"Can the Yankees keep up with the Royals' free-spending ways?" and other strange tales from this year's winter meetings.
The Houston-Chicago trade seems to have fallen through, though you get different answers as to why. Jason Hirsh was the key to the deal, and several Houston sources say that he's as close to untouchable as any Houston prospect. Whether he was pulled or Buchholz failed a physical or if this really wasn't as close as several sources indicate, it does show how aggressive Astros General Manager Tim Purpura is, and that Chicago's Kenny Williams isn't done dealing.
The first good rumor of the day is one that was left over from Tuesday: Jason Schmidt is reported to have an offer in hand from both the Cubs and, more surprisingly, the Cardinals. The Cards would bump against their budget by signing Schmidt, though according to a source both have now made the leap to four-year deals. With both Pettitte and Schmidt in their stable, the Hendricks brothers are sure to be popular in the lobby today.
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Mike Piazza is a name of interest now--both the Rangers and A's have him ticketed for their backup catcher role with a heaping helping of DH duty on the side. Piazza's contract demands have surprised some teams--he's not willing to go incentive-heavy--but he might be signed by the time we leave Orlando.
Will dines on steak, ponders Ted Lilly's new asking price, and waits patiently for the fireworks to begin.
Where there's smoke in Orlando, or any winter meetings, there's usually just more smoke. J.D. Drew might or might not have been a Red Sock by Monday if you listened to most, though Scott Boras and his entourage picked up their luggage late Sunday night like everyone else. Ted Lilly's asking price was higher -- up to $11 million per year instead of ten -- but no one could really say why.
Updated at 10 p.m. ET with rumors about Craig Wilson and Miguel Tejada.
There was quite a scare for a minute as a solid source called to tell me that Troy Tulowitski, the Rockies' uberprospect shortstop, had been pulled in the first inning. A team source assured me that "it's not an injury." No, he's not hurt, but it was a hit-by-pitch that got him pulled. Tulowitski is likely to be near the top of many prospect lists this off-season and it would take a monster deal to move him. At least it got my heart racing for a bit.
Will launches into this year's deadline reports with the latest on what deals may be in the works. Updated Friday, 9 p.m. ET.
Friday, July 28, 9 p.m. ET: The Orange County Register is reporting that the Angels turned down a deal of Scot Shields, Ervin Santana and Howie Kendrick for Miguel Tejada. Well, of course they did. I was able to independently confirm this, though there's some indication that I may have the same source as the Register. The O's are doing their due diligence, seeing if the Astros offer is the best available. All indications are that they are ready and willing to move Tejada.
Will checks in from the Winter Meetings in Dallas with the most recent buzz.
The Cubs made their move bringing in Juan Pierre for three middling arms. Ricky Nolasco is the best of the bunch, even if you believe--like most today--that he'll end up in the pen. Sergio Mitre is a known quantity and, in that ballpark, could look like a good starter. As it stands now, he's the Marlins #2. The Cubs are also seeming close to a Milton Bradley deal. The troubled but talented Dodger OF is likely to come relatively cheap given the baggage he carries with him, but Dusty Baker and the Cubs front office don't seem scared.
In a winter that kicked off early with four major trades, the rumor mill is as active as ever.
There's one word that seems to keep popping up in the recent rumors, and that word is "reset." As in, "reset the market." The weak free-agent crop led first to a bunch of trades for premier players and a redistribution of two things that always have a market: big contracts and hot prospects. There figures to be more action before the Meetings and it could be that the Meetings themselves will be more active than they have been over the past couple years.