You know the winter meetings, staged in the backyard of Dopey and Goofy, are
odd when commissioner Bud Selig doesn't show but the sport's No. 2 alltime home
run hitter does, looking for a job in a flush market. A few teams made
preliminary inquiries before the meetings, but ultimately 29 clubs wanted no
part of Bonds. Says an executive of one team that showed some initial interest,
"His people said he had to have nine [of his] assistants around him. And he
wanted top dollar. You like the production he can give you ... not at the cost
of the money and the problems."
bidding against themselves and committing to another distracting season with
old players and a weak team, re-signed Bonds, 42, for one season at $16 million
while dropping another $43.6 million combined on Rich Aurilia, 35, Ray Durham,
35, Bengie Molina, 32, and Pedro Feliz, 31.
It has barely existed, teams having been preoccupied with free-agent spending.
The little action that has taken place has involved pitching, of course, and
has benefited the NL East. The Mets ( Ambiorix Burgos from the Royals for Brian
Bannister) and the Braves ( Rafael Soriano from the Mariners for Horacio
Ramirez) each obtained a power reliever for a back-of-the-rotation starter. The
Phillies risked two young starters ( Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez went to the
White Sox) for the walk year of '07 free agent Freddy Garcia.
THE RED SOX
With few teams willing to trade young pitching for a bat, Boston hit a dead end
again in their annual attempt to deal the flighty but productive Manny Ramirez.
"Too bad," says one AL East executive. "We would've chipped in
money to get him out." Instead, Boston upgraded its offense at shortstop,
where Julio Lugo ($36 million, four years) replaces Alex Gonzalez, and
rightfield, where J.D. Drew ($70 million, five years) steps in for Trot Nixon.
The Sox also are trying to get Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka signed before
a Dec. 15 deadline. After one noncompetitive September, Boston suddenly
abandoned the belt-tightening that had defined its previous 12 months, during
which the club let durable and productive Johnny Damon leave (after offering
him one year and $30 million less than what they would give Drew) and passed on
a trade for Bobby Abreu because they didn't want to pick up the $27 million
left on his contract.
consternation of some, including L.A.'s Colletti, Drew, 31, had opted out of a
seemingly generous contract with the Dodgers that guaranteed him $33 million
over the next three years. After all, Drew had missed 106 games and batted .284
for Los Angeles in the first two years of that deal. But that performance was
enough to essentially add two years and $37 million to what he had in hand. The
size of Drew's unexpected windfall stood as its own sort of EKG. With money
flowing freely, the game appeared in good health.