Tagged: Hot Stove

Feb. 17-Pitchers & Catchers Report Today!

Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Tuscon today. The D’Backs share the facilities at Tuscon Electric Park with the Chicago White Sox. And that makes me think of the trade the Diamondbacks could have made this offseason with the ChiSox that would have gotten them a quality number 2 starter who is much younger than Randy Johnson.

Those of you who pay attention to the Hot Stove League dealings will remember that the White Sox tried to trade Jon Garland to the Houston Astros. The deal fell through when the White Sox did not like the medical reports on one of the players they were supposed to get in the deal. A short time later, the White Sox  moved another of their pitchers, and Garland was no longer available. During the short time the window of opportunity was open on Garland, White Sox GM Ken Williams said he was sorry he had traded two players: Gio Gonzalez and Chris Young. He got Gonzalez back, and if it had been up to me, he would have gotten Chris Young back, too, if I could have gotten Jon Garland in return. After all, it’s not as if the Diamondbacks are short of outfielders…

Jon Garland or Randy Johnson as your No. 2 hurler in 2007, whom would you rather have? I have put a new entry in the right sidebar called Shadow GM in which I will keep tabs on both pitchers. Let’s see what happens.


Congratulations, Willie Randolph!

The Mets manager has gotten a three-year contract with a club option for 2010.

He’ll now be a millionaire, like a lot of his players. ($1.4 million in ’07, $1.8 million in ’08 and $2.25 million in ’09.) That’s no small thing in a society that often uses money as a token of respect, and gives respect according to income.


Could It Happen? It Could If…

Prince of New York is wondering if the San Francisco Giants want to get out of the deal they tentatively made with Barry Bonds. They needed him as a drawing card in the absence of anything else (and, I’ll add, in the presence of a ticket price increase that will make freezing in the bleachers in the Ballpark By the Bay an obscene $ 27 – 33 on weekends or for so-called premium games.) But then they signed Barry Zito. And Prince says:

[T]he signing of Zito brought the Giants credibility along with a very good pitcher. There wasn’t going to be an empty cupboard without Bonds; there was going to be an affable and quirky winner who would attract fans by his presence and abilities.

But Prince notes that the Giants don’t have another left fielder. Well, they could move Dave Roberts, currently slated for center field, to left field–he played left for the Padres last season–and trade for a new center fielder, viz. one Eric Byrnes.

It really works. Arizona isn’t really going anywhere next year. But it has cheap, young outfielders aplenty, which explains why they don’t want to pay Byrnes the richly-deserved 5M he has requested. Send Byrnesie home, Arizona, and give Scott Hairston a shot at left. Then you’ll have the all-cheap, 20-something outfield you want. DaVanon can be the veteran presence in the outfield. Bob Melvin likes him better anyway.

For the same $16 Million the Giants have offered to surly Bonds in the hope that he will hit 22 more homers this year before he breaks past the point of repair or gets frogmarched off the field in handcuffs by the Feds, they could get Byrnes for three years, during which time he’ll dive into the gaps to turn would-be doubles into outs, steal bases, and if given the chance to start 150+ games/yr., probably hit 30 or so homers each season. And he’ll do it with a joy and flair that will put fans in the seats and add a funny, high-energy demeanor to the clubhouse. Byrnes wants to settle down to a multi-year deal and what better place than his hometown team, where he already enjoys a fan base from his days with the Oakland A’s and his appearances on KNBR.

Zito and Byrnes are good friends and can be the nucleus around which a new Giants team and era can be built. We can picture the ad already. Byrnes and Zito in Giants uniforms standing back-to-back, Byrnes with a bat on his shoulder, Zito with a glove in one hand and a baseball in the other. Logo: A New Giants Era. Go for it, S.F.!


And Then There Was One

The Arizona Diamondbacks came to terms with free agent pitcher Doug Davis, whom they acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers earlier in the offseason.

Both sides exchanged salary figures this week. Davis was for $ 7.5M and the D’Backs offered $ 5.25M. They avoided an arbitration hearing with a three-year deal worth $ 22M. It breaks down into $5.5 million in 2007, $7.75 million in ’08 and
$8.75 million in ’09. Thus, the D’Backs pay Davis only a little more than they had wanted to in ’07 and locked up their projected number four starter for two extra years, while Davis, who has a home in Scottsdale, AZ, gets what he asked for in the long run and gets to pitch near home for three years, if all goes well.

Last year, Davis went 11-11 with a 4.91 ERA in 34 starts over 203 1/3 innings pitched.

Hopefully, the fact the D’Backs are not going to pay Davis $ 7.5 M this year means that they can scrounge up the extra three-quarters of a million that separate them from last year’s homer and stolen base leader, Eric Byrnes.


Randy Johnson is a Snake!

Pending a physical, that is. And that won’t be a pro forma exam in the case of this 43-year-old recovering from his second back surgery. But let’s say he passes. (And Luis Vizcaino and the prospects going to the Bronx pass, too). There is still a question. Why this deal?

RJ  recently lost his brother, and that made the Phoenix resident think about pitching closer to home. He is also uncomfortable with the New York media. The move makes sense from his standpoint. 

For the Yankees, it is simple enough. Although 17 wins was not shabby in a year when only 2 AL pitchers won as many as 19, he was not the dominating RJ of old. The 5.00 ERA was of concern even though he was backed by a lineup called Murderers Row and Cano.

That same concern should have warned the D’Backs off this trade. Their lineup is nowhere near as powerful as the Yankees and thus will not be as readily able to bail out RJ when he gives up five runs as the Bronx Bombers have been.

The Yankees are picking up only one-eighth ($ 2 million) of this year’s salary. The D’Backs financial debt, including the $ 44 million still owed to him from his previous stint as a Snake, just keeps on growing. Just what a small-market team needs, right?

The Diamondbacks do not need RJ as a clubhouse leader for the pitchers. They already have the 2006 Cy Young Award winner, Brandon Webb. In fact, one wonders how RJ will fit in as a personality in what is by all accounts a very well-knit team. The guy that helped keep Randy’s ego in check, Craig Counsell, is no longer there.

What D’Backs’ fans remember about RJ’s last time in AZ is not only the 2001 World Series but the 2004 desperation to escape a team that had fallen on hard times. Will he be a positive influence in 2007 if the D’Backs struggle to stay above .500 this year?

We just don’t get this trade from the D’Backs perspective except for one possibility. RJ’s marquee presence as he goes for 300 wins, which he should get sometime in 2008. (Fingers, toes and eyes crossed). But DTLFL thinks the money spent on RJ would have been better spent on bench players and bullpen help. Later on, we’d be happy to say we were proven wrong, that RJ not only won his three-hundredth game but was key to moving the D’Backs beyond mediocrity. But we think skepticism is the proper attitude for now.


From journalist Dan Bickley, AZ Republic:
"After another unsettling season in 2006, they claimed they were going with the kids, starting over, unveiling a new era of baseball at Chase Field. There will be new colors, new faces, and sorry, Luis, no more time for living in the past.

Then they trade for – and work to extend the contract of – Randy Johnson, a 43-year old pitcher who is coming off back surgery . . . while they leave Eric Byrnes floating in the wind."


D’backs & Yankees still talking Unit trade

<sigh> We were hoping that the idea of the D’Backs trading several pitching prospects for a 44-year-old recovering from his second back surgery was merely the product of too much holiday eggnog. But they are still talking about it.

This suggests to us that they are looking around for something to keep the fans interested until 2009, when they get serious about the playoffs.


Welcome Home, Barry Zito!

We listened to the press conference. It must have been quite a thrill for you to see Stretch McCovey there. And while we’re a little disappointed that you did not end up with the Mets (and much relieved that you did not end up with the Yankees), it’s nice to know that it it will be easy to keep up with what you’re doing from here in Oakland. You were our second favorite on the A’s.

You ended up with most of what you wanted; you are playing at home for a long time, for a lot of money. You even got your old number. As for that last piece of the puzzle, a championship-caliber team, that’s a year or two off. But you can get them on the right path this year if they can get you more runs, especially early in the season, before things get too out of hand, than the A’s did.

So good luck, against all teams except the Diamondbacks and the Mets, stay in good health, and put in a good word for Eric Byrnes, who’s a free agent next season. It would be great to have him come home, too!

K. R.

More on Zito

"Congrats on getting the cream of the free agent crop! While you sound a little less than excited, I have been eager to hear your thoughts. One has to wonder if Zito will be the next A-Rod, meaning when will the madness stop? We still haven’t approached those numbers yet."

The above comment from another Diamondbacks blogger prompts this entry. Well, I’m not really a Giants fan, although my posts arguing that Eric Byrnes should become a Giant may give that impression. I argue for that because I think Eric would enjoy it and have the kind of opportunity he wants, i.e. a multi-year deal as an everyday player. I basically root for two teams: whoever has Eric Byrnes and the Mets. I was hoping Zito would sign with the Mets.  I was looking forward to Billy Wagner closing for Zito.

Which brings me to the point of who will close for Zito? He goes from having Huston Street (2005 AL Rookie of the Year) to Armando "Arthritis" Benitez.

Around the newsroom at KPFA, I often said "run support for Barry Zito is a beautiful thing."  Will he get that with the Giants compared to what he would have gotten with some of the other teams mentioned in the Zito sweepstakes such as the Mets, the Angels, the Yankees?

If Zito doesn’t come up with 18-20 wins because of a poor bullpen or poor run support, he’s not to blame, but with the price tag attached to his contract, he’ll be in the fans’ and media’s crosshairs. So basically, the Giants still have work to do to make this signing a sound investment toward a winning future and not just something tomake Bay Area fans forget about the players who didn’t want to sign with them and the fact that the feds are still after Barry Bonds.

I think it will take another year to see whether Zito, in terms of winning, landed in quicksand or in clover.

Good Luck, Z.