Domino effect (cont.)
Posted: Monday March 24, 2008 4:24PM; Updated: Tuesday March 25, 2008 3:19PM
That other Chicago team still trying to improve in center
The Cubs were hoping to complete a Brian Roberts trade with several days to go before the season started to give a lineup that includes Roberts some test runs. But right now, they seem to be concentrating on strengthening themselves in center field.
They have ballyhooed prospect Felix Pie, but seem uncertain about his readiness and have looked into Coco Crisp, Jay Payton and Marlon Byrd, among others. They also considered the Tigers' Inge, normally seen as a third baseman and catcher, for center but wouldn't go for Inge unless they can first dump some salary. Inge, who has $19.2 million and three years remaining on his deal, actually is suddenly a candidate to start in center for the Tigers, who lost star Curtis Granderson for two-to-three weeks with a broken hand.
Deals that haven't happened ... yet
A lot of spring deals were supposed to happen, but still haven't gone down. The top four:
1. Roberts to the Cubs.
Joba doesn't impress
Joba Chamberlain, who struck out the side on 11 pitches in his first game back in the bullpen, annoyed a few of the other honorees at the New York Baseball Writers dinner last month. He made a crack aimed at Indians manager Eric Wedge about the bugs in Cleveland and also ribbed new retiree Craig Biggio, who's on his way to the Hall of Fame, about his age.
"He's not my kind of guy,'' one of the other honorees said.
Perhaps this is why new Yankees manager Joe Girardi had a sitdown talk with Chamberlain about adjusting to sudden fame.
Around the camps
There was some early concern in Red Sox camp that Daisuke Matsuzaka, who starts the regular-season opener vs. Oakland Tuesday, wasn't in as good a shape as he was last year. But others believe he may actually do better in his second season after throwing and doing less last winter.
The Rockies appear to have pared their second-base battle down to Jayson Nix and Jeff Baker, with Nix slightly in the lead. Colorado has one of baseball's best lineups, but if the hard-hitting Baker can prove to field the position, it will be that much better.
The Nats must be better than I thought if they can just discard pitcher John Patterson.
The Jays probably are good if they can release Reed Johnson. Johnson could be a decent pickup for someone. The Mets make sense.
The Giants might have interest in Casey Kotchman and Jeff Mathis, but the Angels, who aren't exactly big on making a lot of trades anyway, certainly aren't giving up their starting first baseman on the eve of the season. And certainly not to get back Benjie Molina, as has been suggested. That's just absurd. Now, if they want to talk about Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain, maybe they could have a conversation. But of course, the Giants are intent on keeping those two pitchers
The Nationals are shopping Felipe Lopez, as has been reported. But he's set to make $4.9 million after his arbitration award. The Nats could also release him and pay 1/6 that salary, but that would seem to be a long shot since they could have done that before the arbitration hearing and avoided being on the hook for $816,666.
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