Baseball Winter Meetings Reaction: Day 3

CHRIS PUMMER (9:15 AM): So we’ve gotten the requisite blockbuster three-way trade out of the way, but the rest of the action still seems to be slow-moving.

CHRIS PUMMER (9:25 AM): Going back to that blockbuster, Curtis Granderson’s addition to the Yankee outfield has opened up more heated speculation as to the futures of Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui.

I don’t think it was ever very likely that Matsui was going to return. Damon might yet, but the Yankees will probably give him the same take-it-or-leave-it negotiation stance they’ve given Andy Pettitte last year and again this winter. I doubt the Yankees go longer than one year on a deal. Some team out there will probably offer at least two.

I doubt Damon likes playing for the Yankees enough to give up the extra money and security.

CHRIS PUMMER (1:40 PM): The Yankees do grab Pettitte for a one-year deal, just like last year. The difference is last year the Yankees would only guarantee about $5 million. This year it looks like close to $12, which is a pretty nice reward after finishing with a 4.16 ERA in just under 200 innings.

I might be mistaken, but I think there’s a perception that Pettitte isn’t terribly durable. It probably comes from when he missed time in 2002 and 2004. A lot of people decided that since he was in his 30s, it was time to write him off.

But over 15 years, Pettitte has averaged 215 innings. That’s pretty good, and probably worth a two-year deal if Pettitte were willing to take one somewhere else.

As of today, I think Pettitte has a better Hall of Fame case than Jack Morris.

CHRIS PUMMER (1:54 PM): One of my favorite players to root for is Joel Piniero. I thought he was great when he came up with the Mariners. I wanted him to succeed when the Red Sox tried him out as a closer. And I was pleased when he ended up with the Cardinals and got the chance to work with pitching coach Dave Duncan, who has turned around many stalled careers.

That time with Duncan paid off for Piniero in the form of a great season last year and the likelihood of big contract this winter.

I’m curious to see who is going to gamble on Piniero’s conversion to a low-K, walk-avoiding groundball machine. Because as much as I like him, I don’t know if I could pull the trigger if I were a GM.

CHRIS PUMMER (2:53 PM): If the proposed Kevin Millwood-for-Chris Ray swap goes through, I think I like the deal better for the Orioles.

The Rangers are allegedly deep in starting pitching. While I suppose it’s true they’re deep in candidates to start, I don’t know that there is much certainty as far as who among that group will pitch well and do it for more than half a season. Though if they can save a few bucks to fill other needs, maybe it’s worth it.

Even if the worse version of Millwood shows up in Baltimore than the one that finished with a fine ERA last year, this is good for the Orioles. They get rid of a guy they weren’t interested in keeping around, and in return get a reasonably priced one-year fill for a rotation that needs a guy capable of tossing 175 innings or more.

CHRIS NEEDHAM (3:10 PM): What do we make of Randy Wolf to the Brewers for 3/$29MM?  I’ll just note that that’s oddly similar to the Jeff Suppan contract.  Wolf can be a decent pitcher, but that third year?  Maybe even the second?  I’m not seeing it.

We saw this (and probably will continue to) where pitchers or players who took short deals last year are getting longer and bigger deals this off-season.  I understand the uncertainty of the economy then (and now, really), but wouldn’t that have been a better buy low time last season?  Think the Dodgers are kick themselves that they didn’t push for more years with him at a bargain price last year?  Well, maybe Mrs. McCourt isn’t, but…

CHRIS NEEDHAM (8:28 PM): Matt Lindstrom to the Astros!  Now THERE’S the blockbuster we’ve been waiting for.  Once LaTroy Hawkins went to the Brewers, you just knew that Ed Wade would have to get his reliever fix.  Actually, this one looks like it’s decent enough.  The Astros have no depth in their farm system, so the two guys they gave up to the Marlins (Bobby Bono and Luis Bryan) can’t be much at all, if they’re not appearing anywhere on their top prospects lists.

Lindstrom had a down year last year, but he had a solid two-year track record before that.   The catch is that that prior success was built on an amazing ability to keep the ball in the ballpark, something that was no doubt augmented by the giant alleys in whatever the hell they’re calling where the Marlins play this week.   Will that keep up as he moves to Houston’s park?  He sure better hope that he keeps righties from popping flyballs down the left-field line.

CHRIS PUMMER (9:21 PM): I’d like to say I think Ed Wade gets a bum rap, but that’s not true. He gets what he deserves.

That said, I agree with Needham. Lindstrom is a nice pickup.

CHRIS PUMMER (9:25 PM): The Mariners add Corey Patterson. I remember when Patterson was going to be the next Ken Griffey Jr. Looks like Seattle has him and the O.G. (Original Griffey).

CHRIS PUMMER (9:26 PM): While I’m riffing on the Mariners, former third baseman Adrian Beltre might be an early favorite to lose in free agent musical chairs.

He was rumored to be going to the Phillies, but they signed Placido Polanco for less money. Meanwhile the Mariners had already lined up a replacement in Chone Figgins before Beltre, perhaps foolishly, turned down salary arbitration. The Angels will replace Figgins internally.

Now the Orioles are saying Beltre is too rich for their blood. The Giants are saying the same. The Padres might trade their third baseman for a bag of balls, but not to make room for Beltre. The White Sox moved their top young position player off third, but to make room for Mark Teahen.

It looks like the Red Sox might be interested if they move Mark Lowell. But what other teams are in the market for Beltre?

CHRIS PUMMER (9:32 PM): It seems like every five minutes we get a new Milton Bradley rumor, but the only player more likely to be in a new uniform by spring training is being tossed in with the same old suspects from last season.

I’m talking about Roy Halladay. Sure, rich teams like the Yankees and Red Sox are getting mentioned in connection with him. And contenders with deep farm systems like the Phillies an Angels are, too.

Could someone else jump in and stir the pot here?

HOWARD MEGDAL (10:42 PM): Lots to get to here!

Regarding Pettitte, I not only think he has a better HOF case than Morris, I think he’ll get there. The Yankees on one-year deals is perfect for him- let him pile up wins, make a lot of money, and if he breaks down, the Yankees can afford to swallow the contract.

As far as Piniero goes, I like him, too-but it looks like he’s going to get four years from somebody. He’s a year removed from 7-7, 5.05 ERA, and in his good year, posted a 4.4 K-rate per nine innings, as you mentioned.

If I were betting on one of two props: Joel Piniero is a frontline pitcher in 2013 or Joel Pineiro is out of baseball in 2013, I’d bet the latter.

Millwood scares me long-term, but I see little reason to think he won’t be serviceable in 2010, and the Orioles certainly need that. I agree with you on Beltre as well- though if Boston decides they want him, he could still be the highest-paid 3B this winter. Wouldn’t have taken that risk, myself.

The reporting on Bengie Molina and the Mets has been scattered, even by Winter Meetings standards. As of now, the Mets have either not made an offer, made an offer of one year or made an offer of two years, while Molina is holding out for a one, two or three year offer.

CHRIS PUMMER (10:57 PM): As an early defender of Royals GM Dayton Moore, it has pained me to have to rip him so often the last couple years as he’s shown more and more evidence of being clueless.

Moore declined an option on Miguel Olivo at around $3.3 million, but now rumored to be offering Jason Kendall a two-year deal?

I might even buy into why he might think Kendall is better, but there’s probably not that much of a difference between the two to shirk the shorter committment for the longer one.

This is probably all bogus anyway, and I’m getting worked up over nothing. I’ll just wait for Moore to actually do something stupid. Because I know it’s coming.

CHRIS PUMMER (11:06 PM): Another way in which the Kevin Millwood deal doesn’t make sense for Texas is that they turned around and signed Rich Harden.

Maybe if they had dumped Millwood straight accross, you could argue Harden has more upside. But they didn’t. They kicked in $3 million to the Orioles.

So with the $7.5 million guaranteed to Harden, and the parting gift that went with Millwood, they’re saving only $1.5 million.

And I’m not convinced Harden really has that much more upside. He’s going to a tougher environment that he’s ever pitched in, and he’s never had a season as good as what Millwood just had. Or at least a season that good in which he’s thrown more than 150 innings, which the Rangers are really counting on.

Ed Wade strikes again!!! Astros sign Brandon Lyon. Probaby for 10 years and a bazillion dollars.

Needham needs to get out of bed for this. He delivers the best Ed Wade punchlines.

HOWARD MEGDAL (11:36 PM): Look, I agree with Chris on Needham and Ed Wade. But I couldn’t disagree more on Harden/Millwood.

Harden’s K-rate was about TWICE that of Millwood’s last year. Harden will be 28, Millwood 35. Harden has a TON more upside than Millwood, in my opinion.

HOWARD MEGDAL (11:40 PM): Ken Rosenthal is saying 3/15 for Brandon Lyon. Wow.

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