Ramirez could be looking for six-year deal (cont.)
Around the Majors
While Francisco Rodriguez is arguably the most consistent and productive 26-year-old closer ever, the two teams that make the most sense for him -- the incumbent Angels and Mets -- appear hesitant to meet his five-year contract demand. K-Rod seems like a big-market guy, but he shouldn't be without good options considering that about 20 teams need bullpen help.
Rockies closer Brian Fuentes pitched himself into incredible position. Look for someone to pay him about $11 million annually. The Mets and Cardinals would appear to be among the logical landing spots.
Word is going around that Brewers GM Doug Melvin may emerge as a candidate for the vacant Mariners job if an extension isn't worked out in Milwaukee. While one person said Melvin wasn't exactly thrilled that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio made the call to replace Melvin's manager Ned Yost with Dale Sveum, a promise of more autonomy could still lead to an extension for Melvin, who has a year to go on his contract. (By the way, while a GM would never take such an extraordinary step of removing his manager with 12 games to go, Attanasio absolutely made the right call.)
Assuming Melvin stays, the leading candidates for the Mariners job appear to be Peter Woodfork and Jerry DiPoto of the Diamondbacks, Kim Ng of the Dodgers, Tony Bernazard of the Mets and Tony LaCava of the Blue Jays. If either DiPoto or Bernazard is hired they would become only the third ex-big leaguer filling current GM jobs (the others, Kenny Williams and Billy Beane, are two of the game's best). A's executive David Forst declined an interview invitation, and permission was denied for White Sox executive Rick Hahn. Both are believed very happy in their current jobs and appear to be likely heir apparents should Beane and Williams be promoted. In the case of highly-regarded Indians executive Chris Antonetti, it's believed that an eventual promotion to GM is contractually guaranteed.
The Dodgers appear likely to try to bring back Rafael Furcal, who looks very healthy this postseason after missing over four months following back surgery. They were close to a contract extension when Furcal got hurt.
Orlando Cabrera is unlikely to be back with the White Sox.
It's never easy for superstars to retire, and Ken Griffey Jr. indicated that he wants to keep playing. However, it's time. Before he supplants Willie Mays as the center field superstar who stayed too long, he should retire.
The Rays are amazing. There, I said it. They've hit three home runs in each of three straight postseason games, the first ever to do that.
David Ortiz looks hurt, and while the Red Sox won't talk about it, Josh Beckett is definitely diminished.
Oritz also looks like he's trying to pull every ball, despite the shift being employed against him. Meanwhile, Carlos Pena, the Boston product who was released two years ago by the Red Sox, seems to understand how to use the Green Monster better than any opposing left-handed hitter.
Boston's old guys -- especially Tim Wakefield and Mike Timlin -- look old. And was that Wakefield, or Claybon Counsil, throwing on Wednesday night? (Those who are really paying close attention may recall that Counsil was Josh Hamilton's BP pitcher at the All-Star Game. OK, maybe nobody does.)
The Giants, needing a first baseman, third baseman and shortstop, have a lot of work to do this winter. There's no indication that GM Brian Sabean's job is anything but safe.
Hank Blalock was "the best hitter I saw in the second half,'' one scout said. Of course, you have to remember some scouts don't see all players. But it's good to see Blalock getting his act back together.
With a bullpen disadvantage, Dodgers manager Joe Torre should have stayed another inning with starter Derek Lowe in Game 4, and it made no sense to say a reason he came out is because the Dodgers had taken the lead (a starter's opportunity for a stat should not be a factor in how long to stick with a starter in the postseason -- that's strictly a regular-season thing). Torre's a Hall of Fame manager, but managing the bullpen never was his greatest strength. He is, however, very good at handling criticism.
His Yankees replacement, Joe Girardi, is better with the bullpen, but concerns regarding his relationship with well-respected coaches led to the firing of Girardi intimate Bobby Meacham, who also wasn't viewed as a great third-base coach. The Yankees perceived that Girardi was extremely close to Meacham and bullpen coach Mike Harkey but virtually ignored some other coaches on his staff.
It's job shopping season for coaches. There are hitting coach vacancies in San Diego and Colorado. Rick Down, the former hitting coach for the Red Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, Orioles and Mets, should be sought after. Merv Rettenmund is another excellent candidate for these jobs.
I guess Jose Canseco didn't really mean it when he told the House Oversight Committee that it's wrong to be involved with steroids. His goal apparently is to become the world's most muscular writer (if you could call him that after that last abomination of a book -- a complete bust despite lies from the publisher saying how well it did.) On the plus side, it could be worse. Canseco never beat up his own bodyguard.
The Padres want to keep future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman, and the two sides will try to work out a deal in the near future.