Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 08:35 AM EST

Contributed by: Coach

From today's Washington Times comes this report that Jose Cruz Jr. is close to accepting reality and signing with the Orioles. His value in the new, frugal baseball economy was evident to the Blue Jays last year, when they tried to swap him for Jason Arnold and John-Ford Griffin, both still in the Yankees system at the time. Another source (, if you must know) speculates that Cruz will settle for one year, at $1.5 to $2 MM, with incentives, a far cry from the $5 MM or so he would have cost the Jays after arbitration. The decision to non-tender him is another of Toronto management's practical, ahead-of-the-competition moves, and they spent the money saved wisely, on an offensive upgrade in RF, a starter, and useful veterans at C and SS.

It also seems that Baltimore is haggling on the details of a one year pact with Ivan Rodriguez. The team wants an option for a second year; Pudge understandably feels that if he settles for just $7 MM, he should be free to get a better offer in 2004 if he proves he's still great. Considering the complete lack of interest from any other teams, which side do you think has the leverage? Beatagan will get their man, on their terms. Both signings are part of a short-sighted attempt to patch together an organization that needs an overhaul from the owner's box to Rookie league, but the 2003 O's should be slightly more competitive than expected.