The 30 best moves of this year (cont.)
21. Angels sign Brian Fuentes for $17 million over two years. Some suggest Fuentes doesn't have closer stuff. But he does have 46 saves, which is 12 more than the departed K-Rod had for the Mets at twice the total cost.
22. Mariners get Franklin Gutierrez and five others in a trade for J.J. Putz. The pundits loved the Mets' end of this, as well. We won't know the damage to their system for a while, but chances are that new GM Jack Zduriencik found a few nuggets for the Putz, who broke down almost immediately with the Mets (who hasn't?). The Indians have a glut of outfielders, but Gutierrez (18 HRs, 67 RBIs, .282) exceeded expectations in Seattle.
23. Tigers make deals for defensive specialists Gerald Laird and Adam Everett. The Tigers wisely revamped their roster around pitching and defense, and he got two of the best here.
24. Brewers sign Trevor Hoffman for one year, $6 million. After the Padres decided to let Hoffman go, Milwaukee surprised folks by luring the lifetime Southern Californian to the Midwest when the Dodgers were in the mix.
25. Mariners sign Russell Branyan for $1.4 million. Russell the Muscle finally blossomed at age 33 with 31 home runs. Terrific first year for Zduriencik.
26. Red Sox acquire Alex Gonzalez for shortstop prospect Kristopher Negron. The slick-fielding Gonzalez really solidified the all-important shortstop position in Boston. The Red Sox had a fabulous summer altogether. On top of Martinez and Gonzalez, Boston also acquired Billy Wagner.
27. Rockies pick up Jason Giambi after he's released by the A's. Giambi didn't work out back in Oakland, but has been magical in a limited role in Colorado (11 RBIs in just 20 at-bats).
28. Braves acquire Adam LaRoche for Casey Kotchman. LaRoche produced big back with the Braves while Kotchman is nothing more than a defensive replacement in Boston. LaRoche is batting .347 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs in Atlanta (compared to Kotchman's .215, one and seven with Boston). Kotchman in a year went from being traded for Teixeira to being traded for LaRoche. Next time it will be far less.
29. Rockies acquire Rafael Betancourt for prospect Connor Graham. Betancourt, flawless for almost a month in Colorado, is 3-1 with a 1.88 ERA overall there.
30. Yankees pick up Chad Gaudin off the waiver wire. For $100,000, Cashman got a pitcher that may supplant Joba Chamberlain as the team's No. 4 starter if the Yankees need one later in the playoffs. Twenty eight teams passed before Cashman pounced.
Farrell appears to be the Indians' first choice
Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell is believed to be at the top of the Indians' wish list to replace Eric Wedge as manager. In fact, Farrell is seen as such a strong candidate he may at the moment be the whole list.
Farrell appears to be the perfect man for the job. Beyond being Boston's very successful pitching coach, he pitched for the Indians and worked in their front office. He is also an intellectual heavyweight who should mesh well with GM Mark Shapiro, a Princeton man.
The firing of Wedge wasn't entirely fair, of course, as many -- if not most of the Indians' issues -- were not necessarily his fault, starting with the annual abomination otherwise known as Cleveland's bullpen. The Indians haven't drafted very well in recent years but rather came to rely heavily on helpful trades and big-league acquisitions; however, they have had mixed results in those transactions this year. Neither the trade of center fielder Franklin Gutierrez to Seattle in an 11-player trade that brought them reliever Joe Smith nor the signing of closer Kerry Wood worked at all. The signing of Carl Pavano and trade for Mark DeRosa produced better outcomes, but both of those players went in a summer fire sale that became necessary.
The Indians made the courageous step to deal stars Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez plus Rafael Betancourt and Ryan Garko, as well, and received a bevy of under-25 prospects, most of them pitchers. Trades the year before brought Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley and top catching prospect Carlos Santana. Yet, with the value of prospects shooting up, the Indians didn't appear to receive those types of top prospects in 2009. Last year they also rebounded in the second half under Wedge, but this time they sank into an abyss that left them 6-20 in September when Wedge's firing was announced.
With the Indians tanking, Wedge lost support from fans. Ownership eventually came to believe a change was needed and is believed to have relayed this belief to Shapiro, a longtime supporter of Wedge. While Shapiro's long-held intention was to keep Wedge, the manager's position became untenable by the time the decision was made.
Trembley likely to go, but Riggleman could stay
Orioles manager Dave Trembley had to be relieved to finally win in Tampa Thursday night after 13 straight defeats. But the great likelihood is that Trembley will soon be relieved of his duties.
Orioles GM Andy MacPhail made clear this summer he was looking for a better finish for the Orioles, who are now two defeats from 100. This was not it.
Meanwhile, Jerry Manuel and Ken Macha are expected to return as lame ducks next year, while Nationals manager Jim Riggleman appears now to have a chance to stay in that job when it was widely presumed Washington would bring in a new manager. The Nats have improved vastly since Riggleman replaced Manny Acta, though they obviously still have a long way to go.
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