Posted: Tuesday February 14, 2006 12:10PM; Updated: Tuesday February 14, 2006 12:11PM
Tom Verducci will answer select questions from SI.com users in his Baseball Mailbag.
Who do you like in the World Baseball Classic? How about the All-Withdrawal Team? Among those who were quick to sign up but have since bowed out are catcher Joe Mauer, first baseman Nomar Garciaparra, shortstop Jimmy Rollins, DH Barry Bonds, outfielders Carl Crawford and Lance Berkman and pitchers John Smoltz, Tim Hudson, Brett Myers and Eric Gagne. Toss in second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, third baseman Scott Rolen and outfielder Hideki Matsui, who never signed on in the first place, and you've got a strong team of no-shows.
As the games draw near, baseball better hope more players don't come up with excuses to bail. The withdrawals (and there may be more as guys develop curiously-timed injury concerns in the next two weeks) begin to drain some of the energy out of the tournament. At least one optimistic baseball executive is holding out hope that Bonds will change his mind and participate. If Bonds is healthy enough to take part in spring training, why not take his at-bats as a DH in the Classic?
U.S. manager Buck Martinez has asked Alex Rodriguez his thoughts on playing some shortstop in the Classic, probably if he wants to rest Derek Jeter for some innings here and there. Rodriguez told Martinez he will play wherever Martinez wants him. Martinez's roster is deeper at third base than at short, especially if he asks Michael Young to play some innings at second base.
The White Sox nearly wound up with Carlos Delgado instead of Jim Thome. When Cashman inquired about Chicago center fielder Aaron Rowand soon after the World Series, White Sox GM Kenny Williams told him he didn't think the Yankees were a good fit for a trade -- unless they obtained Delgado from Florida. Cashman worked out the parameters of a deal with the Marlins, but the three-way deal fell through when the White Sox then insisted the Yankees pick up a large chunk of Delgado's contract.
Alan Nero, the agent for catcher Bengie Molina, insisted Molina was prepared to sit out the season -- at least until a team was forced to find a catcher because of injury -- before Toronto offered him $5 million. That's still far less than the $18 million over three years that Mets GM Omar Minaya offered Molina before suddenly trading for Paul Lo Duca. Nero miscalculated Minaya, who likes to move quickly.
"I don't know any agent who faxes back a 'yes' right after being faxed a proposal," Nero said. "I said to Omar, `When you got married, did you send out four or five different proposals?'"