(Long Island, N.Y.) They call it the first step in rearranging and hopefully improving your roster. Every December, representatives from all 30 Major League Baseball teams and free agents get together and besides wishing each other happy holidays, they also are trying to lay the groundwork for potential trades and signings.
Peyton Manning isn’t the only one that is hot in Indianapolis right now. The Hot Stove really begins to heat up and general managers league-wide are working their charm and charisma to add valuable pieces the same time they are trying to save money – except for the Yankees. The World Series champions added centerfielder Curtis Granderson in a three-team, seven-player blockbuster that may be a sign of things to come.
Sure, the Bronx Bombers gave up two affordable young arms in Ian Kennedy and Phil Coke (plus outfielder Austin Jackson), but they picked up a speedy outfielder with some pop. Last season in Detroit, Granderson hit .249 with 30 home runs, 71 RBI and 20 stolen bases. Arizona was the third team involved.
Granderson’s contract has three years and $16.25 million left on it, a mere bag of shells for an organization like the Yanks. With this move, they will in all likelihood let both Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui walk.
Earlier that day, the Seattle Mariners signed Chone Figgins to a four-year, $36-million dollar contract. Sure, he has an impressive .395 on-base percentage but will be moved to a power position (third base) and drove in a mere 54 runs last year.
That signing was a bit of a surprise and – for the budgets of the teams that need to be careful – hopefully not one to set the market. The two main names out there on the free agent market (John Lackey and Matt Holiday) have their suitors but nothing concrete has been established.
On the trade front, Toronto ace righthander Roy Halladay is out there for the taking and it is rumored that the Blue Jays will even deal him within the division if the right trade comes up. That means to the Yankees or Red Sox, for all intents and purposes.
One team that is definitely going to be watching their checkbooks is the Mets, who are content on settling for second-tier players to fill their many holes. They need a leftfielder, catcher, first baseman, starter and set-up man. They are also looking to upgrade at second base and have been peddling Luis Castillo heavily.
If they bring back Carlos Delgado, even crossing all their fingers and lighting candles at church may not be enough to keep him on the field. The oft-injured slugger would probably still lead the team in home runs even if he played half the season. In 2009, right fielder Jeff Francouer finished on top with a paltry 12 long balls. That is an area that they need to address in more ways than one.
Mets general manager Omar Minaya has stated that he will not sacrifice what is left of the farm system for a quick fix. Good thinking, because there are too many holes to fill in Flushing right now for that, anyway.
It was right around this time last year that Minaya’s acquisitions of Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz improved a bullpen in dire need of a major upgrade. Perhaps he can do something similar this time around at the Winter Meetings.