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Winter Meetings wrapup

Winners, losers and those in-between in Nashville

Posted: Friday December 7, 2007 11:43AM; Updated: Monday December 10, 2007 11:33AM
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Miguel Cabrera
Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis make the Tigers the early favorites in the AL Central next season.
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Winter Meetings 2007
 
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Johan Santana is still a Twin, Dan Haren is still an Athletic and Erik Bedard is still an Oriole. Yet contrary to popular belief, a few things did happen at the Winter Meetings.

So, without further ado, the winners and losers ...

Winners

1. Tigers. Their lineup is stacked and their rotation is superb after pulling off an eight-player blockbuster that netted them hitting prodigy Miguel Cabrera and pitching talent Dontrelle Willis. The Marlins nearly had a deal with the Angels before backing out and figured their best hope was the Dodgers before the Tigers took the prize, giving them a chance for 1,000 runs and 100 victories and making them a clear favorite in the American League Central.

2. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski. Few mention his name when the elite GMs are discussed, but there's no reason not to. No one has pulled off more big trades in the past decade, and no one has ever improved a team more than he has -- going from 119 defeats only four years ago to juggernaut status today. He's wise to spend at draft time and unafraid to take a chance. A lesson for everyone.

3. Willis. Pitching for the Marlins became burdensome for Willis. Now the lineup that supports him includes Magglio Ordonez, Gary Sheffield, Carlos Guillen, Pudge Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco in addition to Cabrera. The burden is no longer a beast.

4. Dodgers. The $36.2 million, two-year deal for Andruw Jones was the right one, giving them a proven run producer, shoring up their defense and setting them up for a big trade to boost the rotation. Not that they needed help in putting together a package of young stars for one of three available aces -- either Haren, Bedard or Santana -- but it just became a little easier to deal either Andre Ethier or Matt Kemp. Look for Jones to bounce back from his uncharacteristically dreadful offensive performance (for him) in 2007. Assuming he regains his game, he still should be a Hall of Famer.

5. Agent Scott Boras. Nice comeback after Alex Rodriguez got jittery, called an audible and came running back to the Yankees. Andruw Jones will be among the five highest-paid players off a .222 season, surely a record ratio for dollars to hits. And it should be noted Jones turned down offers that were lengthier and/or more lucrative from the Giants and Royals because of his preference to go to Los Angeles. Ellsbury was a nice pickup for Boras' client stable, and after a raft of overdone stories, it turns out MLB doesn't have anything on two other clients, Rick Ankiel and Scott Schoeneweis.

6. Yankees GM Brian Cashman. As reported Thursday by SI.com, his bosses came to him about an extension, a clear signal he is no longer "on the hook,'' and that, in fact, they want him to continue being the Yankees GM into his second decade. But Cashman, being focused on his team and perhaps also wanting to see whether new boss Hank Steinbrenner can quell his loose-cannon tendencies (though Cashman didn't cop to that part), told the Yankees he wanted to wait before starting negotiations. By the time this is over, he will go from being "on the hook" to being baseball's best-paid GM, which, considering the demands of this job, he probably should be.

7. Phil Hughes, Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury, the key men in the packages offered for the Great Santana. While none of them has enticed the Twins to surrender their superstar pitcher yet, a lot of nice things were said about all three in the lobby of the Opryland Hotel and in the papers.

8. Tim Lincecum. A lot of nice things are being said about him, as well, and while he's said to be "virtually untouchable," he'll be supported by a better lineup if the Giants do bend and trade him.

9. Agent Adam Katz. He took advantage of the Royals' inability to get Torii Hunter or Jones to take their money, wrangling a $36 million, three-year contract for the troubled-but-talented Jose Guillen, despite the fact that a steroid-and-HGH suspension was on its way. (It came in the form of 15 games within 48 hours of Guillen signing the deal.) That was a masterful negotiating job to get that kind of loot for an inconsistent star and personality.

10. Padres. Jake Peavy wanted to stay so badly he took the usual San Diego discount with his $52 million, three-year extension, not that anyone can blame a player for staying where he's happy (and who isn't happy in San Diego?). Randy Wolf is always a worthwhile signing.

11. Aaron Boone. An all-time nice guy from baseball's first family got a job with his dad's team. (Bob is an executive with the Nationals.)

12. Gary Matthews Jr. He lost his center-field job a couple weeks back to Hunter, who signed with the Angels for $90 million over five years. But Matthews won vindication when MLB declined to punish him for supposed ties to HGH, a nice ending after Matthews was tormented his first spring in Anaheim by the reports. Ankiel also got a dose of vindication after a string of almost endless reports besmirched him.

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