- The White Sox traded Nick Swisher and prospect Kaneoka Texeira to the Yankees for Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez. The Yankees get a Plan B first baseman in Swisher, and if they sign Teixeira, they give someone who gives them more flexibility in the outfield. Swisher should bounce back from a poor season in Chicago and hit like a league-average first baseman.
The question here is what this does for the White Sox, who are presumably trying to win in 2009. Unless they just don't like Swisher's aftershave, it's hard to see what they gain here. Betemit can play third base, but that's not saying much. He's not the kind of guy you target to fill a hole. I think they just gave up on Swisher too soon.
This helps the Yankees, since they now have a legitimate backup plan if they can't sign Mark Teixiera. They need Teixeira, of course, and if they get him, Swisher becomes a useful outfielder. It may also enable them to bench or trade whomever becomes the odd man out.
- The Cubs sent relief prospect Jose Ceda to Florida for Marlins "closer" Kevin Gregg.
It's hard to say why they want Gregg, except that he's a member of the Super Special Secret Society of Established Closers. There's a premium to pay to get an established closer, and when you're getting a poor established closer, you're just better off saving your money. Gregg has a career ERA of 4.00, turns 30 in June, and has a good -- but not exceptional -- strikeout rate. The Cubs would have been better off keeping Ceda (who's probably going to be better than Gregg ever was) and signing a good relief pitcher who is not a member of the SSSEC (and is therefore cheaper). As it is, I've heard that they plan to use Carlos Marmol as closer, which makes me wonder what you need Gregg for except for his SSSEC card.
- Trevor Hoffman is on his way out of San Diego, after a contentious negotiation process with Padre executives. I can't speak to the process -- if Hoffman is right, he was treated a bit shabbily -- but he shouldn't be upset by the offer -- $4 million. The Padres lost 99 games last year, so we shouldn't be surprised if they ask their aging, no-longer-a-star closer to take a pay cut. Talk of another fire sale (a la 1993) is laughably premature.
- The Dodgers' first offer to Manny Ramirez -- about 2 years, $45 MM -- has been laughed off by Scott Boras. The Dodgers may guarantee a third year to Ramirez, but they need to be careful to negotiate against other teams, not against Scott Boras' public statements.
- Speaking of which, can somebody tell me why everyone gets their panties in a bunch when Scott Boras makes his initial free agent demands? Every year it seems like there are fifteen or twenty articles about "whoa, Scott Boras is crazy" or "Scott Boras is stupid" whenever he makes an outlandish claim of someone's value.
People, Scott Boras is not a baseball analyst. He is not making statements to further our understanding of life, truth, and sports. He is negotiating. The first step in any negotiation is to name a ridiculously high price on the off chance that somebody agrees to it. It sounds stupid, and it rarely works -- but when it does (Barry Zito), it makes it all worth it. You'd think we'd understand this by now and just take his public statements about Jason Varitek and suchlike with a well-deserved grain of salt. If GMs did the same thing, Boras would be out of business. But as much as they claim to hate him, they still listen to him and get fooled by him. Which is probably why they hate him.