Thursday, December 08, 2005

Clemens done?

It's been a very busy day. Since my last post, the followins transactions occurred:
  • The Astros declined to offer arbitration to Roger Clemens. This means that Clemens cannot re-sign with Houston until May 1. He is free to pursue other clubs. My personal feeling is that Clemens will retire, but we just don't know for sure. Peter Gammons offered 3 possibilities for Roger's future: 1) he retires, 2) another team overwhelms him with an offer to come back for another year (a bit unlikely, but not impossible, as the Rangers and Yankees would just loooove to get him) and 3) Clemens pitches in the World Baseball Classic (as he is planning to) and comes back to the Astros on May 1. He takes a shorter season, which would be much easier on his aging arm. We'll have to wait and see, as Clemens has intimated he won't make a final decision until at least January.
  • The Padres re-signed closer Trevor Hoffman. It looked last year like Hoffman and the Padres were done, as both sides became publicly frustrated when the talks to extend his contract fell apart. But I guess they were able to get past all that, because Hoffman turned down a possible deal with Cleveland to go back to the Padres (so the Indians re-signed Bob Wickman to return as their closer). It's nice to see Hoffman with San Diego (he's never been with any other team), probably for the rest of his career (it's a 2-year deal, and Hoffman is 38). But I'm afraid I must point out that signing 38-year-old closers to multi-year contracts doesn't usually end happily.
  • The trade sending Lyle Overbay to Toronto went through, with Milwaukee getting pitcher Dave Bush and some minor leaguers. I'm surprised the Brewers didn't ask for an infielder in return; I wonder what made the Jays decide to keep Hillenbrand.
  • The biggest trade of the day sends Rangers 2B Alfonso Soriano to the Washington Nationals for Brad Wilkerson, Terrmel Sledge, and a PTBNL. I really don't know what the Nationals see in Soriano to give up Wilkerson. One-for-one, it's hard to give Soriano much of an edge. Soriano will be 30 on Opening Day; Wilkerson will be 28. Soriano is a career 320/500/280 hitter; Wilkerson 365/452/256. Soriano is a better slugger, but he's spent his career in the AL (and the past two years in homer-happy Texas), whereas Wilkerson has spent his career in the NL (and last year in the Death Valley of Homers known as RFK Stadium). And Wilkerson's huge edge in OBP makes him the more valuable player. And his edge in defense makes him the more valuable player by far. Wilkerson is a fine outfielder; Soriano is a terrible 2B whom the Nationals will probably turn into a mediocre left fieder. And the fact that Wilkerson gets paid half as much as Soriano. This, friends, is why Nationals GM Jim Bowden is a complete doofus. He goes on Soriano's huge reputation (he's basically a base-stealing Dave Kingman with a higher batting average) and gives up far too much to get him. The Rangers, on the other hand, are rid of their dreadful 2B and resident attitude problem, and have a versatile, cheap, and valuable 28-year-old outfielder in Wilkerson and some spare parts to boot. Bowden, you are a doofus!
  • Also, the Cubs signed backup outfielder John Mabry, and the Braves traded P Dan Kolb back to the Brewers (um, why?). There's more action still to come, so don't go away . . . well, far away.

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