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Saying goodbye to the Winter Meetings

Dec 9, 2010, 12:30 PM EST

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The team executives and agents have made their escape from the Dolphin Resort and the Winter Meetings are winding to a close.  I have a plane to catch and a couple of kids to see this evening. The hot stove roller coaster is not going to stop, but I need to jump off for now.

It has been a pretty wild week.  Certainly more so than Indianapolis last year, when it seemed like the mere suggestion of an extra dollar would give team executives a case of the vapors. This year? I’m pretty sure three of the guys working the lobby bar were offered seven-year deals.

We’ll continue to analyze the Meetings Madness and all that spins out from it today and on into the dark of winter. For now, though, I think we can say a couple of things with relative certainty:

  • The recession is over, at least as far as baseball is concerned.  I don’t think they would have done it anyway, but if the owners had half a thought of crying poor in the runup to next fall’s labor negotiations, such a strategy has been rendered inoperative by the cash bacchanalia of the past week. Teams are rich — at least some of them — and everyone is getting fat;
  • Silly tabloid and talk radio chatter about the Red Sox playing it conservative and caring more about their investment in English soccer than the baseball team was proven … silly;
  • The Yankees — though they’re certainly healthy and I believe they’ll ultimately be fine — didn’t have a great Winter Meetings. The highlights: a testy Derek Jeter press conference and being forced into offering a seventh year for Cliff Lee by the quite ballsy tactics of Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker. One can never truly know what goes on behind the scenes, but the Bombers seemed to be on their heels all week.
  • The White Sox are going for it. The Dunn deal. The Paul Konerko signing.  The balance of power in the AL Central may have shifted. If the Twins don’t bring Carl Pavano back it definitely has;
  • The Royals signed Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera. That actually happened. I fully expect them to contact the agents for Dion James, Andres Thomas and Jeff Blauser within the week;
  • Ozzie Guillen continues to be the funniest manager there is, and White Sox beat writers should thank God every day that they get to cover him and not Eric Wedge or someone boring like that;
  • Luke Scott probably had the worst Winter Meetings of anyone, and he was only here for 20 minutes. He’s probably sitting in a duck blind or a birther convention right now, wondering why the lamestream media hates him so.

As for me, it was a blast.  Unlike last year, I knew more or less what I was doing at the Winter Meetings.  I talked to a ton of front office people and some agents and realized that, the closer you get to the actual decision making, the less clear cut all of the moves appear to be. At least compared to the kind of certainty we as fans and commentators usually display.

I’m not convinced that this means that it is actually as complicated as the teams and agents make it out to be. I got the sense that some of these guys are so bogged down in details and office politics that they don’t take the time to look at the big picture. But it’s wrong to say that a team is being dumb simply because they make a dumb move. Maybe they’re too smart by half. Or confused by the fog of war. Or — and I know this is shocking — smarter than we are and aware of stuff we simply don’t know.

Whatever the case, it was a great week, and the hot stove season is sizzling more right now than it has in a good four or five years.  Here’s hoping it will keep us warm until pitchers and catchers report.

  1. BC - Dec 9, 2010 at 12:37 PM

    This just in. Biff Pocoroba just announced he’s coming back and signing with Kansas City.

  2. bloodysock - Dec 9, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    Craig,

    Thanks for all the insight, blogging, updates and opinions this week.

  3. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Dec 9, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    My fantasy team will be made up of only Royals next season. Can’t possibly lose.

  4. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Dec 9, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    P.S. Is Craig a pinko commie? You betcha

  5. Panda Claus - Dec 9, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    Will Bobby Cox leave retirement now because the draw to manage in KC is becoming too strong to resist? Don’t answer your phone Ned Yost.

  6. Old Gator - Dec 9, 2010 at 1:09 PM

    I hope this will be the last time we have to see that repulsive hotel facade in one of your blogs, CC. You could have used the Epcot globe instead, if you weren’t so worried your wife would have accused you of hanging out at an open air disco when you had claimed you would be…uh…working from dusk till dawn all week. The Dolphin Hotel is so grotesque it could almost give the Tropicana Dump a run for its money. It seems almost unfair to have grouped two of the ugliest buildings on earth within just a few dozen miles of each other, even if about five or six of those miles is a bridge span that everyone to the east of which is apparently terrified to cross – and now, after the gutting of the team at the other end of it, has even less reason to dare.

    Speaking of which, no postmortems on the Rays?

  7. sportsdrenched - Dec 9, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    Does Steve Avery want to play under the “2010 Best Minor League System” Banner flying at the K?

    …and none of us are really worried about the Yankees.

  8. apbaguy - Dec 9, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    OG-harsh words for the Rays. Losing Crawford, Pena, and Bartlett, plus bullpen, while the Sox gain Crawford and Adrian! Gonzalez, the Rays real problem will be can their young pitchers step up, or will they be as ineffective as they were towards the end of last season, particularly Niemann.

    But what about your Feesh? There was no news about them this past week. At least the A’s were newsworthy for their futile efforts to sign anyone. It’s easy to say free agents won’t play for Oakland because of the stadium. That’s a factor. But a bigger factor is that Oakland has become identified as a place where management has little appetite to do what is necessary to win. The league is all too aware of them pulling the plug in 2006 while leading the division, inexplicably trading away their veteran starting pitchers in mid-season. Who wants to play for a team that would do that? How can you believe what they say when they even bother to mention winning, if they bother at all to do so?

    But you look at the Rays, and while they had to shed a great deal of talent due to cost, at least they are committed to winning, even if it’s done within a budget. Somehow you have more faith that they will find a way to be competitive. The A’s will play in a weak division and this year have what should be strong pitching. But zero offense. It’s hard to imagine them finishing better than second, and more likely 3rd.

    • Old Gator - Dec 9, 2010 at 3:58 PM

      Well, the Feesh made some deals but the longer and harder I look at them they make no sense whatsoever to me. They practically give Uggla away when they had control of him for another year, and could have dined out before the July 30 trading deadline on what the Borg, the Beanbags or any other team clawing towards the playoffs would have given them at that point, at the very least. Of course the answer is that Scrooge McLoria was going to get raped in arbitration but if he had been really willing to pay Uggla what he offered (though we both know he knew Uggla would never accept that offer in the first place) the arbitration loss would have paid for itself once he finally did trade Uggla. At that point, he could have traded him well outside the division, too. The deal for Buck looks as crazy as the deal for Werth, if not worse, since Buck has had one decent year in his entire career and is a catcher. Vazquez? Most problematic of the three. If he pans out he’s a steal. But if his arm continues to be eaten by The Blob, another waste of money. Still, Vazquez – unless one of his rotator cuffs or ulnar collateral ligament goes sproiyyyyinnnnggggg next season – will at least still be tradeable. If Buck falls flat, they are well and truly stuck with him. Think Oliver Perez in stupid looking battle gear.

      At this point, to be honest, I see the Feesh finishing either just barely ahead of the Gnats or dead last, but I am going to wait to see what the Mutts do by the time camp breaks to make a definitive prediction.

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 9, 2010 at 4:28 PM

        Gator, I would have thought by down you would know that all the Feesh deal make no sense at all.

        Craig, a great job. I’m guessing that it was legal training that allowed you to keep at it inspite alcoholic haze surrounding you.

      • Old Gator - Dec 9, 2010 at 5:56 PM

        I guess you could say they would make perfect sense if you could think like a confused and conflicted cheapskate.

  9. NickT - Dec 9, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    Good job this week, Craig. Entertaining stuff.

  10. Tyree Studio - Sep 27, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    Maybe DM should have signed Avery afterall…

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