Monday, January 4, 2010

ANGELS EXACT THEIR REVENGE... signing former Mariner standout Adrian Beltre -- you read it here first!

A stainless steel athletic supporter may be part of the deal.
After Seattle stole the LA Angels of Anaheim's key drink-stirrer Chone Figgins, the typically well-heeled Angels stayed stunned for a full month. While owner Arte Moreno made talk about watching the numbers and being firm on a budget, having Vlad, Lackey and Figgins off the books has freed up some cash. Although they spent some of that to retain Abreu and went wild for wild-man Rodney (with a wacked out signing), LA remains the only true SoCal club willing to push for a championship.
What they truly need is someone to take Gary Matthews lucrative salary off their books, but not even the KC Royals, who will likely help Atlanta out in a few weeks by offering something decent for hole-filler Melky Cabrera, would fall for that. Or would they?

Alas, Beltre will be an Angel and Brandon Wood's term may come to an end. Rumour also has it that, should the Angels get a place to pack Matthews to, they'd be willing to ship Wood to Cincinnati for Aaron Harang and parts.

The Orioles, meanwhile, may be dipping into the ex-Mariners bin and take a chance on Branyan.


The St. Louis Cardinals are a franchise that can-do-no-wrong in my book. Same goes for the great Albert Pujols. The team has been consistent pursuers of that gawd-awful MLB trophy in nearly every decade and continue to do it despite not having the deepest of pockets.
Their the great midwest champion -- out-shining both Chicagos and staying within grasp of the richer teams in baseball. Only the Minnesota Twins, who racked up one World Series title through foul play against my Cards, can come close to claiming the same territory.
But the Cardinals are cornered by a foxxy weasel these days by the name of Boras. The princely duke of deceit -- who is only representing his clients best interests, after all -- is dangling Matt Holliday under their nose and demanding a king's ransom. There is no real competition for Holliday's rights, as the Yankees and BoSox are loaded and really only tinkering around the edges, and both LA teams seem hemmed in by budget constraints.
Boras remains adamant that Holliday should cost St. Louis $100-million plus on a seven-year or more deal, which in these days and times, is ludicrous. But we all know baseball executives can swallow anything.
So i'd like to offer GM John Mozeliak some friendly advice that should save him a lot of money and some grief down the road.
First, stand firm -- in fact, start retreating. Don't pull the offer off the table today, but give 12 hours notice that St. Louis will be adjusting its offer. Keep it to 4-5 years, $70-80 million max. Be prepared for Boras War tactics.
As you do that, proceed to make a 4-year offer to fellow Boras client Andre Beltre, who would fit perfectly into the vacant hole at 3rd, staying to a 3-4 year package worth about $35-40 million.
Expect typical Boras stalling tactics.
Go directly to the next options, which are feeling out both free agents Chad Tracy and Melvin Mora about their short-term interests. If either is amiable to a 1-year, $2 million deal, sign them. Even as backup material, both would provide great temporary relief and support to Albert Pujols.
If the Holliday bluff works, fine. But if a new page must be turned it should be done convincingly -- again, the NL Central is forever up for grabs.
Imagine that instead of Holliday, you have $16 million to play with. If you get Beltre for $9m, that still leaves $7m available to address your other needs; and there are other needs. A centrefielder/leftfielder like Jack Cust would give Albert terrific protection in the hitting order, and by getting Rocco Baldelli on a $1m deal would provide the necessary defensive backup for the hamfisted DH.
The following names also apply if you need to let Ryan Freel make a go at 3rd or Tracy or Mora are inked.
Brad Penny unfortunately is not going to be the whole answer to that pitching rotation -- so pitch an offer to John Smoltz @ $2m and then go semi-serious for Jon Garland, a two-year $11m deal. With the remaining dollars, feel out Octavio Dotel on a $3.5m contract and have him share closing duties with Franklin. And invest all the rest in scouting.
The future is where the club's real hole is -- after dealing so many prospects the past two years for temporary help, the Cards thinning ranks down on the farm is in serious need for restoration. The pull-back on Warner Mateo likely hurt the club's reputation in central America, and that needs to be reclaimed. And instead of sticking to a 'drafting conservatively' the franchise needs to start swinging for the fences.
Just because the ticket to the playoffs is always within reach doesn't mean the club shouldn't be looking to get better.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


... of the line in the Roy Halladay sweep-stakes.
While much of the speculation has been on which arm they may throw Toronto's way, with the likes of Ervin Santana, Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders leading the way, its also who would be the 2nd piece to the puzzle that should be key.
The main piece could be Santana, who'll be due $6 million next season in just the 2nd year of a 4-year, $30M deal (plus a club option); those numbers are palatable when considering that Halladay's final year calls for $15.75m this coming season. It would probably mean that the club would also speed up its efforts to dump Lyle Overbay (due $7m). Both Weaver and Saunders are up for new deals after earning nearly half-a-mill each last year.
This is a revisitation of a prior exchange where ex-Jay gm JP Ricciardi was trying to pry one of Weaver and Saunders, outfield prospect Peter Bourjos and shortstop Erick Aybar from the Angels arms. I'm wondering if new Toronto gm Alex Anthopolous is more amenable to taking Santana or Weaver, shortstop/third baseman Brandon Wood and one of shortstop Rolando Gomez or lefthander Alex Torres.
While carving the budget deep is the prime motive, the Blue Jays need to have some MLB ready players to keep them competitive -- but not too competitive (because having a few terrible seasons with great draft picks would turn the team around faster than trying to stay afloat while your divisional rivals (Boston, Baltimore and NY) go on spending spree after spending spree.
Wood is drastically in need of a change of address, as Angels manager Mike Soscia has shown no faith in the minor league bopper. The 24 year old Wood has done all he can in the minors and needs a steady opportunity to take the next step -- but Soscia is no fan.
While the rumours of a Dodger-Jays deal have died down, they likely spiked the Angels attention. The Dodgers would be willing to part with arbitration eligible and Canadian catcher Russell Martin and James McDonald, but are not going to give up a Billingsley in any swap.
Now internet chatter is picking up the idea of Toronto trying to lure outfielder Jason Bay north. Martin would be a better catch as he's younger, plays a more critical position and is, at least for now, considerably cheaper. He's also a proud Canadian, unlike the greedy Bay.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Are we down to the final days as a Toronto Blue Jays for Roy Halladay?
Last year's poorly executed tease, which played a role in the firing of GM JP Ricciardi, is now on an escalated time frame, with Halladay entering the final year of his 3 year, $40M contract signed in 2008.
The same players are likely measuring their cupboards to see just how deep into the talent pool they can go, and whether or not Toronto's new GM Alex Anthopoulos is able to be had.
The Blue Jays want to save money, but they also need to instill confidence in the fan base that the deal will play a big part of a better future in 2, 3 to 5 years from now. Which means the names being bandied about for a return on Doc will include some major-league ready and many still climbing out of the lower minors.
Both New York teams, the Yankees and the Mets, desperately want in on the deal; so too do the Boston Red Sox. Southern California suitors the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels are also in the mix; surprisingly enough, neither the San Francisco Giants nor the Chicago Cubs are expected to get past the second round of bidding.
Here's my view, being that Halladay will be wearing new colours before mid-December arrives.
New York Yankees could put together the best offer, starting with either Phil Hughes/Joba Chamberlain, and including outfielder Austin Jackson and RH David Phelps. The New York Mets, however, are rumoured to be trying to avoid costly additions - and have shown no inclination to part with two of outfielder Fernando Martinez, shortstop Wilmer Flores and RH Jenrry Mejia.
The Red Sox, who are just as motivated to keep the Yankees from adding Halladay to their pricey rotation as to having him for themselves, could knock Toronto's socks off with a pitch of RH Clay Buchholz, Kyle Weiland and Will Middlebrooks.
The LA Dodgers, meanwhile, have reportedly put RH Chad Billingsley's name on the table, and could clinch a deal if they added inf. Ivan DeJesus Jr and RH Steve Johnson in the mix. If I were AA and knowing the Dodgers' aversion to taking on too much salary (especially with a messy divorce tying up the owners' money) I'd pitch the thought of Billingsley, arbitration eligible and Canadian catcher Russell Martin and DeJesus for Halladay and nearly-ready JP Arencibia... the Dodgers could then use some money to get one of the Molina brothers for the next year and be ready for another playoff run. Toronto, meanwhile, will have acquired a great catcher and pitcher plus some means to market their rebuilding program.
The Angels aren't likely to get in the bidding, having little depth left in their minor system. The Giants, however, could easily rise to the top if it were willing to send LH Madison Baumgarner and teenage OF Rafael Rodriguez... but they won't.
For Cub fans, the yearning for a real ace will probably have to wait a little longer. New ownership may want to make a big splash, and they have the talent too, but it seems when they need to make a major deal like this one, they shoot themselves in the foot by signing a lughead instead. Apologies to Milton Bradley the game producer. But an offering of RH Jeff Samardzija, ss Starlin Castro and 3b Jovan Rosa would pique everyone's interest.

Two other teams worth mentioning -- despite the unlikelihood of them getting involved.
Unfortunately for Atlanta Braves fans, while the prospects are there the money isn't. The Braves would emerge as one of the frontrunners if they were willing to take on Halladay's salary, if they were able to off-load Derek Lowe's remaining 3-year, 15m per mistake. With a reasonable core and one last kick at the can for Bobby Cox, Atlanta would be a top contender with Halladay, Vazquez, Hanson, Hudson, Kawakami, Jurrjens taking turns on the mound -- heck, even if they had to also dump Vazquez's contract (a palatable $11.5m in the final year) it would be pretty strong. And what would the Braves need to offer? My guess a package that included outfielder Jordan Schafer (they've got Heyward who's a better prospect, anyways), and lefties Cole Rohrbough and Edgar Osuna would get the Jays' attention.
Then there are the Seattle Mariners. Their surprise push last year for a playoff spot, and the presence of King Felix, means they could feel that now is their time. With Bedard, Beltre and Jojima off the books they've also got cap space -- but a lot of holes, too. Toronto would have to give some consideration to an offer of RH Brandon Morrow, RH Quebecer Phillippe Aumont and 3b Mario Martinez.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


It is the off-season, afterall. So the Seattle Mariners are predictably in the thick of the pennant race and have reason to believe that Jack Z's artful skill at the winter meetings and at the draft table will pay off.
Rumours of a John Lackey signing were given a dose of cold water by LaRue at the Times Tribune; the team's holes at third and first and catcher, along with that need for one solid veteran starter is likely the primary focus.
I wasn't crazy about resigning of the Kid, but in the whole scheme of things it isn't a kick in the teeth, either. Beltre's likely departure along with Branyan will leave a power hole the size of the Space Needle. The young guns on the mound may be able to build on last year's effort, but so much was smoke and mirrors.
So as bloggers are wont to do, I shall speculate.
Beltre won't get what he would have two years ago but should be happy in Philadelphia, LA or St. Louis (at about 4 years/$75m). Would it be such a stretch to plug Hall into that spot? While keeping Branyan would be great, logic and $ must line up. It may be better to move to plan 2, with Lopez sliding in at his more comfortable defensive position, having Carp as a capable backup. Now comes the interesting step. I would pack Brendan Morrow and his great potential to Florida for Dan Uggla, he of the mediocre defence but terrific pop. He'd just be trading one 'M' for a better one.
The Marlin infielder is due a raise and thus is also due a ticket out of Miami, but has stated that he doesn't think he should move off 2nd base. That knocks some of the more logical fits -- Baltimore, Philadelphia -- out of the mix. Of course, that requires Hall filling the bill in the corner, which could also give Seattle one of the shakier infield defences this side of Everett.
But maybe Jack's issue with defence makes the previous suggestion null and void. It could mean bidding on Pedro Feliz or Joe Crede with short term dollars, while hoping Matt T makes more progress. Orlando Hudson would be an upgrade over Lopez defensively... Tapping a partner for Moore behind the dish should be a matter of taking the more eager of Barajas, Blanco or Zaun.
If you want to make an impact pitching-wise, call up Boston and ask if Dice-K is available. Taking on his salary would be a risk and may not be attainable -- trading Silva and Morrow while getting a B-level prospect back in return would make it a decent swap IMHO. Or it could be a matter of signing a Harden or a Sheets and hoping for a non-Bedard-like health. And then, with Junior in the fold for one more hurrah, why not call up the Unit and see if he want's to relive some of his past glory?