Posted on: July 11, 2010 7:37 pm
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- You could call it the Summer Meetings.
Not the All-Star Game, because so few baseball executives show up for it anymore. But Sunday's All-Star Futures Game might be the biggest gathering of baseball people outside the Winter Meetings.
Here's what some of them were talking about Sunday:
-- How well did the Mariners do in Friday's Cliff Lee trade? That depends what you think of first baseman Justin Smoak, the acknowledged centerpiece of the package that the Rangers sent to the Mariners. And among a handful of baseball people surveyed Sunday, the reviews on Smoak are decidedly mixed. "He's not [Mark] Teixeira," one veteran scout said. "They think they're trading for a batting champion. I'm not sure he's that." Other scouts were much more positive, one going so far as to say he has no questions about Smoak's value. And this was a decidedly top-heavy package, in part because that's how the Mariners asked for offers to be made.
-- While New York newspapers quoted some Yankee officials as being upset with the way the Mariners handled the Lee talks, officials from other teams scoffed at the idea that the Yankees could be upset. "The Yankees?" one official asked. "How can they say anything. They held up [last winter's three-team trade] by insisting that Curtis Granderson first get his eyes checked and then insisting that [Granderson] agreed to wear contact lenses."
-- The Rangers were among the teams that scouted Dan Haren on Friday night in Arizona, although by the time that game began they had completed the Lee deal and no longer needed to trade for a pitcher. Could the cash-poor Rangers have afforded Haren, who makes $12.75 million each of the next two years? Only in the highly unlikely event that their long-delayed sale is completed by the end of this month. The Rangers were able to afford Lee because the Mariners kicked in $2.25 million to help pay his salary, but also because they spent less than usual on things like Latin American scouting, specifically so they could make a trade like this one.
-- As one scout said, the group watching Haren included all the usual suspects, the teams still in need of a top starting pitcher. The White Sox, Phillies, Reds, Cardinals and Angels were all represented. So were the Yankees, although it's unlikely they would be interested in trading for Haren.
-- The Twins never had a real chance to get Lee, because while they have depth in prospects, they didn't have anyone Seattle would accept as a centerpiece of the deal (as Smoak was with the Rangers, and as Jesus Montero would have been in the proposed deal with the Yankees).
-- One thought on Roy Oswalt, whose $16 million contract for 2011 is a big obstacle for teams thinking about trading for him: A team, such as the Twins, could acquire Oswalt with the idea of trading him away after the season. Oswalt has a full no-trade clause, though, so he still needs to approve any deal, now or in November.
-- While the Yankees are still the best bet to sign Lee as a free agent this winter, don't discount the possibility that the Rangers could try hard to keep him. Rangers officials believe their chances at retaining Lee would hinge on two necessities: First, obviously, the ownership situation would need to be resolved. Second, the team would need to win, which would generate both the revenue and good feelings needed to get a deal done.
-- On Friday morning, the Rangers had given up on the idea of getting Lee, because the Mariners told them they were moving on a deal with the Yankees. But while the Rangers were deciding what to do next, Zduriencik sent word that there was "a window" in which he would field other offers. That's when the Rangers decided to offer Smoak and the package that got the deal done, replacing a four-player package that didn't include Smoak (but which some Rangers people considered superior).
-- Cubs people say the Ricketts family, which took over ownership of the team last winter, are committed to spending money. But they also say that money may not show immediately in spending at the major-league level, because the new owners plan to concentrate first on upping the budgets for scouting and player development.
Posted on: July 8, 2008 7:58 pm
You're not supposed to be able to play for today AND tomorrow. It doesn't work that way.
So does that mean they're nuts, dealing away a sometimes dominating pitcher (2.02 ERA over his last 10 starts) at a point where they're six games out in the American League West and 3 1/2 games back in the AL wild-card race?
At first glance, the A's take for Harden doesn't seem that great. Sean Gallagher, the guy they're calling the key to the deal, was ranked by Baseball America as the Cubs' fifth-best prospect entering the season. His numbers so far don't suggest that he's Harden.
But the A's were supposed to be taking a step down (at least for today) when they traded Haren last winter for a group that included Dana Eveland and Greg Smith (both already doing well in the Oakland rotation). They were supposed to be taking a step back when they traded Mulder for Haren back in December 2004.
They keep trading guys away (and perhaps Bobby Crosby will be next, once he gets healthy). They stay competitive.
They play for the future, as general manager Billy Beane says they're doing with today's deal. They do it without giving up on the present.
You're not supposed to be able to do it this way. But maybe the A's can.
They've done it before.