- The Phillies are on the verge of sowing the seeds to their own destruction:
Because the proposed trade of Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays to the Phillies; Cliff Lee to the Mariners and it still unknown as to the exact names and numbers being exchanged by the three teams, I'm refraining full-blown comment on the ramifications of this trade. I'm under the assumption that it could still fall apart.
What I will say is that the whole idea of the Phillies trading for Halladay when the winter commenced was for he and Lee to combine with Lee for a devastating combination at the top of their starting rotation. Since they're in essence trading Lee and a chunk of their minor league system for Halladay, the Phillies haven't taken a step forward; in fact it could be argued that they haven't even taken a lateral step; they've taken a step backward.
If this trade goes through as reported, it will be seen in retrospect as a gigantic blunder on the part of Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. In addition to the utterly bizarre signing of Placido Polanco to play third base, this maneuver is the next step over the cliff for the Phillies.
And there's no turning back mid-plummet.
Somewhere Omar Minaya and Jeff Wilpon are clinking champagne glasses. And laughing.
- Winter Preview----Los Angeles Dodgers:
At least manager Joe Torre is accustomed to dealing with off-field turmoil and winning in spite of it, but the Dodgers situation is a mess.
What they need: Starting pitching; a backup catcher; a veteran power bat off the bench.
Free agents: C Brad Ausmus; 2B Ronnie Belliard; RHP Jon Garland; 2B Orlando Hudson; INF Mark Loretta; 1B Doug Mientkiewicz; LHP Eric Milton; RHP Guillermo Mota; LHP Will Ohman; RHP Vicente Padilla; RHP Jason Schmidt; DH/1B Jim Thome; RHP Jeff Weaver
Ausmus has been contemplating retirement, but doesn't sound like a guy ready to retire if he's offered a plum job as a backup. He could be back or might sign elsewhere. I don't think he'll retire.
Belliard is an underrated player who took the starting second base job from Hudson for the playoffs. The Dodgers appear ready to give the second base job to Blake DeWitt if necessary, but Belliard might be back on a short-term contract. Hudson's gone.
Loretta is a useful utility player who might be back.
Mientkiewicz doesn't do much of anything anymore that makes him worth keeping around at any price. Nothing personal.
Mota pitched reasonably well for the Dodgers last year as a bottom-tier reliever and might be back. Ohman's gone.
Garland is in demand as a reasonably priced innings-gobbler. Depending on what the Dodgers do to upgrade their rotation, Garland might be back.
Padilla was brilliant down the stretch and early in the playoffs. After replenishing his value to a certain degree, someone might overpay for Padilla after the first few free agent dominoes fall; he'd be well-served to stay with the Dodgers.
Schmidt's career might be over after his arm gave out again and he cleaned out his locker at Dodger Stadium mid-season and left.
Thome will find work in the American League as a DH.
Weaver has found a home with the Dodgers as a long reliever/swing starter, but he had found a home with the Cardinals in 2006 helping them win a World Series and left for the Mariners and bigger money. It was a big mistake to leave the Cardinals then and it would be a big mistake to leave the Dodgers now. I have no idea what Weaver's going to do. If I had to bet, I'd say he's back.
Players available via trade: SS Rafael Furcal; C Russell Martin; RHP James McDonald; OF Juan Pierre; RHP Hiroki Kuroda
No one seems to know how much the divorce proceedings between the McCourts are going to affect business with the club. The Dodgers have done literally nothing so far this off-season, which is a bad sign because GM Ned Colletti is generally very aggressive. One thing's for sure, this is going to get worse before it gets better. Torre has his work cut out for him holding things together.
Furcal played brilliantly in the NLDS; horrible in the NLCS and had a poor regular season. He's got over $20 million coming to him through 2011 and Ivan DeJesus Jr is a viable replacement if he's healthy after an injury-plagued year. They also have Chin-Lung Hu as a low-cost shortstop.
Martin is arbitration-eligible and there's concern about his lack of pop (26 extra base hits on the year). Torre might want a better game-caller behind the plate. Martin can be had in a trade.
I think McDonald is going to be a superstar once he bridles his vicious stuff, but he might be part of a blockbuster type trade for a veteran pitcher.
Pierre has been an exemplary teammate since losing his starting job and performing well in replacing the suspended Manny Ramirez; he never squawked about his role as a backup. He's got $18.5 million coming to him through 2011, but he's movable for another high-priced contract.*
*Note: A report coming out this morning is saying that Pierre has been traded to the White Sox for two minor leaguers. It's not official.
Kuroda has had injury-problems and got rocked in the NLCS by the Phillies. He's also due to make $13 million next year and could be moved if the Dodgers have to slash salary.
Players to pursue:
Via free agency: LHP Doug Davis (Diamondbacks); INF Jamey Carroll (Indians); 1B Jason Giambi (Rockies); RHP Jason Marquis (Rockies); LHP Jarrod Washburn (Tigers); C Miguel Olivo (Royals); SS Orlando Cabrera (Twins); RHP Justin Duchscherer (Athletics); RHP Pedro Martinez (Phillies); RHP Brett Myers (Phillies); C Jose Molina (Yankees); INF/OF Mark DeRosa (Cardinals); C Rod Barajas (Blue Jays); RHP Ben Sheets; RHP Chien-Ming Wang (Yankees); LHP Randy Johnson (Giants); RHP Todd Wellemeyer (Cardinals)
There's a very good chance that Wang winds up with Torre in Los Angeles.
The other starting pitchers are moderately priced and/or veterans looking for work. There are the legends (Martinez, Johnson); the gutty, innings-eaters (Davis); the relatively reliable veterans (Marquis); and the rolls of the dice (Sheets, Duchscherer, Washburn). Pitching in vast Dodger Stadium with the strong bullpen of the Dodgers would benefit them greatly.
Any and every team could use DeRosa and Torre could stick him at second base or use him as a jack-of-all-trades. Carroll is a reasonable replacement for Loretta.
If there's no regular role as a DH in the American League for Giambi, he's a prime candidate for a bench role with the Dodgers and Torre.
Via trade: RHP Jake Westbrook (Indians); RHP Brandon Morrow (Mariners); RHP Joe Blanton (Phillies); RHP Josh Johnson (Marlins); RHP Ricky Nolasco (Marlins); RHP Derek Lowe (Braves); RHP John Maine (Mets); RHP Carlos Zambrano (Cubs); RHP Roy Oswalt (Astros); LHP Paul Maholm (Pirates); RHP Chris Young (Padres)
They're all pitchers listed above. I had thought the Dodgers were prime candidates to land Halladay, but the turmoil in the front office pretty much sabotaged that idea.
Would the Dodgers take Lowe and some cash back in a deal for Pierre? Maybe.
Westbrook is recovering from Tommy John surgery, so he wouldn't be moved until he proves he's healthy, but teams will be keeping an eye on him.
The Dodgers have the farm system to make a move on Nolaasco or a bold move on Josh Johnson and the Marlins, as always, will listen to proposals on anyone and everyone.
Zambrano could be had, but does Torre need that aggravation? I don't think so.
- Red Sox agree to terms with John Lackey and Mike Cameron:
There's much talk about how this bolsters the Red Sox starting rotation, but the starting rotation was supposed to be a major strength for the Red Sox last season when they had eight big league starters heading into the season.
Look how that turned out.
I like the Lackey signing, but to mention Daisuke Matsuzaka as a major part of a hellish starting rotation is stretching things a bit. That said, if the Red Sox signed Lackey to a similar contract as the Yankees gave A.J. Burnett, it's a fair deal. Burnett has better stuff, but Lackey----even with his arm troubles in recent years----is a better bet to stay healthy and he won't be afraid of the spotlight; he's performed in big games time and time again.
With Cameron, this signals the end of Jason Bay's time with the Red Sox (I think Bay's going to the Mets). It's unclear whether Cameron or Jacoby Ellsbury will be shifting to left field. The Red Sox still need to get a big power bat somewhere. They're after Adrian Gonzalez, but that's iffy.These signings don't propel the Red Sox past the Yankees. They need a bat.