Sunday, January 13, 2008

Not Much Going On This Offseason

If this is a hot-stove, people in Russia must be freezing.

Maybe if today's trade had happened six years ago, it would be considered a blockbuster.

Instead, the Cardinals get a third baseman who did steroids for a third baseman who could use some in a trade swapping performance enhancer Troy Glaus for oft-injured Scott Rolen. The deal is complete, pending physicals, which is the largest roadblock of the entire move.

In 2002, Rolen had 31 homers and 110 RBI while Glaus had 30 and 111. Last year, Rolen picked up 8 HR, 58 RBI and Glaus hit 20 HR, 62 RBI.

Meanwhile . . .

Erik Bedard still in a Orioles uniform? Check.
Johan Santana still in a Twins uniform? Check.

The flavor of the week involves the Mets "closing in" on a trade which would swap four or five prospects for Santana. I haven't seen this many rich guys pursue a Santana without closure since record executives tried to pry away Carlos Santana's head stash. And after this week began with rumors exulting Omar Minaya as the winner of the Santana sweepstakes, it's only fitting that it ends with reports that the Mets are not close to acquiring the lefty ace.

Senor Prognosticator, Bill Madden, may be right for a change when he suggests the Mets and Sox - like the Yanks - may decide the stakes are too high. For the Yankees, this is particularly true, as no other team has been willing to surrender a top prospect the likes of Phil Hughes. [No, Jon Lester would not suffice and until Boston's offers prove to be anything more than a smokescreen, I will stick by this contention.]

Pursuing Santana with the most rumored Yankees offer - Hughes, Cabrera, Marquez, Hilligoss - could present an ominous scenario in which Phil Hughes may emerge a frontline starter in 2010 at the cost of a couple million while Santana struggles to live up to impossible expectations in New York at potentially $750,000 per start.

Furthermore, with names like Andruw, Rowand and Cameron off the free agent landscape, imagine watching an outfield over the next few years bereft of Melky's armstrength and anchored by Damon in center, Abreu in right and Matsui in left. All the Brett Gardners in the world won't erase Bobby Abreu's fence-aphobia, Johnny Damon's puny arm or Matsui's, well, averageness.

The conclusion: call Boston's bluff and hope Santana ends up in free agency or Flushing. If you can sign Santana next winter - which is still a big if - thereby avoiding a top prospect swap, it makes the contract much more valuable and protects Johan from the resentment of a fanbase who always wanted Hughes more.

Keeping Melky is not as sexy an argument, but with no current alternative available to sign or promote, his value is much greater than his critics would have you believe.

Sure, a line of .273/.327/.391 is not going to have fans confuse Cabrera with Mantle, but consider a few facts first. Keep in mind that Cabrera is a #9 hitter on the Yankees and is not asked to lead off very often. Going into September Cabrera's batting average was closing in on the .300 mark, and if it were not for an abysmal final month which saw his average drop 20 points, his 2007 statistics would appear much more respectable. However, hitting .297 on September 2nd does not erase a putrid final few weeks of the season.

The 22 year-old did knock in 73 runs and is always able to put the ball in play - whiffing only 68 times in 545 at bats. Cabrera also flashes a strong, accurate arm, finishing tied for third in the AL with 16 outfield assists, up from 14 in 2006. To go along with his arm is a very good - though not elite - glove in the outfield which is accompanied by the versatility and willingness to play left or right as well. His youthful exuberance and camaraderie with the veteran players helps bring energy to a ball club often times accused of complacency.

Do any of these factors provide proof Cabrera will someday become a perennial all star? Obviously not. It does, however, show the Melkman to be a valuable piece of a contending team who has the luxury of carrying his unimposing bat.

· According to an Albany newspaper, "Mary J. Blige, rap musicians 50 Cent, Timbaland and Wyclef Jean, and award-winning author and producer Tyler Perry may have received or used performance enhancing drugs." Maybe it made 'em rap faster. That would paint Rakim as Maris and 50 as McGwire. Unbelievable.

· From the looks of a recent photo, Miggy Cabrera is staying true to his promise to shape-up this offseason. I wrote about Cabrera's weight prior to the trade which sent him to Detroit and I still stand behind him becoming the next Manny.

· Finally, for Hall of Fame fanatics, check this article out. According to it, no starting pitcher whose career began after 1967 has made it into the HOF. This criteria excludes pitchers like Dennis Eckersley, who started for half their career and closed the other half. Amazing stuff.


Freakball said...

Melky is a lot stronger a ball player then you give him credit. I think he will soon hit 15 homers and 85 rbi and play gold glove centerfiled.

the phi;l hughes parts I think are dead on though, good job.

Bronx Liaison said...

While it is possible Leche can become that type of player, I feel you are being a bit too optimistic. I believe Cabrera still has some ceiling, but it is more along the lines of improved batting average, raised OBP as takes more walks and higher SLG as begins to hit more doubles, etc.