Hot Stove League: Manny to Yankees?

Since the Yankees signed CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett last week, things have been pretty quiet in the Hot Stove League of Major League Baseball. The economy, despite what Scott Boras might tell you, is definitely a huge factor as Manny Ramirez, Mark Teixeira, and to a lesser extent, Pat Burrell, Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn remain team-less. But since rumors continue to circulate, you know that phone calls are being made, albeit a bit less with Christmas approaching.

The latest rumor has the Yanks talking to Ramirez and sticking him in front of A-Rod in what would be a pretty ridiculous lineup for a few years. You have to wonder how deep the Steinbrenners’ pockets really are, but let’s face it…doing that would make New York AL East favorites even if the Red Sox land Teixeira (which is either becoming doubtful or Theo Epstein is playing the media) and the Rays field basically the same team that went to the World Series in 2007. And it would piss off Sox fans to no end, giving them more reason to despise Manny Being Manny.

And Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry has reported that the Jake Peavy trade may be re-visited. He didn’t want to part with as much salary as San Diego wanted him to, and he didn’t want to include Mark DeRosa in the deal, but apparently Hendry is still very interested in pursuing the powerful right-hander.

Oh, and Rafael Furcal shunned his former team, the Braves, for his more current former team, the Dodgers, this past week. If you are yawning, I don’t blame you. And if you’re a bitter Braves fan, I don’t blame you either.

So what will happen between now and January 1? I don’t think much. And if you are a marginal free agent (see list above), the unemployment line beckons a bit louder. And that can’t be good for anyone, especially those pesky player agents.

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Hot Stove League: New York, New York (Burnett Officially Signs With Yankees)

I know this was Vegas, which comes with its own set of distractions, but come on. We all expected a lot more to happen at the MLB Winter Meetings this past week than the Yankees giving CC Sabathia the equivalent of a small planet and AJ Burnett significant real estate on said planet (the Yanks made the latter official Friday afternoon with a 5-year, $82.5 million deal), as well as the Mets signing the best closer out there (K-Rod) and trading for a second one (JJ Putz) to be their set-up guy. Unless the Orioles and Reds swapping Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Freel, or the Rays and Tigers trading Edwin Jackson for Matt Joyce gets your blood flowing, it was kind of a disappointing week, especially if you live 40 miles or more outside of the New York metro area.

We still have Manny Ramirez without a team, and the very real possibility that he could just stay with the Dodgers. Really, doesn’t that make the most sense for this guy’s, um, easygoing, personality and playing style? Meanwhile, the stakes for Mark Teixeira have been upped by none other than the Washington Nationals, who are believed to be offering the free agent slugger eight years at $20 million per. That sounds to me like agent Scott Boras trying to just be Scott Boras. We all know Tex is going to wind up in Boston, Baltimore, or back with the Angels.

And as if Cubs’ fans haven’t suffered through enough misery lately, GM Jim Hendry decided to pull the plug on the Jake Peavy trade. He just didn’t want to inherit as much salary as the Padres wanted him to, and he surely didn’t want to throw Mark DeRosa on a plane to San Diego as part of the deal. Now, the Angels have been mentioned as a team that might pursue Peavy, and you definitely can’t count the Yankees out either. Oh, and by the way, the Yankees have turned their attention to in-house “old reliable” Andy Pettitte now, and have not ruled Ben Sheets or Derek Lowe out yet. Wow.

Meanwhile, the Mets spent so much on closers that they literally had nothing left to go after Lowe. Instead, GM Omar Minaya is talking to the Cubs about a trade for Jason Marquis, and/or re-signing Oliver Perez or Pedro Martinez.

There could be a lot more moves on the horizon, but in a week expected to have a lot of fireworks, the hot stove fired up in New York and nowhere else. Stay tuned though, because deals are known to happen into January, and some, like Ramirez and Teixeira signing, could lead a domino effect for more moves.

Hot Stove League: Someone Light the Pilot

Seriously, will someone please sign a big free agent already? The MLB Winter Meetings begin on Monday in Vegas, and hopefully the baseball big shots will spend more time signing free agents and making trades than they do gambling.

Well, a few things have happened of note this week. The Red Sox signed AL MVP Dustin Pedroia to a new, six-year deal worth $40.5 million. And this for a guy who was making less than $500K per year. But dude has earned every penny…..Javier Vazquez was traded from the White Sox to the Braves for four young (mostly minor league) players, and Ozzie Guillen is probably smiling if he’s reading this….the Padres sent Khalil Greene to St. Louis…..and the Giants signed infielder Edgar Renteria to a two-year, $18.5 million deal and are also talking about making CC Sabathia an offer and even trading for Florida third baseman Jorge Cantu. Yeah, the Giants are not messing around. And Derek Lowe has been offered two deals, one by the Phillies and another by a mystery team

Okay, so I guess some things are happening, but not the big ones we all were waiting for, at least not yet. The Yankees are set to meet with CC Sabathia this weekend to discuss their ridiculously large offer made recently. Here are a few other rumors and possible deals that could happen next week….

The Mets are finally prepared to offer deals to Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes, but it remains to be seen if both offers will happen simultaneously. Speaking of Fuentes, he, along with the likes of Sabathia and Cubs closer Kerry Wood have all been offered salary arbitration, which means anyone signing them will have to give the team that loses them two draft picks in 2009. Fuentes is also being rumored to re-signing with Colorado. And the Mets are rumored to be talking to the White Sox about sending prize prospect Fernando Martinez to Chicago for Bobby Jenks and Jermaine Dye. I just don’t see that really happening, do you?

Pat Burrell may sign with the Angels if the Angels cannot retain Mark Teixeira. And if Teixeira goes to the Red Sox, which is more than a rumor, the Sox may deal Mike Lowell to make room for Teixeira, who would be the first baseman with Kevin Youkilis moving to third.

Jermaine Dye’s name is being mentioned in trade talks (besides the Mets), and the teams being mentioned are Cincinnati, St. Louis, Atlanta and Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, the White Sox are also listening to offers for Jim Thome and Paul Konerko. Yikes….did someone give Sox GM Kenny Williams some dynamite?

Randy Johnson is hoping to sign a one-year deal with either Oakland or San Francisco…..the Cubs are thinking about signing Adam Dunn. Those two items didn’t just put you to sleep, did they?

Oh, and here’s a sure sign of the economy slowing. Dunn, Pat Burrell and Bobby Abreu are among the names not offered salary arbitration this past week. That means the D-Backs, Phillies, and Yankees, respectively, would rather piss away two draft picks than have to re-sign the player. Say it with me again, Yikes.

Hopefully we’ll have lots to report next week!

Hot Stove League: Mets Appear to Covet Everyone

The New York Mets covet _________. Those words have been uttered in every Hot Stove rumor out there, because they are more than just rumors. The Mets, who had a second straight free fall from first place in 2008, are apparently looking to fix more than their horrendous bullpen as they move into Citi Field in 2009. In no particular order, here are the players GM Omar Minaya has been talking to or about: Manny Ramirez, Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez, Huston Street, Kerry Wood, Brian Fuentes, Orlando Hudson, Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia (a reported shoulder injury may stall that one), Raul Ibanez, Kevin Millwood, Jermaine Dye, Rafael Furcal, Juan Cruz, Derek Lowe, Edwin Jackson, Juan Rivera and Javier Vazquez. The only one right now that appears close to reality is Furcal, as reports have filtered in that the Mets are offering a nice incentive-based deal. And Wood, who was not offered a contract by Arizona as expected, is at the bottom of the Mets’ wish list due to his injury history. Meanwhile, the Mets also do not think they can pay what Oliver Perez’ agent is asking, and there is a possibility the animated lefty could be headed to division rival Atlanta.

Jake Peavy’s on-again, off-again relationship with the Hot Stove League has continued, but now there is talk that the Cubs might make a move, along with a third team. That’s because the Cubs do not have the pitching prospect that Padres’ GM Kevin Towers is asking for.

Jason Varitek is not likely to accept salary arbitration by the Red Sox and could be headed somewhere else, possibly Detroit. Meanwhile, every team under the sun has been offering mediocre catchers to the Sox.

Andy Pettitte, who was rumored to be talking to former manager Joe Torre about pitching for the Dodgers, is talking now like he wants to stay in New York and play in the Yankees’ new stadium. Speaking of the Dodgers, they are also talking to free agents Trevor Hoffman and Randy Johnson, both on the far side of 40 years old, but both still effective.

While Aaron Heilman was as much of a disaster as a pitcher can be in New York, why is it that both the Rays and Rockies are looking to trade for him? The guy has good movement on his pitches, but proved last season that he can’t get anyone out, especially with a game on the line.

With rumors flying around (and let’s face it, they are true) that Lebron James will be traded to the Knicks or leave Cleveland as a free agent in a couple of years, there has been talk that James’ buddy CC Sabathia may take the Yanks’ offer a bit more seriously if that all happens. Hmmmm.

No big signings, but a few rumbles of thunder

It’s been over a week since the period of free agency officially began, and yet we have no big signings just yet. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been talks, or even money offered. But it does mean that certain players and their agents just aren’t ready to make hasty decisions without weighing multiple options, and perhaps driving prices up into the stratosphere.

Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin was miffed that the Yankees made the kind of offer they knew the Brewers couldn’t match–$130 or $140 million over six years, where the Brewers were hoping for more in the $100 million range. The Dodgers reportedly are getting set to offer CC between $110 to $120 million, plus the comforts of living on the west coast and getting the chance to swing a bat every five days. The Dodgers are also interested in trading for Toronto’s Roy Halladay, who suddenly is being mentioned in trade rumors. If the Dodgers are not able to sign CC or trade for Halladay, word is they will put their resources into re-signing one Manny Ramirez. Oh, and the Giants are also talking about making CC an offer. Imagine CC and NL MVP Tim Lincecum at the top of the rotation, something that could shift the balance of power in the NL West.

There is likely to be a bidding war between the Red Sox, Jays, Yankees, Orioles, Braves and Phillies for righty AJ Burnett, the most coveted pitcher in the free agent pool not named CC.

If you saw the Mets’ bullpen blow about a quarter of their losses last season (okay, maybe more), you know that GM Omar Minaya has made the pen a priority in the off-season. So not only are the Mets looking to sign a free agent stud like Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez or Brian Fuentes, they are also looking to trade for Seattle’s JJ Putz or newly acquired Rockies’ pitcher Huston Street. The terribly ineffective Aaron Heilman is being dangled as trade bait, but for the names they’re looking at, the Mets would probably have to offer up a lot more than that.

Talks seem to keep breaking down about the Padres trading Jake Peavy…first with the Braves, then with the Cubs (after they re-signed Ryan Dempster)….and now the Yankees are being mentioned. Hmmm.

And Mark Teixeira is being mentioned in the same breath as the words “Washington Nationals.” Raise your hand if you saw that coming…..

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