Who, what, where and when are the buzz-words that permeate the hot-stove league this winter. Since the Sox expect to be fairly quiet if they can re-sign Mike Lowell, I guess we need to see who is going to make some noise this winter. With Joe Torre in la-la-land and Willie Randolph on the hot seat in New York (Flushing is Frying?), it looks like these two major market teams from the senior circuit who both just came up short in 2007 are going to drive the trade and free-agent market.
First off, the A-Rod Derby (or, Slappy McHamburgerHelper extricates himself far from the fickle Fenway faithful): Expect him to land at one of these two teams. They have the cash and they both desperately have the need. Anaheim should be an option if only because Vlad Guerrero is going to collapse carrying that team, but Bill Stoneman has been reluctant to pull the trigger and spend Arte’s money. Eighty-five to ninety wins and a loss in the first round is good enough in the Big A, I guess.
While the Dodgers have a need for a veteran power bat, few expect them to act. With Joe Torre campaigning for him, it can only be a public relations coup for A-Rod to land in the lap of Dodgerdom and trade tarnished pinstripes for Dodger Blue. The Dodgers are likely in the market for experienced power hitters, and since they refuse to trade anyone in the farm system--and Nomar is Washout spelled backwards--they so desperately need an A-Rod or another power infusion. If not him and LA decides cash is better to keep than youngsters, do not be surprised to see Miguel Cabrera end up in Los Angeles next season as part of a mega-deal with cash-consious Florida. The Dodgers have the prospects to part with and the money to pay him. The Latino market there is a great fit for the fickle Cabrera, who is no doubt fed-up with the Florida payroll constraints as well.
Not to ruin my premise here, but speaking of big-market chokers who need the ultimate choker on their team, the Phillies should be in the mix. If Scott Boras has a hint of humanity and compassion in his soul (and there are no signs there is any) he would keep A-Rod far from the Phillie Phanatics roaming Veterans Stadium and looking for fresh blood. I doubt Slappy McHamburgerHelper (aka the Purple Lipped Bandito) has to call Terry Francona to learn that much.
The Mets will also go hard after Horsehead Posada, who just may be ready to move to another borough. Posada makes sense (can anyone justify bringing in Paul LoDuca?), and he gets to give the Yankees the finger on his way across town. Whether he takes Mariano Rivera with him wherever he ends up is a moot point because Rivera is going to get his money from the Yankees. He may have to dump a couple relatives in the pool, but he will get his cash.
Expect the Mets to pull off a big deal or three for starting pitching if anyone still loves Lastings Milledge because that staff sucks (and that includes a healthy, back to 2005 levels, Pedro Martinez). Suddenly, Julian Tavarez looks good to the Mets as an option in the rotation. Bleed Omar Minaya dry, Theo!
Also, any big market team is automatically in the running for the next wave of talent from Japan. With the Big Two in Boston (Matsuzaka and Oki-Doki) as well as Akinowa performing well on the cheap in Tampa (for once I will be nice and leave the Yankees horrible Japanese pitching pick-up out of this discussion), expect many teams to begin picking through the wares and looking at players such as outfielder Kosuke Fukodome (what a great name: we played the Dragons at the Fukodome last week; all the fans told us to Fuko at the dome.), as well as closer extraordinaire Masa Kobayashi Maru (Star Trek humor in a sports blog is dangerous territory), and starter Hiroki Kuroda. Expect the Dodgers or Mets to grab at least one.
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