Holliday sale? (cont.)
The ever-improving Rays have built a solid team but remain unsettled at one position -- right field. The current Rays regime has made a lot of great decisions, but of course the one they think about the most was the one who got away, the one who would look great in right field for them today.
The Rays lost Josh Hamilton through the Rule 5 draft before the 2007 season, understandable in that he was a multiple drug offender who'd just played 15 games in Class-A the year before and had only one option left. The Rays also were concerned whether he could make the jump from Class A to the majors, never mind kick his insidious drug habit.
Hamilton, who's now the Rangers' star center fielder and would have filled the Rays' right field spot perfectly, became the No. 3 pick in the Rule 5 draft by the Cubs, who then traded Hamilton to the Reds in a prearranged deal. Rays GM Andrew Friedman made it clear they've gone back over this decision in their heads many, many times.
"You're not human if you're not rooting for Josh Hamilton,'' Friedman said. "[But] we never thought that he could take 4 1/2 years off, even if he'd been on a mission for those 4 1/2 years, and that he could return with the same skill level. Obviously we've played it back in our heads. We're very focused on process and outcome. And this was not a good outcome. ... It won't be our last mistake."
Around the Majors
Mets manager Willie Randolph didn't lose his job at Monday's big meeting with GM Omar Minaya and the team-owning Wilpons. But it appears struggling first baseman Carlos Delgado might have lost part of his. Damion Easley started two straight games at first versus a left-handed pitcher in what turned out to be two straight wins. Minaya is also said to be calling around for help at first base and in the outfield.
If the Mets do decide to change managers at some point during the year, they will likely do it on an interim basis. The likely replacement would be their bench coach Jerry Manuel.
In hindsight, the Mets regret taking Ryan Church at his word that he was OK after suffering a concussion and subsequently using him a few times as a pinch hitter. The team also regrets having him fly to Colorado and wonder whether the altitude differential bothered him. Church reported regressing after getting to Colorado.
Reds rookie outfielder Jay Bruce looks as special as advertised. He reached base eight times in his first 10 plate appearances. Scouts liken him to Larry Walker.
Scott Hatteberg handled the Reds' decision to designate him for assignment so professionally and without a trace of rancor that some thought Hatteberg might be considering calling it a career. But agent Joe Urbon said there's "no contemplation of retirement.'' Urbon concedes Hatteberg, 37, isn't cut out for pinch-hitting duty; he was 1-for-17 in that role this year and has hit .159 (18 for 113) in his career pinch hitting. But someone should find work for this great pro with a lifetime .361 on-base percentage.
Kenny Lofton, 40, is still working out and hoping for work. Hard to believe he can't find a job after hitting .296 last year. Tampa Bay, which looked to sign him to a bargain deal earlier, still looks like a good spot for him.
Joba Chamberlain will get his first start Monday or Tuesday in what should be the most eagerly watched start in New York this year.
Pedro Martinez's return start is Tuesday in what should be the second most eagerly watched start.
One AL GM on Twins' center fielder Carlos Gomez: "He's going to be a star. He has a unique combination of skills.''
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is right that shortstop Orlando Cabrera should think of something better to do with his time than call up to the press box to have scoring decisions corrected in his favor. Of course, that usually only takes one call at U.S. Cellular Field. For years, they've had an official scorer at that park willing to let the players tell him how to rule. People with the team do believe Guillen and Cabrera, longtime friends from their days together in Montreal, will eventually patch up their differences.
Some Yankees people believe that their personnel are more susceptible to suspension because MLB officials see more of their games. They may have a point there.
On my list of best free-agent signings of all time, there were a lot of strong points made by e-mailers, and most of their suggestions would make great debates. But one name that should be inarguable that I omitted was Randy Johnson, who won four Cy Young awards with Arizona after signing a four-year, $53 million deal before the 1999 season. What's more, he got better each year: 17-9, 19-7, 21-6, then 24-5. My bad.
Johnson won't win another Cy Young this year, but he's been pretty close to his old self lately. And Thursday he tied Roger Clemens* for second on the all-time strikeout list at 4,672.
Speaking of the all-time strikeout king, Nolan Ryan is making his mark as Rangers club president. He's no figurehead, already hiring two top execs, Rob Matwick and Dale Petroskey. He went 1-for-2 there. Matwick, a 20-year veteran of Astros management who was most recently a VP with the Tigers, is a pro, and Petroskey is the guy who was recently forced out as president of the Baseball Hall of Fame.