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In a twist on its usual prospect ratings, Baseball America has turned its eye to the next wave of potential General Managers in baseball, with this Top Ten list compiled by Josh Boyd. The list includes some familliar names, including the Phillies' Mike Arbuckle, who might well have ended up in Toronto had JP Ricciardi not been available, and former Jays Scouting Director Tim Wilken, touted as a possible successor to Chuck Lamar in suddenly-intriguing Tampa Bay.

Speaking of Josh Boyd, we're very happy to announce that Josh has agreed to speak with Batter's Box about the Blue Jays farm system! We'll be conducting the interview this week, and hope to have one or more articles ready to go by as early as next Monday. Keep watching for more details on another Batter's Box exclusive interview!
At the request of Commissioner Moffatt (aka "Double M-Cup"), this thread is to discuss the BBFL, sepcifically Winter Trading.
Toronto's bullpen just got considerably stronger with the reported signing of reliever Kerry Ligtenberg , recently non-tendered by Baltimore. More details to come as they arrive, but assuming the price is right, it's a terrific move. Now that compensation issues are settled, we can probably expect more quick strikes by JP and Co. in the next little while.
Breaking News ... Da Box has learned that the illegitimate love child of George Steinbrenner and Georgia Frontiere (named Georgie, of course) has been granted a new major league franchise that will be located in Alexandria, Va., and play part of its home schedule in Portland, Ore.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; and of course, San Juan, P.R.

To stock the roster of the new team, the blank-check-driven Georgie will sign the following roster of 25 non-tendered players. "I could've built an entire second team of 25 that'd win the freaking A.L. Central," said Frontbrenner. "But I'll leave that to the wise contributors to various baseball blogs around the Internet."

Here's the starting lineup ...
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It'll be Hideki against Kazuo in New York next spring, as the Mets have signed Japanese shortstop Kazuo Matsui to a three-year, $20 million contract. To make room for Matsui, the Mets are going to move 20-year-old sensation Jose Reyes to second base. Is this a good idea? Well, ask yourself if you would've moved Tony Fernandez to second base after his rookie season, because that's essentially what the Mets are doing here. Shortstop was one of the few areas the Mets didn't need help at. But this isn't about baseball sense nearly so much as it's about keeping up with the Steinbrenners in the New York dailies.

Will this Matsui showdown turn into New York's very own Most Extreme Elimination Challenge? Right you are, Kenny.
We're well past our de-facto limit of 116 comments on Hijack Central IV, so it's time for a new thread. Feel free to discuss any late-breaking news here. Possible discussion-starters include the Twins inking Shannon Stewart, local hero and MVP candidate, to a three-year, $18 million contract.
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Sure, sure, you meant to vote already. And you meant to call mom on her birthday, and to take the dog for a walk before that ugly incident on the hallway carpet. Well, mom's birthday may be long gone (and that carpet is out on the curb for trash day) ... but you can still be a part of the greatness of Batter's Box Democracy. It's time to Joaq the Vote in the first annual Batter's Box Andujar Award balloting, the coveted youneverknows.

If you're new here, go back and read the original announcement and rules, then pop over to meet the 12 finalists (and one significant write-in suggestion) ... nine men (that's a nice baseball number, isn't it?) have already received votes and despite a heavy assumption by ... certain voters ... that former Jay Esteban Loiaza will Cruz, er cruise to victory and receive the '03 Andujar, the results are far from certain.

You just pick your favorites any time before the Dec. 23 deadline ... vote for up to 5 ... and wait for the Dec. 26 ("Boxing" Day) announcement of the winner. It's easier than Manny Ramirez's pace to first base after popping up to shortstop! Just Joaq the Vote, baby!
Love him or hate him, Peter Gammons' column is a must read. I know, he could use a better editor; on a site with the budget of ESPN.com, there's no excuse for so many typos and "unusual" sentences. Yes, it's easy to make fun of his style, or the number of rumours he floats that never come to pass, but I don't know where else you're going to get so much juicy gossip on one page.

Today, the well-connected one starts with a potentially gigantic deal -- A-Rod to Boston. It's way over the heads of the GMs, we are told; the owners are negotiating directly with Rodriguez and his agent, Scott Boras.

"If Alex doesn't take some of the money back, this thing is dead," says one person close to the deal. "If he wants this to happen, he is going to have to make it happen."
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Spencer Fordin of MLB.com confirms what most of us already assumed -- Cory Lidle and Tanyon Sturtze won't be offered arbitration by Sunday's deadline. Kelvim Escobar will, in a mere formality to ensure the Jays receive their draft pick compensation. So far this offseason, the Jays have been proactive, and Fordin expects that to continue.

Ricciardi will have his eyes open this weekend, watching to see which potential free agents have compensation claims attached to them. Toronto doesn't want to sacrifice draft picks to add players, so Ricciardi may act quickly to nab the players who aren't offered arbitration.

The list could include "big" names like Kevin Millwood, Freddy Garcia, Byung-Hyun Kim and many more; J.P. speculated earlier that as many as a hundred players would be cut loose.


It appears to be confirmed: The Montreal Expos have agreed to trade Javier Vazquez to the New York Yankees in exchange for Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera and potentially a third player. The deal will, as is usual these days, be conditional on the Yankees and Vazquez agreeing on what will surely be a rich contract extension. Let the gnashing of teeth begin.
By my count, we had 30 entries in the poll, which was more than double what we had in the mid-season poll. We have so many well-informed readers that there's little doubt in my mind that this list is at least as good as any of the others you'll see published over the next few months.

Once again, Bauxites selected Alex Rios over Guillermo Quiroz as the top prospect in the organisation. The point system remained the same: 13 points for a 1st place vote, 10 for 2nd, 8 for 3rd, decreasing by 1 thereafter to 1 point for a 10th place vote.

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Steve Z has brought us a troika of interesting columns this morning, all dealing with how the Blue Jays are coping with Hurricane George (and, to a lesser extent, Typhoon Theo) in this tumultuous off-season. From the Hijack Central 3 thread:

John Donovan of SI.com wrote this column, while there are two surprisingly good local columns today: one from Dave Perkins of the Star, and the other from Ken Fidlin of the Sun.

I'll add this one, in a similar vein, from ESPN's Buster Olney. All these columns have one thing in common: a hopeful confidence that the Yankees and Red Sox are spending their way to short-term gain and long-term oblivion.
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Looks like 116 comments is the de facto expiry point for Hijack Central threads, so here's another one. The Eric Milton deal has its own thread, but feel free to discuss any other late-breaking news here, such as the Yankees' signing of Craig Lefferts to a two-year, $6.8M contract.
I didn't see this one coming at all -- the Phillies acquired Eric Milton from the Twins for two spare parts, reliever Carlos Silva and infielder Nick Punto. At first glance, you'd think that Philly made out on this deal -- but Milton hasn't proved he's all the way back from his injury, and he's slotted to make $9 million next year before hitting free agency. This is not nearly as good a trade as picking up another $9M pitcher, Kevin Millwood, was last year. In fact, I'd say the Twins did very well just to clear Milton off their roster. Eric was never as good as people thought -- his best full-season ERA was 4.33, and he was too prone to giving up the longball.

It's been a remarkably active trade market this off-season, and the Winter Meetings are less than two weeks away. I think we're just seeing the opening volleys of what could be a remarkably busy Hot Stove League.
It's a slow news day, so here's some Blue Jays trivia provided by BB reader Gerry McDonald:

The Toronto Blue Jays selected Vernon Wells with the fifth pick in the 1997 entry draft. But the Blue Jays organization in 2003 included three other players also selected in the first round of the '97 draft, each taken after Vernon. Who are they?

The person who submits the first correct answer receives a copy of The Wit and Wisdom of Doyle Alexander, just as soon as it's published. Feel free to chime in with other Jays trivia in this space.