So the madness is beginning...
The Chicago Cubs have signed LH Scott Eyre to a three year deal that guarantees Eyre $11 million (performance bonuses could kick it up to $13.4 million.)
Washington signed utility guy Marlon Anderson to a two year deal worth $1.85 million.
Chipper Jones is finally restructuring his contract - Jones has evidently offered to do this after each of the two preceding seasons; this year the Braves are taking him up on it. The prospect of Rafael Furcal playing elsewhere seems to have concentrated the mind wonderfully.
Jason Bay is getting some big money - $18.25 million over the next four years. The Pirates are doing what Toronto did with Wells and Hinske - lock up the player through his arbitration years. This will save them money. I would think this approach has already saved the the Blue Jays some money as well.
Query - is Terry Adams an "old friend?" I seek enlightenment. Anyway, among the players DFA'd by the Pirates were infielders Bobby Hill and Mike Restovich.
News on the big free agents: no news! Isn't that strange? Because surely the two most impressive free agents this off-season are Rafael Furcal and Paul Konerko. Everyone seems to be taking it for granted that Konerko is staying put, although the $52 million offer from Chicago is but a rumour so far. The Angels haven't given up yet. As for Furcal, the Mets seem convinced that he's off to the Cubs, but the Braves are clearly positioning themselves to try to keep him where he is (see Chipper Jones, above.) And if they can't bring Furcal back, John Schuerholz has his eye fixed on Trevor Hoffman.
As for the rest: St. Louis is backing out of the Brian Giles sweepstakes, having decided to concentrate on pitching instead... the Yankees will offer Giles $33 million over three years to play CF ... Giles' agent says he and his client haven't made plans to go anywhere yet, that he spoke with Ricciardi on Sunday, and that the Blue Jays remain in the hunt... the Cardinals are going after A.J. Burnett, although they're also very much interested in Octavio Dotel.... the Yankees have not been able to persuade B.J. Ryan to come to town and be Mariano Rivera's set-up man... having already lost out on Scott Eyre, the Bombers are now looking at Kyle Farnsworth and Bob Howry...
Rumours! - the Marlins may be about to deal Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Texas for Hank Blalock and a pitching prospect. (The deal is aparently being put together by Jeff Loria and Tom Hicks, which makes one wonder how the two GMs feel about it.)
Teams are purchasing player contracts in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft, and the Blue Jays have added Josh Banks and Ryan Roberts to the 40 man roster.
Ken Rosenthal mentions that the Jays are interested in Gerald Laird (tip of the hat to Bauxite mathesond) - apparently San Diego, Colorado, and Tampa are also making inquiries. Laird is 26 years old and has a .224 lifetime average in 81 games, which seems to make him a hot commodity.
Jays fans regularly dream of bringing a Big Scary Bat to town, and two of the names that often appear on the wish list are Adam Dunn and Justin Morneau. What would it take?
Bear this in mind - Cincinnati is looking to dump salary, and Minnesota is never interested in taking on salary. So you can pretty much forget about including Batista and Hinske in a Dunn trade. The Reds would more likely be calling out names like Chacin and Bush and McGowan. As for the Twins, they are very well stocked in young pitching - just wait til you all get a look at Francisco Liriano - but they have problems in the infield. And the outfield. And scoring runs in general. So I expect the first words out of Terry Ryan's mouth would be "Aaron Hill. For starters."
I don't know that anyone around here has had much to say about it, but baseball does have a shiny new steroid policy, that calls for a 50 game suspension for a first offense, a 100 game suspension for a second offense, and... well, three strikes and You're Out, of course. Possibly even more earth-shaking, however, will be the testing for amphetamines - the first penalty for being caught will be mandatory additional testing - a second offense will cost 25 games, a third offense will cost 80 games. Jeff Blair is all over this:
Wait until you see the dog days of August played out without the benefits of 'beanies' or 'greenies' or 'clubhouse coffee.' I'm going to say what a whole lot of people are thinking: A cleaner game is not necessarily going to be a better game, and I wonder how many fans realize it.
With everybody "playing naked", as the players call it, two things to look for - will this have more of an effect on older players? Are they more likely to run down without help (especially if they've come to rely on it?). Or perhaps older players will have a better idea on how to pace themselves through the long season. Secondly, does this mean that a wise manager will use his bench players more than in the past, and make sure his regulars are getting plenty of rest?
Baseball America listed the compensation types for free agents in their lastest 'Ask BA':
Type A Wilson Alvarez (LAD) Tom Gordon (NYY) Joe Randa (SD) Brad Ausmus (Hou) Mark Grudzielanek (StL) Al Reyes (StL) A.J. Burnett (Fla) Ramon Hernandez (SD) Kenny Rogers (Tex) Jeromy Burnitz (ChC) Trevor Hoffman (SD) B.J. Ryan (Bal) Royce Clayton (Ari) Bob Howry (Cle) Rudy Seanez (SD) Roger Clemens (Hou) Todd Jones (Fla) Julian Tavarez (StL) Jeff Conine (Fla) Paul Konerko (CWS) Ugueth Urbina (Phi) Johnny Damon (Bos) Matt Lawton (NYY) Billy Wagner (Phi) Octavio Dotel (Oak) Braden Looper (NYM) Larry Walker (StL) Erubiel Durazo (Oak) Kevin Millar (Bos) Jeff Weaver (LAD) Scott Eyre (SF) Bengie Molina (LAA) Rondell White (Det) Kyle Farnsworth (Atl) Matt Morris (StL) Bob Wickman (Cle) Rafael Furcal (Atl) Bill Mueller (Bos) Tim Worrell (Ari). Brian Giles (SD) Mike Piazza (NYM) Type B Antonio Alfonseca (Fla) Rick Helling (Mil) Todd Pratt (Phi) Rich Aurilia (Cin) Roberto Hernandez (NYM) Felix Rodriguez (NYY) Paul Byrd (LAA) Jason Johnson (Det) Reggie Sanders (StL) Hector Carrasco (Was) Jacque Jones (Min) J.T. Snow (SF) Elmer Dessens (LAD) Al Leiter (NYY) Sammy Sosa (Bal) Cal Eldred (StL) Esteban Loaiza (Was) Russ Springer (Hou) Juan Encarnacion (Fla) Kenny Lofton (Phi) Frank Thomas (CWS) Shawn Estes (Ari) Brian Meadows (Pit) Brett Tomko (SF) Carl Everett (CWS) Jim Mecir (Fla) Michael Tucker (Phi) Julio Franco (Atl) Jose Mesa (Pit) Daryle Ward (Pit) Nomar Garciaparra (ChC) Dan Miceli (Col) Jarrod Washburn (LAA) Alex Gonzalez (Fla) Kevin Millwood (Cle) Bernie Williams (NYY) Todd Greene (Col) Jamie Moyer (Sea) Preston Wilson (Was) Chris Hammond (SD) Mike Myers (Bos) Eric Young (SD) Scott Hatteberg (Oak) Rafael Palmeiro (Bal) Type C Joey Eischen (Was) Scott Elarton (Cle) Abraham Nunez (StL)The Jays will owe compensation for any Type A or Type B free agent signed that is offered arbitration by their former team. The deadline to offer arbitration is December 7th. Further detail can be found at the BA link above.
Ah. Never a dull moment.