Hi, folks, hope all is well. While it sort of feels like the off-season is beginning in earnest today, with the start of the GM meetings, in reality a lot of teams and agents have been talking for weeks -- and it's going to be a busy off-season. Let's get it started... I can go until about 1:30 today...
Where does Bay go?
Dan: I think there are going to be fewer teams than expected in on Bay, and in the end, I wonder if another team will match Boston's willingness to give him 4/60. The Giants have a need, but he certainly wouldn't fit their park, either in his style of hitting or in his defense, so it remains to be seen how aggressive they will be. The Mets have indicated that they will look at all free agents, but that kind of money in that ballpark -- again, he might not be a fit.
What will the Brewers do about their pitching problems? Do they make a trade or maybe resign Ben SheetS?
James: I think they'll make a run at Lackey, but could have still competition from the Mariners, perhaps the Yankees (although I think they'll pass), the Rangers (whose interest might be greatly mitigated by their ownership situation. Short of that, the next-best starting pitchers probably include Randy Wolf (although Milwaukee might back off if the Dodgers offer Wolf arbitration and saddle him with the compensation albatross) and Jason Marquis. It is a very, very thin supply in FA starting pitchers, and I don't think Doug Melvin would like to trade minor league assets for a short-term answer like Halladay or Vazquez. We'll see.
Buster - In a little over 2 years Omar Minaya has gone from team savior to a notch above Mr. Met, his front office from dynamic to dysfunctional - is it just perception or reality?
Harry: I think there's a lot of dysfunction, but it really isn't Omar's front office. It belongs to ownership, and only ownership can sort it out. Until the GM or some other head of baseball operations holds the real decision-making power, that won't happen. For now, others in the organization perceive that power to be in the hands of Jeff Wilpon.
After reading your FA piece, do you not expect the Mets to be players for Holliday or Lackey as FA signings?
Jake: I'll be honest -- the messages are mixed. The team came out and said that they will be aggressive, but then internally, the message is different; the perception in some corners internally is that the team doesn't have the open checkbook that would be needed to get a Holliday or Lackey.
How do you think the Braves will handle their starting pitching situation? Who goes and what do they get in return?
Rajesh: I'll defer to what I heard from other execs this weekend -- they think that Vazquez will be moved for a bat, and they see a potential matchup with the Rangers.
What color is Prince Fielder going to be wearing come opening day?
Rob: The Brewers' uniform. There really isn't any reason for them not to keep him, unless they get a big-time starter like Matt Cain, and seemingly that is something the Giants are not interested in. I do think the Brewers will at least feel out other teams about his value, though (and I'd be surprised if they haven't already... those kind of conversations go on all the time about a wide range of players...)
Buster- Love your work. How do you like the Hardy-Gomez deal for the Twins and do you think they are a veteran starting pitcher and third baseman away of maybe doing some damage in the playoffs?
Tracy -- thanks for the kind words. The Twins are, on paper, set up really well for next season -- and with the Tigers, Royals and Indians all looking at cutbacks, it's hard to imagine that Minnesota won't go into next season as the AL Central favorites. They could use a frontline starter, as you know, but let's face it -- in this division, it's not a must-have-it situation. Slowey is coming back and he could be enough.
Come on, the Brewers are NOT getting Lackey and they need depth of rotation more than one guy, especially with Gallardo's injury history.
Dale: I didn't say they are getting Lackey. I said I thought they would be one of the teams involved in the bidding (and there won't be a lot, in terms of really serious offers). The Lackey bidding might come down to the same difference-maker that the A.J. Burnett bidding came down to: Who is willing to offer a fifth year?
I'm going to get paid big time this year. By will it be by the Dodgers? Can they afford me or should I plan to pack my bags for another team?
Manny: the Dodgers really don't have a choice, do they? You took the option, no other team will touch you at that price, and the Dodgers will have to look to shave payroll in other ways.
Who is the biggest threat to yankess to reapeat?
Charles: the Phillies. I think Cole Hamels is going to learn in a big way from this year and sort it out.
Have the White Sox become so ireelevant that hey are not even worth a mention in the AL Central?
Pete: No, I mentioned the three teams that are cutting back -- the Tigers, Indians and Royals. The White Sox are not cutting back, and they have more holes to fill; I'd still make the Twins the favorites.
hey buster, what's your hunch on how the Damon/Matsui/Pettite FA dilemna plays out in NY?
Rerun: Something along these lines -- I think they'll offer a nice one-year deal to Damon, and let him know that if he wants more, they'll move on to Plan B (knowing that Damon knows they could work out something with Matsui). If Damon balks, then they'll go to Matsui and let him know that they would be interested in him on a one-year deal, if he's willing to take a significant pay cut (Maybe to the $5 million range). Pettitte's easy -- they'll offer him arbitration, he'll take it, and they'll work out a deal.
Buster, who do you see stepping in and taking Bobby Cox position at the end of next season...pending he retires
Mark: Maybe Fredi Gonzalez. He almost got fired this year, and if the Marlins don't win next year, I think he will get fired. And he is really well-liked and respected within the Braves organization.
Who do you see manning the SS position for the Red Sox come April?
Stone: Jed Lowrie.
Which of their 3 remaining big FA's do you see the Halos re-signing, if any?
Jim: Chone Figgins.
When does Mauer get his MVP? I know they hand it out after World Series but when do the regular season awards get announced? Also do the twins man up and extend Mauer or do they kill their fans by letting him play into his contract year?
Luke: Next week he gets the MVP; the only question is whether it's unanimous (and it should be). And yes, I think they'll work out an extension with him.
Buster, what should the Yankees do with Joba? Trade him? Start him? Use him as a reliever?
David: I think they'll go into spring training intent on preparing him to be a starting pitcher ... and then they'll see what they see, and adjust from there. I really doubt they would put all this time into developing him as a starter and then pull the plug on it after a few good outings out of the bullpen in October/November.
hey buster, what is Jason Heyward's schedule for making it to the show since he was injured in the AFL?
Alex: if he plays well, same as Hanson's timetable last year -- end of May/sometime in June. If he plays well... and he's done nothing to make us doubt that the will continue to dominate in the minors.
Is Adrian Gonzalez gone? And what do the Red Sox start off the package with? Thanks
Joseph: I don't think the A-Gon trade stuff will get serious until next summer. Nothing is really driving the Padres to make a deal now, because he's got an incredibly affordable contract ($4.75 million next year, $5.5 million option for 2011), and the Padres can sit back and wait for somebody to totally overwhelm them... and I don't think anybody will do that. Yet. Next summer, the pressure on San Diego to get trade value for him before the deadline (to impact two pennant races) will start to build.
Where will Roy Halladay be pitching next season?
Justin: I will tell you flatly that this is nothing more than an educated guess at this point, because I don't think teams are really that deeply into it -- I'm guessing he winds up with the Angels.
Do you see the orioles making any moves for a big name pitcher?
Matt -- I think they'll try, and might even lurk in the Lackey negotiations. But here's the thing -- they'll have a hard time convincing someone who has choices to go and play there, because they haven't contended in more than a decade. But if you're an Orioles fan, I'm telling you something you already know, from past off-seasons...
Buster what's Xavier Nady's status and do you see him factoring into the Yankee's outfield plans for next year?
Tom: He's a free agent, and no, I don't think they'll re-sign him.
Buster, Pedro Feliz's option wasn't picked up. Who do you see replacing him: Beltre, Derosa, or is there someone else?
Brian: Beltre is a great, great fit -- so long as the price is right. We'll see what Scott Boras asks for ...
Do the Marlins have a shot at competing in the NL East next season?
Manhart: Word is that they are aggressively pushing their arbitration-eligible guys in the trade market, so in light of that... no, I think they're going to have a tough time hanging with the Phillies, because of the lack of comparable depth. They'll compete, but it's hard to see them prevailing.
With that, folks, my time is up. We'll do this again next week... Have a great week.