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Did Toronto do better with Halladay than Twins did with Johan?

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

If your head is spinning, trying to determine winners and losers in this week’s blockbuster deal between Toronto, Philadelphia, Seattle (and Oakland), ESPN’s Jayson Stark gives a good team-by-team breakdown here.

I’m most impressed by Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik’s ability to get involved and give his team a 1-2 punch of Felix Hernandez/Cliff Lee at a time when the Angels have just lost John Lackey (to Boston) and Chone Figgins (to the Mariners).

I don’t know enough about the prospects involved to know how Toronto ultimately did in the Roy Halladay sweepstakes, or how Philadelphia did in the Cy Young for Cy Young swap of Lee for Halladay. For Twins followers, Stark makes an interesting point toward the bottom of his column:

Whether the Blue Jays’ end of this deal makes total sense is another story. “I thought they’d get more,” said one scout. But when you size this up, they did better than the Twins did in the Johan Santana deal, got more than the Indians got in either the CC Sabathia or Lee deals and at least got this over with — for everyone’s sake.

Report: Telling war of words between Boras and Manfred

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

With the free agent market set to open tonight at 11 p.m. (Central), there’s an important piece by Ken Rosenthal on today, about the growing tension between players and owners. Yes, the C-word gets mentioned again. Collusion.

Prominent agent Scott Boras basically says follow the money. Though his estimates are disputed by MLB officials, he points to the tens of millions teams are receiving from the central fund — from national TV contracts, licensing, etc. — and the tens of millions more some teams get in revenue sharing, and concludes some are pocketing the cash, instead of re-investing in payroll.

Rob Manfred, MLB’s chief of labor negotiations, counters: “Just like when [Boras] does a player negotiation he lies about the numbers in order to get the price up, now he’s taken that to the macro-economic level and lying about industry numbers in order to get player [contract] numbers up,” Manfred said. “There is no one club getting $80 or $90 million in combination from revenue sharing and Central Baseball. Not one.”

Rosenthal notes that the owners and players have agreed to shelve any collusion grievance until after the offseason. But the current collective bargaining agreement expires after 2011, and baseball’s unprecedented stretch of labor peace could be in jeopardy.

For now, with the economy struggling and amid hints that some teams are determined to trim payroll (Tigers, Reds, etc.), this creates an interesting backdrop as the current free agent class begins testing the market.

Tuesday update: Mauer wins second Gold Glove Award

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

CHICAGO — An update from Day 2 of the GM Meetings:

(*) Twins catcher Joe Mauer won his second consecutive Gold Glove Award today. Other AL winners included 1B Mark Teixeira, 2B Placido Polanco, 3B Evan Longoria, SS Derek Jeter, OF Adam Jones, OF Ichiro Suzuki, OF Torii Hunter, P Mark Buehrle.

(*) The GMs went about an hour long in their morning session, from 8:30 a.m., to about 1:30 p.m., and apparently did not discuss expanding instant replay. Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB’s executive vice president of baseball operations, briefed the media and said Commissioner Bud Selig isn’t interested in expanding replay at this time, noting that MLB has only had replay for boundary calls since August 2008. Selig is methodical about change, and apparently the GMs who advocate using more replay kept their thoughts to themselves.

(*) The Twins re-instated three righthanded pitchers from the 60-day disabled list: Boof Bonser, Pat Neshek and Kevin Slowey.

(*) Bill Smith and the other 29 GMs will be available to the media at 3:30. I’ll have more in tonight’s first editions.

Tuesday update: Decker, two new managers, and one prediction

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

A few quick notes on World Series eve:

(*) The Twins drafted Gophers WR Eric Decker in the 27th round this year but no longer have his rights. The deadline to sign him was Aug. 17, and Decker had committed to playing football. Now, Decker is out for the season and might need surgery to repair a sprained foot. Though Decker hadn’t planned to play baseball for the Gophers next spring, the Twins or one of the other 29 MLB clubs could still draft him, hoping he reconsiders a baseball career.

(*) The Astros and Indians reportedly both made managerial offers to Manny Acta on Saturday, and he chose the Indians, who offered a third year guaranteed, while the Astros offered two years with an option. This makes it look like the Astros had to settle for Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills. But I think both of these hires are solid.

I first met Acta in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic during the 2004 Caribbean Series. I was covering the Orioles, and they had just signed Miguel Tejada, who was playing for Acta on the Dominican squad along with David Ortiz. It always stuck with me, how much passion Acta, Tejada and Ortiz showed in winning that tournament.

Acta received good reviews during his first year managing the Nationals, in 2007, when they went 73-89. Some questioned Acta’s passion before the Nationals fired him this year, after a 26-61 start, but the team’s talent was so thin, it was a hard situation to assess. I felt he deserved another chance somewhere else.

I don’t know Mills personally, but I’ve heard terrific things from people in the game I really respect. My hunch is both of these managers will help steer their clubs in the right direction.

(*) I don’t remember the last time I got a World Series prediction right, but I am looking forward to this Yankees/Phillies matchup and believe it has promise for a long, captivating series. I’d like the Phillies’ chances more if they were starting LHPs Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in the first two games at Yankee Stadium. Manager Charlie Manuel’s decision to start Pedro Martinez over Hamels in Game 2 is an easy first guess, but Manuel knows this situation far better than me, and it would be great theater to see Pedro prove him right Thursday (weather permitting).

The Yankees have looked unstoppable this month, but all the numbers change to zero again. This is A-Rod’s first Fall Classic, so no matter what kind of zone he’s been in, he has to prove himself yet again. The bullpen edge seems to favor the Yankees, especially with Mariano. Then again, Brad Lidge said he’s finally feeling healthy again for the Phillies, and that can make all the difference.

Almost all my instincts tell me to pick the Yankees in 5, but I’m taking the Phillies in 6.

Three things to know about Tigers

Friday, September 25th, 2009

I’m heading to Kansas City this morning. Short on time — just like the Twins — so here’s a quick update on that team they’re chasing:

1) Verlander vs. Carrasco turned into a nail biter Friday. A 6-5 win for Detroit that was antacid close, John Lowe writes in the Detroit Free Press. That win extended the Tigers’ lead to three games. (Corrected)

2) LHP Bobby Seay will have an MRI exam on his left shoulder. This is a sizable development because Seay is the Tigers’ top lefthander in the bullpen, and counted on to handle the Twins lefthanded threats, specifically Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel. After Seay, the Tigers best lefthanded relief option is Fu-Te Ni.

3) The Tigers play at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field tonight, with RHP Eddie Bonine (0-0, 5.96) making the start opposite RHP Jake Peavy (1-0, 5.40).

Note: Check back here later for tonight’s starting lineups, as the Twins open a three-game series in Kansas City. For a series preview, click here.