First the Nationals, then the Red Sox and now, apparently, the Phillies have pulled off a completely unexpected out of left field, or in this case the Bullpen, deal. Cliff Lee. Wow. All this time, I thought that the secret unnamed suitor was sort of a joke, part of the general circus atmosphere and most likely the Nationals anyway, but it was serious. I think we now know the reason Cliff Lee has been off hunting deer all this time – he couldn’t trust himself not to break out in a big Fooled You! grin…much like Carl Crawford, apparently. (Tony Reagins, I take back most of my griping about you, on the Crawford issue at least.)
Yeah, so there I was, diligently writing my company’s newsletter (Yes. Still. At just shy of midnight. Why do you ask?), enjoying a lovely glass of port (Mitchella Vineyards Riportella III – tawny, brandied cherries, slightly spicy, absolutely gorgeous – and, yes, de rigueur when one is still writing one’s company newsletter at just shy of midnight), when on a whim I decided to glance at a few of the MLBlogs until the latest fit of I-don’t-really-want-to-be-writing-about-HR-issues-at-this-hour-on-my-own-time-thank-you-very-much spawned stuck-ness passed. And, much like Wednesday evening, I was left briefly wondering if I didn’t somehow check out The Onion by mistake. Nope, no joke. Lee’s a Phillie, again. (So, Yogi, gotta ask. Would that be déjà vu all over again or just plain ordinary déjà vu?)
I’d be lying if I said I was sorry the Angels won’t have to face Lee in 2011 unless all parties involved have an excellent post season run…and, with Tony Reagins’ latest announcement that having a full season with Kendry Morales and Dan Haren in addition to the two pitchers he has acquired is the equivalent of pulling off four free agency signings, the early odds on the Angels achieving this feat aren’t looking as good as I had hoped. Sorry Tony, I still really have to disagree with you on that one. But I digress (Yes, I am on my second glass of port, why do you ask? LOL!)…
I do offer my sincere condolences to my friends on MLBlogs, especially the Yankees and Rangers fans, who were hoping their team would snag Cliff Lee. We all know what it is to root really hard for our guys and what it is to be extremely disappointed when they don’t get what we most want them have. As one sometime, and recently oft, disappointed fan to another, I feel your pain. To borrow loosely the wisdom according to Scarlett O’Hara, that greatest of all pragmatists, Tomorrow is another day. You can stand it then. And later there will be small satisfaction in knowing that you won’t have to face him unless it’s in the post season either.
When the Nationals upset everyone’s plans by landing Jayson Werth, unexpectedly and so very, very early, I was worried this would happen. When the Red Sox signed Adrian Gonzalez I was somewhat relieved but still concerned. And, wouldn’t you know it, golly gosh darn it all to heck in a forking hand basket and other similarly lengthy strings of appropriate-for-the-family-show-that-is-MLBlogs swearing, the goram Red Sox went and signed Carl Crawford. Grrrrrr…er…I mean, well played Mr. Epstein. Well played. The Sox are going to be tough again this year. No, on second thought, grrrrrrrrrrr really covered it better.
Well then, moving right along. Mike Scioscia and Tony Reagins met with the press on separate occasions yesterday afternoon and my original plan for the evening was to blog about their – unsurprisingly similar – comments. Gotta love Hot Stove…and, actually I do. I’m just not particularly in love with it tonight. Although typically noncommittal, both Scioscia and Reagins did say that bumping up the Angels offense is the primary goal for the off season. Reagins indicated that this could be accomplished by either trades or free agency acquisitions or a combination of the two. When the subject of the Angels trying to land Crawford came up, he was evasive but didn’t outright say no the way he did with questions about the Angels making an offer to Cliff Lee. He later tantalizing said that signing one great free agent or signing two very good ones could be similarly beneficial.
Scioscia and Reagins said that the Angels would be perfectly comfortable heading into the 2011 season with third base as it stands now – manned by a platoon of primarily Maicer Izturis backed by Alberto Callaspo and Brandon Wood. I completely disagree with being comfortable with the third base situation, incidentally. Maicer really is the Rally Monkey. When he plays, he makes things happen, at the plate, in the field and on the base paths. It’s just the “when he plays” part that is the difficulty. He is plagued by injuries that leave him on the DL for significant stretches two and three times a season. Callaspo made some great plays for the Angels and had some fantastic plate appearances but his glove and his bat are inconsistent. And Brandon Wood? I am sure you already know all about his well publicized issues. I wish it were different, really I do. If only his major league success matched his heart and his desire, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. But that just isn’t the case and he hasn’t worked out in spectacular fashion. But I digress…
Reading between the lines of all of these comments, which is always dangerous, I believe that signing Crawford and keeping the three-way third base platoon was Plan A. With Plan A off the table, I believe that signing Adrian Beltre and possibly one other person and sticking with an Abreu, Bourjos and Hunter outfield is Plan B. Lyle Spencer, MLB.com’s Angels beat reporter, seemed to be leading us toward these conclusions, though I’m hardly certain that’s any less dangerous than just reading between the lines for myself. But it’s fun to speculate and it’s not like they’re going to give us any more information to go on until the deal, whatever it is, is done.
Come on Mr. Reagins. Make a move please, a really good one…a move the player accepts even. Let’s not have all of the off season surprises coming at the Angels expense, shall we. Impatient? Who, me?
The Nationals signed Jayson Werth for a $126 million dollars over 7 years deal! On the day before the Winter Meetings begin! Holy out of the blue Hot Stove developments, Batman!
There I was, enjoying a leisurely late Sunday afternoon – the last game wrapped up at 3:30 this morning, don’t judge, LOL – putting the house back together from the evening’s festivities when I decided to quickly check out the Hot Stove blog to see if there happened to be any new pre-Winter Meeting rumors. It was unlikely, right, but I needed a distraction from the dishes. Boy was I in for a surprise.
The Nationals signing Jayson Werth potentially changes everything for the Angels. Everyone who had their sights set on Werth will now train them on Carl Crawford instead. Christmas certainly came early for the Crawford family – his price just went way up. This is also potentially an early present for Adrian Beltre and several of the other highly sought free agents. With so many teams’ Plan A off the table before the meetings even start, there is plenty of time for offers and counter offers on Plans B through D and so on. And the farther apart each deal happens, the harder it gets to sneak a contract signing in under the radar before five or six other teams dive into the fray. I don’t even remember the Nationals being mentioned in the list of Werth suitors. The Nationals GM is the new player transaction ninja, I think.
I wonder how this news went down as everyone arrived at the winter meetings today? Welcome to the Swan and Dolphin Resort. We hope you had a nice flight. Here is your meeting packet including your room reservations, the week’s iteniary, and agendas for tomorrow’s meetings. And oh, by the way, you might want to spend the next few hours fleshing out plans D through N because, while you were in the air, the Nationals just started the dominoes rolling in a completely different direction. Have a pleasant stay. I’m sure that isn’t how it actually happened, but the mental image amused me. In this day and age, all of the GMs probably knew the second the trade became official via electronic alert, a courtesy text or, you know, Twitter.
Oh yeah, and the White Sox signed Adam Dunn late Thursday and resigned A.J. Pierzynski on Friday, the Cardinals signed Lance Berkman on Saturday, the Yankees resigned Derek Jeter on Saturday and the Red Sox nearly lost out on their deal with the Padres for Adrian Gonzales Saturday only to lock it in today, which hopefully will take a little bit of the edge off of their quest for Crawford and/or to resign Beltre. That last development was announced a mere three hours ago. Has this been an inordinately busy early Hot Stove weekend or what? I can’t wait to see what news the next few days bring.
As much as I would like to be posting this evening with stellar Angels signing/trade news, there is still no real news to report. Granted, the reports of all the guys we’re supposedly in talks with are coming faster and faster on each others’ heels – Carl Crawford, Adrian Beltre, even Rafael Soriano. Yes please. Yes please. And, hey, if we can afford him too and he doesn’t succumb to the usual Angels closer curse – well, he had career seasons for the two years before Tony signed him, I just don’t know what happened – yes please to him too. Why not. If you’re going to dream, dream big. And those are just the reports we have a reason to take seriously. Depending on who you’re reading, supposedly, we’re also talking to Jayson Werth, A.J. Pierzynski (because we really need another catcher), and Cliff Lee, among others. Heck, if you looked hard enough, someone probably has a “hot tip from an MLB insider” that Tony Reagins is in talks with Big Foot as a potential 3rd base option… Although…he probably swings a pretty big bat wouldn’t you think? Anyone know what his stats are against lefties?
None of this is to say that Hot Stove hasn’t been interesting so far…for a variety of definitions of interesting. I am very happy for the Dodgers. The Dodgers are kind of like an amiable ex-boyfriend for me. We weren’t right for one another but we parted ways on good terms and I always wish them well…except during the Freeway Series, of course. I was worried that in the middle of the ongoing divorce proceedings between Mommy Dearest and the king of all deadbeat baseball dads, the Dodgers would be left out of the trading season all together. Quite the contrary, they have been very busy so far. I think Uribe will be a great addition to the team, at 2nd for now with today’s trading of Theriot and with great options down the road for short and/or 3rd if Furcael spends another season on and off the DL and/or when Casey Blake’s contract is up. He wasn’t cheap, but it’s not like there are any great bargains out there this year.
I was surprised the Tigers were able to pounce so quickly on Victor Martinez, I expected that one to be more drawn out. They wanted another big bat and they certainly got one. I am interested to see what if any moves they make later in the off season.
I am perplexed at the way the Yankees are dealing with Derek Jeter. Of course they were going to negotiate. Players always want more than teams want to pay – this is true of employers and employees everywhere. But does anyone honestly believe that the Yankees want to let Derek Jeter go any more than he wants to leave? So what happened here and who thought the front office arguing this out in the media would be a good idea? The front office comments sound childish and pouty. Yankee fans don’t like it. Non Yankees baseball fans don’t seem to like it much either and it can’t be good for team morale. They will probably settle for the same amount they would have settled for without all of this upheaval so what was the upside here? Obviously bad PR decisions catch my attention.
The courting of Cliff Lee, on the other hand, amuses me to no end, partially because of how coy many of the suitors are trying to be and partially the degree to which the media are being anything but. Cliff Lee watch day 27! Breaking news: Cliff Lee signs…up for DirecTv. It’s definitely my own imp of the perverse, but if I were Cliff Lee I wouldn’t be able to resist messing with folks at this point. You know, show up at the grocery store in a D-backs ball cap or something. I predict the Rangers will make a strong offer but that Lee will be in Yankee’s pinstripes next year.
The American League Golden Glove winners were announced today – Congratulations to the winners! I think that the coaches and managers who voted this year really got it right. Longoria? Teixeira? Ichiro? Mauer? These, and the others, are players who took my breath away with seemingly impossible plays time and time again this season.
Yes, I am disappointed for Torii Hunter. I would have liked to see him win his tenth Golden Glove in a row, but I also would have liked to see a performance worthy of that honor this year. Sadly, his performance was not, especially with Crawford, Ichiro and Gutierrez in the running. But, I don’t think this is the beginning of the end for Torii at all. I think the issues this year were less age related than trying to be everything for everyone at once. Until the outfield changes he was trying to cover more ground than ever before to make up for weaknesses in the corners and expending more energy than any other player on the team to try and prop up morale and light up a spark in the clubhouse. Torii’s move to right field was as generous and team spirited as anyone could ask for, but it was not without its challenges, namely a shorter distance to the warning track and that tricky corner between the right field pavilion and the beginning of the visitor’s side field seats to learn.
Fortunately these are all issues that can be remedied in the 2011 season by starting with the new outfield structure and with practice, practice, practice…and if Carl Crawford just happens to show up in the Angels Christmas stocking, so much the better ;). I think Torii still has that 10th Golden Glove season in him, and maybe more. Who knows, maybe next year there will be two AL right fielders winning Golden Glove honors (because I don’t think for a second that Ichiro is going to deliver anything less than a Golden Glove winning performance next year)? And we have our up and comer Peter Bourjos as well. With the 2nd most assists (10) and the highest Total Zone Runs (17) in center field this year…as a rookie…playing only 51 games…I am certain there is gold somewhere in his future, if not in 2011, then soon. So, one way or the other, I have reason to hope there will be an Angel worthy of this list next year.
In the mean time, damn, that is one impressive list!