The Friday Night Rumor Mill

The Rumor Mill

It’s the last post of the old year, so what better time to dig up the final trade rumors for 2005. The Mets are very close to completing a deal with the Devil Rays for Danys Baez, but there remain questions about the cost. According to several published reports, the Mets will send the Devil Rays a package headlined by either Jae Seo or Aaron Heilman. From the Mets’ perspective, surrendering Seo would be no great sacrifice, but the loss of Heilman would be damaging. To give up Heilman straight-up for Baez is questionable; to give up Heilman along with other players for Baez would be foolish. Unlike Baez, who is strictly a short-stint closer, Heilman has the ability to start, pitch in long relief, or work as a set-up man. Simply put, he has a much higher ceiling than Baez, whose wildness resulted in inconsistency in 2005… For some reason, the Mets are collecting center fielders the way they used to stockpile pitchers. With Carlos Beltran entrenched for the next half-decade or so, the Mets first acquired Tike Redman from the Pirates and have now signed Endy Chavez, late of the Phillies. It’s hard to see how the Mets will be able to carry all three on their Opening Day roster, so expect the loser of the Chavez/Redman battle to be spending some time in Triple-A Norfolk—or on the waiver wire…

In the meantime, the Pirates are collecting veteran players with good nicknames. The Bucs settled for Joe “The Joker” Randa to play third base after watching their bids for Bill Mueller and Nomar Garciaparra. During the winter meetings, they completed a trade for Sean “The Mayor” Casey, who will man first base. One of the Pirates’ next decisions will involve Craig Wilson, whom I like to call the “Blond Bomber.” While the Pirates are currently planning to use Wilson as a platoon right fielder with Jody Gerut, that seems like an awfully small role for the talented right-handed slugger. Look for the Pirates to play Wilson plenty this spring, in the hope that he’ll prove his hand healthy and increase his trade value to other teams. Wilson will be a free agent after the 2006 season, raising the urgency to trade him at some point this spring or summer…

Now that Johnny Damon has switched American League East addresses, the center-field rumor-of-the-week festival must move from New York to Boston. The Red Sox are prowling for any and all available center fielders, including the following: Coco Crisp, Joey Gathright, Jeremy Reed, and Dave Roberts. The Red Sox’ first choice is Crisp, who would also cost the most in terms of potential trade compensation. A terrific left fielder, Crisp has enough speed and arm to make the transition to center, while also filling Boston’s craving for a new leadoff man. The Indians would like a position player and a pitcher in return, which is why names like Kevin Youkilis and Bronson Arroyo are being bandied about. That package should be more than enough to secure Crisp; in fact, the Red Sox would want Crisp and someone else in return for the corner infielder and starting pitcher. There is another holdup to talks with Cleveland. The Indians need to acquire an outfielder to take Crisp’s place, and that’s something that the Red Sox can’t help them with right now… The Mariners’ Reed carries a lesser price tag than Crisp, but pitching must once again be the centerpiece of any exchange. Seattle would love to add either Jon Lester or Jon Papelbon, but that’s not going to happen. (The Mariners must have been kidding when they offered Reed and Gil Meche for one of the Sox’ dynamic duo.) More realistically, the Mariners might be able to pry loose Arroyo or Matt Clement, but the Red Sox are understandably reluctant to give up either for Reed, who slumped badly in 2005. At one time the key player in the Freddy Garcia deal, Reed played better than expected in center field, but that didn’t make up for his .322 on-base percentage or his .352 slugging percentage, which were far too reminiscent of Jack Reed… In the meantime, the Red Sox are hotly pursuing a pair of Devil Rays, including Gathright and shortstop Julio Lugo. Much like the Mariners, the Devil Rays are asking for either Lester or Papelbon, which the Red Sox smartly won’t do. They’d rather give up a package of Arroyo and newly acquired third base prospect Andy Marte… Ideally, rather than having to trade Arroyo or Clement, the Red Sox would like to part company with the unhappy David Wells and have a natural trading partner in the Padres. A Wells-for-Dave Roberts swap makes too much sense, but the Padres have inexplicably taken Roberts off the trade market. Perhaps they’ll reconsider now after the acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez from the Rangers; with Gonzalez now available to play first base, the Padres could move Ryan Klesko back to left field, leaving no room for Roberts as a regular…

The Mariners surprised some observers by tendering a contract to Gil Meche in the first place, but they only did that because of the realization that a talented young pitcher always has trade value in this perpetually pitching-poor world of ours. The Mariners have dangled Meche in talks, either as part of a larger package or in an effort to acquire a B-level prospect straight-up. The M’s have talked to several teams, including the aforementioned Red Sox and the rebuilding Rockies…

And Another Thing

As the old year winds down, I’d like to offer a note of thanks to several folks with MLB.com who have been helpful to me this year. Thanks to Dinn Mann for inviting me to join the MLB Weblog community. Thanks also to Mark Newman and Jacob Wilson for the help they’ve given me with regard to the mechanics and promotion of a weblog.

As a final note, let’s remember those baseball people who left us in 2005. The list includes several folks who touched me in some way, including Nelson Briles, Bob Broeg, Donn Clendenon, **** Dietz, Cesar Gutierrez, Elrod Hendricks, Pat Kelly, Rick Mahler, Vic Power, **** Radatz, Ted Radcliffe, and Earl Wilson. Rest in peace.

2 Comments

any Rumors about Royce Clayton?

Clayton, who became a free agent after the 2005 season, is still looking for a job. The Red Sox have some interest, but only as a fallback option. They would prefer to trade for Julio Lugo or sign Alex Gonzalez. Clayton may have to end up settling for a non-roster invitation to spring training.

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