Latest on Manny Derby and notes around majors (cont.)
In any case, the idea of a trio of good or better players replacing one all-time great (Abreu, Orlando Hudson and Wolf might cost about what Ramirez costs, discounting the fact Ramirez is a draw who'll bring in several million extra dollars) has been tried elsewhere, and it usually doesn't work. Colletti was an executive with the Cubs when they decided to replace Greg Maddux with Jose Guzman, Randy Myers and two lesser players in a disastrous call that wasn't Colletti's. Later, as a Giants executive, he saw that team do the opposite, which did whatever it took to keep Barry Bonds.
Meanwhile, at least Torre and Bowa have gone to upper management to implore them to bring back Ramirez, who turned out to be an extraordinary clubhouse influence in Los Angeles and hit .396 in the regular season and .520 in the playoffs after acting up so badly in Boston. (Ramirez thinks Red Sox upper management misled him, but there's no excuse for pushing a 60-something traveling secretary over freebie tickets.) But the Dodgers fear bidding against themselves.
The rest of Ramirez's market is either 1) limited, 2) quiet, or 3) a secret. While teams have been more anxious than ever to deny interest (the Yankees and Mets say they aren't going to be in the Manny Derby and Angels GM Tony Reagins reiterated on Wednesday to the MLB Network that the Angels won't be in it, either), the only team besides the Dodgers to admit interest is the Giants. And while Giants people continually praise Ramirez (manager Bruce Bochy did so on XM's Home Plate show Wednesday), oftentimes Giants executives mention serious financial limitations. Some competing executives have suggested that perhaps the rival Giants are only in it to drive up the price for the Dodgers. However, if that were the case, it's curious that Giants people continue to suggest that they will restrict their offer to Ramirez.
Ramirez's best leverage could actually come from his own patience. He is known as an extremely patient hitter, and his patience will be tested aplenty here.
He may need to keep reminding himself that while he may need the Dodgers, they appear to need him as much or more.
Around the Majors
The economy may be in the tank. But the economy of baseball doesn't look so bad when the Cubs (and the extras) go for $900 million and the Padres, a fading franchise, go for about $500 million, which is about a $400 million profit.
The likely new Padres owner, Jeff Moorad, is a step up in San Diego.
Jason Varitek, who didn't want to play anywhere but Boston, got the two-year deal he sought, but at a reasonable rate for the Red Sox (between $8 and $10 mill for both years). Varitek's camp contends that there are no regrets about rejecting arbitration, where he would have won about $10 million for 2009 alone, because arbitration awards aren't guaranteed and the Red Sox could have cut him if he had a terrible spring following his .220 season and would have been responsible for only one-sixth of his salary. Red Sox people act like it's absurd they would have ever cut him, and one person who's close to Red Sox GM Theo Epstein characterized that possibility as a million-to-one shot. Regardless, Varitek, a man who truly loves his job and couldn't envision himself going anywhere else, probably isn't second-guessing himself because he was one player more interested in the years than the dollars.
Chad Cordero, who has a huge heart, will show what kind of arm he still has when he conducts a Feb. 19 showcase. So far, so good in his comeback.
Juan Cruz led the NL with 12.37 K's per nine innings, but teams are hesitant to sign him because they'd lose a draft choice since he's a Type A free agent. Baseball may need to rethink the idea of non-closing relievers being Type A free agents.
Texas, Philly, Atlanta and both New York teams are among teams thought to have some interest in Andruw Jones, who went from superstar to clueless hitter in two short years. The Yankees offered a non-roster spot and were turned down. Texas looks like a better fit. Jones probably needs a top hitting coach to get his swing back to where it was in 2006. Kevin Long would have worked in New York, and so would Rudy Jaramillo in Texas.
The Diamondbacks are trying to close a deal with veteran reliever Tom Gordon. With an excellent and deep rotation, Arizona won't need as much help as others in the bullpen. But a rejuvenated Gordon might make a nice addition.
The Twins look like the favorites over the Giants to grab Joe Crede.
The Rockies have been trying to get Matt Murton for a couple years.
Good job by Colorado getting star third baseman Garrett Atkins to sign for $7.05 million, which was well below the midpoint.
The Yankees seem to think they're more likely to find a taker for Nick Swisher than Xavier Nady. But the $21 million over three years left on Swisher's deal will probably make things tricky in this ever-tightening market. The Braves, Nationals and Mariners are among teams seeking a corner outfielder, and there are plenty of choices with Garret Anderson and Hall-bound Ken Griffey Jr. out there, as well as Abreu and Dunn.
Perhaps the Phillies should settle with Ryan Howard at the $16 million midpoint rather than risk increased acrimony with a major star, and worse, a salary that may "get away from them," as one competing agent put it. If Howard wins at $18 million (the Phillies' suggested figure is $14 million), then hits 50 home runs, they may be looking at $25 million in 2010.
The Phillies, who've made some excellent moves already to fortify their World Series roster, are considering four right-handed hitters to fill a need -- Mark Grudzielanek, Nomar Garciaparra, Rich Aurilia and Moises Alou. Garciaparra and Alou, who's drawn interest from two AL clubs, are working out in hope of determining whether they want to continue to play. Aurilia is also being pursued by the Giants.
After Howard, the next-biggest arbitration request is the $5.35 million by the Marlins' Dan Uggla, who'll have to go to a hearing due to Florida's policy to do so once the numbers are exchanged.
According to his new Rangers contract, Eddie Guardado gets different bonus payoffs depending on what team he may be traded to.
The Mets had to get Oliver Perez back. They weren't comfortable with their main fallback option, which was Wolf. Early this winter the Astros briefly floated a $28.5 million, three-year deal to Wolf before the market sank. But according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, Houston pulled that offer back quickly.
The Rays are talking about giving Willy Aybar a two-year deal, as first mentioned by Marc Topkin in the St. Pete Times. Which is pretty funny considering Abreu, Dunn and Hudson might not end up with two-year deals (and Manny was just offered that one-year deal).
The Yankee Years, by Joe Torre and my colleague Tom Verducci is a great read. But Torre's suggestion that he was let down by GM Brian Cashman is way off base. Cashman went to bat on Torre's behalf for years, long after the folks above Cashman stopped being enamored with Torre.
Rusty Hardin, the Roger Clemens lawyer who had a big rep before taking Clemens' lame case, must be hoping to reseat OJ's jury. At this point, it may be his only chance to win.