In Boston, the Red Sox have become the first, and arguably the biggest, beneficiaries of the Florida Marlins' Immolation Sale--Marlins ownership's revenge on the people of Southern Florida for keeping their fiscal wits about them and not funding a baseball-only stadium in downtown Miami. The way this game works is, Loria's crew is going to tear down the franchise, claiming extreme poverty from trying so damn hard to be competitive. From here on out, the Marlins' players are hostages in a game called "hope someone cares enough about this team to call their state senator." It didn't work for Wayne Huizenga, so hopefully it won't work for the Angel of Death, Jeff Loria. Still, spoils abound for those bold enough to claim them.
So back to the Red Sox. They get former World Series MVP Josh Beckett. They give up a AA shortstop (the much-hyped Hanley Ramirez) and a AA pitcher (the well-regarded Anibal Sanchez) and another minor leaguer (Jesus Delgado, a high-A prospect coming back from Tommy John surgery, I think). This is the second time in three years (and the third time in eight) that the Sox have gotten a stud pitcher in return for...nothing much, really. In the Curt Schilling trade, the Sox traded on the inflated reputation of Casey Fossum; this time, they trade on the positive press around Hanley Ramirez.Does anyone know if Peter Gammons got a World Series ring?
Anyway, Ramirez had no place else to go: he was blocked at the major league level by Edgar Renteria, and he wasn't hitting enough in the minors to justify a move out to center. It's shocking that Florida surrenders one of the best young pitchers in the game, but does not even get a single player who will make an impact on the big league roster in 2006.
In Flushing, the Mets get last year's coveted free agent--first baseman Carlos Delgado--in return for their top pitching prospect, Yusmeiro Petit, and young first baseman (not necessarily a top prospect) Mike Jacobs. Again, the Marlins give up major league talent in exchange for at least one player who isn't expected to break camp with the big club out of Spring Training. Combined with last week's deal, the Mets have given up a top prospect and a coveted center fielder (Mike Cameron) and in return, they get a hard-hitting, no-glove first baseman, and a youngish first baseman/corner outfielder.
In Chicago, the defending World Champs get former All-Star firstbaseman Jim Thome, in return for their starting centerfielder, Aaron Rowand. Rowand's youngish and he can fly in center, so he was one of the players on the Yankees' radar.
In the Bronx (by which I don't actually mean just the Bronx, but everywhere where Yankee fans live and breathe) the fans have a sinking feeling, that all this commotion by top rivals while the team lays idle means that the Pinstripers will have to settle for the market's sloppy seconds. Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry, two relievers supposedly targeted by the Yanks, have already signed with the Cubs. B.J. Ryan and Tom Gordon haven't signed yet, but they both want to be closers, not just compensated like closers.
Still--and this is a Thanksgiving theme, for all you Turkey sandwich afficionados out there--you can often make a better meal of the leftovers than the original (or intended) meal. Beckett and Rowand and Eyre and Howry are nice--but there are still some bargains to be had, if the Yanks are patient, and don't overpay.
One possibility that's being discussed is adding the Phillies' Jason Michaels, a center field tweener who's now the Phils' fourth outfielder with the addition of Rowand. Since the Phils need starting pitching, Carl Pavano plus lots of cash for Michaels and Cole Hammels (a talented, but headcase lefty pitching prospect) would make some sense.
'Til then, let's just be thankful for what we've got. And I'm not just talking in the baseball sense, either. Happy Turkey Day.
A couple of blog-related notes:
First, I had a new piece up at Baseball Prospectus, this time about the Kansas City Royals. Part of it is a spoof of the promotional booklet agent Scott Boras as put up for Johnny Damon's suitors, which makes claims like "Best Leadoff Hitter in Baseball," and "Better than Future Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson." Here's a taste:
BETTER THAN HALL OF FAMER CATFISH HUNTER
A careful look at the statistical record shows the elite company that Jose Lima keeps. He has allowed fewer career hits (1758 to 2958) and walks (383 to 954) than Catfish Hunter. His total hits allowed are similar to one of the most unhittable pitchers of all time--Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax--in the same number of major-league seasons. Lima has more career strikeouts (968) than Satchel Paige, Addie Joss John Ward and Clark Griffith. Each of those men is in Cooperstown.
In short, your investment in Jose Lima is not simply an investment in quality pitching, colorful personality and extremely attractive relatives, but as a possible investment in immortality.
Check it out.
In other news, a form of the A-Rod study that I discussed earlier this week has been done by James Click and Steve Goldman over at the Pinstriped Bible. It's extremely interesting, and would seem to confirm what some people have said--that Rodriguez didn't perform well in games that the team was trailing by less than four runs. At least, not good compared to David Ortiz (which is like not being fast compared toRafael Furcal).
Sadly, more on this later, whether in a new post, or in the comments to the post linked above.