Dodgers' new Manny strategy, Dunn's deal and more notes
Angels make a fabulous deal to lock up Abreu for $5 million plus incentives
The truly bizarre Reds-Nationals connection
The market on Ken Griffey Jr., Orlando Hudson, Orlando Cabrera and more
Top Dodgers executives recently huddled at a swanky beachside retreat south of L.A. And it'll be interesting to see what new strategy they came up with.
Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn coming off the board could slightly hurt the Dodgers' leverage in trying to re-sign Manny Ramirez. But the reality is, as good as Abreu and Dunn are, they never seemed like much leverage against the franchise-saving savant himself, anyway.
Some close to Dodgers owner Frank McCourt say he isn't completely opposed to doing nothing and instead waiting for the trade deadline, apparently in hopes of a second straight July miracle. So in other words, Ramirez's Dodgers heroics may be working against him.
However, most in the know seem to still believe McCourt will bend on Manny and go to three years. While Manny may not quite pay for himself, the impact on ticket sales and the L.A. market was huge. So he is the one rare megastar McCourt could ever really consider.
Dunn deal: Not what he had hoped for
The Nationals finally acquired the left-handed power hitter they've sought from the start when they got Adam Dunn to agree to a two-year, $20 million deal. The offer was on the table for weeks before Dunn realized no one else is paying him anything close to that in this market. So eventually, he took it.
Dunn mentioned his relationship with Nats GM Jim Bowden in leading him to take the deal. More precisely, the relationship is what led to him being offered such a deal.
What's odd is that while the number seems high in an increasingly tight market, it's still only 20 percent what Dunn's former Reds teammate Brandon Phillips said Dunn would seek (and one executive who knows Dunn well said he, too, believes $100 million was the goal.)
Agent Greg Genske hasn't returned calls for weeks, but Dunn told the MLB Network, "This definitely wasn't how I expected free agency to work. I guess I had some misconceptions about how this would work.''
Abreu is heaven-sent for Angels
The Angels, who possess perhaps the best pitching in baseball but leave something to be desired offensively, made a great deal to lock up Bobby Abreu, the only player in baseball history with 200 home runs, 300 stolen bases, a .400 on-base percentage and .300 batting average, for $5 million plus incentives.
They got a terrific offensive player for one-tenth what they paid Gary Matthews Jr., who's been a career backup except for one-and-a-half magical, well-timed years in Texas.
Indeed, these are rough times.
Some wonder whether the laid-back Abreu is a good fit for superb, hard-driving manager Mike Scioscia, but one thing about Abreu is that he always produces. And while there are a lot Angels in the outfield, you can never have too many good players. Plus, with Garret Anderson out of the picture, they badly needed a left-handed hitter.
Seeing Red over bizarre National connection
Normally I don't like to promote Web sites dedicated to causing anyone to lose their job in our second Great Depression, but in this one case I will make an exception.
There's a post on FireJimBowden.blogspot.com that lists more than 40 -- yes, more than 40 -- players, coaches, executives and coaches who came from the Reds to the Nats. One of the posts below the lists notes that it's like the old Yankees-A's connection "on steroids.''
Since the Reds have not had a winning season since 2000, it's no surprise that the connection isn't helping, yet. Thus far, in terms of effectiveness, it's the opposite of the old A's-Yankees connection.
Around the majors
The Astros and Marlins, two teams with pennies for spending money, are two teams looking at Pudge Rodriguez, who was pretty good for the Tigers before bombing in the Bronx. Geographically, Florida makes the most sense since my Miami neighbor lives 15 minutes away from their current ballpark.
The Nats and Dodgers look like the two contenders for Orlando Hudson. However, the Dodgers might be better served seeing what promising Blake DeWitt can do in a second season.
The Mariners appear to be down to Ken Griffey Jr. or Garret Anderson for their outfield spot, according to reports out of Seattle.
The A's want to spend no more than $5 million, and probably closer to $3 million, on free agent shortstop Orlando Cabrera, as reported here Feb. 3. At either price, he's a better deal than Rafael Furcal at $40 million.
Good to see good guy Edgardo Alfonzo find a job, at $450,000 with the Yomiuri Giants.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants, who seem a little more cautious since taking criticism for their $18.5 million, two-year Edgar Renteria deal, are among a few teams looking at Joe Crede. The Twins are the other favorite. The Angels had been eyeing Crede, but with Abreu, they may have found their last piece.
Some agents think Ryan Howard gave up a chance to become the all-time arbitration king when he agreed to a $54 million, three-year deal, wiping out all his arbitration years. He had filed at $18 million while the Phillies were at $14 million, and he'll be paid $15 million in 2009. One management person said that since he qualified under the "special achievements'' clause and could compare himself to anyone, he could have noted the many, many players in baseball who make more than the $16 million midpoint, which might have been a winning argument for the very accomplished Howard.
Great job by new Phillies GM Ruben Amaro to dispense with all the arbitration years. Amaro tried to lock up Howard for much longer, but Amaro declined to say how far apart the parties stood on a really long deal and disputed the rumor that Howard sought "Teixeira money'' ($180 million over eight years). Amaro also signed to multi-year deals arbitration-eligible players Ryan Madson ($12 million, three years), Jayson Werth ($10 million, two years), Cole Hamels ($20.5 million, three years) and Gregg Dobbs ($2.5 million, two years) -- a superb effort all around. Little-known fact: Howard is actually slightly older than Teixeira.
Dan Uggla was shooting to duplicate Alfonso Soriano's $5.4 million in arbitration with his request of $5.35 million on Wednesday. The Marlins, whose policy is to go to trial after file, were at $4.4 million. Uggla got his wish. He won his arbitration case Thursday and will receive $5.35 million.
The Brewers caught a couple bad breaks, getting only a second-round pick for losing superstar CC Sabathia to the Yankees because the Yankees also happened to be the team that signed the one Type A free agent (Teixeira) with a ranking that was a smidgen higher then Sabathia. And now they've gotten nothing for Ben Sheets.
It's a little odd that some higher-ups in Milwaukee seemed to think they weren't going after another starting pitcher. I don't believe at all that they are liars (for top management-types, they are almost unfailingly honest), so perhaps their strategy changed. In any case, they did investigate a couple top starters and ultimately did the right thing by getting Braden Looper. One thing I worry about with Looper (and really, any pitcher who leaves St. Louis) is whether they can repeat what they did under Cardinals pitching guru Dave Duncan. Jeff Suppan is one who went from St. Louis to Milwaukee previously and didn't do it.
Everything you hear is very positive about prospective Cubs buyer Tom Ricketts, who at 43 will be baseball's youngest managing general partner. In any case, it's good to get Sam Zell out of the sport before he tries to run the Cubs like his struggling newspapers, which are almost all a lot worse since he took over. Fortunately, Zell was too preoccupied ruining his failing newspaper business to really ever get involved with the Cubs.
This hubbub over Citi Field is such a waste of time. While Citigroup is in freefall and never should have agreed to the $400 million Mets deal (or done any number of dumb deals that's ruined their business and contributed to our economic meltdown), there's no way they should be let out of that deal three years into it. Not when there are 38 other TARP recipients who currently have naming rights. None of the other 38 gets let out of their binding contract.
I feel a little sorry for Miguel Tejada, though the penalty for lying to Congress was probably fair. Tejada was likely trying to protect a teammate or two (along with himself). The difference with Roger Clemens is that he was knowingly hurting others with his lies, and not just former trainer Brian McNamee but his own wife and Andy Pettitte's dad and a whole bunch of others. Judging by what Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) told USA Today this week about Clemens' liability for future charges, it looks like the republicans on the House Oversight Committee have stopped pretending Clemens wasn't the one lying in his shameful Washington appearance.