Wednesday, December 07, 2005

All Quiet On Manny Front

Officials from the Angels, Red Sox and Diamondbacks along with Peter Gammons all have thrown cold water on the Manny-to-Anaheim rumors. I have to agree, because of the sheer magnitude of the deal it is unlikely to get done but I remain hopeful. Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated however believes that Ramirez will end up with a halo of his own before Spring Training. From today's SI Newsletter Verducci says:
Manny Ramirez's latest "trade me" request is by far the firmest he's given the club over the past three years. And the Sox are actively trying to move him. "My guess as to where he winds up: the Angels, his first choice, in a possible three-way trade that would bring the Diamondbacks' Troy Glaus to Boston to play first base," Verducci says. The potential of Ramirez and Vladimir Guerrero in the same lineup would certainly take some of the buzz away from the Blue Jays, who continued their preholiday spending spree yesterday by signing free-agent righthander A.J. Burnett to a five-year, $55 million contract. (That's $102 million between Burnett and closer B.J. Ryan.)

Angel GM Bill Stoneman has also been in contact with Kansas City regarding Mike Sweeney but the Royals want Casey Kotchman AND Brandon Wood for a broken-down 32-year-old hitter who is averaging just 115 games a season the past four years. I think someone has slipped some crack into the barbecue sauce up there in KC. I would suggest leaving Sweeney and his $22 million contract for the next two seasons safely stashed in KC where neither can hurt anyone except Royal fans.

Juan Pierre was traded to the Cubs today so scratch #2 from my wish list. The Marlins received pitcher Sergio Mitre, two Double-A pitching prospects and a 2-for-1 admission coupon to the Sears Tower Observation Deck (not valid on holidays or weekends) for Pierre. This likely ends the latest Marlins team demolition and any hope for playoffs until 2009.

The Diamondbacks traded for catcher Johnny Estrada today, giving up promising reliever Oscar Villarreal and less promising reliever Lance Cormier. Estrada was an All-Star in 2004 but after a violent collision with Darin Erstad last June he was "not the same behind or at the plate." Viarreal had a phenomenal rookie season in '03 but injuries limited his effectiveness in both 2004 and '05. This good be a fairly even win-win trade if both players bounce back or could severely swing one way or another depending on who performs.

The Padres acquired Red Sox backup catcher Doug Mirabelli in a trade for second-baseman Mark Loretta. It is a great deal for the Sox who acquire a 'gamer' and fan favorite in Loretta. Mirabelli is considered to be one of the better back-up catchers in the majors and fills a void in San Diego made when Ramon Hernandez left. One person who will be concerned by this is Tim Wakefield who used Mirabelli exclusively as his receiver. So good luck to Jason Veritek who now gets to catch a knuckleballer once a week.

So what does all this activity with catchers mean for the Angels? The likelihood of Bengie Molina returning just skyrocketed. The Angels will offer Molina arbitration tonight and he will undoubtedly take it. It insures a nice fat one-year deal for the veteran and gives the Angels another year to prep young Jeff Mathis. Likely Mathis will start the year in the minors but given Bengie's health the past few years the odds are good that the kid will get called-up at some point in 2006.

In other arbitration news the Angels will also offer arbitration to Paul Byrd. Why would they do that you ask? Because Byrd has to deny it (having already signed a deal with Cleveland) and it will then insure the Angels of a high draft pick as compensation. The Angels will likely NOT offer arbitration to Jarrod Washburn. With Burnett signing and Javier Vazquez about to be traded by Arizona, the next tier of pitchers will likely start to sign and that will include Washburn.

The LA Times is reporting that Boston is now regretting the signing of human-error machine Edgar Renteria and have inquired about the possibility of a trade for Orlando Cabrera. The Sox are probably a year early to ask since Brandon Wood will likely not be ready to join the big club until 2007. However the Angels could start either Chone Figgins or Maicer Izturis at short in the interim. I would not think the Angels would move Cabrera for the simple fact that he is one of Vlad Guerrero's best friends and one thing the Angels have going for them is team harmony. Don't rock the boat.


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