than desirable moves, mainly due to owner Peter Angelos. MacPhail’s known as a very deliberate and methodical guy, so it should be interesting how the Bedard trade talks progress.

Winter Meetings Day 2: Blockbuster on the Horizon?

The Hot Stove is heating up, and the rumors are flying.  The latest rumor is a blockbuster deal.  No, not Johan Santana.  This one is between the Marlins and the Tigers.

Word is the Tigers are willing to ship a group of prospects That would include Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.

While Cabrera joining a Tigers lineup that already includes Magglio Ordonez, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Guillen, and Gary Sheffield, would give them one of the leagues best lineups, I’m not sure what help Willis really gives. 

Dontrelle Willis is only two years removed from a Cy Young-type season, but he was one of the worst pitchers in baseball last season.  His 5.17 ERA was near the bottom of the National League, and that’s pitching half your games in a pitchers park.  Letting him loose in the American League where he has to face a DH could be disasterous.  On the other hand, maybe a change of scenery is what Willis needs.

Winter Meetings, Day 1: Yankees Give Twins a  Deadline

With the Winter Meetings starting today in Nashville, the focus on the first day will be on one player.  Who will acquire Twins pitcher Johan Santana?

Queue the circus music…

The Yankees have offered a package of Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, and a prospect to be determined.  Word is the final prospect is the current hold up.  It’s been rumored the Twins want Austin Jackson or Ian Kennedy, but the Yankees aren’t willing to include either.  They want Minnesota to take more of a mid-level prospect, like Alberto Gonzalez or Jeffrey Marquez. 

Red Sox have offered a package centered around Jacoby Ellsbury.  With Ellsbury in the deal it means the Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester are off the table.  Rumors are that a package of Ellsbury and prospects Justin Masterson, and Michael Bowden is the current offer.

Santana has made his own statements that he will only waive his no trade clause to play for the Yankees or Red Sox.  This is only in the off-season.   He will not waive his no-trade clause once the season begins.  Essentially saying that once the season begins the most the Twins will get for Santana will be a draft pick form whomever he signs with next off-season.

Then you have to question if the Red Sox really want Santana.  Obviously he’ll improve the team, but the one thing the Red Sox don’t need is a starter.  Reports are with their current roster; they are considering a six-man rotation (Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield, Lester, and Buchholz).  As much as a Beckett/Santana righty/lefty duo will make any Red Sox’s fan mouth water, do they really want him or are they making things difficult for the Yankees?

To heighten the drama, Yankees owner Hank Steinbrenner has set a deadline for today to get the deal done or the Yankees are out.  While it sounds like the Yankees are making a stand, didn’t they tell Alex Rodriguez the same thing if he opted out of his contract?  We all know how that worked out.

The Johan Santana Circus continues, and most likely other pitchers on the market (Dan Haren, Erik Bedard), will not be dealt until teams know where Santana will wind up.

Milledge Dealt to Nationals

Omar Minaya has said since the end of the season he wanted a defensive minded catcher, and it appears he got one.  WFAN is reporting that outfielder Lastings Milledge has been traded to the Washington Nationals for catcher Brian Schneider and outfielder Ryan Church.

If Mets fans are looking for a big bat out of Schneider, you’re not going to get it.  Schneider is a career .252 hitter.  He’ll give you 5-10 home runs and 40-50 RBI’s.  His one bright spot offensively is he rarely strikes out, averaging one strikeout every seven at bats.  Where Schneider will help is on the defensive end.  He calls a good game, and unlike Paul Lo Duca, he can throw out a runner stealing.  Throughout his career Schneider has a caught stealing percentage of 39%.

Church is coming off his best season of his career where he hit 15 home runs and drove in 70.  I wouldn’t call Ryan Church a fourth outfielder, but I also don’t see him as an every day player.  He’s more of a platoon outfielder that would see more of the playing time.

This move is leaving me scratching my head.  I understand the Mets front office wanting a defense catcher, but for Lastings Milledge?  I know his stock has dropped over the past couple seasons, but the Mets also need pitching.  Milledge would be one of the center pieces in bringing in a front line starter.  Apparently not…

With Schneider in the fold, don’t expect the Mets to tender an offer to Johnny Estrada. 

Pull the Trigger

Johan Peter Gammons has reported that the Yankees could acquire pitcher Johan Santana for a package of Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, and Austin Jackson.  If this is rumor is true, Johan Santana should be a Yankee before Christmas.

I know most hold Hughes in high regard, and that he’s a “can’t miss” prospect.  While I tend to agree, there’s no pitcher in baseball like Santana, and if he can be had, the move needs to be made.

With Roger Clemens retiring, and Andy Pettitte most likely not too far behind, there’s a strong possibility that the Yankees could go into the season with a rotation of Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, and Ian Kennedy.  A rotation that consists of a front-line pitcher, an aging star who’s begun to have struggles, and three rookies.  Not the ideal situation for a team that is looking to win their 27th World Series in their final season in Yankee Stadium.

There’s the financial aspect that some might look at.  Santana is a free agent at season’s end, and an extension will cost upwards of $20 million a season.  Hughes is under Yankee control for the next six years.  This is the Yankees we are talking about, where money is a secondary issue.  The main issue is that Johan Santana IS the best pitcher in baseball, and one day Phil Hughes MIGHT be the best pitcher in baseball. 

Is it worth keeping Hughes hoping he pans out?

For most teams I’d say yes, but this is the Yankees.  They don’t go into a rebuilding mode, waiting for their prospects to come around.  They also have a lot of good young pitchers on the farm, so by dealing Hughes, they’re not mortgaging their future to win now.  Trading for Santana, and giving him an extension, the Yankees will play their final year at Yankee Stadium with the best hitter and best pitcher in baseball, and open new Yankee Stadium next season with the best as well.

Isn’t that the Yankee Way?

Tigers to Target Dotel

DotelThe Tigers have been one of the more active teams this off-season.  they’ve re-signed closer Todd Jones, and have acquired both Edgar Renteria and Jacque Jones, via trade.  With is still early in the off-season, the Tigers aren’t done yet.  focusing on improving the bullpen, the Tigers are targeted relief pitcher, Octavio Dotel.

Dotel was a target prior to last season’s trade deadline, but instead was shipped to the Atlanta Braves.  Dotel was effective last season, despite a 4.11 ERA.  He struck out 41 in 30 innings, while only walking 12.

Dotel has 82 career saves and a career 3.76 ERA in nine seasons with the Mets, Astros, Athletics, Yankees, Royals, and Braves.  The biggest concern with Dotel is his ability to stay healthy.  He hasn’t pitched more then 33 games in a season since 2004.  He had Tommy John surgery in 2005, and has been on the DL three times since then.

The Tigers bullpen was their downfall last season.  Joel Zumaya was hurt a majority of the year and Jason Grilli, Macay McBride, Jose Capallan, and Jose Mesa (who was released after 16 disaterous appearances), were unable to get the job done.  With Zumaya out for the 2008 season with his own arm injury, the Tigers will need to replace him with another relable bullpen arm.  The question is, how relable is Dotel’s arm?

GM’s Approve Limited Instant Replay

The general mangers meetings have been underway in Orlando since Monday and no big trades have been announced.  Something bigger has occurred, that might exceed trades.  Something that might change the future of this game.   

Instant replay.

The general mangers voted 25-5 to introduce a limited instant replay.  The use would be limited to judging if a home run is fair or foul, or it the ball made it over the wall without the help of a fan in the front row (remember Jeffrey Maier?).

Don’t worry baseball purists.  The technology that invaded the NFL, NBA, and NHL is not definite.  Next this would have to go before the commissioner who was long said he’s against any instant replay in baseball.  Once he reviews it, it would go to more votes; the players, umpires, and possibly the owners.

This will definitely be a debate in the coming months among baseball fans.  Some already feel that baseball needs to step into the 21st century, and a limited instant replay would be good for the game.  Others think that baseball is fine as is and holds itself to a higher standard then the other major sports in this country.   

Based on the vote passed the general managers yesterday, it’s not a matter of will instant replay be in baseball, but a matter of when.

J’ded Perspective 

When I first heard about this last night,  I was immediately against it.  I do consider myself somewhat of a baseball purist.  I think pitchers should bat and all games should be played on natural grass.  My stance on instant replay has nothing to do with being a purist.  The reason I’m against instant replay in baseball is it will hurt the game.   

One of the biggest knocks on baseball from critics is that the game moves slow and it takes too long.  Adding instant replay will only delay the game further.  Try to imagine Steve Traschel on the mound and three instant replays (let’s say there were a lot of balls hit on the line).  You could ballpark the time of that game somewhere around four hours.  That’s a situation that surely won’t help television ratings. Also, one of the most exciting things about baseball is late inning drama.  A walk off home run to end a game.  The crowd goes nuts as the batter rounds the basepaths with the entire team waiting for him at home plate.  That will all be gone if there’s a 2-4 minute wait for them to “review it upstairs” to make sure the umpires call was correct.  Talk about anti-climactic.

A recent study was done with cities with multiple sports franchises and which sport "ruled that city".  Baseball took a backseat in all cities except Los Angeles and New York.  Baseball is trying to attract new fans of the game.  With football’s popularity, and basketball and hockey offering more action, baseball is losing the battle.  If you impliment rules that might take away drama, and slow the pace of the game further, it can only make the situation worse.

That’s just my two cents…