Riding The Pine


Welcome back. No real activity (I told you so last week). The new year should bring new contracts to many players (and the way things have seemed this off-season, the will be over paided contracts).

– Things are starting to heat up for the best free agent on the market. Carlos Beltran reportedly has a 6 year, $96 million offer on the table from Houston. The have waited to make any real moves until they find out what he is doing. He also declined arbitration, so a January 8th deadline is set. Beltran last week met with Yankee execs, including the boss. The word from those meeting was Beltran was impressed with everything he saw. No official offer has come from them yet. The other New York team is meeting with Beltran next week. They have serious interest also. Both New York teams can offer more money than Houston; I would start working on plan B if I was incharge there. The Cubs, who many expected to be in the running, have not made an offer yet; they still have not moved Sosa’s huge contract.

– The Yankees and Diamondbacks have started talking again about Randy Johnson. Apparently they are close to a deal; Johnson has been telling his teammates he is going to New York. The D’backs have been said to receive Javier Vazquez, Brad Hensley, prospect Eric Duncan, and prospect Doiner Narvarro. Nothing has been agreed to yet; the players involved could change. I don’t know why the D’backs would want Duncan (they just overpaid Troy Glaus to play third), Vazquez is a good pickup, Navarro is still a ways away, and Hensley is just being tossed in.

– Kevin Millwood should be joining the Indians soon. He took his physical, but the Indian’s training staff is checking the results of the examination very closely before they give the contract to Millwood. The deal is supposedly for 1 year, worth $8 million.

– Since many of the bigger name pitchers have been signed, the market for Derek Lowe is beginning to expand. The Dodgers have made him their number 1 priority, as have the Tigers and the Orioles. His agent has said he wants a 4 year deal worth $48 million, far more than he is worth.

There are still a few big name free agents that seem to have been forgotten:
– Carlos Delgado – He has to be the top hitting free agent left. He is drawing interest from the Mets and Orioles. Seattle was interested at one time, but, with Sexson and Beltre being signed, the Mariners may not be interested any longer. The Rangers have also shown interest, but the have decided to pass due to Delgado’s high price tag. The wild card will be the Yankees. If they move Giambi, they will definitely make Delgado an offer.
– Magglio Ordonez – Ordonez seems to be a risk to sign since his injury is not very clear. After knee surgery, he has had some blood problems. Many teams would sign him for a small base, incentive laden deal. Currently the Orioles, Braves, and Mets are interested.
– Juan Gonzalez – Ok, he hasn’t been that good of a player for quite some time, but he is a name that everyone will recognize. He has been talking to Tampa Bay. They need to find a replacement for Rocco Baldelli since he is going to miss the season.
– Jeromy Burnitz – Burnitz will be signed at more than he is worth due to the Coors Factor (see Vinny Castilla). The Astros would like him if they need to replace Beltran. The financially straped D’back are another team willing to throw money his direction.


The Pirates trade Jason Kendall to the Athletics for Mark Redman and Arthur Rhodes – This was one of the more shocking deals of the off-season. The A’s have been known to avoid players with big contract; they took on one that could be a fifth of next seasons budget. Don’t get me wrong, Kendall is a good player and will fit in with Oaklands style of play; the contract he got from Pittsburgh was way above market value. In return for Kendall, the Pirates got a lefty set-up man and a 4th starter. Rhodes has proved he can’t close (he shouldn’t have to though if Jose Mesa can replicate last season), but he stablizes a young bullpen. Redman will be the verteren in the young bullpen. His upside is he eats innings while not getting blown out.

The Pirates trade Arthur Rhodes to the Indians for Matt Lawton – The Kendall deal looks better now that Pittsburgh received a new lead off hitter for one of the Kendall players. Rhodes will be a huge upgrade over the has beens in the Indian’s pen. Lawton can hit lead off, plays consistantly, and solidifies the defense. Cleveland also clears a spot for Grady Sizemore next season.

The Royals trade Benito Santiago to the Pirates for Leon Nunez – The last piece of the puzzle for Pittsburgh. Santiago will fill in at catcher for the next year until a better replacement can be found. He doesn’t cost much, so the Pirates are happy about that. The Royals received a good young pitcher still developing. He does have some control issues, but he should be helping the Royals by mid-season (he should start the season at Triple A).

The Angels send Jose Guillen to the Expos/Nationals (that is still their name, right?) for Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis – Guillen should have knew this was coming. After his second straight solid season, Guillen screwed up; he got benched for the last week of the season and the playoffs. As a result, he gets sent to a last place team. He has a manageble contract for the Nationals, and should be an upgrade over any current full time outfielder the Nationals used. The Angels did get a steal though. Rivera, if he got a full time job, could be just as good, if not better, than Guillen. Again, he will be used as a fourth outfielder. Izturis was intreging until the Angels signed Orlando Cabrera. Now he will either start the season as a utility player or in Triple A. I think he will be used as trade bait before the trading deadline.

That’s it for this week. Please feel free to send questions about players, fantasy scenarios, or hate mail.