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.
May 22, 2013, 11:51 AM EDT
Kyle Lohse has been scratched from his next scheduled start with what the Brewers are calling elbow irritation. Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports that Mike Fiers will fill in for Lohse against the Pirates on Saturday. Lohse has an ugly 1-5 record since signing a three-year, $33 million deal with the Brewers late in spring…
May 22, 2013, 11:19 AM EDT
For the second time this week the Twins have called up a player they signed out of an independent league. First it was reliever Caleb Thielbar and now it’s first baseman Chris Colabello, who signed with the Twins last year after dominating in the Canadian-American Association. Colabello is 29 years old and wasn’t all that…
May 22, 2013, 11:02 AM EDT
Well, Bryce Harper and/or whoever is in charge of defensive positioning in the late innings of last night’s Nats loss to the Giants. From USA Today: “With two outs and the tying run at first, you have to play the outfield so the ball doesn’t go over your head,” Soriano said in Spanish. “It may…
May 22, 2013, 10:47 AM EDT
Jacoby Ellsbury is hitting just .242 with a .307 on-base percentage, but Red Sox manager John Farrell has stuck with him in the leadoff spot. However, the manager did admit to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that he’s considering shifting Ellsbury down in the batting order. For his part Ellsbury thinks that would be a mistake,…
May 22, 2013, 10:30 AM EDT
Trevor Plouffe had an awful tenth inning in last night’s Twins-Braves game. First he reached base by taking a 97 m.p.h. Craig Kimbrel fastball to the ribs. Then he tried to break up a double play and took a knee to the head, leaving him on the ground for a good while. Looked nasty. Plouffe has…
May 22, 2013, 10:15 AM EDT
Hanley Ramirez tested his hamstring injury by doing some running yesterday, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that he’s still at least two weeks away from returning to game action. That fits the initial 4-6 week timetable Ramirez was given for the injury back in on May 7. Dee Gordon has…
May 22, 2013, 10:00 AM EDT
On Monday Joe Maddon said he wasn’t pleased with Yunel Escobar making the “safe” sign as he crossed home plate following a home run in Monday’s loss. Last night he changed his mind on that. From Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times: “Some people point to the sky, he shows a safe sign. For…
May 22, 2013, 9:40 AM EDT
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised about this. Baseball ignores a lot of things which happen in Miami these days. And they’re not terribly big on paying attention to things which can clearly be seen on video replay. But I have to say, totally ignoring Marlins pitcher Alex Sanabia hocking a loogie on a baseball the…
May 22, 2013, 9:13 AM EDT
Our Blue Jays commenters are fit to be tied today due to the called strikes to Melky Cabrera in the ninth inning of last night’s Jays-Rays game. Strikes one and three to Melky were clearly outside. Here’s Brooks Baseball’s plot of the at bat: Pitch one and three were called strikes, pitch two was…
May 22, 2013, 8:52 AM EDT
This is a few days old and I have no idea how I missed it, but when Ned Yost was asked over the weekend about what he’s gonna do with the Royals struggling third baseman Mike Moustakas, he painted an image for us which, I feel anyway, will form a larger part of his legacy…
May 22, 2013, 8:23 AM EDT
Sounds like it was a wild game in San Francisco. Stephen Strasburg had a filthy changeup working and allowed only one run over seven, but the Giants came back. The first big hit: Gregor Blanco tripling in a run in the ninth. The bigger hit: Pablo Sandoval hitting a two-run homer to walk it off…
May 22, 2013, 6:47 AM EDT
Rockies 5, Diamondbacks 4: One of four games to require ten frames last night. This from the AP gamer: Reliever Matt Reynolds tried to outthink his former teammate, guess what pitch Wilin Rosario would be looking for and throw the opposite. Only, Rosario knew Reynolds was trying to get inside his head, so … Long story short, Rosario spent the last…
May 22, 2013, 1:02 AM EDT
Saving the home run for last, Mike Trout recorded his first career cycle Tuesday as the Angels crushed the Mariners 12-0. Trout struck out in his first at-bat of the night before singling in the third, tripling in the fourth, doubling in the sixth and homering in the eighth. He ended the game with five…
May 21, 2013, 11:12 PM EDT
FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles will call up top pitching prospect Kevin Gausman to start Thursday in their series opener versus the Blue Jays. Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told MLB.com just one week ago that the 22-year-old right-hander was “doing fine at Double-A” and not close to a promotion, but…
May 21, 2013, 10:39 PM EDT
Finally some good news for the Anaheim Angels. According to beat writer Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, staff ace Jered Weaver could be activated from the disabled list for a start next week if everything goes well during his appearance in an extended spring training game on Wednesday. Weaver has been out since…
May 21, 2013, 9:20 PM EDT
Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com has the news: Chris Sale has been scratched from Wednesday’s start with mild tendinitis in his left posterior shoulder, the team announced Tuesday. … A team official said Sale is expected to make his next start on Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs. Hector Santiago will take the mound in his place. Sale has…
May 21, 2013, 8:31 PM EDT
Royals catcher Salvador Perez left Monday’s game against the Astros after slamming into the fence in front of the home dugout at Houston’s Minute Maid Park while trying to track down a foul popup. Perez has been diagnosed with a deep right hip bruise, according to beat writer Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star,…
May 21, 2013, 7:27 PM EDT
From Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com comes word that the Phillies have scratched second baseman Chase Utley from Tuesday’s game against the Marlins because of pain in his right side. The Phillies aren’t giving out many details, only saying that Utley will be reevaluated by team doctors on Wednesday. He apparently felt the discomfort while taking pregame batting…
May 21, 2013, 6:43 PM EDT
The top of the minor league OPS leaderboard is typically littered with Triple-A veterans and A-ball players too old for their leagues. That’s still the case this year, but numbers two, three and four on the list are all top prospects. Minor league OPS leaders (minimum 100 at-bats) Scott Van Slyke (26 Dodgers): 1.236 OPS…
May 21, 2013, 6:25 PM EDT
MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports that the Rangers have scratched Nick Tepesch from his scheduled Wednesday start against the A’s due to a blister on his right middle finger. Ross Wolf will be called up from Triple-A Round Rock to pitch in his place. Tepesch developed the blister Friday evening on the only slider he threw…
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- Apparently MLB is going to ignore Alex Sanabia throwing a spitball 20
- And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights 61
- Mike Trout hits for cycle in Angels’ rout of Mariners 22
- Kevin Gausman will make Orioles debut on Thursday 6
- MLB is putting players in camouflage uniforms on Memorial Day. Which is kinda weird. (116)
- Barry Bonds: Miguel Cabrera is the best … but not as good as me (106)
- And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights (92)
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights (81)
- Albert Pujols doesn’t matter anymore (73)
- Tiger calls Sergio's comments inappropriate, hurtful
- Bears great Urlacher announces retirement
- Posnanski on Golf: Sergio shows disdain for Tiger
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- PBT: Cavs win NBA draft lottery, will pick No. 1
- PBT: Nick Gilbert again Cavs' good luck charm
- PBT: Grizzlies figuring out Spurs after Game 2