Will Yankee dollars put Sabathia in New York state of mind? (cont.)
Griffey won't be back with Chisox
The White Sox have decided to let Ken Griffey Jr. go, according to people familiar with their thinking. While Griffey played well enough to keep Nick Swisher on the bench for most of the playoffs (that may be more a reflection on Swisher than Griffey), the White Sox seem to have decided they have enough lumbering power hitters already.
White Sox GM Ken Williams had a terrific year, but the trade for Griffey seemed to be something of a vanity play. In any case it was wishful thinking, as he failed to make a real impact.
The No-Go Sox, a solid team without speed, would love to become multidimensional by acquiring more players who can run. Jerry Owens is their one true speed guy, but he hasn't shown the ability to consistently reach base.
LaMar accepting misguided congratulations
Ex-Tampa Bay GM Chuck LaMar has been accepting credit for much of the Rays' success this year. But of course everyone who's paying attention knows that the key moment in their turnaround came when new owner Stu Sternberg took the team over from alltime bad owner Vince Naimoli and installed the grounded and smart management team of Matt Silverman, Andrew Friedman and Gerry Hunsicker.
It's revisionist history to suggest that LaMar is responsible for the success of the team that was gosh-awful for all his years there. LaMar's one great contribution was guiding the organization to a terrible record every year he was there, enabling them to pick very high in the draft year after year.
LaMar did do one thing well: He employed some excellent amateur scouts. Dan Jennings, the Rays' scouting director from 1996 to '02, made several astute picks, including Carl Crawford and Josh Hamilton in 1999, Rocco Baldelli in 2000 and B.J. Upton and James Shields in 2002. Upton was the player Jennings loved that year, but he and scout Doug Witt had to sweat it out since the Pirates had the No. 1 pick. "I went to bed every night praying to the baseball gods that Pittsburgh wouldn't go in that direction,'' Jennings, now a Marlins executive said. The Pirates took pitcher Bryan Bullington from Ball State, who's done nothing so far, while Upton looks like a future star in center field.
Crawford was an interesting case in that some teams weren't able to gauge the type of player he'd become since he played in Houston's 5th Ward, a poor and tough area where he was facing 60-mph pitches and substandard conditions. But scouts Jack Gillis and Doug Gassaway loved Crawford, and when Jennings polled his people whether to take Crawford or another player with their second-round pick (someone who is "definitely no Carl Crawford,'' Jennings said), it was unanimous for Crawford.
The Rays' fine drafting history has continued under R.J. Harrison, with Tampa taking Evan Longoria and David Price with recent first-round picks.
Around the majors
The Mets are considering whether to try to upgrade at catcher in addition to their goal of improving the bullpen (that's the first priority), the rotation and possibly the outfield. Second base is of lesser consideration. As for catcher, they've discussed the Giants' Bengie Molina.
The removal of Guy Conti from the Mets' coaching staff seems to indicate that Pedro Martinez won't be back with them.
The Red Sox understand that their chances to trade Mike Lowell, who just had hip surgery, are practically nil. And while some Boston-connected people are saying that Lowell's doing better than expected and that he should be ready for spring training, other baseball people aren't completely ruling out a Boston run at Mark Teixeira. That still seems to be a long shot, but there may be some concern about whether David Ortiz can return to his previous form, and that could influence how they proceed.
Coco Crisp once again could find himself on the trading block.
Boston appears willing to give beloved catcher Jason Varitek a two-year deal but seems against the four years that Varitek has sought. They understand that he is special as a team leader, which is why they gave him four years last time. But apparently that won't happen again. If Varitek goes elsewhere, the Red Sox may try to pry one of the Rangers' many catchers from them, possibly Gerald Laird or Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Writers have marveled at the language of erudite Rays manager Joe Maddon, noting how he has used several multi-syllable college words correctly. His language does provide a nice contrast with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who hasn't used many words correctly.
Bud Selig looked beleaguered after the messy five and a half innings on Monday night. But at gametime no one thought it was the wrong call to start the game.