Well, you play that Tarantella
And the hounds begin to roar
The boys all go to hell
And then the Cubans hit the floor
The Winter Meetings start today, though there's been no shortage of action beforehand. Check out Peter Gammons' latest for a nice summary of the buzz, including the increasingly insane Arizona Diamondbacks preparing to ink Russ Ortiz to a 4-year, $34 million contract. I don't ever want to hear Ortiz or Troy Glaus complain to anyone that they want to "play for a winner" after signing rich long-term deals with a 111-loss club.
And then there's the Jays, and their reliable and open-minded local press coverage.
From the always cheerful Toronto Star:
Geoff Baker: Jays' entree may be leftovers
"'I don't see how those guys are going to get anybody the way things are going,' a member of one American League East club said of the Blue Jays as team executives streamed out of rental cars and checked into the hotel for meetings that begin in earnest today. 'They're going to be scrounging for leftovers with a whole lot of others.' ...
"This has suddenly become no ordinary set of winter meetings for a Blue Jays entourage that arrived yesterday with their future looking as cloudy as ever."
Richard Griffin: Jays need new free-agent strategy
"Unfortunately, the Diamondbacks exploded all those perceptions of a buyers' landscape, signing third baseman Troy Glaus to a four-year, $45 million deal early yesterday. That's huge for Delgado. Glaus batted .251, with 18 homers and 42 RBIs, and had shoulder surgery on May 21. And he has had only a couple of prime-time offensive seasons. The Jays' ex-first baseman could not have received better news."
And from the always-on-the-mark Bob Elliott:
Jays make Rios available and Jays look at Clark for first base:
"The Blue Jays are attempting to deal their former No. 1 pick to the Washington Nationals for first baseman Nick Johnson. Jim Bowden, new general manager of the Nationals, and Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi have discussed a Rios-for-Johnson swap. ....
"Another bouncing ball for the Jays is an attempt to acquire outfielder/first baseman Craig Wilson of the Pittsburgh Pirates, a former Jays minor-leaguer. ....
"This isn't the first time Ricciardi has attempted to acquire Johnson, nor is it the first time, he has tried to move a former No. 1 pick. In the spring of 2002, he tried to deal Vernon Wells to the Texas Rangers for Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis and third baseman Hank Blalock. ...
"The Blue Jays will be looking at New York Yankees free agent first baseman Tony Clark as a replacement for Carlos Delgado. ...
"The Blue Jays' game plan was to sign Minnsota Twins free agent Corey Koskie of Anola, Man., and have him play third and move Eric Hinske to first base. It now appears that Koskie will stay with the Minnesota Twins or land with the Detroit Tigers or Seatttle Mariners. He won't be coming to Toronto."
One or two of these may even be accurate: the interest in Wilson makes sense, since he'd be a fine stopgap solution at first base (paging Carlos Garcia!). And there's talk elsewhere that Koskie really would prefer to stay in Minnesota and is hoping the Twins will extend him a no-trade clause. I'm much less confident in Tony Clark becoming a Jay, although if he did, at least Vernon Wells would have one of the game's sharpest union representatives to tutor him. This is the first I've heard of the Wells-Blalock deal, though frankly, that wouldn't have been a bad trade for either club. And on the final count, all I'll say is that if the Jays really do deal Rios for Johnson, which I extremely doubt, you'll see a commentary from me that reviewers will call "blistering."
The thing is, there's a great deal of sound and fury at the Winter Meetings, folks -- this is baseball's equivalent of Oscar Night -- so remember that much of it signifies nothing. Wait for the official AP story and the press conference. In short, don't believe tha hype.