Bear with me as I try to recap the MLB Winter Meetings in Vegas without succumbing to the use of terrible casino puns.
This year’s baseball winter meetings didn’t have the spark and flair of 2007’s when the blockbuster Willis/Cabrera Tigers trade finally launched the Rock City Cats over the hump and to a world championship… what’s that? Oh… really… last place huh? Willis threw 6 innings all year? Single A?! Well, shit.
Okay, so no front page news this year, but there were some clear winners and clear losers. And some not so clear situations. Let’s take a look.
The Metropolitans. Oman Minaya, fresh off a contract extension, did nothing but make his team better without giving up any talent. In two days he fixed the bullpen that cost him the NL East the last 2 years. He signed single-season save record holder Francisco Rodriguez as well as traded for JJ Putz, who himself has notched 91 saves over the past 3 seasons.
More recapitulations after the jump.
The Trolleydodgers. Dissed by Manny. Lost Furcal. Not one realistic positive acquisition. Holes all over the field: Starting Pitching, Bullpen, Shortstop, Power Bat. So yeah. Not a whole lot going good for Ned Colletti. Best case scenario here, they end up with a likely disgruntled Manny anyway. Not exactly a rousing victory.
The Fightin’ Marlboros. Dombrowski rolled into Vegas with several key spots to fill. Short, Closer, and Catcher. Specific, to the point, let’s make a deal. After either losing out on (or walking away from–depending who’s telling the story) Putz, Hoffman, Jack Wilson, Taylor Teagarden, and Rafael Furcal, Big Dave filled his gaps with secondary guys. Meh players SS Adam Everett (.219 in 48 games last year) and C Gerald Laird (.276 6HR) are now packing for Lakeland. He returns to Detroit with no closer in tow, but appears ready to utilize the Rodney/Zumaya tandem in some way at the back end of games. If you ask Detroit insiders, however, they’ll tell you that the ’08 meet-n-greet was a raving success… they didn’t spend any money.
The White Elephants.
This is actually a tough one to call. The A’s didn’t really lose anything this winter, but they made several competitive offers to get better, and were spurned either by agents fishing for more dough, or players who didn’t want to go to the bay. On one hand, they still have a bevy of young Show-ready talent. On the other, they could have easily gotten much better at 2 key spots. Furcal politely declined to play in the bay, probably to end up in either Toronto or Kansas City for more dough. There has also been a vague rumble of interest in the aging Randy Johnson that has yet to manifest. Billy Beane will tell you that he’s laying groundwork for off-season deals. The problem? Who’s going to be available to deal for?
(If you thought I was going to discuss the Yankees, Indians, White Sox or Royals, then you clearly don’t know me.)
In the high stakes world of professional athletics, it often comes down to who’s got the hot hand, who’s got the balls to let it ride, and who can cash out and live to fight another day. So put your money on the table and push all in, 2009 Opening Day is less than 4 months away.
Yeah, I didn’t think I could do it either.