Today’s “News and Notes” is going to be a delightful hodgepodge of baseball stuff all thrown together. Sort of like a long reliever in some mop-up duty, I have a large array of items to get through and clean house with. Ok, that’s a bit of a stretch, but whatever. Hopefully it sticks to the wall and we can call it a big win. Now on to the news and/or notes…
• Two of baseball’s biggest contenders were able to avoid arbitration with one their best players and signed each of them to deals this past week. First Boston signed their first baseman Kevin Youkilis to a four-year, $41 million deal, then Philadelphia followed suit and inked up their ace Cole Hamels to a three-year, $20.5 million contract. Both of these were fantastic signings by these clubs as not only did they prevent having to deal with arbitration, but now they each have one of their stars locked up for the next few seasons. Not only that, but both teams received “hometown discounts” with their players as each made it clear they wanted to stay with their organizations. While this helps out the Red Sox (who also received a great deal locking 2008 MVP Dustin Pedroia up long term earlier this winter) and Phillies tremendously, it hurts free agents still looking for teams as well as other players who are coming up on arbitration situations. Clubs now have an opportunity to say to their players, “if a reigning MVP (Pedroia), a man many believe should have won the MVP (Youkilis) and a playoff hero and rising star (Hamels) all took discounts, why can’t you?” I believe this will play a large part in many team’s negotiating tactics very, very soon.
• It appears as if Frank Wren has finally woken up in Atlanta after landing Derek Lowe this week to head up his staff in 2009. I discussed this about a week ago in a “GM for a Day” article stating how the Braves could not afford to let Lowe get away from them like AJ Burnett and John Smoltz did. In fact, it now looks as if the Braves are taking a little more of my advice and looking to bring both Tom Glavine and Andruw Jones back to Atlanta. I’m not sure if Wren returned from an extended vacation or started reading this site, but either way, it’s nice to have you back.
BASEBALL BLOGGER NEWS
• Patrick Sullivan wrote a fantastic article for Baseball Analysts depicting how unjust (and uneducated) some baseball writers are in their selection process for the Hall of Fame. He breaks it down and shows how individual awards (MVP, Cy Young) are weighed too heavily by many writers and the player’s statistics in his era should mean more. Check it out.
• My old Minnesota Twins discussion buddy Nick Nelson has posted his Minnesota Twins top 10 prospect list over at his site Nick & Nick Twins Blog. My Twins Top 5 prospects list should be up very soon and I look forward to getting Nick’s thoughts on this as well.
• I finally picked up my edition of “The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2009” the other day at Barnes and Noble. I had been looking for it for a while now in bookstores as I was too lazy to order it online (even though I’m on a computer a lot). I’ve been trying to find some uninterrupted time to dig into it and I think I finally have some today. So far it has been a great read and I highly recommend it. I’ve spoken before about how much I enjoy The Hardball Times site and thus far the book hasn’t disappointed. I’ll give you more updates as I go.
DIAMOND CUTTER NEWS & NOTES
I just wanted to take a look ahead at what is coming up here on “The Diamond Cutter” over the next week or two as I have been receiving some emails as of late wondering.
• The Top 25 Prospects list will continue to take shape as I gradually unveil them one at a time. We will also see the return of the Top 5 Prospects by organization return in the next day or so after a brief hiatus. I wanted to try to space these out a bit so they don’t get too mundane and repetitive. I want to keep these fresh!
• I am currently in the process of working on a couple of larger articles that are taking quite a bit of time. One is a detailed biography of a future Hall of Famer (I assume they will be in the Hall based on their historic statistics, but of course I could be wrong based on if the Baseball Writers Association has a predetermined bias against him already) who I will name at a later date and the other article is a continuation of the “Deconstructing Series” (click here for the first one about Andruw Jones’ collapse) where I will be discussing the rise and fall of Dwight Gooden. Stay tuned for both of those…
• The next couple of weeks will also be another interview (click here for my last one with Red Sox prospect Jeff Natale) that I am in the process of setting up with Toronto Blue Jay catching prospect, JP Arencibia. He has already graciously agreed to speak with me and now it’s just a matter of finding a time for us to meet.
• As spring training draws closer and closer, I will continue the “GM for a Day” series as well as start reviewing each division which will ultimately lead to one of my favorite parts, the predictions for the 2009 season. This is always a fun time as I compile everything that has happened over the winter and smash it into each team to see if we can make some sense out of the upcoming season. I also ask for a large amount of participation from you the reader during this time as I feel it makes it a whole lot more interesting.
Stay tuned for all this and don’t hesitate letting me know if there are more things you want to see more (or less) of.