December 11, 2003
Live from the (Mock) Winter Meetings
Team-by-Team Breakdownsyesterday's article, here is the definitive list of every transaction made at last weekend's Mock Winter Meetings in Chicago:
Traded Ben Weber and Derrick Turnbow to Cleveland for Coco Crisp and Ryan Ludwick
In a pair of trades, the Angels trade pitching excess to the Twins for some extra outfielders; apparently the Angels' GM came to the stunning realization that Darin Erstad isn't that good a ballplayer. You may see a number of players sign contracts with creative options that automatically vest depending on playing time. I won't say who their agent was, except to point out that he's tall, whip-smart, and devilishly handsome (ed note: That's odd, Rany, since I wasn't there--JK).
Traded Graham Koonce to Toronto for Kevin Cash
The A's GM handily wins the prize for "most obscure free-agent signing." Cannon had a 1.86 ERA in 116 innings in the Atlantic League, so his contract is certainly consistent with the A's philosophy. You have to appreciate the nice touch of Oakland and Toronto getting together to make another deal, but the Blue Jays will trade Cash over Keith Law's dead body, and I think the A's have a bigger target in mind behind the plate anyway.
Seattle trades Jeff Cirillo and Gil Meche to Cincinnati for Ken Griffey and Tim Hummel
The Reds and Mariners hooked up on a fascinating deal that returned Griffey to Seattle and Cirillo to oblivion, with Gil Meche changing hands as compensation for the fact that Griffey can still play and Cirillo can't. Kim was only one of several high-profile non-tenders by the Red Sox, and would be a good fit for Safeco's spacious dimensions.
Texas trades Mark Teixeira and Einar Diaz to Pittsburgh for Jason Kendall, Josh Fogg, and Kris Benson
The Rangers made a nifty trade for Snelling, but gave up the best player in a trade with the Pirates to get more pitching. Still, adding Pettitte, Fogg, and Benson is a nice effort for a team that needed to rebuild its entire rotation.
Best of all, they've still got A-Rod. Paging Tom Hicks. Paging, Tom Hicks...
Chicago (AL) trades Frank Thomas, Billy Koch, and Joe Crede to Cleveland for Bob Wickman, David Riske, Ben Broussard, Danys Baez, and Casey Blake
One of the twists that we injected to add a little uncertainty to the proceedings was the announcement that Frank Thomas was demanding a trade out of Chicago. The White Sox managed to turn this problem into a plethora of relief arms, although they had to add Joe Crede as ransom. They were also the surprise winners of the Todd Walker sweepstakes, formally acknowledging that Roberto Alomar is over the hill.
Traded Bob Wickman, David Riske, Ben Broussard, Danys Baez, and Casey Blake to Chicago for Billy Koch, Frank Thomas, and Joe Crede
The Indians traded away their bullpen to get Thomas, then dealt from their outfield excess to replenish it. Turnbow, in particular, is a major sleeper coming off Tommy John surgery two years ago. Attention, Jose Lima: The market has spoken, and it's not convinced.
Signed Seung-Yeop Lee: 3 years, $9 million
With no talent worth trading for, the Tigers focused their resources on the free-agent market. I'd say they did quite well. Lee, for those of you who don't know, is the Korean slugger who just set the Asian single-season home run record with 56. If the prospect of Guerrero ending up in Detroit strikes you as unrealistic, keep in mind that Mike Ilitch is making noises about getting impatient with the rebuilding process; the Tigers are finally seeing a lot of salary come off their books, and they've already been linked to Miguel Tejada. No one thought A-Rod would sign in Texas either.
Traded Carlos Beltran and Runelvys Hernandez to New York Mets for Mike Piazza and Tom Glavine (Mets pick up all salary for Glavine and Piazza)
Let's just move on.
Traded Jacque Jones to Anaheim for Aaron Sele (and $2 million)
The Twins replaced the noodle arm of Shannon Stewart with the noodle arm of Rondell White, then used their outfield excess to trade for some starting pitching depth. Terry Ryan would do well to notice. Then again, Ryan is apparently still unconvinced the Twins even have outfield excess.
Traded Kurt Ainsworth and Melvin Mora to Kansas City for Zack Greinke and Jeremy Affeldt
The Orioles' GM was a Royals fan, and it shows. When he wasn't acquiring two of the top prospects in baseball, he found a taker for Peter Angelos' largesse by bringing Ponson back to town. While the Royals plan to keep Affeldt in the rotation if possible, in our fantasy world the Orioles planned to make him their closer.
Traded Jason Varitek to Chicago (AL) for Miguel Olivo and Jon Rauch
The Red Sox were the most proactive team at the event, going to the trouble of e-mailing John Henry days in advance to petition for additional payroll. Even though their request was granted, they were forced to release Byung-Hyun Kim and Scott Williamson, among others, and traded Varitek for financial reasons.
Traded Jeff Weaver to Atlanta for Wilson Betemit
Hamstrung by a payroll number that didn't take into account The Boss' fury after watching Curt Schilling end up in Boston, the Yankees' GM was only able to make a few minor deals. Moving Weaver without having to pick up payroll in return was impressive. Choosing to re-enact the Kenny Rogers years in New York was just downright funny. Gentlemen, Mr. Steinbrenner would like a word with you. Be sure to collect your belongings on the way.
Traded Toby Hall to Philadelphia for Chase Utley and Seung Lee
If you're wondering why this article is as long as it is, blame guys like the GM of the Devil Rays, who put more effort into improving his team in one afternoon than Chuck LaMar has in five years. Tampa Bay moved Hall for a pair of grade B prospects, then replaced Hall with Mark Johnson. The Rays traded their most valuable commodity and still ended up with the better end of the deal, a tough trick to turn. And they nabbed Juan Gonzalez for a bargain-basement price. His contract is no typo; few of our GMs wanted anything to do with JuGo, and it will be interesting to see if real-life GMs share our reticence at the winter meetings.
Traded Kevin Cash to Oakland for Graham Koonce
The Blue Jays' GM must be cut some slack, as he was nobly played by Dave Kirsch, who also organized the Pizza Feed event and was distracted with logistic issues for much of the afternoon. Even so, he was able to snag top pitching prospect Edwin Jackson for an organization that is a couple of starters away from challenging Boston and New York for AL East supremacy.
Traded Mike Gosling, John Patterson, Scott Hairston, and Steve Finley (and $4 million of Finley's salary) to Montreal for Jose Vidro
Jerry Colangelo must have opened up the purse strings, because the Diamondbacks went hog-wild. Signing Cameron allowed them to move Finley and some fine prospects to snag Jose Vidro, and the Diamondbacks got the best player in an exchange of salary dumps with the Astros. Grabbing Colon to replace Schilling puts this Diamondbacks team, at least, firmly in contention for 2004.
Our assigned GM for the Rockies was a no-show, so his hastily-assigned replacement did a good job under the circumstances of identifying his team's biggest hole--his middle infield--and overpaying a bit to fill the two spots. Tejada, like every hitter who ever lived, would be a perfect fit for Coors Field, but I'm not sure the real-life Rockies have this much money to play with. The image of Jose Mesa pitching in Colorado made this the most entertaining transaction of the day.
Traded Guillermo Mota to Florida for Brad Penny
The first transaction made at the event was a good deal for both sides, as the Dodgers traded from their astounding bullpen depth to give the Marlins a better closer than Braden Looper, while in return receiving Proven World Series Hero Brad Penny. The acquisition of Penny then allowed the Dodgers to move Perez for the big bat they desperately needed. Best of all, the Dodgers were the big winners in the KazMat sweepstakes; in our pseudo-world, at least, the team with Cesar Izturis was a little more desperate to upgrade their shortstop position than the team with Jose Reyes.
Perhaps they should have quit while they were ahead, though. Unloading Edwin Jackson for depth takes the principles of TINSTAAPP to an extreme. Joe Sheehan would approve.
Traded Ryan Klesko and $3.1 million to Los Angeles for Odalis Perez
Life may or may not end up imitating art, but our readers apparently think Maddux is a perfect fit for the Padres. If the Padres can add Maddux and Perez to a rotation that already includes Brian Lawrence (a mini-Maddux in his own right) and Jake Peavy, they could be an instant threat in the NL West.
Traded Edgardo Alfonzo to Seattle for Randy Winn and Tim Hummel
Ladies and Gentlemen, the most sought-after player at the Chicago Winter Meetings: Tim Hummel! The Giants were able to get Aurilia back under contract at a very reasonable price. But if the Giants issued Spiezio J.T. Snow's old uniform, would anyone notice that they made a change?
Traded Todd Wellemeyer and Jason DuBois to Milwaukee for Junior Spivey
The Cubs' follies were ably documented on the FOX affiliate here in Chicago, as their GM, Dane Placko, covered the event as a reporter for the network. (A tip for those of you that have your eye set on a specific team: Bringing a camera crew with you usually means you'll get what you want.)
To sum up for those of you not fortunate enough to witness the broadcast: The Cubs immediately set out to obtain a second baseman, but couldn't meet the Expos' asking price for Vidro and saw him moved to Arizona instead. Moving down their list, and pointedly refusing to settle for Mark Grudzielanek, they targeted Junior Spivey, who was available for a pittance from a Brewer team that was more than happy to shed money.
The Cubs made offers to both Rincon and Scott Sauerbeck, signing the first one to agree to terms. They were then forced to settle for Tom Goodwin after arriving late to the Kenny Lofton sweepstakes. Hey, at least they tried to make Chicago a Grudz-free zone again.
Traded Ken Griffey and Tim Hummel to Seattle for Jeff Cirillo and Gil Meche
Under orders to cut payroll, the Reds ingeniously found a way to slash the budget while simultaneously picking up a quality starter. When you're willing to acquire the sucking black hole that is Jeff Cirillo, all things are possible.
Traded Richard Hidalgo (and $500,000) to Arizona for Matt Mantei and Danny Bautista
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Roberto Alomar was forced to accept a role as Jeff Kent's backup, although if Jimy Williams is managing this team, no doubt Kent will see a lot of time at third as the conspiracy to take playing time away from Morgan Ensberg continues unabated. The Astros' GM deserves kudos for doing the seemingly impossible by moving Hidalgo and his bloated contract. But if the end result is spending more money on a Hollandsworth/Bautista platoon, and replacing Billy Wagner with the perennially-injured Matt Mantei, the cure just might be worse than the disease.
Traded Junior Spivey to Chicago (NL) for Todd Wellemeyer and Jason DuBois
...Signed Jose Guillen: 3 years, $19 million
And he was doing so well, too. I particularly like the deft touch in acquiring Carl Pavano while simultaneously pruning salary. But handing Jose Guillen the Jeffrey Hammonds Memorial Contract, poetic as it is, undoes a lot of the Brewers' fine work.
Traded Jason Kendall, Josh Fogg, and Kris Benson to Texas for Mark Teixeira and Einar Diaz
The Pirates pulled off one of the most impressive trades of the day, finding a way to get rid of Jason Kendall without picking up any salary, and snagging Mark Teixeira in the process. They then did a nice job of patching in the resultant holes in the rotation with Batista, Tomko, and John Thomson, who was one of the most underpriced free agents of the day. These moves will look even better if, unlike Dave Littlefield, our GM actually moves the most desirable ones for prospects at the trading deadline.
Signed Kevin Millwood: 4 years, $42 million
The Cardinals, hampered by the snafu over Mark Redman, were less active than most teams, but did manage to snag one of the premier free agents. Hey, if you had the Cardinals' farm system, you'd be trying to win now as well.
Traded Jung Bong to Minnesota for Lew Ford
The Braves pulled off the free-agent signing of the day, grabbing Trot Nixon--another Red Sox non-tender--for a price that had other GMs gasping at the news. (In fairness, there was some confusion about which agent was representing Nixon, with the result that some GMs were negotiating with the wrong person. Kind of like Luis Castillo in real life.) The additional signing of Shannon Stewart allowed the Braves to move Chipper Jones back to third and still make the newly-freed Lew Ford the fourth outfielder. Jeff Weaver may be damaged goods, but if anyone can fix him, it's Leo Mazzone.
Traded Brad Penny to Los Angeles for Guillermo Mota
Going into the event as one of the few teams with starting pitching to deal, the Marlins used their excess to bolster their bullpen with Mota, who was immediately handed the closer's job, then used Carl Pavano to move Jeff Conine's salary and snag Geoff Jenkins. Along with Lofton and Stairs, the Marlins' lineup doesn't lean nearly as much to the right side anymore. In our pseudo-world, the Marlins were willing to inch up on their offer to Rodriguez, and Scott Boras was willing to come off his demand for a five-year deal. If only we could all get along so well in the real world.
Traded Jose Vidro to Arizona for Mike Gosling, John Patterson, Scott Hairston, and Steve Finley (and $4 million of Finley's salary)
Despite having onerous limitations placed on them by the Commissioner's office, which even denied them permission to sign Jared Fernandez to a two-year deal (a decision simulated by a coin flip, a perfectly realistic way of simulating any of Bud Selig's decrees), the Expos did as well as could be expected. For Vidro, they got his possible eventual replacement in Scott Hairston, a couple of Grade B pitching prospects, and a cheap veteran center fielder that could still be outplaying Endy Chavez five years from now.
Traded Mike Piazza and Tom Glavine to Kansas City for Carlos Beltran and Runelvys Hernandez (Mets pay salaries for Piazza and Glavine)
Our attempt at realism broke down a little when the Mets offered to pick up all the remaining dollars on Piazza's and Glavine's contracts. The Mets then signed Keith Foulke and still had enough money to overwhelm Rafael Palmeiro, prompting another jealous GM to ask, "just how much money do you have to spend?" A lot, naturally. You want payroll parity, go watch football.
In a fit of pique, the Mets had second thoughts about Palmeiro's dollars and tried to trade him to Cleveland for Ben Broussard, only to be informed that per the CBA, newly-signed free agents can't be traded before May 15th. Will Carroll, unlike the man he was imitating, has teeth.
Traded Travis Chapman to Tampa Bay for John Halama
The real-life Ed Wade just signed Tim Worrell to set up for Billy Wagner, but our stand-in did Wade one better, adding two former closers to his bullpen. You have to admit, Benitez-Cormier-Williamson-Wagner is a foursome worthy of a nickname. After engaging the Brewers in a challenge trade of starting pitchers, the Phillies' GM then named throw-in Keith Ginter his starting third baseman, making David Bell and new acquisition Vinny Castilla highly-paid bench warmers. I'd pay cash money to see a GM try that in real life.
No good reality show would be complete without a winner. Using a system even more poorly designed than the BCS--the combined judgment of Will, Nate, and I--the two GMs that were deemed to have done the best and most creative job of improving their franchises have been awarded free copies of BP 2004.
Congratulations to Dave Tonisson, GM of the Braves, and Blake Kirkman, GM of the Pirates, for their excellent work. For the rest of you, better luck next year.