Hot Stove League: Manny Still Team-less

Among all the moves, be they trades or free agent signings, the biggest non-signing of the MLB Hot Stove off-season has been that Manny Ramirez remains without a team. Actually he hasn’t even had an offer besides the Dodgers’ two-year, $45 million offer back in November. But last night, the Dodgers and beleaguered outfielder Andruw Jones (*) parted ways, freeing up some more money on their payroll to offer Ramirez. Manny fits well on that team and with Joe Torre’s easy demeanor. And he can loaf a bit more in between raking the ball all over Dodger Stadium. We’ll see, but with the Yanks signing Mark Teixeira, and the Angels focusing on their bullpen by signing Brian Fuentes, there are less attractive options for Manny other than remaining in La La Land.

In addition to the Teixeira Fuentes signings, Randy Johnson was inked by the Giants. This works out well for the Big Unit, who wanted to play in California and can easily reach 300 victories since he currently has 295. If only Barry Zito started pitching like Oakland Barry Zito, this staff would be looking damn good right now.

So one of the problems with the stalled Jake Peavy to Chicago trade talks was that the Padres wanted infielder Mark DeRosa and Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry balked at that. Well, Hendry had no problem shipping DeRosa to Cleveland for three minor leaguers, did he? I think there is more to that Peavy story than what we’re being told. I don’t know what, but somebody doesn’t like somebody somewhere, and my guess is there is an agent in that conversation.

So Derek Lowe doesn’t want to pitch for the Mets at three years, $36 million? Are you kidding me? How is that guy worth more than $12 million per season at 35 years old? Dude apparently wants a four or five year, $90 million deal. Good luck with that, Derek. Meanwhile the Mets are turning their attention back to in-house free agents Oliver Perez and Pedro Martinez, as well as less expensive options like Jon Garland or Randy Wolf.

* Omar Minaya, if you are reading this, DO NOT invite Jones to spring training. I know the Dodgers are paying his way in 2009, but the guy can’t hit his way out of a paper bag (the stats don’t lie…..158 batting average with 76 strikeouts in just 209 at-bats). Thank you for your attention to this matter.

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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.

Top 10 Active Pitching Win Percentage

Show me a pitcher who wins games at a two to one ratio, and I’ll show you a guy I want at the front of my rotation. That, along with a low ERA and a high strikeout to walk ratio, are good indicators of excellence in pitching. It also helps if you have a guy who isn’t afraid to brush a hitter off the plate, like, ahem, the first guy on this list of all-time Top 10 in winning percentage for active pitchers…..

1. Pedro Martinez, New York Mets (.689)—Like I said, Pedro isn’t afraid to throw inside. He also is one of the baddest badasses ever to take the mound, and for about a decade he had the nastiest stuff in the game. In 1999, his best season, Pedro went 23-4 for Boston, with a 2.07 ERA (in the American League!) and 313 strikeouts. That’s just sick.

2. Johan Santana, New York Mets (.673)—Santana does not have overpowering stuff, but he throws all of his pitches for strikes and just knows how to get hitters out. His percentage would be even higher if it weren’t for the Mets bullpen blowing five or six games for him this season.

3. Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays (.665)—With 127 wins against 64 losses for a mostly mediocre Toronto team, you could say Roy Halladay is awesome and you’d be telling the truth.

4. Roy Oswalt, Houston Astros (.663)—Oswalt has 124 wins in less than eight seasons. I say this guy is one of the few young pitchers who have a shot to win 300.

5. Cliff Lee, Cleveland Indians (.658)—Everyone wants to know where Cliff Lee came from, but did go 18-5 in 2005. Still, at 19-2 on a team that has 65 wins, that’s almost 30% of his team’s wins. Let’s hope the Tribe can hold on to Mr. Lee.

6. Tim Hudson, Atlanta Braves (.655)—When he’s not battling injury, Tim Hudson is a pretty dominant pitcher. I know I always cringe when he faces my Mets.

7. Randy Johnson, Arizona Diamondbacks (.649)—When you strike out 4,764 batters over your career, you’re going to win many more games than you lose. The Big Unit is 294-159, and is inching closer to that magic number of 300.

8. Mike Mussina, New York Yankees (.638)—He won a lot of games in Baltimore and he’s won a lot in New York. This guy doesn’t blow hitters away, but he has great stuff and a nose for winning.

9. Andy Pettite, New York Yankees (.635)—When you’re always in the 15-20 win range, you’re going to wind up on this list. Andy Petitte has been winning since he broke into the league in 1995.

10. Mark Mulder, St. Louis Cardinals (.632)—Wait, this guy is still pitching? Sadly, he only lasted 1.7 innings this season and may be done for his career, but Mulder’s 103-60 record is still pretty impressive.

Source: Baseball Reference

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