Breakup coming in Boston? (cont.)
Around the majors
Epstein's decision to claim Brian Giles was a wise risk on the off chance Tampa Bay also filed a claim. (Rays GM Andrew Friedman did acquire reliever Chad Bradford via a waiver claim but declined comment as to whether he also claimed Giles.) While Giles had a $2 million kicker in the event of a trade (plus a $3-million buyout for next year), he wouldn't have been a terrible addition for Boston had he agreed to a deal. However, Epstein probably figured Giles would invoke his no-trade provision, as no one likes to leave San Diego who doesn't have to (although Epstein once was a rare baseball person to make that very move, from San Diego to Boston).
Anyone expecting stars to be traded after the waiver deadline is probably going to be disappointed. "Teams are being more aggressive than ever in blocking,'' one GM said.
Among the better relievers on the block before the deadline, Huston Street was already claimed, and can no longer be traded since a deal wasn't agreed to. Meanwhile, George Sherrill and Brian Fuentes have "no chance'' to get through waivers, according to one GM.
Street just wasn't throwing well enough to get market value for a reliever of his stature. And eventually he was demoted out of the closer's role, replaced by rookie sensation Brad Ziegler, who's up to 37 consecutive scoreless innings. If Street gets his stuff back together in the second half, look for A's GM Billy Beane to put him back on the trade block this winter.
Jarrod Washburn was put on waivers Friday, and if Seattle can sneak him through (or he gets as far as the Yankees, at least), perhaps they can re-do their decision not to unload his contract.
Raul Ibanez, incidentally, is never going to get through waivers. Not on his hot streak, and not with that oddly low $5.5 million salary of his.
After 13 straight years in the playoffs, the Yankees may finally have hit a wall. New manager Joe Girardi seems to have gotten the most out of a no-name middle relief corps. But with Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes contributing no victories to date, their chances are looking bleaker by the day.
Kennedy, by the way, has annoyed teammates and club officials with a cockiness normally associated with someone with more than one career victory.
Saw a headline the other today in an NY paper: "Pavano Solid.'' And I can't think of any bigger waste of space. To learn what Pavano's about, read John Feinstein's interesting book Living on the Black, about Mike Mussina and Tom Glavine. In one story, when Mussina was offered slightly less than $10 million a year in a new contract by the Yankees, he told Cashman, "I can't be paid less than Pavano,'' or words to that effect, and Cashman understood completely. Mussina was then paid $11.5 million a year, or slightly more than the sedentary Pavano.
The Angels look like a World Series favorite now. "There aren't any great teams,'' says one GM, "but if there is one, it's the Angels.'' I agree.
Seven of nine top draft choices have yet to sign, with Friday's deadline approaching. One GM said he doesn't like the new deadline. "We used to have players signed and playing by June,'' he says. "Now they think by waiting they might get a few extra dollars.''
The Rays are the story of the year so far, and former No. 1-overall pick David Price is going to come up and help, either as a starter or reliever.
And no one should count out the Marlins yet, either, meaning the teams with the 29th (Tampa Bay) and 30th (Florida) payrolls are still very much alive. They made it this far mostly without young pitchers Chris Volstad, Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez. Now those three give the Marlins respectable pitching, and a chance. Johnson was throwing 95 in his win over the Mets on Sunday.
Marlins pitching coach Mark Wiley has been one of the true unsung heroes this year.
Rays manager Joe Maddon has Manager of the Year locked up by now, no? Good move to bench B.J. Upton for not hustling. That's at least two managers (Charlie Manuel being the other) who've benched key players this year. Good for them.
The Mets' youngsters look a lot better than anyone said they would, especially Daniel Murphy, who is both intense yet patient at the plate.
Mets veteran second baseman Luis Castillo is due back next week. And here's hoping manager Jerry Manuel sticks with Argenis Reyes and Damion Easley. The team has been better with those two manning second. And Mets star shortstop Jose Reyes has been better when paired with those two.
David Lennon of Newsday recently pointed out that one of the keys to the Mets' resurgence has been the installation of Dan Warthen as pitching coach. A majority of Mets pitchers seemed to welcome the change.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggested that Rangers president Nolan Ryan will convince club owner Tom Hicks to spend this winter. And that may be so, but I'm told that what Ryan would most like is to convince Hicks to sell -- that is, to sell the team to him. There is no evidence to this point that Hicks is interested in selling, though.
It was funny to see Bob Costas interviewing President Bush in Beijing on TV Sunday night, as those two have often been rumored at different time to be candidates for commissioner of baseball. Of that pair, I'll take Costas. But it's hard to imagine anyone doing a much better job than Bud Selig has.