- Cubs trade Mark DeRosa to the Indians for three minor leaguers:
It was only a few weeks ago, in the midst of the Jake Peavy to the Cubs frenzy, that Cubs manager Lou Piniella steadfastly declared that he didn’t want to trade Mark DeRosa. For a manager to say that, then to see the player he used so frequently at so many different positions traded for three minor leaguers is either an indication that another major deal—-and I don’t count the Cubs signing Aaron Miles in that category—-is on the way, or that GM Jim Hendry is ignoring the wishes of the manager.
DeRosa had his career year in the power department in 2008, but other than that, he’s been both versatile and consistent and Piniella likes having a player like DeRosa on his roster who can provide some pop and competently play any position without complaint. Aaron Miles is not as good a player as DeRosa and won’t hit the ball out of the park as DeRosa did. Unless this move and the trade of Jason Marquis to the Rockies for Luis Vizcaino are precursors to the on-again/off-again acquisition of Peavy or a lefty bat that the Cubs need desperately, this is going to make Piniella very ornery as the new year starts.
The Indians are intending to put DeRosa at third base and if he does pretty much what he did for the Cubs over the past three years, they’ll be happy to have him over the other options like Joe Crede or trading the higher level prospects that the likes of Garrett Atkins would’ve cost.
- Angels sign Brian Fuentes to a 2-year, $17.5 million contract:
I had always assumed that the Angels intent, once Francisco (K-Rod) Rodriguez left, was to simply move everyone in the bullpen up a notch and they’d have their sublime set-up man Scot Shields take over as closer with young Jose Arredondo taking over for Shields. Instead, had the Angels not found a suitable and affordable replacement for K-Rod, it appears they would’ve left Shields as the set-up man to do the heavy lifting and let Arredondo close. The point is now moot with the short-term and borderline larcenous signing of Brian Fuentes.
Considering that Fuentes was probably looking for $50 million when the season ended and had to settle for $17.5 million over two years is a repercussion of the glut of available closers and the atrocious economic situation affecting every team except the Yankees. The short-term nature of the contract also allows the Angels to slowly prepare the young Arredondo to take over for Fuentes in 2011 and have a closer who, while not putting up the gaudy numbers of K-Rod, will close out most of his save opportunities.
If anything, the contract the Fuentes settled for shouldn’t provide any kind of overt emotion from Angels fans other than thinking they got a pretty good closer on a very favorable contract. What this really should do though, is ignite guttural anger in a team that has literally done nothing this off-season; has the money to pay a guy like Fuentes; and needed him more than the Angels did—-the St. Louis Cardinals.
The justifiable rage that is coursing through the veins of Cardinals fans is found here on a regular basis and is exemplified in the second comment from my blog posting earlier today. What are the Cardinals intentions this season other than making manager Tony La Russa so angry that he can’t see straight and won’t even bother to use the St. Louis fans appreciation for his brilliance as a hammer to get a lucrative extension after his contract expires and will exercise his free agency to go elsewhere in 2010, which appears to be exactly what they want.
Had the Fuentes contract approached the numbers that K-Rod got from the Mets, I could understand the Cardinals passing, but had they offered $500,000 more on the same two-year contract, or given Fuentes the third year (and La Russa is the master at maximizing the abilities of his closers) they would’ve gotten the veteran closer they need. Now they’re left with Chris Perez and whoever else they can find in the bargain bin like Trevor Hoffman, but since they weren’t willing to pay the relatively short money that the Angels did to get Fuentes, what makes anyone think they’re going to do anything of consequence at all not only to put themselves in position to take a winnable division, but to appease their Hall of Fame manager who must be livid at the way his roster is being short-changed and his brilliance is being unappreciated.
It’s hard to fathom why the Cardinals would want to go down this road other than simple cheapness; the sad part is that in this market, they could’ve done what the Mets are in the midst
of doing as they fill their holes without breaking the bank getting one bargain after another; instead
they’re throwing pennies around like manhole covers and there’s
no way that even La Russa will be able to squeeze every ounce out of such a
flawed team two years in a row.
It’s time to start laying odds on where Tony La Russa is managing in 2010. The Orioles are a good spot and Peter Angelos would pay him a lot of money; if the Yankees don’t win and go deeply into the playoffs, that job will be open; if the Padres are sold to an owner who wants to spend money and who, for some unfathomable reason, decide to keep Sandy Alderson on as club president, he and La Russa are still friends from their time with the Athletics; then there are teams like the Rangers who might want a reorganization in their manager’s office. He could even wind up finishing his managerial career where it started in Chicago with the White Sox. There’ll always be a demand for a manager like La Russa, who at age 64, deserves far better than this.