THE NEWBERG REPORT — DECEMBER 2, 2007
“The price of doing business in the Bronx means having the highest-paid player, pitcher, reliever and catcher and a couple of very talented young players — a price only two or three other teams can even think about paying, even before the new Yankee Stadium opens. If you’re in Toronto or Tampa, think about that . . . and then apply for a green card in the National League Central.”
— Peter Gammons, in a December 1st column for ESPN.com
This winter, it’s going to be Johan Santana who will end up with the Yankees or Red Sox, just like last winter it was Daisuke Matsuzaka. Next winter it will be C.C. Sabathia and Adam Dunn, it could be Jake Peavy (if not one year earlier or one year later, as the Padres have an option for 2009), and there’s one other guy, as Gammons points out:
“Don’t even think about signing Mark Teixeira, Braves fans.”
It’s interesting — given the fact that Atlanta didn’t get to October in 2007, new Braves general manager Frank Wren may find himself under pressure this July to make an impact trade to get to the playoffs with Teixeira around, especially if Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Elvis Andrus or Matt Harrison takes a big leap forward in the first half for the Rangers. That last-hurrah package that John Schuerholz gave Texas stands a chance to earn a chapter in Braves history if Teixeira’s 18 months there don’t coincide with a post-season appearance.
And if Atlanta struggles at all over the first three-and-a-half months, it may turn out that Wren’s big July trade involves Teixeira himself.
But here’s the problem for Wren: Assuming there are only two teams that can really go into 2008 thinking they are favorites to employ Teixeira going into 2009 — the Yankees and Orioles — will the Braves be able to hold one of those two teams up for a package that rivals Saltalamacchia-Andrus-Harrison-Feliz-Jones? Atlanta’s leverage is that it can bank on two draft picks if it doesn’t move Teixeira, but if Baltimore ends up signing him, all the Braves would get would likely be a supplemental first-rounder plus a second — they’d only get a first if the Orioles end up with a record among the top half of teams in 2008.
And let’s be honest: Once New York moves Philip Hughes and Melky Cabrera, and maybe caves on Alan Horne or Austin Jackson, to get Santana, can the Yankees really match the package Atlanta gave Texas? They obviously won’t move Robinson Cano or Joba Chamberlain, and once you start getting to Ian Kennedy and Jose Tabata and Dellin Betances, you’re essentially asking New York to empty its farm system, which — unless Hank Steinbrenner really is his dad — that franchise is not going to do, having learned something in 2007. Especially since they’ll figure on having no worse than a 50-50 shot at landing Teixeira four months later as a free agent anyway.
Same with Baltimore. Are the Orioles going to part with a couple players from among Brandon Snyder, Billy Rowell, Garrett Olson, Radhames Liz, and Nolan Reimold? Can they afford to do that and expect to surround Teixeira with any more talent than Texas did, and make any noise long-term in that division? Especially since Erik Bedard will be in New York or Boston before long.
If the Orioles think they can make Teixeira their next franchise player, why would they strip their farm system a few months before he’ll be a free agent, particularly since they probably won’t have a pennant race to gun after in 2008, like Atlanta did in 2007? (Of course, they could change the makeup of their system entirely if they move Bedard this winter, and to a lesser extent Miguel Tejada.)
I expect Atlanta to be in the mix in July, and to make a large trade to try and win with Teixeira.
And then I hope (but doubt) that he’ll sign with Baltimore.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoy it when the Yankees or Red Sox don’t win. It’s unquestionably the greatest non-Rangers-related thrill the Great Game gives me.
This quote, gathered this weekend from a Yankees official by George King of the New York Post, sort of sums it up: “The only way to keep (Santana) from the Red Sox is to get him. You can’t hope some other team does it for you.”
The league has converged on Nashville at the Gaylord Opryland for the Winter Meetings, which kick off officially on Monday and last through Thursday morning’s Rule 5 Draft. If I were Billy Beane I’d probably dangle Dan Haren, too, just to give me something to do until New York and Boston finish bloodying each other up to win the Twins’ momentary affection and allow the rest of the baseball world to resume spinning.
The Boston Herald, somehow finding time to devote a little coverage to the “minor leagues,” i.e., stories that don’t involve the Red Sox or Yankees, reports that talks are hot between Pittsburgh and Cleveland regarding outfielder Jason Bay, with Indians backup catcher Kelly Shoppach involved in the package being discussed.
(Man, has Bay been badly traded in his career:
March 24, 2002: Traded by Montreal with righthander Jimmy Serrano to the Mets for utility man Lou Collier.
July 31, 2002: Traded by the Mets with lefthander Bobby Jones and minor league righthander Josh Reynolds to San Diego for righthanders Steve Reed and Jason Middlebrook.
August 26, 2003: Traded by San Diego with lefthander Oliver Perez and a player to be named later (lefthander Corey Stewart) to Pittsburgh for outfielder Brian Giles.)
Cleveland (which once traded Giles badly) could put righthander Adam Miller and outfielder Trevor Crowe in the deal and Texas, even if it can out-Shoppach the Indians with Gerald Laird, can’t match the pitcher or the outfielder, but here’s the thing: Would the Indians really move Miller when Sabathia may be a year away from a New York-Boston tug of war? Love Bay, but this isn’t Santana, or Bedard, or Miguel Cabrera.
Righthander Akinori Otsuka has been throwing without pain or setback for a month.
Boston offered Eric Gagné arbitration, but since he’s a Type B it won’t cost a draft pick to sign him. The Sox will get a supplemental first if Gagné signs elsewhere, but not a forfeited pick.
Same with San Diego and Mike Cameron, and Atlanta and Ron Mahay.
Cleveland didn’t offer arbitration to Type B Kenny Lofton.
Speculation persists that Seattle will decline to offer pre-free agency arbitration by the December 12 deadline to first baseman Ben Broussard, a frequent mention as a candidate to join the Rangers. Same with the Dodgers and center fielder Jason Repko, who missed 2007 with a torn hamstring and battled an ankle injury at Fall Instructs.
Andrus, Harrison, and second baseman German Duran were each voted to the Arizona Fall League Top Prospects squad by league managers, coaches, and administrators. Two players were selected at each position — including starting pitcher, where Harrison joined Twins prospect Nick Blackburn as the two honorees.
Man, the Mets sending outfielder Lastings Milledge to Washington for catcher Brian Schneider and outfielder Ryan Church is a weird trade.
The Pirates named Lou Frazier first base coach.
Cleveland signed righthander Rick Bauer to a minor league contract and Detroit did the same with righthander Francisco Cruceta — and also designated 2007’s Bob Hamelin/Joe Charboneau Award winner Chris Shelton for assignment.
October 24, 2005 Newberg Report, tagged onto the end of a reference to the great “Inside the Actor’s Studio”: “If some network would create a Lipton-esque show that focused solely on songwriters, we’d never miss an episode.”
Found it: “Talks with Dave Fanning” on Rave HD is outstanding. Great episode today with Chris Cornell.
Tim Hulett will return to manage Spokane.
According to local reports, Tom Hicks has retained a headhunting firm to lead a national search for Jeff Cogen’s replacement as Rangers club president, a process that could delay the hiring until the first of the year.
Stay tuned for news flashes the next four days, as non-Yankee and non-Red Sox developments warrant.