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Mets can't top Rollins in war of words (cont.)

Posted: Monday February 25, 2008 3:05PM; Updated: Monday February 25, 2008 4:19PM
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Over the Lidge?

New Phillies closer Brad Lidge said he was looking forward to this year after a situation he said grew "stale'' in Houston. That's a nice way to say crummy. Lidge looked a great pickup for Philly, and he still may be. However, reinjuring his knee while throwing his first pitch in camp is a significant downer for the Phillies after the key winter move was to acquire him, which allowed them to move Myers back into the rotation. It was announced on Sunday that Lidge would undergo another surgery and miss up to six weeks.

Myers said he preferred closing and feels his personality better fits that role. He's right about that. And if Lidge is truly hurt, perhaps the Phillies would have to consider a return to relief for Myers. Ex-Phillie Kyle Lohse, one of several viable starters still on the market, is an option.

Roberts could still go to Cubs

Brian Roberts
The Cubs still have interest in All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts.
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Orioles owner Peter Angelos apparently didn't like what he was getting from the Cubs for second baseman Brian Roberts. But this trade isn't completely dead. It is believed the Orioles will continue to scout the Cubs during spring training with hopes a deal can be resurrected.

The names discussed so far include some combination of pitchers Sean Marshall and Sean Gallagher, outfielder Matt Murton and infielder Ronny Cedeno. The Cubs aren't exactly well-stocked with top prospects once you get past outfielder Felix Pie, but this deal makes too much sense for it not to happen.

El Duque was on the block

The Mets quietly sought trade offers for Orlando Hernandez late this winter, with the idea that if anyone bit, they would sign Lohse. But apparently there were no takers.

At the moment El Duque is literally hurting from head to toe. He recently revealed that he didn't actually have the bunion removed from his foot that impeded him last year, and that he is due for a root canal, as well. Beyond that, one of these days old age may finally catch up to Hernandez, who's listed as 41.

Inconsistency doesn't hurt Perez

Hernandez's presence technically has hurt the Mets already once this year. The Mets tried to argue in arbitration that Oliver Perez deserves only $4.725 million because he is very inconsistent, so inconsistent in fact that he had two straight terrible seasons before going 15-10 with a top-10 3.56 ERA last year.

But Perez's agent, Scott Boras, pointed out that the Mets signed El Duque to a free-agent deal that pays him $6 million for not one but two years, when two of his three previous years weren't very good. Thus, Perez got his requested $6.5 million.

Ryan's hope, Phillies' nightmare

Arbitration is a funny process. Though the Phillies, who lost for $10 million to superstar first baseman Ryan Howard, probably aren't laughing about it.

A lot of management folks -- and presumably the Phillies as well -- thought the Phillies had a strong case based on comparable numbers.. But nobody averages 52.5 runs and 142.5 RBIs the first two years, and agent Casey Close, who once won for Derek Jeter, scored a major coup in beating the team that renewed Howard for $900,000 last year.

Arbitration is an odd process. Representing the Phillies in their losing case was none other than Astros president of baseball operations Tal Smith, who not only works for a competing team but also recently hired away a failed former Phillies GM, Ed Wade, to be his own GM.

Arbitration is unpredictable. Yet in nearly every case the arbitrators wind up ruling 3-0, not 2-1. These guys who are supposedly thinking independently always manage to agree. How odd. One rare time where an arbitrator cast a dissenting vote, he was fired.

Freddy not yet ready, but he's one to watch

The Mets are saying that Freddy Garcia was only in Port St. Lucie to visit with his friend Johan Santana. Yet Garcia was accompanied by his agents, Peter and Ed Greenberg, he spent time in GM Omar Minaya's office, and both Santana and Pedro Martinez joined them for the visit. The Mets' pitch to Garcia is that they were successful in getting Martinez back quickly after the same shoulder injury.

However, the Mets are far less than desperate for pitching after acquiring Santana, and at least two or three other teams are said to be involved. Garcia seems to have particular interest in New York, and if the Yankees' young starters don't pan out as hoped, they could become a realistic option. Garcia, who hopes to be ready to pitch by June or July, could be a real bargain for someone. If he hadn't gotten hurt, he was going to be the best free-agent pitcher on the market last winter.

Bonds, Sosa want to play; Piazza may retire

Barry Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, said his most famous client "isn't retiring,'' and that shouldn't be surprising considering Bonds was one of baseball's more productive hitters last season (1.045 OPS). What is slightly surprising is the lack of interest, though one GM explains it this way: "If you're a contending team, do you want the distraction? And if you're not, why deal with it?''

Sosa is apparently looking for the right job, not any job. Sosa's agent, Adam Katz, said that Sosa still seeks a team that will give him about 450 at-bats. "There are some teams that have expressed an interest,'' Katz said. "But he's looking for full-time work. We have part-time offers. But at this point we don't have a deal.''

Piazza is believed to be more seriously weighing the possibility of retirement, though he also looked into going to Japan at one point. Piazza didn't return a message left at his house.

The moral of the story

Brad Lidge was disappointed that the Roger Clemens-Brian McNamee Congressional hearing split along party lines. Of course, truth-telling isn't supposed to be a partisan issue, as Lidge pointed out.

"Partisan politics shouldn't be playing such a big role in this. But apparently they are,'' said Lidge, a former Astros teammate of Andy Pettitte and Clemens. "Everyone's trying to get a solution. And when people take sides like that, it doesn't do anyone any good.''

Lidge didn't give an opinion on where he believes the truth lies, but said that Clemens should still be a Hall of Famer. "If you want to take away his 20-win seasons and make them 10-win seasons, he'd still have 300 wins,'' Lidge said.

As for who's telling the truth, Lidge said of Clemens and Pettitte, "Both are outstanding people ... Andy's an extremely moral person.''

Party boy

Clemens' claim that he wasn't at the Jose Canseco party that McNamee said he was at didn't ever strike me as much of a defense. Whether he was at that party or not, there's no reason to think McNamee made up his claim of shooting Clemens at least 16 times with steroids and HGH.

However, now the great party defense of Clemens' looks like more wasted breath from beleaguered defense lawyer Rusty Hardin. It appears now that there is photographic evidence that Clemens was indeed there, just as McNamee said. Really, this is no surprise since it would be hard to believe Clemens played golf at a course adjacent to the house where his family and nanny were attending a barbecue yet never bothered to come by.

Clemens, it appears, has fired his bullets and has nothing left -- just a possible date with justice. And if there's any justice, he gets the same treatment as Bonds. If the feds are going after Bonds, they should go after Clemens.

Pot speaks about kettle

In the continuation of another famous baseball disagreement, Gary Sheffield is due to be interrogated on Tuesday and Wednesday in Tampa at a hearing related to the case against him brought by his ex-agent, Boras.

Boras' claim is that he worked for Sheffield for 2 1/2 years and that he helped maneuver to get the Braves to drop an option year on Sheffield's contract by putting the Braves on Sheffield's no-trade list before helping to engineer his trade to Atlanta, as Sheffield sought, thus making Sheffield a free agent one year earlier. Boras' claim also is that Sheffield promised to let him do his free-agent deal but rescinded that promise on the eve of free agency with two short explanations, "That's business,'' and "It's my right.'' A couple months later Sheffield signed a $39 million, three-year Yankees deal that he negotiated himself.

Sheffield, typically, has resorted to name calling, telling writers recently that Boras is a "bad man.'' All evidence suggests, though, that Sheffield got 2 1/2 years of work from Boras but didn't want to pay the commission.

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