Monday, January 18, 2010

The Last Free Agents To Fall Will Open Up The Floodgates

  • The final dominoes to fall:

In the coming week, there should be resolution with the two remaining free agents who are in any demand at all----Bengie Molina and Joel Pineiro. Once they fall, the rest of the names----Jon Garland; Doug Davis; Rod Barajas----will find work somewhere.

For some reason, the noted political philosopher/icon Sarah Palin's words repeatedly pop into my head when thinking of Bengie Molina. All that needs doing is to replace the name "Vladimir Putin" with "Bengie Molina" and you get the similar effect:

As [Molina] rears his head and comes into the air space of the [Mets], where does he go?

Molina has nowhere to go other than the Mets.

He knows it; the Mets know it; the rest of baseball knows it.

Because there are still other catchers available like the aforementioned Barajas and Yorvit Torrealba, Molina's bargaining position is so weak that he's had to back off of his loony demand of three guaranteed years and come down to two. The Mets are smartly holding out on Molina, safe in the knowledge that he has no choice but to accept that the best he'll do is get a year plus an option based on games played/performance.

He's coming to the Mets. The sooner he and his reps accept it and take the deal the Mets are offering, the sooner everyone can move forward.

With Pineiro, I had him pegged as coming to the Mets months ago (and mentioned as such in my podcast appearance on SportsFanBuzz last week); with only the shambolic Dodgers pursuing him, he didn't have much choice either; but now, according to Jon Heyman, the Angels have entered the mix.

With the Angels involved, the Mets are going to have to up the ante to get Pineiro. I can't see the Angels breaking the bank for Pineiro, my best guess is that they'll offer somewhere in the 3-year, $21 million range at most; if the Mets have to raise their 2-year, $15 million offer, they're going to have to do it to get the pitcher. If it takes 3-years, $23 million to lure Pineiro, I'd be willing.

Unlike the frozen-in-place Dodgers, the Angels are more stable than the Mets; more of a relaxed locale. The Mets have gotten all of their deals----from Jason Bay to the likely Molina signing----done at their price. If they have to go a bit higher than their original intent with Pineiro, I believe he's worth it given how he's re-invented himself as a contact/ground ball pitcher who'd thrive in Citi Field.

Once Pineiro falls, so too will Jon Garland and Doug Davis. The final frenzy of free agency is in motion; only the panic is on the part of the players and not the teams. It's an ongoing trend.

  • And what of Johnny Damon?

He's pretty well screwed. That's what.

Talk about having nowhere to go. Nowhere to go, thy name is Johnny Damon.

People are waiting to see if the Yankees are going to jump back in on Damon. Even with their insistence that they don't have the money to pay Damon, they still haven't taken steps to fill the hole in left field. Would Damon be better off going to the Tigers----where he's been rumored----or swallowing his pride and returning to the Yankees, where he didn't want to leave in the first place?

The Tigers aren't going to offer much more money than the Yankees; forget the Braves and Giants. Damon's in a box. There's no one to pay him; nowhere for him to go. One would have to believe that Damon is coming to grips with this simple fact.

You have to wonder if Damon hasn't spoken to his fellow Scott Boras client, Alex Rodriguez, about dealing with the situation and coming back to the Yankees. The misplaced embarrassment will pass; does he really want to go to the Tigers?

I'm starting to think that Damon will return to the Yankees on a team-friendly deal partially because the circumstances dictate it. He overplayed his hand. Why make things worse by going to a less enticing venue like the Tigers? My advice to Damon would be to make the best deal he can with the Yankees and move on----if they'll still have him, that is.

  • Yes, I'm really writing about Mike Redmond:

I was stunned that the Twins let Mike Redmond leave to sign with the Indians for $850,000. It's not that Redmond's departure is that devastating a loss for the Twins, but he was an important part of their clubhouse and had turned into a useful backup for Joe Mauer. So what if he's about to turn 39? How much was he going to play behind Mauer anyway? The point is that this is a symptom of one of the two teams from last year's post-season that have done absolutely nothing this winter----the Twins and the Dodgers.

For a team like the Twins, that has had playoff chances come down to a one-game-playoff in each of the past two years, they have little margin for error. Because of their attention to fundamentals and discipline, they're contenders again-and-again despite losing players via budgetary constraints; that can only last for so long before one wrong move or bad break sends them from 87 wins and a playoff spot, to 82 wins and mediocrity. Add in that the White Sox are primed for a massive year, and the Twins are in trouble.

Understandably, the Twins are coming to grips with the mega-deal they'll have to negotiate with Joe Mauer; and make no mistake, even with a slight hometown discount that Mauer will give the club, it's still going to be worth at least $150 million to start with. Mauer's not leaving Minnesota, but they'll still have to pay him. The short-term reality of this is that they lost an underappreciated component to what they do in Mike Redmond.

With the Dodgers, they've literally done nothing.

Because of their young talent, they'll still be respectable next season, but as their chase of Joel Pineiro proves, they're outgunned by both the Mets and Angels financially. Being locked in the vacancy of the McCourts divorce, they'll have trouble competing in a rough division next year without a slight tweak here and there, especially in the starting rotation. They'll be relying on Clayton Kershaw to take the next step----something he's fully capable of doing; but the back of their rotation is an issue. I love James McDonald's stuff, but he struggled last year and if they need him to be more than a back-of-the-rotation rookie, they've got a problem, hence the chase for Pineiro.

Manager Joe Torre's magic in steering his teams into the playoffs is legendary, but without some movement this winter, even Torre's cachet might not be enough to counteract the quicksand that the divorce has created. The thing about quicksand is that if you panic, you sink faster, and the Dodgers are sinking with no tree branch nearby to save them.

  • Why the Pirates are the Pirates and the Marlins are the Marlins:

The Marlins signed veteran journeyman Brendan Donnelly last July in the hopes that he could be insurance for them late in the season. It was a cheap flier the type the Marlins repeatedly take and from which they get production and more. Donnelly was great for the Marlins as an invaluable set-up man, bolstering their roll to 87 wins and contention until the final days of the season.

He was cheap.

He was excellent.

Then they let him leave confident that they could find someone else who could do exactly what Donnelly did for a similar price.

And of course the Pirates took Donnelly's short-term performance and gave him a guaranteed $1.5 million with incentives that could add up to $3 million. Similar to the ridiculous signings from last year of Ramon Vazquez and Eric Hinske; and their haphazard trades of Nate McLouth; Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez, the Pirates are the definition of anarchy.

They have no plan. They just "do" things; and while the Joker (or I) behave in such a way and the lack of planning ("Do I really look like a guy with a plan?") tend to work to their desired effect and are----at the very least----entertaining, the Pirates do their drunken stumble; lament the money they don't have; and fail to notice that they do notoriously stupid things not because of a lack of money, but because they're stupid!!!

MLB stepped in with the Marlins last week for reasons that I can't understand; but why are they not stepping in on the Pirates, whose organizational viability has been non-existent since 1992? They're a train wreck and instead of sifting through the wreckage and fixing the problems, they spend $1.5 million on Brendan Donnelly.

That's why they're the Pirates.

  • Viewer Mail 1.18.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE steroids:

It's really hard to get worked up about steroids at this point, although I can understand Jack Clark's sentiments. The point is, as you stated, "everyone was complicit in this mess."

I find the whole Mark McGwire apology to Bud Selig insulting. Selig's "head in the clouds" routine is tiresome. As much as baseball tries to make this go away, it's not going to heal until they really clean out the wound and playing dumb is not a strong enough antibiotic. If it takes people like Jack Clark to blast away at the guilty until the whole episode is complete, so be it.


She-Fan said...

I hope Damon takes your advice!

Gabriel said...

Probably the only way the whole steroids issue is going to be forgotten is when the last of the steroid era has been removed from the Hall of Fame ballot, either because of its induction or else.

Jeff said...

I would applaud MLB stepping in to take the reins away from current Pittsburgh ownership/management. What a joke.

As for Jack Clark, I love the guy and all, but he really is one of those guys who just likes to hear himself talk. Remember when he ripped your '86 Mets calling them ALL cheaters, fakes, phonies? This ain't the first time.

And if he feels so passionate about it, why wait until now to say something so harsh? He's had plenty of time to get these soundbytes in. Having followed Clark for most of his career, I think he was looking for a way to re-establish his dominance as the go-to Cardinals slugger... especially right before his appearance at the winter warm up, which was all about creating drama for drama's sake.


Joe said...

Didn't the Twins acquire JJ Hardy? :)

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