December 10, 2003
Yesterday was a busy day in terms of baseball transactions. Now that the decisions have been made as to whether to offer arbitration to players, teams have more knowledge to use when deciding up who to sign. So, here is a quick rundown of some of yesterdayís moves.
GUARDADO IS GONE
Twins closer Eddie Guardado now needs to be referred to as former Twins closer Eddie Guardado. Yesterday he signed a one year deal with the Seattle Mariners. The deal also has two option years. Guardado will make a certain amount this season. He could opt for his player option. If he chooses to opt out of that deal, the Mariners have a team option (at a higher dollar amount) that they could pick up. Itís actually an incredibly confusing contract, but big picture, it is a contract that could become a 3 year, $17 million contract. The Twins stuck with their offer of 3 years and $12 million and wouldnít budge from that. I really canít blame them. Remember also that because the Twins had offered Guardado arbitration, they will receive a draft pick from the Mariners and a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds.
I would have loved if the Twins would have been able to sign Guardado. I like those players who are able to spend their entire career with one team; Kirby Puckett, Cal Ripken, Barry Larkin, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. There arenít a lot of those players, and I wanted Guardado to be one of those players. I mean, he spent his first 11 major league seasons with the Twins and now he is off to Seattle. That said, I donít think the loss is as big as it may be made out to be. They have a bullpen of Joe Nathan, Juan Rincon, JC Romero, and Carlos Silva. Joe Nathan could step in as the Twins closer. My personal choice would be to jump to Jesse Crain as the teamís closer for next season.
There are a number of other relievers on the free agent market that they will be able to sign for less money than Guardado would have cost. Guys like Armando Benitez, Mike Dejean, Mike Myers, as well as the likes of Jose Mesa and Mike Williams. So, here is the Twins player count at this point:
GONE - Rick Reed, Chris Gomez, Denny Hocking, Kenny Rogers, A.J. Pierzynski, LaTroy Hawkins, Eric Milton, Eddie Guardado.
NEW - Augie Ojeda, Joe Nathan, Boof Bonser, Carlos Silva, Nick Punto.
RESIGNED - Shannon Stewart
STATUS NOT CERTAIN - Jacque Jones, Luis Rivas, Doug Mientkiewicz
Will Jacque Jones be traded? Terry Ryan said yesterday that he doesnít need to trade Jacque Jones. My thought is that saying that publicly is merely is an attempt to increase Jonesí trade value, whether it is to San Diego or Atlanta or St. Louis.
Will Rivas and Mientkiewicz be offered arbitration or will they be non-tendered. Will Mientkiewicz be traded before that time? Will other trades be made to make those decisions easier? What is the plan with the RF situation?
So many decisions, but plenty of time to make them. I donít envy the job of Terry Ryan at all!
By the way, be sure to check out the AJ Pierzynski chat from ESPN.com from yesterday. In it, he discusses former teammates and looking forward to playing with the Giants. He was at the ESPN studios doing a SportsCenter commercial.
COLON DEALS WITH ANGELS
Bartolo Colon left the AL Central and the Chicago White Sox yesterday when he signed a 4 year, $48 million deal with the Anaheim Angels. The Sox had offered 3 years and $36 million, so the fourth year was apparently the kicker.
The deal comes just weeks after the team signed Kelvim Escobar to a contract. Add those two pitchers to Jarrod Washburn and Ramon Ortiz, and the Angels have themselves a pretty strong starting staff. Last year, the Angels had quite possibly the most dominant bullpen in baseball with Troy Percival, Francisco Rodriguez, Brendan Donnelly, Ben Weber and Scot Shields.
That combination puts the Angels in a position to possibly contend in the AL West.
As far as the White Sox, it is clear to me that the Twins can continue to contend and (hopefully) win the American League Central Division next year and in years to come.
THREE ROYAL MOVES
Yesterday, the Royals made three really good moves. They added catcher Benito Santiago for 2 years and $4.3 million, with incentives based on games played and plate appearances that could increase that amount. Granted, I think thatís too much to pay him, but if he stays healthy and doesnít continue to decline, it could be a good move. Itís certainly better than having Brent Mayne as your starting catcher.
The Royals also added OF/DH Matt Stairs for a one year, $1 million contract. OK, the term OF when in the context of Matt Stairs is a very loose term. Heís a terrible outfielder! But he can hit, and he can hit righties very well.
The third move was signing reliever Scott Sullivan to a two year contract. He ended last season with the Chicago White Sox. This move comes just a few weeks after they resigned Jason Grimsley, Joe Randa and Brian Anderson. The Royals are making moves showing that they will make the effort to contend in 2004. What will determine their success is their starting pitching. Anderson is average. Kevin Appier can be solid, if he manages to stay healthy, which is a big IF. But who else will step up for them?
SethSpeaks PITCHER SIGNS BRAVE CONTRACT
Iíve mentioned a few times that I thought the Twins should go after starting pitcher John Thomson to be the teamís #4 pitcher. I thought they would be able to sign him to a deal that was a fraction of what Eric Milton made. Well, too late. Yesterday, the Braves signed Thomson to a two-year, $7 million contract. He will probably be their #3 starter. My guess is that he will win 15 games and develop into a very good pitcher.
So, have you heard any good baseball rumors? Is the A-Rod/Manny/Nomar dealing going to take place? Gotta love the Hot Stove season. Send me your thoughts. E-mail me.
WOLVES LOSE TO WARRIORS
The Wolves just won a couple of big games on the road last weekend. Then they came home, and found a way to lose to the Golden State Warriors by a score of 98-95. Donít get me wrong. The Warriors have some talented players. Jason Richardson is a start. Nick Van Exel is still great. Brian Cardinal is one of the biggest surprise players of the year, and Mike Dunleavy is finally getting a chance to play consistent minutes. Richardson actually led the Warriors last night with 30 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. He also made the game-winning 3-point shot at the end of the game.
I canít get on the Wolves too bad. There are Ďgood winsí and Ďbad lossesí throughout the 82 game season, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that the Wolves really need Troy Hudson and Wally Szczerbiak back and healthy! Right now, the Big 3 of the Wolves are playing incredibly well. Last night, Kevin Garnett played 42 minutes, scored 33 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. Latrell Sprewell scored 27 points. Sam Cassell scored 17 points and added 12 assists.
But what did the other players contribute?
∑ Ervin Johnson - 25 minutes, 0 points, 5 rebounds
∑ Trenton Hassell - 27 minutes, 4 points
∑ Mark Madsen came back and had just 1 point in 10 minutes
∑ Gary Trent - 2 points, 6 rebounds in 19 minutes.
∑ Fred Hoiberg - 29 minutes, 9 points.
Now I understand that these guys are not expected to put up huge numbers, but there has to be some contribution, otherwise they Wolves are playing 3 on 5. Add Wally Szczerbiak and Michael Olowokandi to the starting lineup and Troy Hudson playing a lot of minutes off the bench, and you add another 40 points a game out of those players. At that point, the bench depth will be solid because these guys will be coming off the bench instead of starting. Thatís huge.
So when are T-Hud and Wally coming back? Who knows? Theyíre practicing. Hopefully theyíll be able to start playing in the next week. Michael Olowokandi will probably be out two weeks.
Any thoughts on the Wolves? E-mail me.
GOPHERS MEN WIN
The Gophers Menís basketball team had a nice, easy win over Long Beach St. last night at Williams Arena. Guess who led the way for the Gophers? Thatís right! None other than two-time Big Ten Player of the Week, Kris Humphreys. Last night, he recorded 28 points and 12 rebounds in leading the team to a 88-58 victory. Moe Hargrow added 15 points and Michael Bauer (8 boards) and Ben Johnson added 11 points.
Did anyone else watch the Average Joe finale on Tuesday night? If so, is anyone else really upset with Malena for chosing the ďhunkĒ Jason instead of the cool, millionaire Adam? I happened to watch that show and the former Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader decided on the hunk instead of the Average Joe.
I think that might be a good example of real ďReality TV.Ē The Average Joe, the good guy will always lose out to the attractive person. The good guy makes a great friend though, so weíve got that going for us! But had Malena selected Adam instead of Jason, it just wouldnít have been real. If she had chosen the guy that I would assume most of America wanted her to chose, Adam, it wouldnít have been real! Maybe the show was meant to remind us Average Guys where we stand in society!
Alex Belth of Bronx Banter just posted another great interview. He talked with Tom Verducci, the head baseball writer of Sports Illustrated. They discussed his sports upbringing as well as his early years in sports journalism. It gets really interesting when they start discussing todayís players and the current situation of the game from his perspective. Here is just a brief sampling to show how good Alex is at interviewing:
BB: Do the players feel more untouchable than they used to?
Verducci: I think they are more insulated than they ever have been. Now a lot of times you have to go through agents, and strength-training coaches and nutritionists and public relations agentsÖand thatís just the playerís own cadre of support. Thatís not even getting through the different levels on the team. It used to be that everybody took the team bus to the ballpark. Now everybody takes a cab. They stay at different hotels. Sometimes they even travel differently than the rest of the team. Obviously they donít have roommates anymore. I think the player has become more of an individual and I think the writers have paid for that because there isnít as much of a connection between players and the writers anymore.
BB: The late Leonard Koppett once wrote that loneliness is one of the most under appreciated aspects of a ballplayers life. You said that today's players are more remote than ever. How does loneliness effect their lives today as opposed to 20, 30 years ago? Also, how do you cope with the loneliness of the road?
Verducci: I don't know if players are more lonely as much as they are more insulated. They have their car services and private rooms at clubs and hangers-on to keep them company and the resources to jet home or to Vegas on an off day. Jeff Bagwell to me is an old school guy. He'll stick around the clubhouse after games and watch and talk baseball for hours. Too often he doesn't have a lot of company. You'd be amazed to be in a big league clubhouse and see so many teams who don't have clubhouse televisions tuned to other games going on. (The 2001 D-Backs were an exception, a bunch of baseball junkies). DVD movies, talk shows, hoops and football games are often found. As for me, I have a beautiful wife and two beautiful boys who make the flight home the best part of every trip.
BB: How have the writers changed since you started?
Verducci: I think sometimes writers buy into the notion that these guys [players] are different from us. Writers assume the players are more difficult to relate to because they do make so much more money. When I cover baseball, I always try to set the salaries aside. You know people want to run down the Yankees because of their payroll and I understand that there are certain economic problems in the game, but when Iím looking at the Yankees play baseball Iím not thinking about $186 million. Thatís going to detract from my enjoyment of the game. Iím not going to look at A Rod as the $252 million player, but at how he plays the game. I think some writers get caught up in how much money these guys make, and say, ďThey have such a different lifestyle than me therefore I canít relate to them.Ē And thatís baloney because when you get right down to it, they are people just the same as us.
And thatís just a small part of the interview. So again, be sure to check it out here.
Ben Jacobs of Universal Baseball Blog used the words of REO Speedwagonís "Take it on the Run" to illustrate what must be going through the mind of Red Sox current shortstop Nomar Garciaparra with all of the trade talk surrounding him. Be sure to check this link to read it.
Well, on that note, Iím going to call it a day! I am working on a couple of bigger projects and will also try to keep up with the free agent signings as they happen. If you have any questions or comments on anything youíve read, please just send me an e-mail! Thanks and have a great day!
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