Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
November 28, 2007
BASEBALL: Hot Stove Roundup, Vol 2
*The Cubs re-signing Kerry Wood as a closer candidate makes all sorts of sense; Dempster was just terrible for much of 2007, and Wood clearly can't stay healthy unless handled very, very carefully; the steady, manageable workload of a closer may give him the chance to finally unleash his nasty stuff without hurting himself, while keeping super-effective Carlos Marmol in the setup role.
*Mark Prior for sale - well, now, that all depends on the price, doesn't it? The Cubs now have the pitching depth to prefer to cash in Prior and put the era of waiting on his and Wood's return to health behind them, and certainly Prior has upside. I'd think the best match would be someone like Tampa that can afford to wait on a guy who could still turn it around someday, though if I'm Prior I'd like to go to an organization with some track record for reviving injured pitchers (Cincinnati? St. Louis?).
*The Torii Hunter signing is fairly convincing evidence that Arte Moreno has turned into the late-70s Gene Autry or mid-90s Angelos, with more money than he knows what to do with. Sure, Hunter can probably marginally help the Angels in 2008; he's a good player, an excellent glove man with power. But 5 years and $90 million? Hunter is 32, he's never had a .340 OBP in his career, and his value is in his range as a CF; he's a terrible bet to hold his value in his mid-30s. Plus, they spent too much money last year on Gary Matthews for no other reason than his ability to play center field; I suppose you could deal Matthews and eat his contract (he's 33 and fell off the cliff in the last two months of the season after a solid enough first half, batting .180/.324/.269 from August 2 through the end of the year). I had thought the smart play for a team seeking a center fielder, especially a non-desperate team like the Angels, would be Mike Cameron, although after 2005 and 2007, Cameron will probably refuse to sign with any team that wants him to play alongside another center fielder.
The Hunter signing presumably sends Reggie Willits to fourth outfielder status, where if he plays his cards right he could have an Orlando Palmeiro-style career with his good OBP and speed; Willits' total lack of power doomed him as an everyday player, and from what I saw this season he's a terrible outfielder.
*It should surprise nobody familiar with the last decade and a half of Kansas City baseball to see the Royals pursuing Jose Guillen. At age 32, Guillen is essentially the same offensive player as Hunter, maybe a slightly better hitter for average, but without Hunter's good attitude, durability, consistency and glove. That's exactly the guy you want to pay millions to add to a young rebuilding team. Icing on the cake? "Guillen faces a possible suspension next season after being linked to the purchase of steroids and human growth hormone earlier this month in a story appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle."
*No, I can't see how anybody but the Yankees gets Johan Santana. The loss of Hunter probably means that Melky Cabrera would be a logical way to make a deal happen without the Yanks parting with both Hughes and Chamberlain. But that's a deal I'd make in a heartbeat if I'm the Yankees; there's no pitching prospect in history who had a better than 50/05 chance of becoming as good as Santana is now, and Santana's lefthanded, still reasonably young and healthy.
The Mets ... I just don't see what they offer that gets a deal done without Wright or Reyes, and they're not dealing one of those guys.