Well Rant fans the Winter Meetings are about half way done and its time to recap the weekend’s activity. Of course the big news for fans by the Bay is that Miguel Tejada signed a monster deal with Baltimore, the richest and longest contract for anyone this off-season at 6 years and 72M over the life of the deal. Though the move was not unexpected it still hurts a little since Tejada was my favorite player since came up as a rookie in ’97.
The A’s also missed out on two more free agents. Over the weekend Keith Foulke decided to join the escalating arms race in the AL East by signing with Boston. The A’s actually put up a good fight for him, but in the end the madness and monopoly money in the East won out. As usual. The other FA lost to the East was former Seattle CF Mike Cameron. The A’s were after Cameron, apparently because they like having disgruntled outfielders and wanted to make sure they had at least five guys competing for three spots. After all, it did wonders for T-Long’s demeanor and production. My guess id that, had the A’s acquired Cameron they would have tried to move expensive and oft-injured Jermaine Dye. That said, Cameron would have been a solid pick up, good power, excellent D and a jab at the M’s.
Like all A’s fans I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Ever since Giambi left and Oakland went into the season with Mini-G and Frank Menechino at the top of the order I have doubted Billy Beane every year, and every year he’s proved me wrong. Once again, I’m waiting patiently for Billy to do something. Right now the A’s need a closer (Ricardo Rincon is NOT the answer), a lead-off batter (unless Byrnes gets consistent real fast), and a catcher. Looking at Melhuse’s numbers from last year, they're great. If Billy thinks he can do it for a whole year, I’m on board too.
Around the League
The AL East is quickly replacing the AL West as the dominant division in baseball. The West has put two teams in the playoffs every year this century. Look for that to end soon, like this year. The East is loading up, and its not just the Yanks and Sux. While the Bambino induced moves of those two franchises have gotten tons of ink, the other teams in that division are getting better too.
The O’s got Tejada, and are going hard for Vlad Guerrero and Pudge Rodriguez. Even if they get all three the O’s don’t have the pitching to make much noise in the East. While this is not exactly A-Rod for a quarter-bil the O’s may end up with what they had a few years ago, and what Texas has had the past few years, a bunch of thumpers, no pitching, and a fourth place finish. I know I said I’d stop prognosticating but here’s another one anyway: The Oriels will not make the playoffs for the life for Tejada’s contract. The Yanks and Sux will battle for the division and the Wild Card every year for the foreseeable future.
Don’t look now, but the Jays have put together a mean staff, adding Lilly, Hentgen, and Batista. They also got a good closer/ set-up guy in Kerry Ligtenberg. The Jays’ lineup ain’t half bad either, they won’t compete with the big two in that division, but they’re trying.
They are trying, having added Jose Cruz Jr. Look for them to compete, in like fifteen years, if Furious George dies and the Sox win the World Series and decide to tear it down.
-The Dodgers traded for Juan Encarnacion. Hooray! Dan Evans did something!
-Look for the Mets to trade for Billy Koch. Koch didn’t do well in Chicago but had his best year in Oakland with new Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson.
-Joe Horn is a mark. TO already cornered the market on off-color touchdown celebrations. The cell-phone is just an extension of the Sharpie celebration. That said, Chad Johnson’s sign was pretty fresh.
-Prepare yourselves now A’s fans. Eric Chavez is a free agent next year and the Yanks are desperate for help at the hot corner.