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Monday, December 20, 2004
A's trade Mulder to Cardinals for prospects.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- The Oakland Athletics traded their second top starter in three days, sending left-hander Mark Mulder to the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday for a package of prospects.

Mulder follows Tim Hudson out of town, leaving Barry Zito as the only remaining member of Oakland's vaunted "Big Three" pitchers. Hudson was dealt to Atlanta on Thursday for three mostly unproven players.

"We've had to reinvent ourselves every year," A's general manager Billy Beane said. "This is probably the most drastic. ... There's certainly some sadness losing first Tim and then Mark from a personal standpoint. Unfortunately, this is something we've had to deal with. We're still the Oakland A's. We're still going to go on."

Blowing Up the A's. "The A's could have continued to patch holes with veterans, introduced a couple prospects to the mix each year, and continued to compete for the next several seasons. Maybe they'd win 91 games again in 2005 and another 90 in 2006, perhaps sneaking into the playoffs another time or two. But at some point, the three stud pitchers would be gone, just like Giambi and Tejada before them, and the A's would be left with a shell of a roster. Instead of going through that, Beane decided to blow the whole thing up and start from scratch." (The Hardball Times)

The A's/Cardinals Trade: the St. Louis Perspective. "Some might think this was a panic move by the Cardinals. (Tony La Russa lent credence to that idea with his comments on Saturday night: "You lose the guy who started Game 1 of the World Series [Woody Williams], you lose your catcher [Matheny], your leadoff guy [Womack], your shortstop [Renteria], fans are saying, 'Are we going to do anything? What's happening? What's happening?'") I don't agree that this trade was made under duress, but I do think that Jocketty was overly concerned with finding a so-called big-name pitcher." (The Hardball Times)

Clement, Red Sox close in on contract. Three years, $25 million. (Yahoo!)

Prospectus Triple Play: Florida Marlins, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates. "Ending a three-year quest to be rid of Jason Kendall's six-year, $60 million contract, the Pirates dealt the catcher to the A's in return for pitchers Arthur Rhodes and Mark Redman. Rhodes was in turn dealt for Indians outfielder Matt Lawton, in a straight-up trade, and the Royals sent the Pirates catcher/BALCO witness Benito Santiago in return for prospect Leo Nunez...So with the quest to purge Kendall's contract from the roster completed, the question stands: is Pittsburgh better off with Redman, Lawton, Santiago and the money saved than they would have been with Kendall and Nunez?" (Baseball Prospectus)

Strange Days. "DePodesta must really want Green and Penny out of here. Yes, Green has a bad contract, but he's only owed $16 million for 2005, and then the Dodgers are done with him. The Dodgers are going to end up owing Vasquez as much as twice that amount, and are on the hook with him until 2007. Unless this trade is a pure salary dump (which it may very well be), the only way this makes sense is if the Dodgers use the money to sign at least two of the top remaining free agents, perhaps Clement and Drew, or maybe Delgado. As is stands right now, the Dodger lineup and rotation is headed for a 100-loss season." (On the DL)

Friday, December 17, 2004
Beltre agrees to deal with Mariners. Five years, $64 million. (Yahoo!)

Free Agent Wrap-Up: The Third Wave.
Last month, I made the case that Adrian Beltre, and not Carlos Beltran, was this offseason's most desirable free agent once everything -- age, offense, defense, likely cost -- was factored in. Now that the terms Beltre ended up agreeing to are known, I am frankly amazed by how much of a bargain he ended up being.

The fact that the Mariners got Beltre and all it took was one more year and an extra $20 million over what the Diamondbacks gave Troy Glaus is astounding. Glaus is two years older than Beltre, is coming off of two injury-plagued seasons, may have to move to first base eventually because of his shoulder, and has never been as good as Beltre was in 2004, offensively or defensively. And for just another year commitment and less than $2 million more per season, the Mariners have Beltre.
(The Hardball Times)

Woo. "Unbelievable, both the signing itself and the price. Troy Glaus costs $45M over four years, and Beltre a mere $65M over five? Great, great deal. I haven’t been this impressed with an M’s move since the Freddy Garcia trade, and before that… can’t think of one." (U.S.S. Mariner)

Suddenly, it's a Mariners Christmas. "'It's an awesome lineup that can compete with the Yankees, the Red Sox, or anybody,' Niehaus said. 'They say that pitching and defense wins ballgames. Well, they've got the defense now and the pitching remains to be seen. But the thing that wins ballgames is runs, don't let anybody fool you. This is going to be fun, I'm telling you.'" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Hudson to Braves. The A's got outfielder Charles Thomas and pitchers Juan Cruz and Dan Meyer. (Yahoo!)

Smoltz agrees to new two-year deal with Braves. He'll be back in the starting rotation. (Yahoo!)

Report: Yankees may acquire Johnson in three-team blockbuster. "According to the report, the Yankees would send righthander Javier Vazquez and prospects Eric Duncan and Dioner Navarro to the Dodgers. Los Angeles would send righthander Brad Penny, reliever Yhency Brazoban and outfielder Shawn Green to the Diamondbacks, who would ship the 41-year-old Johnson off to New York." (Yahoo!)

Yankees don't have a deal for Unit -- yet.
The trade was proposed before Adrian Beltre agreed to a $64 million, five-year deal with the Mariners on Thursday.

By failing to re-sign Beltre, the Dodgers may rethink their role in the trade,'s Jayson Stark reported. Other issues that threatened to derail the trade include the waiving of Green's no-trade clause.

A source close to Green, who is due $16 million in 2005, told that the Dodgers outfielder is happy living in Southern California, where he grew up, and has expressed no desire to leave Los Angeles. How much money the Diamondbacks would receive from the Yankees is also a point of contention. Sources told Stark that moving Duncan and Navarro would preclude the Yankees from sending money to Arizona.

Another obstacle that reportedly could derail the trade is Vazquez's salary; he is due $34.5 million over the next three seasons and Los Angeles apparently wants help from the Yankees footing the bill.

I can't wait until April 4th. "I’m sold! Maybe I’m an easy mark but after listening to Pedro Martinez’s press conference today and hearing the interviews with Omar, Willie Randolph and Rick Peterson and of course Petey himself, maybe it’s the winter weather and the threat of snow this weekend that has me counting the days to Opening Day...One of the better exchanges was when Tom MacDonald of NY1 asked Petey if he came to the Mets just for the money. Petey told him he’s been a millionaire since he’s 24 years old and has made plenty of money since then. He then said to MacDonald, 'What do you think, I’m some bum in the street?' Yeah this is going to be interesting." (The Eddie Kranepool Society)

Incredibly Beautiful People (Part Two). An excerpt from Glenn Stout and Richard A. Johnson's book, Red Sox Century. "Boston and New England embraced the [1967] Red Sox with unbridled enthusiasm that bridged the generation gap and drowned out a summer of dissent. The dominant sound in Boston that summer was neither the Beatles, the Beach Boys, nor chanting protesters but the voices of radio and television broadcasters Ken Coleman and Ned Martin. Every evening, from transistor radios on stoops and front porches, car radios on the street, and TVs blaring out apartment windows, they provided the story line of the summer." (Bronx Banter)

Incredibly Beautiful People (Part Three).
For the first time in over a decade fortune smiled on the Red Sox. On August 21, after power-hitting outfielder Ken Harrelson was quoted referring to A’s owner Charlie O. Finley as "a menace to baseball," Finley released him. The Red Sox were drawn into the first free agent bidding war in modern baseball history.

The ability to add a player of Harrelson’s ability so late in the season without giving up a player was a unique opportunity. Knowing he could prove the difference in the pennant race teams in both leagues scrambled after the slugger.

Harrelson quickly learned that patience was a virtue in such negotiations. He’d earned only $12,000 with the A’s in 1967. But as a free agent, his asking price started at $80,000. Within two days the Braves had upped the bid to $112,000.

Harrelson was ready to sign, but at the last moment Dick O'Connell called and asked simply "How much will it take?" Harrelson blurted out "$150,000." O’Connell replied "Deal." The player known as "the Hawk" was now a member of the Red Sox.
(Bronx Banter)

Thursday, December 16, 2004
Sexson agrees to $50 million contract with Seattle.
SEATTLE (AP) -- The Seattle Mariners added power to one of the weakest lineups in baseball Wednesday, agreeing to a $50 million, four-year contract with free agent first baseman Richie Sexson.

"This is first and foremost where I wanted to be," said Sexson, who is from Brush Prairie, Wash. "In the back of my mind, and for my family, we knew this is where I wanted to be."


Okay, so I’ve had a beer. Derek Zumsteg calmly argues against the Sexson deal. (U.S.S. Mariner)

Baseball preparations thrown a curve by D.C. Council vote.
The District of Columbia Council approved a measure that would require private financing for at least half of the costs of a new stadium, an 11th-hour move that could cause baseball to reconsider moving the team to Washington -- or, more likely, land the team in the nation's capital for one year only.

"Everything appeared to be going so well," said Charlie Brotman, longtime public address announcer for the Washington Senators and a prominent advocate for baseball's return. "It's like you're in a 100-yard dash, and you're one yard away from the finish line. You're beating everybody, and all of a sudden you've got a cramp, and you lose. It's raining on our parade."

San Pedro de Shea. "As you can tell from my commentary the past few days, I have decidedly mixed feelings about the Mets' signing of Pedro Martinez to a four-year, $50 million contract. Some thoughts, some original, some not, in no particular order..." (The Baseball Crank)

Somebody else's problem. Where will Javier Vazquez end up? (Some Calzone for Derek)

Considering Hudson and Jackson. "I think one path that has gone unexplored is whether renting Hudson for a year and then letting him go is completely unacceptable. If you have faith that Greg Miller, Joel Hanrahan or any of the Dodger pitching prospects offers as much promise as Jackson, then perhaps it’s okay to sacrifice one, get the Dodgers through a serious starting pitching crunch in 2005, and then rely on the remaining prospects starting in 2006. However, if you think Jackson is superior to the others, then you should be willing to go through any growing pains with him in 2005." (Dodger Thoughts)

Step away from the rageohol. "Okay, so it's less than 48 hours now since Jeff Kent dumped Houston and me, and we're still processing. There were some ugly words in the paper this morning about how we were not entirely blame-free, how we tried to low-ball him in early negotiations and did not understand the value of compromise: In return for less than market value salary, he just wanted a longer commitment. You know. Like when you have just gone through a bad breakup and your ex phones you up at work the next day to start talking about returning the clothes you left at their place and all of a sudden you are shouting so loudly that everyone around you has to avert their eyes." (throws like a girl)

Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Report: Renteria agrees to sign with Red Sox. Four years, $40 million. (Yahoo!)

Angels agree to deal with Byrd, trade Ramon Ortiz to Reds. One year, $5 million for Byrd. (Yahoo!)

The Winter Meetings: Notes from a Hotel Room in the Magic Kingdom. A report from Jay Jaffe. (Futility Infielder)

The Winter Meetings: The Lobbyists. (Futility Infielder)

The Winter Meetings: And So It Ends. (Futility Infielder)

The $875,000 Mistake! Seth Stohs thinks the Twins should have re-signed Corey Koskie. (

Rivals in Exile: Strange Arrivals and Sad Departures. Ben Jacobs and Larry Mahnken on the Red Sox' and Yankees' offseason so far.
LM: I think there's a very small chance that Carlos Beltran will go back to Houston, but if he doesn't he'll be a Yankee. I think J.D. Drew would be wise to wait to sign until after Beltran's off the market, because if the Yankees miss out on Carlos they'll come knocking on J.D.'s door. I think there's very little chance that the Yankees are going to play Bernie Williams in center ever again, and Scott Boras' statement that Bernie would be willing to move to first base makes me even more secure in that belief. I think my furniture will be just fine.

Now comes word that apparently Pedro Martinez is about to sign with the Mets. While that's not a done deal, either, it does signify a serious blow to the Red Sox. Obviously, they'll pursue Matt Clement now, but he's not Pedro. Suddenly, the Red Sox rotation doesn't look that much better than the Yankees', and if New York adds Carlos Beltran and the Red Sox lose Jason Varitek, too (though I consider the latter to be unlikely), the Yankees could have a clearly better lineup than Boston as well. At the very least, it looks as though the Yankees are going to be as good as or better than the Red Sox next year, though it will almost certainly be a close race once more.
(The Hardball Times)

Incredibly Beautiful People. An excerpt from Glenn Stout and Richard A. Johnson's book, Red Sox Century.
Dick Williams didn’t mess around. "This club has become a cruise ship overrun with captains and players thinking they are captain. The cruise is over and you don’t need a captain anymore,” he told the players. “You have a new boss now—Me. Eliminating the club captaincy is my way of letting you know that things will be done one way…My way." This was how spring training before the 1967 season began.

Dick Williams stripped Sox captain Carl Yastrzemski of his title and assumed total command. And the Red Sox became a different team.

Although most would later view the rebirth of the Red Sox in 1967 as some kind of miracle, the renaissance of the franchise was more the product of a peculiar set of circumstances that landed the team in the hands of the right man at the right time. The end result was perhaps the most exciting Red Sox season in history, one that started slowly then built before finally exploding like a roman candle that bathed Sox fans in a lasting glow.
(Bronx Banter)

Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Pedro picks Mets over Red Sox, sides try to close deal.
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Pedro Martinez closed in on a four-year deal with the New York Mets, and the Boston Red Sox resigned themselves Monday to losing the three-time Cy Young Award winner.

"He was a great member of the Red Sox team for seven years, and a certain Hall of Famer," Red Sox president Larry Lucchino told The Associated Press in an e-mail. "He will be missed, and we are disappointed to have lost him to the Mets and the National League."

Martinez's agent, Fernando Cuza, told the Mets he will attempt to work out a deal with them after New York guaranteed a fourth year, a person involved in the talks said on condition of anonymity.

Giants agree to three-year deal with Matheny. $10.5 million. (Yahoo!)

White Sox trade Carlos Lee to Milwaukee for Podsednik, Vizcaino. (Yahoo!)

Hidalgo agrees to $5 million, one-year contract with Texas. (Yahoo!)

Free Agent Wrap-Up: The First Wave. "Last month I opined that the top free agent second baseman was Placido Polanco, and not Jeff Kent, at least when age and likely salaries were taken into account. I still stand by that and think whichever team ends up with Polanco is going to get one of the better bargains of the offseason, but Kent is still a fine pickup for the Dodgers. The two-year contract has minimal risk, which is important considering Kent will be 37 next year, and although $8.5 million a year is a little pricey, the Dodgers aren't going to be hurting for money anytime soon and they're not on the hook for any draft picks." (The Hardball Times)

Free Agent Wrap-Up: The Second Wave. "Yankee Stadium, while a pitcher's ballpark, doesn't deflate offense nearly as much as Pro Player, and Pavano will now have to face a DH instead of a pitcher each time through the lineup. Plus, New York's defense won't be in the same league as Florida's, even if they end up with Carlos Beltran in center field. In other words, Pavano may have seen his last ERA in the threes for a while, and I wouldn't be surprised if his ERA is closer to 5.00 than 3.00 in 2005. For all the money they're throwing around and all the talk about improving their rotation, the Yankees look like they're basically collecting middle-of-the-rotation starters and paying premium money in doing so." (The Hardball Times)

Winter Wonderland — Day One. Richard Lederer reports from the Winter Meetings.
I look across the lobby and see a crowd gathered. I think to myself, “There must be something going on.” Not one to sit back, I walk over and notice Scott Boras in the midst of several reporters — most of whom had press credentials. I sneak in there and ask Boras if the Finley signing now takes the Angels out of the running for Carlos Beltran.

I don’t think the Angels ever had an interest in signing him. They have invested $12 million per year in (Garret) Anderson and another $14 million in (Vladimir) Guerrero. They already have a lot of money tied up in their outfield.

Boras said that he didn’t expect to consummate a deal for Beltran before the holidays. In response to a question from a reporter, the super agent tells us that he and the Red Sox have agreed to the money on the first four years of a five-year deal for Jason Varitek. He indicated that the terms of the fifth year were still being negotiated.
(Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT)

Winter Wonderland — Day Two. "Speaking of kicks, I can’t help but look up to see the expressions on Jon’s and Peter’s faces when 'Scoop' Carroll tells us that Adrian Beltre is all but signed and sealed in Seattle. The Dodgers apparently haven’t even made an offer yet but Scott Boras is hopeful of giving DePo one last shot. By my way of thinking, Bill Bavasi has gotta come away from the meetings with either Beltre or Carlos Beltran in tow. Roll the dice, hope whoever you sign comes up big — all the while knowing that if they don’t, you’re not gonna be around at the end anyway." (Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT)

Winter Wonderland — Day Three. Richard re-writes a holiday classic. (Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT)

Monday, December 13, 2004
Pavano picks Yankees; holdup on Wright deal. Four years, $39 million for Pavano. The Yankees are still evaluating Wright's physical exam. "'He was healthy for us,' Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz said, 'healthy as a horse.'" (Yahoo!)

Red Sox, Wells reach agreement. Two years, $8 million guaranteed plus incentives. (Yahoo!)

Koskie, Blue Jays reach preliminary agreement on $17 million, three-year deal. Eric Hinske will either move to first base or be traded. (Yahoo!)

Prospectus Triple Play: Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Toronto Blue Jays. "Steven Goldman pulled together a list of the worst fielders on record, according to Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA). [Chipper] Jones has the ignominious distinction of being in the top 10 on the all-time worst list with (at current count) -133 FRAA. He's worse than recent iron-glove recipient Dean Palmer. Ernie Lombardi? Covered. Even Dick Stuart, Dr. Strangeglove himself, ranks better than Jones." (Baseball Prospectus)

Friday, December 10, 2004
Kent agrees to $17 million, two-year contract with Dodgers. (Yahoo!)

Oracle Says: "Dodger Stadium will make Kent look like he's declining faster than he actually is, but he'll still be fine in LA. The Dodgers shouldn't look at this as a substitute to re-signing Beltre, but I think they realize that Kent shouldn't be the offensive centerpiece." (Baseball Think Factory)

Angels to sign Finley.
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Athletics ace Tim Hudson could be headed to the Dodgers this weekend, and Steve Finley has reached an agreement with the Angels, signaling Anaheim's exit from the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes before it truly began.

Newsday has learned that Finley's deal is worth $14 million for two years with a vested option for a third year. The Sporting News first reported yesterday that Finley and the Angels were close to a deal. He turns 40 in March.

Red Sox sign former closer Mantei. (Boston Globe)

Oracle Says: This is a one-year deal worth $750K and Mantei has been dominating at times, so this is all upside. He better be damn good, though, considering that probably amounts to $75K an inning. (Baseball Think Factory)

Chat wrap with Joe Sheehan.
Pete (NY NY): JARET WRIGHT?? TONY WOMACK????? (Eric Milton on the way?) Why?Why???Why WHY??WHY???WHY??WHY??WHY??WHY????? WHY???

Joe Sheehan: What, did you really think I was going to get through chat without addressing this?

The 1994-2004 Yankees were, first and foremost, about OBP. Signing Tony Womack goes against everything the Yankee offense has done for a decade. He's a bad player coming off a fluky season.

As far as Wright goes, by signing him to a three-year deal at good money, you're making the statement that you think everything before 2004 doesn't matter, and that his 2004 performance is the baseline going forward. Given what we know about Wright and the management team in Atlanta, the chances that 2004 will be his best season are far, far greater than the chances that it will be improved upon.

For a while, the Yankees were successful in the free-agent market by only buying the best. They spent a lot of money on Bernie Williams, Mike Mussina, Jason ran the payroll up, but you had stars.

Last year, they settled for Gary Sheffield instead of Vladimir Guerrero. You can argue that it worked out, but it didn't: Guerrero is better and younger, and would have been the better sign.

These two signings are other people's signings, the things teams do when they don't want to pay for the best talent on the market.

They're the clearest signs of franchise decay yet.
(Baseball Prospectus)

Thursday, December 09, 2004
Glaus agrees to four-year deal with Diamondbacks. Four years, $45 million. (Yahoo!)

Oracle Says: "Wow, I'm speechless. I've always liked Troy Glaus, but this is what you might pay for a healthy Troy Glaus, one with no questions about his position status, and a Troy Glaus that's fielding the hot corner like he did earlier in his career before shoulder and knee problems dropped his defensive stats like a rock. This is not what I would pay for a 1B that hits like Troy Glaus and results in Hillenbrand, a poor defensive 3B, returning to 3B and Tracy, a decent offensive 3B, becoming a mediocre RF." (Baseball Think Factory)

Dye agrees to deal with White Sox. Two years, $10.15 million. (Yahoo!)

Oracle Says: "On the plus side, Dye's still a very good defensive righfielder, not a total zero offensively, and you don't need the same quality of players to compete in the AL Central as you do in the other divisions. Unfortunately, Dye isn't really good enough to push the White Sox significantly forward..." (Baseball Think Factory)

Leiter returns to Marlins. One year, $8 million. (Yahoo!)

Oracle Says: "Leiter's periphs are going the wrong way, but hey, last time he had a season with those periphs was 1997 and Leiter rebounded with a terrific '98 season." (Baseball Think Factory)

Lieber agrees to $21 million, three-year deal with Phillies. (Yahoo!)

Oracle Says: "More collusion? Looks like MLB's sending blank Mad Libs style contracts to teams for 3 years, $21 million this offseas. Maybe that's why Anna Benson was able to negotiate so well." (Baseball Think Factory)

Woody Williams rejoins Padres. One year, $3.5 million guaranteed, with an option for 2006. (Yahoo!)

Oracle Says: "Good move for the Padres - Petco is a good park for Williams and the Padres complete their rotation without having to buy a ticket on the 3-year, $21 million Gravy Train." (Baseball Think Factory)

Prospectus Triple Play: Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers. "The Astros have reportedly offered Beltran a five-year, $70-million contract to keep him in Houston. That's not likely to be enough, but Houston's ability to go up from there is hampered by the albatross that Hunsicker left behind: Jeff Bagwell's contract." (Baseball Prospectus)

National Treasures. John Viega assesses the Nationals and their chances in the NL East. (

Union bosses owe players an apology. Buster Olney: "Tough steroid testing is on the way, apparently. It's too bad that it took ugly BALCO testimony and Senate threats to force Don Fehr and Gene Orza, the leaders of the union, to pull their heads out of the sand. It's too bad Orza and Fehr didn't make a serious effort to learn, for themselves, that the vast majority of their union's brethren wanted to clean up the steroid mess years ago." (

Olney owes Fehr an apology. Derek Zumsteg: "Fehr and Orza are convenient targets, but to blame them for something they couldn’t have prevented, even if they had acted on the behalf of a supposed majority of players Olney wants to believe exist, for purposes of writing this easy column, is ridiculous." (U.S.S. Mariner)

Gathering. Bill James on roid hysteria. (The Hardball Times)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Cubs re-sign Garciaparra and Walker, add Blanco. Nomar: 1 year, $8 million guaranteed. Walker: 1 year, $2.5 million with an option for 2006. Blanco: 2 years, $2.7 million. (Yahoo!)

Transaction Oracle discussion of the Garciaparra signing. "I guess that deal offered by the Red Sox doesn't look so bad in hindsight. This deal will get Nomar $8 million so he doesn't starve while waiting for a new contract after a healthy year and the Cubs get a potential superstar without having to make a long-term deal, making their risk with Nomar's health nearly zero." (Baseball Think Factory)

Yankees sign Wright, Womack. Wright: 3 years, $22.5 million. Womack will replace Miguel Cairo, who was not offered arbitration. (Newsday)

Transaction Oracle discussion of the Wright and Womack signings. "The team is certainly doing their best to ensure that not only does the team collapse on its own weight - it collapses spectacularly while costing $200 million. I'd mock the team, but I'm holding off my laughter until Eric Milton is signed, lest I suffer the fate of the weasels from Roger Rabbit. Wright will be usable, at least. I don't think Womack or Milton would be." (Baseball Think Factory)

Twins agree to two-year deal with Radke. $18 million. (Yahoo!)

Cardinals re-sign pitcher Matt Morris. One year, $2.5 million guaranteed. (Yahoo!)

2004-05 Major League Baseball free agent signings. A summary. (Yahoo!)

Prospectus Triple Play: Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies. "The White Sox’s main issue is not that they need a shortstop, but that they need a longer-term solution at short than is available in the market. With the possible exception of Renteria, none of these players fits the profile of a player whom a smart team would sign to a long-term contract. There was some hope that Robert Valido, a fourth-round pick in 2003, could be ready in a couple of years, but he had a tough time at Kannapolis this year and is no longer a realistic option. So for now the Sox should either slide Uribe over and see what they’ve got in-house or pick a name out of a hat for a one-year contract. It’s not an easy choice." (Baseball Prospectus)

A Difference of Opinion. "Unlike, I suppose, pretty much everyone, I don't consider steroid abuse to be cheating at baseball. It's cheating at working out, it's probably cheating other players out of playing time in some instances, and it's certainly cheating those players and teams out of money -- but it's not cheating at baseball. The positive effects of steroids are the same as exercise, just dramatically increased. When you take steroids, the ball doesn't jump over the fence on a bunt. Foul balls don't suddenly curve fair, and you can't suddenly hit any ball anywhere at any time. It makes you a better hitter, but you could achieve the same results with actual hard work. The results in the gym are a fraud, the results on the field are not, because the other team will be able to ascertain very quickly your physical attributes, and play you accordingly." (The Hardball Times)

Monday, December 06, 2004
Yankees send Lofton to Phillies for Rodriguez, get Stanton from Mets.
NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Yankees began reshaping their roster Friday, sending outfielder Kenny Lofton and more than $1.5 million to the Philadelphia Phillies for setup man Felix Rodriguez and also reacquiring Mike Stanton from the Mets.

Stunned by Boston in the AL championship series, the Yankees are expected to make bigger moves later in the offseason, with free-agent center fielder Carlos Beltran and Arizona ace Randy Johnson figuring to be their top targets.

"The winter is not complete yet," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.

Prospectus Triple Play: Cleveland Indians, Washington Nationals, Seattle Mariners. "Three cheers for the good burghers of our nation's capital for not succumbing to the whims of Major League Baseball. It's silly enough for a city to help some billionaire team owner by building him a stadium at taxpayer expense; it's even sillier to do the same for a team that doesn't have an owner. Anti-publicly-funded stadium building should be a delightfully non-partisan cause. Lefties should loathe it because all that tax money could otherwise go to the public programs they all hold so near and dear. Righties should loathe it because it represents government misguidance at its finest, as money is hoisted from hard-working citizens who should be allowed to keep what they earn." (Baseball Prospectus)

Friday, December 03, 2004
Report: Bonds admitted to using substances thought to be steroids.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Barry Bonds testified to a grand jury that he used a clear substance and a cream given to him by a trainer who was indicted in a steroid-distribution ring, but said he didn't know they were steroids, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.

Bonds told the federal grand jury last year that Greg Anderson, his personal trainer, told him the substances he used in 2003 were the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and a rubbing balm for arthritis, according to a transcript of his testimony reviewed by the Chronicle.

The substances Bonds described were similar to ones known as "the clear" and "the cream," two steroids from the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, the lab at the center of the steroid scandal.

Giambi's Confession.
Getting back to Giambi, according to his testimony, he did not start using steroids until after he won the AL MVP in 2000, thus I am unwilling to attribute his greatness as a hitter to his use of steroids. Quite the opposite, actually. Giambi confessed to first juicing during the 2001 season. Looking at his numbers, his production declined in each of the two successive seasons until he stopped using in 2003, at which point he was suffering from a knee injury often connected to the abnormal muscle mass that results from steroid use. By the time his miserable 2004 season arrived, he had developed a benign tumor that, according to The Daily News, was located on his pituitary gland, a side-effect associated with steroid use and the supplemental use of Clomid in particular. Thus it would appear that, if anything, the steroid use had a negative effect on his production, perhaps boosting it some in his excellent 2001 campaign, but slowly reducing his effectiveness in the years to follow. In his testimony, Giambi admitted that he didn't notice "a huge difference" in his ability as a result of the steroids.
(Clifford's Big Red Blog)

...Keep it continuous. "Why does Sabean overpay for guys nobody else seems to want? Why pay a 40-year old shortstop for an extra year, guaranteed, when you don't have to? Why guarantee three years to a reliever, regardless of how dominant, who has had a hard time staying in anybody's good graces for that long (four teams have had him and gotten rid of him in the last eighteen months)?...We couldn't afford to keep Ellis Burks. We couldn't afford to keep Bill Mueller, or David Bell, or Russ Ortiz. We couldn't afford to keep Jeff Kent. We couldn't affford to make a play for Vladimir Guerrero, or Sheffield, or any of the top free agents. But we can afford $35 million dollars for Vizquel and Benitez?" (Only Baseball Matters)

Seven-Step Deception.
Frequently over the past few months, it has been pointed out (by myself and several others) that, in keeping with the stated goal of a payroll around $90m, the Mariners realistically have somewhere in the neighborhood of $25m available to spend this offseason. Reported figures that have been spoonfed to the media, however, have significantly undershot this estimate, citing available resources of between $13 – 20m.

Which brings us to another lesson: making the common fan happy by satisfying deliberately lowered expectations.
(Leone for Third)

Thursday, December 02, 2004
Report: Giambi testified he used steroids, human growth hormone.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- New York Yankees slugger Jason Giambi injected himself with human growth hormone in 2003 and also used steroids for at least three seasons, according to his grand jury testimony reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The testimony given in December 2003 to the federal grand jury investigating BALCO contradicts Giambi's public proclamations that he never used performance-enhancing drugs.

Remaking the Yankees for 2005, Part II: The Market for Righty Starters. "Is Pedro a good fit for the Yankees? I detest him, frankly, and so do over 70 percent of the New York Post readers who responded to a poll on the matter last week, not that I'm eager to lump myself in with that crowd. But putting the emotional issues aside, I still think he's a high risk, especially long-term." (Futility Infielder)

Remaking the Yankees for 2005, Part III: The Market for Southpaw Starters. "If Leiter looks like a gamble, then Eric Milton looks torn from the Big Book of Bad Ideas." (Futility Infielder)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Benitez and Giants agree to $21.5 million, three-year deal. (Yahoo!)

Prospectus Triple Play: Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies, New York Mets.
Here at Rockies PTP headquarters, we're proud to bring you another Hypothetical Conversation About Vinny Castilla, this one between Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd and Eric Goldschmidt, Castilla's agent.

GOLDSCHMIDT: Hi, Dan, it's Eric. Listen, I've got a two-year, $6.2 million guaranteed offer on the table for Vinny. You know he'd really love to finish his career in Colo-
O'DOWD: (click)
(Baseball Prospectus)

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