The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

De Podesta Foils Trade - Possibly Career

The Book of Mike has learned that Paul DePodesta is actually responsible for dissolution of the ten player trade which would have sent Randy Johnson to the Yankees. DePodesta's role in the deal falling apart is much more significant than what is currently being reported by the major media outlets.

Our source, a professional sports agent, who spoke to The Book of Mike on the condition of anonymity, tells us that DePodesta originally leaked details of the trade to Ken Rosenthal of The Sporting News. Interestingly enough, part of DePodesta's statements yesterday include comments about the media over-playing the likelihood of the trade. As it turns out, this was actually Paul's own doing.

Making matters more serious, DePodesta allegedly lied to both the Yankees and Diamondbacks when he told them yesterday that the paperwork for the trade had been submitted to the commissioner's office. As you would expect, this is a major no-no in the baseball world, and insiders expect that DePodesta has - at best - made his doing his job extremely difficult (as other teams will be hesitant, if not completely unwilling, to work with him). Others feel that DePodesta may find himself out of baseball - or at least out of a GM level position - in the near future because of his handling of this situation.

We have also learned that this was not the first trade that DePodesta got cold feet about after taking it nearly all the way to the altar. The Dodgers attempted to back out of their July trade with the Marlins (principally involving catcher Paul LoDuca and pitcher Brad Penny). DePodesta tried to back out at the last minute, as was the case yesterday with the Johnson trade, but was called on the carpet by Marlins GM Larry Beinfest. Ultimately, the deal went through, but now the Dodgers are looking for a catcher and bullpen help this offseason - both of which became needs after their deadline deal with the then-champions.

Monday, December 20, 2004


No baseball specific content today, but a recent post at BaseballMusings made me consider this issue for myself. Mainly because of some references to the content here that I haven't particularly appreciated (i.e. people making it seem like this is their site or that they wrote content I wrote), I felt it was appropriate to post these terms and conditions. The content below is mainly courtesy of Instapundit, which is where BaseballMusings got its similar inspiration.

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Thursday, December 16, 2004

Nationals Situation Threatens Marlins Existence

Well there’s nothing like having your bluff called. In a round-about way, the recent issue with the Nationals' stadium funding efforts effectively calls the Marlins bluff about potentially moving the team to Las Vegas, and even worse – it makes them a front-runner to be contracted following the 2006 season (along with the Nationals).

Today the baseball headlines (thankfully, at least, they’re not about steroids) are focusing on the seemingly-perpetually perilous fate of the ex-Expos, current-Nationals. As you probably already know by now, the D.C. council changed the rules of the game the other night by requiring the team to come up with some of the money (half) to finance their new baseball stadium.

This is troublesome for the Nationals on a number of fronts. First and foremost, Major League Baseball agreed to relocate the club to the nation’s capital on the promise that a new stadium would be built for the team in the short term, and that the stadium would be exclusively publicly financed (whether the D.C. council is requiring private financing or funding of the other half of the stadium is a whole separate subject). Now that that's not the case, the Expos may not be moving to Washington (at least not permanently) to become the Nationals. Second, and possibly even more difficult to overcome, is that the Nationals don’t have “owners” at this point (they’re collectively owned by the owners of MLB’s 29-other teams), so turning to someone to fork over the rest of the cost of building the other stadium would be tough at this point (as owners of other teams are used to sticking their hands out for stadium money – not sticking their hands into their own deep pockets).

While all of that is largely irrelevant to the Marlins current situation, what does come into play is that if some solution to building a stadium for the team can’t be worked out (and quickly – as in by the end of December), it becomes very likely that the Nationals could be contracted after the 2006 season. The Marlins become involved because contraction won’t occur with a single team. This sort of action can only logically happen in even numbers (there are currently 30 teams in major league baseball, which – when a full slate of games is scheduled – allows everyone to play; contracting one team would leave twenty-nine and would force on team to be idle each day, which just doesn’t work with the three and four game series that baseball teams usually play).

The subject of contraction has been broached before – prior to the 2003 season – and was fairly quickly quashed. At that time, the likely contraction candidates included these same Nationals (then the Expos) and Marlins, as well as other teams like Tampa’s Devil Rays and the Minnesota Twins. Since that time the Twins have gone on a solid run of division titles and playoff berths. In addition, it was discovered that the Devil Rays are locked into a long term stadium lease and breaking it (via contraction, moving, or anything else) would incur a substantial financial penalty. Thus the Devil Rays and Twins are essentially eliminated from the discussion.

I’m sure that the possibility of contracting other teams would be bandied about – like the Athletics or the Blue Jays – but since the Nationals would be an almost foregone conclusion here, it would make more sense to eliminate another National League team. The National League already has more teams than the American (16 versus 14), and once again it makes more sense from a scheduling standpoint to contract in even numbers. (Sure, one team from each league could be eliminated, but then one team – at least – would need to switch affiliations; that’s just messy).

And the Marlins, despite their two World Series titles in their short existence, are a logical candidate for contraction. They have an owner without deep pockets. Their fan base is amongst the smallest in the league and they play in one of the league’s smaller media markets. The Marlins have also publicly lobbied for a new stadium, arguing that they cannot continue to operate in the long term within their current financial constraints. Compounding this matter is that they have struggled to find a way to get a new ballpark built. The current ownership is the third group to try to arrange something, and so far no one has been successful. Making matters even worse, their current landlord has informed them that after 2010, they won’t be invited back to use their current stadium (so unlike the Devil Rays, there won’t be a pesky lease to break). The Marlins have even gone so far as to take meetings with leaders from Las Vegas, with the premise being that the team could explore relocating to Vegas in the near future.

Initially, many interpreted the threat of moving to Vegas as a smoke screen, and an attempt to spur Florida legislators to find the money to build the Marlins a stadium. Vegas didn’t seem like the likeliest of alternatives for the Fish for many reasons. Vegas wasn’t good enough for the Expos, who had a search over a number of years before settling on D.C. Vegas, while growing – and growing rapidly, also isn’t that big; it is only the 52nd largest television market in the country. Sure, the casinos and their high rollers would provide a steady stream of likely customers, but in the end – when all the numbers are crunched – it probably makes more sense to eliminate a team than to send it to Sin City.

Unfortunately for the Marlins, and for folks in South Florida who love baseball, recent events may be conspiring to take the team away. Efforts to build a stadium for the Marlins in Florida (including the threat of moving them to Las Vegas) have exposed the Marlins’ situation as precarious. That, coupled with the struggles to get a stadium funded in Washington may be enough to doom the Marlins’ future. So while I’m still maintaining my ban on attending any more Marlins games, the rest of you might want to consider getting out to Pro Player Stadium as much as you can during these next two seasons. After that, there might not be anymore major league baseball in South Florida… other than Spring Training.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Marlins Weekend Recap

With the Winter Meetings in full swing, there was plenty of Marlins news over the weekend. Stadium relocation and the threat of moving the team, the signing of Todd Jones, and trade rumors involving A.J. Burnett headlined the weekend’s Marlins action. I’ll try my best to recap:

Stadium Issues/Team Relocation
The cover story for Saturday’s edition of The Miami Herald screamed that the Marlins are being evicted from Pro Player Stadium as of 2010. While on the surface this sounds like big news, it is really just a ploy to motivate the powers that be throughout the state, county, and city to come together with the money needed to build the Marlins their new baseball palace.

For some time now, the Marlins have had a year-to-year lease, which they have the option to renew – through 2010. There is no contract after 2010. Mr. Huizenga’s claim that they no longer wish to have the Marlins as tenants simply means that they’re not going to sit down to negotiate a new contract. This isn’t an eviction. It’s simply saying – albeit a few years in advance – that the contract isn’t going to be renewed.

Leaders from Las Vegas also attended the Winter Meetings in Anaheim – arriving replete with showgirls. They were quick to point out though that they weren’t there to meet specifically with the Marlins, with whom they claim they’ve only had one, informal conversation. Instead, they were in Anaheim to meet with leaders from each club and to make everyone aware of the potential that exists for a team in their growing city.

All told, it seems like a well orchestrated plan for the Marlins to raise awareness for their needs for a new stadium and to put pressure on local government to come up with the rest of the funding for the team. To make the matter seem all the less credible, upon his return from Las Vegas, team president David Samson’s only comment for the press was, “Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Classy. I hope that David had the courage to tell his wife that. At least she could probably slap him – like the rest of us usually wish we could.

Marlins Sign Todd Jones
When I first heard this news, I laughed. This is the most comical signing the Marlins could have possibly made – and it has nothing to do with Jones’ ability as a pitcher or what he’ll contribute to the team on the field.

Last May, Jones openly told reporters that he would have a problem with having a gay teammate. Later, in his apology, Jones said he wasn't sorry for saying what he said - because it's how he feels - but that he was sorry that he made the comment publicly.

Apparently Jones wasn’t treated to the whirlwind tour of Miami that other free agents, like Carl Pavano, often receive of their prospective new home towns. Miami is a very diverse town – ethnically, racially, and even sexually. Hopefully Jones is prepared to accept with this. If not, I suspect Jones will be treated to what could be an amusing series of interactions at Pro Player Stadium and around town throughout the year.

A few years back, when Matt Mantei pitched for the Fish, a group of young girls (teenagers) dressed up in “Ice Man” (Mantei’s nickname) t-shirts and serenaded Mantei when he was in the bullpen and as he entered the game. I would imagine that it would be rather comical to see a group of thirty-something men do something similar to/for the homophobic Jones.

Although, since the Marlins have been so creative and media savvy of late (see note above about the stadium and relocation issues), maybe signing Jones was just an effort to reach out to the gay and lesbian community in a (backhanded) way and to get them to buy tickets and come out to the ballpark (even if it is to deride the new reliever).

Burnett Trade Rumors
The Randy Johnson-to-the-Yankees rumors are heating up again, and this time around it mainly involves Marlins rehabbed (elbow) starter A.J. Burnett ending up in Arizona, with the Fish picking up current Yankee Javier Vazquez.

My initial reaction to this trade was that I’d hate to give up Burnett. But, A.J. has had a history of arm troubles – although he appeared to rebound from the latest one last year and pitched very well. Possibly even more importantly to the Fish, Burnett will be eligible for free agency following the 2005 season, meaning that his salary ($2.5 million in 2004 and likely double that in 2005) will literally go through the roof (with a solid season, he should easily be able to surpass the $10 million per year that Carl Pavano received from the Yankees). At that price, he’ll be far too expensive for the Marlins to keep onboard.

Given that, it essentially boils down to three options for the Marlins. One, Burnett stays with the Marlins for 2005, he struggles or is injured, and the Marlins receive little or zero productivity from his roster spot. At this point, Burnett would likely become a very affordable option for the Marlins in 2006 and beyond, but he wouldn’t be very attractive. The second option is that Burnett stays with the Marlins, is very successful, and thus prices himself out of the Marlins budget for 2006 and beyond. Neither of these alternatives is very promising for the Marlins, and that is why the third option – trading Burnett before the 2005 season – is such an attractive alternative.

If the Marlins are able to trade Burnett to the Diamondbacks and include Juan Encarnacion – somehow in this deal, while also picking up money from the Diamondbacks to pay Vazquez’s salary, then this seems like a win-win.

Vazquez is a young pitcher, at 28 – one year older than Burnett, who has pitched well for many years in the major leagues. Despite his struggles with the Yankees last year, he was still an All-Star at the mid-year point and has tremendous upside for the future. Plus he’s signed for three years, so the Fish would get three years of service from him instead of one from Burnett. Besides, being able to rid themselves of Encarnacion, and his cheddar cheese like bat, might be the biggest upside of this trade.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Marlins Fake Interest in Moving to Vegas

I’m guessing this is how it went with David Samson and Jeffrey Loria yesterday:

Samson: Knock, knock
Loria: Who’s there?
Samson: The Marlins – and we’re moving to Vegas
Loria and Samson: ha ha ha ha – laughing all the way to the bank, or at least their new stadium, wherever it might be

As you have probably heard by now, the Marlins met yesterday with officials in Las Vegas. Apparently the Marlins are tired of waiting for the powers that be in Florida to put a suitable (in their eyes) financing package together and they’ve also (indirectly I suppose) indicated that they also aren’t really willing to step up to the plate and be responsible for cost overruns (which, if history is good for anything – particularly with retractable roof ballparks – are inevitable; see Miller Park in Milwaukee for more details).

The ruse of moving the team to Las Vegas is far fetched, at best. In case you haven’t been paying close attention, it took Major League Baseball about two years to relocate the former Montreal Expos to Washington, D.C. The search for the best place to relocate the team was thorough (and very slow). Interestingly, Las Vegas did not make the short list of relocation possibilities. The top sites (other than D.C. of course) were Portland (Oregon – for you Easterners) and Northern Virginia. Also seriously considered were San Juan, Puerto Rico and Mexico City Mexico.

Locales like Portland even had complex financing plans in place to finance a new stadium and to make bringing a team to their area a reality. Vegas, to my knowledge, and at least as far as the public information that has been released, has none of that currently. That makes this sort of a proposition all the less realistic.

Ultimately it was realized that none of the markets being considered was a sure-fire home run. No one ever really came out and said so much, but the simple fact that it took so long to relocate to one of these places pretty much says as much. By moving the Expos to D.C. and calling them the Nationals, they don’t exactly become the New York Yankees (budget wise) of the National League – or even the financial equivalent of the Houston Astros. They simply just have more hope and potential than they did in Montreal (and don’t even get me started on how a big part of why the Expos didn’t work in Montreal is because of Jeffrey Loria – the man who currently owns and operates the Marlins).

Other “hot” relocation cities like Nashville, Indianapolis, Charlotte, Sioux Falls, and Cedar Rapids didn’t even get much serious consideration. Ok, so those last two I made up, but I think you get the point. There aren’t a lot of great options for moving a baseball team. The major markets are filled (some of them with two teams). In my opinion, the two most suitable places in North America right now to move a team to are New York City and Montreal. Both are populous, relatively wealthy, and have a history with baseball. Plenty of research and analysis has been done on the subject, and I won’t bore you with it here (it’s plenty easy to Google). Suffice it to say, New York used to support three baseball teams. Now it only supports two. Adding a third team would cut into the television and other revenue the Yankees and Mets would generate, but it would relegate them to a status more equal to what most of the other teams in the league can generate.

But, baseball isn’t going to move a team to either of those places. And baseball isn’t going to let a team move to Las Vegas either. This is purely a bluff by the Marlins. It probably worked out quite nicely for Loria and whoever else was there. They were on their way to Anaheim anyway, so this meeting might well have taken place during a lay-over between flights between Miami and Anaheim. Kidding again – but you get my drift. This meeting with Vegas officials (including the mayor offering to bring showgirls for Loria to “enjoy”) is a bluff and an act aimed at getting the officials back at home moving on financing a ballpark.

The real answer here is that the Marlins need new ownership. The current owners got lucky with the 2003 team and built a championship caliber club. Since they don’t seem content to do that again and to build a long term winner the way that the Athletics and Twins have, it’s time for someone with bigger pockets to step in. Publicly (or even privately – but that’s why it hasn’t and isn’t going to happen privately) financing a stadium for the Marlins doesn’t solve their financial woes. It would only allow Loria to eliminate the debts he’s incurring with the current system. A new stadium would allow the Marlins to keep a $50-million neighborhood payroll on the field, be competitive and not incur heavy losses. Once in awhile they’d make a run at the playoffs.

That’s not the long term fix anyone’s looking for though. What the Marlins need is a deep pocketed owner, like an Arte Moreno of Anaheim or George Steinbrenner of the Yankees. Someone who can afford to take risks and isn’t afraid to take them. South Florida is a front-running sports town. This team needs to have a payroll (in today’s dollars) of between $80 million and $100 million annually. The team needs to be laden with stars and it needs to win. With that, the team has a chance of drawing fans and being able to afford such a payroll. As much as they try to force it, getting the stadium first and making it all work later isn't going to happen. This is South Florida, not a cornfield in Iowa. It's not build it and they will come. The motto in Miami should be - do it first, do it well, win a few times, keep doing it, and then we'll come... oh, and it has to be an event too - once there are cool people there, we'll come. That’s what works and that’s what sells in South Florida. A fancy new ballpark and a better than .500 team isn’t going to cut it.

Oh, and if by some small chance this Vegas thing isn’t a bluff, I’ll be happy to help the Marlins pack up their things and move out West. Just let me know. I’ll even bring some book boxes and packing tape.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Offseason Predictions

Baseball’s winter meetings are about to begin, and that, coupled with some semi-major movement on the free agent front means that the offseason is really starting to heat up. Carl Pavano has toured the country; Troy Percival signed with the Tigers (!); Damian Miller, Vinny Castilla, and Cristian Guzman got overpaid. Since things are getting moving, I’ll make some predictions about where I think some of the guys who are still left on the market (or the trading table) will end up:

Carlos Beltran – Angels
Arte Moreno will let the other clubs bid each other up so that he can determine what Beltran’s market value is. Then he’ll swoop in and close the deal. An outfield with Vlad and Beltran is just a sick though. Manager Mike Scoscia probably sleeps well at night with the mere possibility in his head.

Pedro Martinez – Angels
Re-read the first line above about Beltran. My guess is that it applies to Petey too. Plus, I think Pedro is too smart to subject himself to the disaster that is the New York Mets. I have some faith that Omar Minaya may be able to turn things around, but Pedro doesn't need to risk the tail end of his career in helping him prove it.

Randy Johnson – Diamondbacks
Unless the DBacks get realistic about what they can expect in return for Johnson (two top tier young starters is too much), there’s nowhere for Randy to go. Hopefully the Diamondbacks can score enough runs for Johnson this year so that they don’t keep him from a Cy Young Award.

Sammy Sosa – Mets
I just can’t imagine any other team taking on Sosa and I also can’t see him staying with the Cubs. Dusty Baker has a strong reputation in the game that has been built up over many years. Keeping Sammy on the club would be a serious knock on that.

Carl Pavano – Red Sox
This is a virtual lock if Pedro does not sign with the Red Sox. In many ways – particularly because of his younger age – you could argue that Pavano is a better fit for the Red Sox than Pedro. Plus he’ll probably come cheaper.

Russ Ortiz - ?
I have no idea, but he’ll certainly be an interesting pitcher to follow. He’s won more games than any other pitcher over the past three seasons (and yes, I know that wins by a pitcher is a questionable stat as it is dependent on the runs scored by your offense – just ask Randy Johnson) and he’s available. Once Pedro and Pavano sign, look for it to get hot and heavy for Ortiz.

Adrian Beltre – Dodgers
I know that ESPN is reporting that there’s a good chance that Beltre will end up in Detroit. I just don’t see it. Yes, the Tigers have made some big time free agent acquisitions this year and last, but I don’t see how Beltre will be added to that list. The Dodgers have a plan, and part of that plan has to be keeping Beltre. If he goes anywhere else I’ll simply be shocked.

Troy Glaus – Tigers
Unless they can somehow land Beltre, which would shock me (see above!), Glaus is a lock to go to the Tigers. And if Carlos Guillen maintains his high level of play from the 2004 season, that will give the Tigers an impressive left side of the infield, made up of West Coast castoffs. Glaus’s health is a question mark though, but the Tigers rolled the dice with Ivan Rodriguez (and even Guillen) last year, but it has paid off so far.

Edgar Renteria – Red Sox
If not here, he’ll be a Cardinal again. I really like Edgar, and wouldn’t mind seeing him in a White Sox uni next spring, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Besides, Edgar is more of a stopgap solution for the White Sox and not the long term fix they need. Plus, he’ll be expensive, so it really isn’t the right fit. For the Red Sox though, he makes sense. They can afford his asking price, and if one of their minor league prospects emerges in two or three years, they can move Renteria to second or jettison him to another team.

Orlando Cabrera – Cardinals
They’re going to need someone, and why not Cabrera? He’ll be an adequate enough replacement for Renteria and his style of play will likely be very appreciated by the Cardinals fans and players.

Steroid fallout

The seriousness of the testing and punishment program is greatly stepped up. Bud Selig issues some serious rhetoric about Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, et al. Nothing can be done about Giambi’s contract though, so the Yankees are stuck paying him. Giambi’s contract, and the fact that it is probably not insured, has a greater impact on the length of future free agent contracts than we will realize for many years. Mark McGwire, and others recently retired and/or not associated with BALCO, escape unscathed.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Marlins Conine Undergoes Second Offseason Shoulder Surgery

Marlins outfielder Jeff Conine underwent a second surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder last week. Earlier in the offseason Conine underwent surgery to repair some damage incurred throughout the course of the previous major league season.

This last surgery though wasn’t required because of anything baseball related. Instead Conine suffered a shoulder separation while playing racquetball or paddleball. As some of you may know, Conine is (or at least was) a “world-class” racquetball player for some time. He was ranked (who knew there was such a thing) highly in his age group and has regularly played the game over the years during the baseball offseason.

Now, however, Conine’s injury is similar to Aaron Boone’s basketball induced knee injury last offseason. Boone’s injury, which was serious enough to cause him to miss the entire 2004 season, allowed the Yankees to void his contract and release him (which fortuitously for the Yankees, helped them to be able to afford the Alex Rodriguez acquisition). Conine fears that the same fate may befall him, as he is due a fairly hefty paycheck from the Marlins next year (although the Fish are highly unlikely to be able to land a talent as great as Alex Rodriguez if they do jettison the aging Conine).

More details about the injury, surgery, and contract situation can be found in this article.

In the end, I don’t expect to see the Marlins let Conine go. While they could save some money by releasing him, they’d have to be sure that the injury was serious enough to warrant such action (and it very likely isn’t). They would also have to be able to find an adequate replacement for Conine – which they are unlikely to do. Conine’s skills are surely declining – he’s not the player he was in the 90s to be sure – he still is an adequate major leaguer, and the Marlins will need his bat in the lineup and to take up many innings at either first base or in left field next season.

So, in the end, this story is more interesting than the resigning of Lenny Harris to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league camp at Spring Training, but in the end, there’s probably not much to speculate on at least until we can all see how recovered Conine is when he arrives in Jupiter this spring.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

White Sox Trades I'd Make

The easy thing to do today would to be to talk about Jason Giambi, his steroid admissions, and to start speculating on Barry Bonds and how he must be as juiced up as anyone on Earth. That’s pointless though, because it doesn’t matter – even if Bonds, Giambi, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and every other major league slugger over the past ten years were on steroids, nothing is going to change. The terms of the collective bargaining agreement didn’t make steroids (or their cousins – like McGwire’s androstendione) illegal until the 2004 season. Sure, they were illegal in the United States, but they weren’t illegal in baseball and couldn’t be tested for. Plus, an admission by Giambi (or anyone else) is not going to cause anyone to change the history books.

There’s a chance that Bud Selig could break out asterisks, but I highly doubt it. Bud has done some inexplicable things before (creating the wild card, ending an All-Star game in a tie, allowing a World Series to be cancelled – just to name a few), but to take awards away from players (Giambi’s MVP or Bonds’s case full of them, for example) or to rework the record book, would be completely subjective and unsupported by facts. Giambi may have admitted to using steroids, but at the time they weren’t illegal, they weren’t tested for, and none of us knows definitively what impact – if any – that had on his ability to play the game.

Since I think it’s pointless continuing the discussion at this point, I’ll continue on to what I wanted to talk about today, which is potential trades the White Sox could make...

Randy Johnson
Rumors abound regarding the imminent or not so imminent departure of Diamondbacks’ ace Randy Johnson to the Yankees. The most recent report is that Johnson isn’t going anywhere, as ESPN is reporting that the Yankees have told the Devil Rays as much. This may mean that acquiring Johnson is actually a possibility for some teams. I hope the White Sox get in the mix here, if only to make it look like they’re making an effort. As I talked about yesterday, Joe Borchard needs to be moved. Sending him to Arizona is probably a good opportunity. Borchard would likely be coveted by the Dbacks because of his nearly limitless power potential, his young age, and his all-around athletic ability. The Sox could also thrown in (and I’d hate to see him go) Paul Konerko in this trade. Konerko is an Arizona native, who went to high school just a few miles from Bank One Ballpark (although the stadium and the team didn’t exist at the time). I’m sure Paul would be a fan favorite for many years in the desert.

Sammy Sosa
The Chicago Tribune also reported in Wednesday’s paper that a Cubs – Sox trade could benefit both clubs. This trade would, of course, involve Sammy Sosa going back to the Sox. The only benefit I can see to this for “both sides” is that it would garner publicity for the White Sox, as the Tribune and other papers could regularly work references to the Sox continued demise into their columns about the Cubs success. Something to the effect of “and player so-and-so, who the Cubs obtained in their blockbuster deal with the White Sox, which sent aging, declining, and expensive Sammy Sosa to the Cubs, is having a breakout year. He will surely receive MVP consideration if the Cubs reach the post-season…” The mere thought of trading with the Cubs to reacquire Sammy Sosa makes me feel ill.

A's Ace
Another trade opportunity that might exist, which doesn’t make me feel ill (other than that Kenny Williams probably isn’t working the phones hard on this one, what with Billy Beane knocking him in Moneyball), is a potential trade with the Athletics. Allegedly the A’s are open to moving either Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, or Tim Hudson for a bat.

Already the A’s have arguably made the steal of the offseason, in acquiring former Pirates catcher Jason Kendall for pitchers Mark Redman and Arthur Rhodes. When you consider that Redman was acquired from the Marlins last offseason for more often minor leaguer than major leaguer Mike Neu (a UM alum), this is even more of a steal. The A’s picked up an All-Star caliber catcher for a minor leaguer and an incendiary reliever.

Or you could look at it from another perspective. Prior to the trade, the A’s were looking at entering 2005 with Mark Redman, a relatively expensive starter, who they didn’t need and doesn’t really fit into their rotation, and Arthur Rhodes in their bullpen. Rhodes, one of last year’s marquee offseason pickups, was also not someone who fit into the A’s staff – well, at least not as a quality innings type of guy. He too was pretty expensive. For the A’s catching situation, they could have picked up free agent catcher Damian Miller. I’m sure that doesn’t excite you very much, but he signed a contract this week with the Brewers for three years and nearly nine million dollars. That’s a lot of money for not a lot of production. But, for essentially the same money as the expendable parts Beane had in Redman and Rhodes and what it would cost to pick up a catcher like Miller, the Athletics picked up an All-Star in Jason Kendall. A very shrewd move.

But back to the topic at hand, the A’s are looking to move one of their big three. Zito is likely the easiest to get, and of course everyone would rather have Hudson or Mulder. For the White Sox, I’d be happy with any of the three. Carlos Lee and a prospect or two (this could be another spot to include Joe Borchard, although his hacking approach doesn’t necessarily fit in with the A’s philosophy) could cinch the deal.

Andruw Jones
Rumors are also floating that Kenny Williams is fascinated with Braves CF Andruw Jones. Who isn’t? Jones is still looking up at 30, he plays all-time great defense, hits for power and has decent wheels. But of course that makes him an expensive commodity. As such, Atlanta is willing to move him. I’m not sure what the Sox have to offer, but he might be worth picking up, especially since the Sox have a hole in their outfield with Magglio Ordonez having vacated right field. The Sox could acquire Jones and use Rowand or Carl Everett in right. By the time opening day rolls around I’m assuming that either Paul Konerko, Carlos Lee, or Carl Everett won’t be with the Sox anymore, so there will be room for Jones and the recently emerged Rowand in the lineup.

We’ll see what happens. Next week I should have some comments on the Marlins and what to look for – or at least what I’d like to see. Have a great weekend and Go Canes!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

White Sox Should Trade Borchard

It’s time. The Joe Borchard experiment has failed. If the White Sox can trade Borchard now, he probably still has some value to other teams. Maybe he can be part of a package deal to Arizona for Randy Johnson. Maybe he can be used to help acquire a high onbase percentage guy.

The White Sox don’t need another high-power, high-strikeout bat in their lineup. Granted Borchard is arguably the most talented player in the entire organization. That’s what makes it so difficult to trade him. Well, that and that there’s a gaping hole in the Sox outfield, what with Magglio Ordonez all but surely departed from the right field spot he was previously cemented in.

There’s also the little thing about the team record, $5 million plus signing bonus that Borchard received to lure him away from the football field and baseball diamond at Stanford. Sure, it was and still is a lot of money. A huge investment in a player that they’ve seen little to no (or possibly even a negative) return on up to this point. But that money is spent – it’s a sunk cost that’s not recoverable. There’s no sense in continuing to invest in a player who isn’t going to make it happen for the White Sox this year or at any time in the near future.

This offseason, while playing for Mazatlan of the Mexican Pacific League (sit down and keep reading – it gets worse, much worse), Borchard hit an anemic .140 and had an astoundingly bad 21 strikeout to 2 walk ratio. Ultimately this led to his release from the club mid-season (surely this was the most ignominous release since Rick Vaughn's release from the California Penal League in Major League.

Borchard is surely not as bad of a baseball player as he appeared to be this year in the Mexican Pacific League. He is talented and capable of hitting 30, 40, or 50 home runs each year in the major leagues. But his confidence is shot and he needs a change of scenery.

And at this point the Sox can still likely get something – anything – for him. If they wait though, he may repeat his Mexican League performance somewhere in the minors for the Sox in 2005, and instead of being able to trade him as part of a package for a major leaguer or for another prospect, the Sox will be forced to give him his outright release.

Trade Borchard. It’s good for the Sox and good for Joe. Yes, he’s likely to go on to a solid major league career with some other team, but it sure isn’t likely to happen with the Sox. Hopefully the White Sox will cut their losses and Borchard will go on to success elsewhere.