This offseason has been
busy, to say the least, but not everyone is diving into the waters...at least
not yet. Some are just dipping their toes in and testing the
The Florida Marlins,
who haven’t been shy at all about diving right in, are so busy emptying their
clubhouse of recognizable names, they might just have a Triple-A team playing
there in 2006. And up until just two days ago the Colorado Rockies had been so dormant
that they looked to have the same Triple-A team playing at Coors Field in 2006
as they had playing there in 2005. The Rockies have since made some moves,
but the two clubs are really at opposite ends of the bell curve as far as
offseason activity is concerned, and everyone else is distributed in between.
Some clubs are losing players, while some are adding. The New York Mets have been busy trying to
build an All-Star team, and the St. Louis Cardinals appear to be lurking in the weeds, freeing up salary, and
waiting to spring a huge deal on everyone. All the key details from the past two
weeks of activity follow below, so let's get to it...
Diamondbacks – After sitting dormant for
the early stages of the offseason, the club went out and got a solid hitting
catcher by trading two right-handed pitchers, Lance Cormier and Oscar Villarreal, to the Atlanta
Braves for catcher Johnny Estrada.
– They traded Estrada away, but there was a flurry of activity that led up to
that move. Chipper Jones finalized the
deal that restructured his contract. It was a win-win deal. Jones took a
potential cut in pay, but the new deal guaranteed the
Atlanta star $15 million more than
his old contract did. For the club, it freed up $6 million of salary for
the 2006 season. But that money won't be going to Kyle Farnsworth or Rafael Furcal. Farnsworth left the league where he continued to
struggle to keep leads in big games, and he took the big money in the Big Apple.
His three-year deal with the New York
Yankees will take him out of the closer role, where he'll be setting up
save opportunities for Mariano Rivera. As for Rafael
Furcal...well, he ditched his digs in
Atlanta, passed up the opportunity
to play for the Chicago Cubs,
and is heading for Hollywood, where he'll start a new
chapter in his career as a Dodger. With Furcal abandoning his fellow Braves, the
front office didn’t wait around – they took the money they saved with Chipper
and traded young, third base prospect Andy Marte to the Boston Red Sox for none other than
big-contract Edgar Renteria. So
the gold-glove-winning and clutch-hitting short stop is back in the National
They made their pitch for Furcal, but it just wasn't enticing enough for him to
pack his bags for the Windy City. That left the Cubs still
searching for a leadoff hitter and a starting shortstop. General Manager
Hendry went right back to work and traded Sergio Mitre and two Double-A pitchers
to the morphing Marlins for Juan Pierre. The speedy outfielder will give the Cubs their first true leadoff
hitter since Kenny Lofton during
the 2003 playoff run. He’ll also provide the Cubs with their first serious
base-swiping threat in years. Apparently Hendry and the Cubs learned the value
of a speedy leadoff man from their cross-town rivals, the World Champion Chicago White Sox.
Pending physicals, the AP is reporting a done deal between the Reds and
Pittsburgh Pirates that exchanges first baseman Sean Casey for starting
pitcher Dave Williams. The Pirates were in need of a veteran with a solid bat
and the Reds were in desperate need of a consistent starting pitcher. Both clubs
benefit from this deal, and both players should be expected to produce similar
numbers in their new homes. The Reds also traded veteran relief pitcher Mike Myers to the Yankees and obtained
second baseman, and occasional outfielder, Tony Womack in
Rockies – There was absolutely no
activity in Colorado, that is until this past
Wednesday night. The club traded infielder Aaron Miles and outfielder Larry Bigbie to the St. Louis
Cardinals for left-handed bullpen specialist Ray King. They then continued to
beef up their bullpen by signing Jose Mesa to a one-year, $2.5 million contract. Now if the
Rockies can only find a way to get
games in their hands with a lead.
Marlins - Keeping up with the
Florida Marlins this offseason can be a full-time job in itself. There's so many
deals going on, we might even have to keep an eye on eBay for activity. The
trade between the Cubs and Marlins for Juan Pierre was the latest move. Since
the last edition of this column, the deal with the Boston Red Sox sending
Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to the American League went through, and it even included
shipping relief pitcher Guillermo Mota...all for four
Boston Red Sox prospects. Then the club dealt last season's big, off-season
acquisition, Carlos Delgado, to the New York Mets for first baseman Mike Jacobs and two minor leaguers. But that trade wasn't the end of
the recent deals for the budget-cutting Marlins – they also sent away their
mainstay second baseman, Luis Castillo, to the Twins for...yes, you guessed it, more
prospects. And just the other day, the Marlins dealt All-Star catcher
Lo Duca to Delgado's new team for more young prospects. See a
pattern here yet? But the roster changes didn’t end there. Prized free agent
Burnett signed a plush five-year, $55 million contract with the
Toronto Blue Jays. You have to
wonder what Dontrelle Willis and
Miguel Cabrera think about all
- The Astros re-signed relief pitcher Russ Springer to a one-year contract and should continue to provide
some solid innings of relief work. Still no word on Roger Clemens’ decision to continue
playing, and Phil Garner is
reportedly preparing for a season without him.
Dodgers - New General Manager
Colletti appears to have started dealing before he even moved
into his new office. He shelled out the cash to land Furcal to a
three-year, $39 million deal, and then he brought in former Boston Red Sox
Little to replace
Tracy and manage his new club. Furcal should shine in the big
market of Los
Angeles and will offer a
much-needed spark at the top of the Dodger lineup.
Brewers - Catcher Chad
Moeller was signed to a one-year contract worth $700,000, and
smooth-swinging Lyle Overbay was dealt to the Toronto
Blue Jays for right-handed starting pitcher Dave Bush and two other prospects.
The club also brought back closer Dan
Kolb, who was a bust in Atlanta as John Smoltz’s
replacement, via a trade for Wes Obermueller.
The way General Manager Omar
Minaya has been dealing, this Mets team could have an All-Star
candidate at every position by the time the 2006 season rolls around. With the
additions of Delgado and Lo Duca, their lineup is just stacked. But
Minaya might want to learn a lesson from his cross-town club, the Yankees. A
stacked lineup won't win a championship if the pitching can't hold up.
Tom Glavine and
Kris Benson carry bigger value in their name than in their output on
the mound, and Pedro Martinez just isn't getting any younger. If they really want to
make a run at the NL East division champion Braves, they'll need to add better
starting pitching, which we all know isn't easy to come
Phillies - Goodbye, Jim
Thome. Yes, the slugger ended a short stay in the National
League via a trade to the Chicago White Sox that brought center fielder
Aaron Rowand to the
Phillies. Rowand's power numbers dropped off with the White Sox last season, but
the change of scenery could spark a return to his 2004 numbers, when he hit .310
with 24 home runs and 69 RBI. The club also signed free agent utility man Abraham Nunez, relief pitcher Julio Santana,
and catcher Sal Fasano to help boost their bench. Needing a replacement for
Wagner, the club decided to roll the dice on Tom
"Flash" Gordon, who returns to the NL with the Phillies and will
be the club's closer heading into Spring Training. Keep in mind, though, that
it's been a solid five years since Gordon went the whole season as a
Pirates - The aforementioned deal
with the Reds, which brings Sean
Casey to Pittsburgh, should give Pirates fans a
little something to cheer about. The club also traded away third baseman Rob Mackowiak to the White Sox for
relief pitcher Damaso Marte,
which adds some depth to their bullpen.
Cardinals - Relief pitcher
Eldred retired after a very respectable 15-year career in Major
League Baseball. In 384 games as a reliever and starter, he posted an 86-74
record with a 4.42 career earned run average and 939 strikeouts. After
losing Nunez to the Phillies, the club backfilled nicely with utility
middle-infielder Deivi Cruz. The addition of Aaron Miles also fills a void in the
infield, as does bringing in Larry Bigbie to contend for an outfield spot. It’s
clear that General Manager Walt
Jocketty is setting up his chess board to make a killer move.
Maybe he's waiting for that final chunk of the old Busch Stadium to be hauled
away. We all know it’s coming. The only questions are: Who will it be? And when
will it happen?
- Outfielder Brian Giles and the Padres agreed to a three-year contract worth a
guaranteed $30 million, plus incentives, that will keep him in his home town.
Many suitors were keeping an eye on Giles, but he's now off the market. The
Padres also re-signed closer Trevor Hoffman to a two-year $13.5 million deal.
One player not staying in San
Diego, though, is second baseman
Mark Loretta, who was dealt to
the Boston Red Sox for backup catcher Doug Mirabelli.
- After undesirable stints in Philadelphia and
Arizona, relief pitcher
Tim Worrell will return to San
Francisco, where he came into his own
as a solid reliever and setup man/part-time closer from 2001 to 2003.
Worrell signed a two-year, $4 million contract with the club. The Giants also
made another bullpen move, sending problem child LaTroy Hawkins to Baltimore for Steve Kline, the tough, situational lefty reliever who was known
for his dirty cap and impromptu outbursts in St.
Louis. It will be fun to see how
Giants' Manager Felipe
Alou deals with Kline in 2006.
Nationals – The club has a tentative
deal on the table for a stadium which means the Nationals might be up for sale
soon. But just as it seemed like that was the only deal being put together in
Washington, the Nationals snagged Alfonso Soriano from the Texas Rangers in exchange for
outfielders Brad Wilkerson and
Whew! How’s that for
rounding out an absolutely crazy couple weeks?
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