NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- As Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti was explaining late Wednesday afternoon, sometime between the Detroit-Florida deal and paralysis overtaking the winter meetings, conversations were plentiful, actions were few.
"We're just more words into the week," Colletti quipped.
Several hours later, he agreed to terms with outfielder Andruw Jones on a two-year, $36.2 million deal, creating the second -- and final -- big splash of the meetings.
After that, only more words. Including these. ...
Winter meeting winners
|The Tigers win by adding two stars in Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. (US Presswire)|
The AL has won four of the past six World Series and eight of the past 12. Since the All-Star winner has been awarded home-field advantage in the Series, the AL is 5-0. See you at the AL ballpark for Game 1 of the World Series next October.
Detroit Tigers: Who says the economy in Michigan stinks? You couldn't tell by the way the Tigers are operating, whipping out owner Mike Ilitch's checkbook with the aplomb of a Hollywood diva on Rodeo Drive. Ilitch signed off on a $20 million payroll increase in acquiring Cabrera and Willis. In Cabrera, Renteria, Magglio Ordonez, Gary Sheffield, Pudge Rodriguez, Carlos Guillen, Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco, manager Jim Leyland now officially has more cool pieces than the newly renovated Detroit Institute of Arts.
Jose Guillen: About that forthcoming Sen. George Mitchell report on steroid use in baseball, and the line of questioning to baseball executives this week regarding whether they are operating differently knowing the boom is about to be lowered ... not! With the Mitchell report on deck, the temperamental Guillen still snakes a three-year, $36 million deal from Kansas City ... with seconds to spare before Commissioner Bud Selig hits him with a 15-game suspension for violating baseball's drug program! Suspension? He'll just have more time to count his money. Who wants to party?
Los Angeles Dodgers: Several rival clubs said this week that they still perceive a split in the Dodgers front office between those who favor the young prospects and those who don't, but that didn't stop Los Angeles from directing the Brinks' truck to the door of center fielder Andruw Jones. You might wonder how a guy who batted only .222 last season can get $36.2 million over the next two seasons, but from the Dodgers' perspective, they needed a big bat in the middle of the lineup (Jones smacked 26 homers and collected 94 RBI in '07) and they got it without giving up any young prospects. Now they've still got youngsters like Matt Kemp they can use in a trade for a starting pitcher (depending upon who has owner Frank McCourt's ear on that particular day).
Hiroki Kurota: Remember this name. He's The Next Big Thing among Japanese starting pitchers about to make a splash in the majors. The winter meetings were extremely good to him conversationally, and by Christmas, he should be nestled into the rotation of the Dodgers, Seattle or Arizona for four years and more than $40 million.
Minnesota Twins: They stood up to the game's two superpowers and demanded more for ace Johan Santana in trade talks. They laughed at Yankee senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner's deadline. They still have Santana as their opening day starter, and if they don't, it will be because they rightfully squeezed more out of the caviar-eating Yankees or the lobster-dining Red Sox.
|Jake Peavy gets what he wants: A lot of money to stay in San Diego. (US Presswire)|
Dick Williams: The gruff old skipper, first manager to win a World Series in each league, is elected to the Hall of Fame via the Veterans' Committee. Just think, if the writers elect reliever Goose Gossage this month (voting results announced in early January), Williams and Gossage maybe can triumphantly wear those ugly yellow and brown Taco Bell uniforms they wore in the 1984 World Series one more time. Or maybe not.
National League: Giving a whole new meaning to the word "shrinkage."
Florida Marlins: Memo to Florida legislature: Either get these guys a stadium so they stop ripping the guts out of their team every few seasons, or invite Commissioner Bud Selig down for lunch and remind him of his contraction plan. Revenue sharing has started to level the playing field, but not here. The Marlins did what they could do, getting a reasonable return for their two big guns in top prospects Cameron Maybin (outfield) and Andrew Miller (pitcher), and GM Larry Beinfest thinks Mike Rabelo will compete for the starting catcher's job.
Of the three other prospects, scouts really like pitcher Dallas Trahern -- his slider sets him apart -- and Eulogio de la Cruz's fastball touches 100 mph on the radar gun. Which is quite a coincidence, because that's pretty much the speed at which the Marlins send their stars out of town when they get too expensive.
|Tony La Russa's stock and reputation take a hit with the Rolen rant. (US Presswire)|
Whatever it is that's causing La Russa's streak of erratic behavior -- his ridiculous tirade against the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last year, threatening to beat with a fungo bat any reporter who showed "insincerity" following Josh Hancock's death last year, this Rolen feud -- it needs to stop. Or the Cardinals need to relieve him of his duties. Who's the supposed adult here, anyway -- the manager or the player?
Chicago White Sox: They failed to land Miguel Cabrera, they couldn't snag Torii Hunter, they finished 24 games behind Cleveland last season and 16 games behind Detroit ... and the Tigers are only getting better. Ouch.
San Francisco Giants: They were unable to finagle Cabrera, they couldn't land Andruw Jones and they left Nashville considering a Tim Lincecum-Alex Rios trade. Yes, the Giants need to revamp. Yes, they need to get younger, and they need somebody in their lineup who can hit in the post-Bonds era. But if they deal Lincecum, they'd better get a pitcher back somewhere.
New York Mets: Johan ... oh, Johan ... pitching ... help ... anybody?
Pittsburgh Pirates: There were almost as many ex-Pirates general managers cruising the lobby of the ginormous Opryland hotel as Christmas trees. Look, Cam Bonifay. Vroom, there went David Littlefield. And if new Pirates GM Neal Huntington doesn't get going, he'll soon join them. OK, so the guy only was hired little more than a month ago. But the Pirates yakked and yakked and yakked here this week, trying to move outfielder Jason Bay to Cleveland, shopping outfielder Xavier Nady, dangling pitcher Matt Morris, and ... nothing. New manager John Russell is respected. But this is a team that lost 94 games last season. Changes, anyone?
Gaylord Opryland Hotel: Brother, can you spare a pack of gum? It's a gathering of baseball people, who will chew anything -- gum, tobacco, sunflower seeds, broken glass -- yet in the gift shop the other day, a request for gum was met with a response of, "There is no gum sold anywhere on the property." As Steve Martin used to say, excuuuuuse me.
Like Disneyland, the Opryland is a nice place to visit if you are on vacation or otherwise denying reality, but maybe part of the reason few trades were made is because too many people were lost along the endless maze of hallways and walkways. The joint has more than 1,500 rooms and 600,000 square feet.
Best line of the week was from Boston GM Theo Epstein, who was speaking to Oakland GM Billy Beane on XM radio the other morning: "I'll give him (Beane) any player on our roster for directions to Bayou C."