Dec 3, 2012, 6:00 AM EDT
We are coming to you live from Music City U.S.A. From the largest non-casino hotel in the country, if you care about such things. The reason: the 2012 Winter Meetings, where everyone in baseball who matters — except the players, for the most part — are assembling to, well, meet.
A lot of you know this drill by now, but for those who don’t, the Winter Meetings are baseball’s version of that one big convention the higher-ups in your company attend each year. Just, you know, with baseball. It’s in a big hotel. There are a lot of seminars and workshops and a big trade show and a job fair and if you didn’t know any better and just looked at it from the corner of your eye, you might think it’s the Annual Conference of Re-Insurers or the National HVAC Technicians Convention. Ninety percent of what goes on here is just an industry trade show, with people wearing lanyards with their name on it, trying desperately to find Blahblahblah Conference Room B so they can sit through some PowerPoint presentation.
But the 10% beyond that involves general managers, agents, players and the like discussing trades and free agent signings and positioning your favorite team for next season. There’s no reason why someone can’t sign Josh Hamilton in mid-November or early January, but when everyone goes off-site to a hotel, they’re just way more likely to talk about such things, so you get big deals. Last year Albert Pujols signed during the Winter Meetings. The year before that Carl Crawford did. This is where the magic happens.
Among the magic on tap this year:
- The new homes for top free agents Hamilton and Zach Greinke;
- Potential trades for R.A. Dickey and Justin Upton;
- The Tampa Bay Rays possibly leveraging their pitching depth to land a bat;
- The Kansas City Royals possibly leveraging their position player depth to land an arm;
- The Phillies, rumored to be in on all sorts of players, trying to find some way to revitalize their offense in order to better complement what is still a fine pitching staff;
- The Los Angeles Dodgers, who are as rich as Croesus, signing everyone who isn’t nailed down. And they’re taking a long hard look at the players who are nailed down.
In addition to the teams all looking to fill holes, the Winter Meetings will feature the Veterans Committee inductees to the Hall of Fame — we previewed that recently – and some public announcements from the game’s heavy hitters like Bud Selig, Scott Boras and guys like that. It all happens here, and we’ll have it all. Before that, though, some scene setting:
I got here on Saturday. This is a good thing for a couple of reasons. First, this place is gigantic and merely finding one’s room is a massive undertaking. Seriously, check this out. It took me 24 hours of trekking in order to get my bearings. Each of those different sections — Cascades, Delta, Conservatory, Magnolia, etc. — has its own giant atrium and gardens and waterfalls and stuff. Each also has its own room-numbering systems. So, for example, your room number may be 0179 in the Delta section. When you have to call the desk you’d say “I’m in Delta 0179,” which sounds a lot more like something from “Battlestar Galactica” than baseball. C’est la vie.
The second reason it was good that I got here early was because I was able to go to this cool restaurant that I’ve been wanting to go to for a long time and have what was nothing short of a transcendent meal. I normally wouldn’t share this info with you because it’s a personal thing, but it will be important for you to know about it in the event NBC fires me for sketchy expense reports. See, the restaurant is called The Catbird Seat, that phrase was one made famous by legendary Brooklyn Dodgers announcer Red Barber (and also James Thurber), and since there is a tenuous baseball connection I’m gonna see if NBC will pay for it. If not, well, it’s been nice knowin’ ya.
The important thing about the geography of the place is that, unlike the previous Winter Meetings HBT has covered, there really is no central meeting place. Because it’s is so huge and spread out there is less of a sense that conversations are being observed and overheard. Which leads to interesting things like what happened yesterday: my girlfriend Allison on an elevator, hearing someone congratulating some official from the Orioles about … something. Saying “this is going to be great for Baltimore.” Maybe it’s some business deal we’ll never see or care about. Maybe, though, it’s a free agent signing we won’t hear about until later today. I don’t know. No one knows. There is a sense in this place, far more than in any of the previous three Winter Meetings, that things are happening just out of sight, behind some fern, beneath some waterfall or in some random grotto. Which is exciting and fun. Oh, and if the Orioles do announce a big signing today, I’m going to choose to credit Allison.
Anyway, that’s the scene. I’ll be here through Thursday. Lots of things will be posted here at HBT. Other, more ephemeral things, will be tweeted here. As always, be sure to refresh HBT early and often this week, as we will be posting something about virtually everything that goes down from the hardest news events to the silliest rumors to everything in between. But don’t worry: we’ll guide you. It’ll all be OK.
Now, into the craziest week of baseball’s offseason. But first: a picture of the band that was playing in the hotel’s Irish pub last night. Their name was — really — Def Leprechaun, and I found that to be quite amusing. They gave a shout out to the baseball people in town and played Peter Paul and Mary’s “Right Field.” I liked ‘em. I shoulda bought one of their t-shirts.
Sep 17, 2014, 12:28 PM EDT
Another day off for the Dodgers’ ailing shortstop.
Sep 17, 2014, 11:50 AM EDT
Most people either thought the O’s would lose this year or, at the very least, thought they’d win differently. Either way: they are the AL East champs.
Sep 17, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT
“Hey honey? I have some good news and some bad news . . . “
Sep 17, 2014, 10:53 AM EDT
Or, at the very least doubted his ability to turn the Orioles around.
Sep 17, 2014, 10:23 AM EDT
He has decided to add difficulty to it. Like, playing second base while sitting on his but in the infield dirt. Or starting double plays from his stomach, for example.
Sep 17, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT
Great Moments in Southern Hospitality.
Sep 17, 2014, 9:13 AM EDT
Rays pitchers have hit Yankees batters five times in the past week. Joe Girardi is sick of it.
Sep 17, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT
It’s musical chairs time in the Pacific Coast League.
Sep 17, 2014, 8:31 AM EDT
And the Braves and their announcers bear some of the blame for this baloney.
Sep 17, 2014, 7:08 AM EDT
Beer showers on the Beltway as the Nats and Orioles both clinch
Sep 17, 2014, 12:34 AM EDT
CSNBaltimore.com has some exclusive video of Orioles manager Buck Showalter getting showered with beer and champagne after his club clinched the American League East title on Tuesday night …
Sep 17, 2014, 12:07 AM EDT
Bryce Harper came prepared for the Nationals’ division title celebration with a custom helmet sent to him from the Washington, D.C. Fire Department. These photos come courtesy of CSNWashington.com …
Sep 16, 2014, 11:41 PM EDT
Watch as Astros second baseman Jose Altuve sets the franchise record for most hits in a season with a single through the middle of the infield on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park in Houston …
Sep 16, 2014, 10:53 PM EDT
Watch the Orioles make the final out of Tuesday night’s AL East title clincher …
Sep 16, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT
A first in 17 years.
Sep 16, 2014, 10:05 PM EDT
Congratulations to the Washington Nationals, who’ve clinched their second NL East crown in three years.
Sep 16, 2014, 9:49 PM EDT
Derek Jeter’s retirement tour continued on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field with another set of cool gifts. Along with a $16,000 check for his Turn 2 Foundation and a framed Don Zimmer jersey presented by the widow of the former Yankees bench coach, Jeter also got this custom 16-foot pinstriped kayak …
Sep 16, 2014, 9:04 PM EDT
Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez has been scratched from Tuesday’s game against the Rockies due to an elbow strain. It’s not clear when he suffered the injury or how serious it might be.
Sep 16, 2014, 8:40 PM EDT
Lagares has dramatically out-performed expectations offensively this season, hitting .283 with four homers and a .706 OPS in 115 games, and his defense in center field has always been Gold Glove caliber.
Sep 16, 2014, 8:20 PM EDT
Castillo played a total of 10 games in the minors, participating in the playoffs at three different levels while hitting a combined .297 with four doubles and two steals.
- And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights 64
- Jose Altuve breaks Craig Biggio’s franchise record, tallying his 211th hit of the season 10
- Orioles beat Blue Jays to clinch AL East title 37
- Tanner Roark dominates as Nationals clinch NL East 22
- Masahiro Tanaka to pitch on Sunday 11
- Astros shut down George Springer for the season 0
- The Blue Jays will make a qualifying offer to Melky Cabrera 26
- And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights 34
- Chris Davis suspended 25 games for amphetamine use (92)
- A few thoughts about the discrimination lawsuit against the Mets (91)
- Giancarlo Stanton diagnosed with multiple facial fractures and dental damage (91)
- Bud Selig can’t remember the last domestic violence incident in Major League Baseball (88)
- A couple of initial thoughts on the Chris Davis suspension (83)