Monday, November 8, 2010

The World Of Imagination

  • Giggling like schoolgirls:

Is it a story that the Yankees contacted Cliff Lee's agent on the first day of free agency?

Were they supposed to wait and play hard to get with the idea that "we're the Yankees, we don't go to players; players come to us"?

Or perhaps Brian Cashman, Joe Girardi and Hank Steinbrenner were in the Yankees offices in their PJs (to me, Hank looks like an old-school one-piece, footy man with the escape hatch out the backdoor-type) taking turns dialing the numbers of Lee's and his representatives cell phones, giggling like overexcited teenage girls at a sleepover as they hung up.

I can absolutely see the trio huddled over a telephone, saying, "Tee hee hee hee!!!! Now you call!! You call!!!" And Hank running around the room, covering his mouth and shaking to keep from laughing aloud as a sleepy Kristin Lee answers the phone, repeatedly asking who's calling and demanding to know how they got their number.

These are not "stories", per se; but a way to create a factory-style sausage of information that has neither taste nor body and very little use aside from a circle of cheap feedings for the masses who want something----anything----to read in in the frozen days right after the season and before the dominoes start falling in terms of players signing with various teams.

Much of the free agent/trade machinations probably won't be concluded until January or even February. Teams are waiting to see how far the prices drop for players who aren't on the top tier of free agents; players aren't going to sign for nothing unless they have no alternative. We've seen cases such as this for those who are in the middle-to-low end of the spectrum being forced to scrounge for jobs. Felipe Lopez had his career year in 2009 and was left out in the cold in 2010 until he fired Scott Boras for lack of attention and signed a late, lowball contract with the Cardinals.

To me, it's a waste of time to speculate on the "best" free agents and predict who's going where. I've done it in the past before coming to this realization. It's not about any actual inside information aside from what's planted by friendly agents to supposedly "credible" members of the media; each side is using the other. The writers get a story along with the "source" to validate what they're writing; the player and his reps get a nugget out into the public to create a frenzy and, possibly, some panic within the baseball ranks.

Sometimes it works.

But don't mistake it for anything more than a mutually beneficial wag the dog-style scenario for everyone to try and get what they need----abstractly and factually. The "rumors" they hear may be based in some semblance of truth, but that doesn't make them accurate or likely to happen.

It's not going to end anytime soon.

  • Meanwhile, on the realism front...

The Angels are always active in the free agent market and, most of the time, they do something no one expects them to do and strike without warning. Targeting who they want (on the field and in the clubhouse), they don't muck around----they make a fair and reasonable offer, give a set amount of time for the player and his agent to accept or decline, and move forward.

Ken Rosenthal speculates----link----on the Angels off-season plans and whether or not owner Arte Moreno will choose to negotiate with Scott Boras----something he's been adamantly against after the way the Mark Teixeira negotiations went sour.

The relevant clip follows:

Angels owner Arte Moreno told the Los Angeles Times he was “angry” and “disappointed” by his team's performance in 2010. The question now is whether he'll put aside his past frustration with agent Scott Boras in an effort to improve his club.

Much as certain teams prefer to avoid Boras, it's difficult when he represents many of the best players. Moreno abruptly pulled out of the Mark Teixeira negotiations with Boras in Dec. 2008, withdrawing an eight-year, $160 million free-agent offer. But now he might have no choice but to re-engage.

Outfielder Carl Crawford, represented by Brian Peters of Legacy Sports, is widely believed to be the Angels' top free-agent target. But at least two of Boras' clients — third baseman Adrian Beltre and closer Rafael Soriano — could be of interest to the Angels. So might a third, Jayson Werth, if Crawford signs with another club.

Boras represents two prominent Angels — pitcher Jered Weaver and first baseman Kendry Morales. Yes, Boras often prolongs negotiations, putting teams in difficult positions as they pursue other alternatives. But the Angels will need to be awfully creative if they intend to retool while shunning Boras' clients.

My feeling is that Moreno and the Angels will make a big play for Crawford; be in on Lee (within reason and probably unsuccessfully); then, if that fails, will prefer to make a trade for a bat and/or starting pitcher and not deal with Boras.

Knowing the Angels and their needs, they'll check in on some outside-the-box names who most would consider unavailable.

Who knows what Sandy Alderson has in mind with the Mets? The Angels should check in and ask what the price is for David Wright or Jose Reyes. The Marlins are always ready to deal, so Dan Uggla is on the table. And what about Hanley Ramirez? Jorge Posada would undoubtedly reject any and all trade presentations the Yankees approach him with, but would he go to the Angels with a chance to catch more regularly and DH? It never hurts to try. The Padres have said they'll listen on Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell.

For alternative free agents, the Angels have long lusted after Paul Konerko and Jim Thome's out there.

The Angels don't need another starting pitcher as much as they need a bat; of course that doesn't mean they won't go after more pitching. With their principles such as they are and that they deviate from the perceived norms, they don't have to engage Boras.

Nobody knows what the Angels have in mind; but I'm going with their word and saying they'll stay as far away from Boras as possible and not do business with him or his clients. If their preferred free agents go elsewhere, they're going to make a trade.

  • Wants, needs and heart's desires:

In the coming days, I'll go team-by-team and discuss what they need to improve and which players they should pursue via free agency and trade. (I'm not sure of the structure as of yet, but I'll think of something clever. Maybe.)

I was on with Sal at the Sportsfan Buzz on Wednesday talking about the World Series; Cliff Lee; Derek Jeter; and other stuff. You can listen directly here; or download it from I-Tunes on Sal's site here.


She-Fan said...

I giggled like a schoolgirl when I read that the Yankees had contacted Lee's agent. The media is so starved for news that even a phone call merits a headline.

Jeff said...

And thus begins the Yankees/Lee love affair of the winter... BLEH.

Since Kenny Williams ain't gonna pay, I'd like to see the Angels go get Paulie. To me, watching Konerko here on the Southside has been a treat over the last several years. I'm gonna miss him. He's the sort of ballplayer that often gets overlooked, but he is not only a great personality and player, but also an old soul who brings a smile to your face as soon as he walks in a room.