Greetings from Nashville

Hi all. I’m here at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville for the start of the Winter Meetings. It’s all Johan Santana all the time, as everyone is wondering whether the Twins will accept A) Boston’s offer; B) New York’s offer; C) None of the above.

Hank Steinbrenner certainly made his feelings known yesterday and has given the Twins a deadline of the end of today. We’ll see if that deadline is real or artificial.

At around 3:20 eastern time, a few Boston writers — including yours truly — bumped into Theo Epstein. Disappointingly for all you folks out there looking for some hot news, Theo said that things were quiet right now. Of course, we all know that can change in a heartbeat.

I bumped into Twins closer Joe Nathan earlier today, who stopped by because he lives in Nashville.

Joe had some interesting things to say about his teammate:

“Obviously I’m paying attention and seeing what’s going
on. Fortunately for me, it’s nothing I have to make a decision on. The Twins
definitely have a tough decision. The one good thing is if they don’t decide to
do anything, worst case scenario, we’ve got Johan Santana from day one. It’s a
situation where if they do decide to do something, more than likely, they’re
going to bring some guys over with some talent that will help us out in the ’08
season. either way, I think we’re in a good situation.”

“Any time you lose a pitcher, if we did lose a pitcher
like Johan, on and off the field, he’s a special person. Great guy to have,
obviously when he’s on the mound. When he’s off the mound, he’s the kind of guy
who keeps you relaxed, keeps you upbeat.”

Possibility of Johan going to Boston or New York: “Obviously
those are the teams that are throwing around some pretty big names to try to
get him. Boston and New York, who are usually in the mix to get
these types of players. They have players who can make the trade look
interesting. We’ll see what happens. It’s obviously a situation where if Johan
goes to Boston,
that starting rotation is going to be pretty tough to beat. Same thing goes in New York. He’s going to
improve a starting rotation, with that offensive lineup they have in New York, you put him in
that rotation and he’ll be pretty much impossible to beat when the Yankees are
putting up close to double digit numbers.”

 Pitching in a bigger
market, “I don’t think he would treat it any differently. Once he steps between
the lines, whether there’s 50,000 people in the stands or 20, he doesn’t treat
it any differently. He won’t try any harder or any less.”

In other news, I saw Jerome "The Bus" Bettis roaming the lobby. You just never know who you’ll bump into at the Winter Meetings.

Rob Bradford from the Boston Herald got an interesting nugget on his bradfordfiles blog today. Bob Watson said that Terry Francona will have to wear his uniform next season, and not under the pullover he wears.

“There’s going to be, for lack of a better term, a ‘Francona Rule," Watson told Bradford. “You can only wear your uniform top or jacket. You
can’t wear your night-shirt, or whatever it is. You can wear it before
games, or after games, but not during games. You have to have your
uniform top at all times.”
 

Watson also told Bradford that teams haven’t been notified of the new policy yet.

“They will be informed. There will be no doubt.”

For what it’s worth, the Mariners are out of the Santana sweepstakes. Then again, were they ever really in it?

In other news, I had an outstanding sushi lunch today. Just thought you’d want to know. Who would have thought you could find such good sushi in Nashville.

**** Williams, the manager of Boston’s Impossible Dream Team, has been elected to the Hall of Fame. Good for Williams. It’s well deserved and probably long overdue.

The Boston writers are expected to meet formally Epstein at about 6:30 Eastern time. I’ll let you know what comes out of that.

Until then, hasta la vista!

Ian.

54 Comments

Thanks for reporting from Nashville.

And … great news re **** Williams. Good for him!

Sushi in Nashville? Are you kidding me. Did you have sushi with some nice country music playing in the background?

I agree — great news on **** Williams induction into the HoF. I remember, almost like it ws yesterday, his pronouncing that the Sox would “win more games than they would lose”. The writers thought he was nuts.
What a team. With Jim Lonborg having a Cy Young year, Gary Bell and Lee “stinger” Stange, with George Scott, Mike Andrews Rico Petrocelli and Joe Foy around the infield, and with Yaz, Reggie Smith and Tony C. in the outfield. I also remember the back-up infielder Jerry Adair. Announcer Ned Martin used to say “the Red Sox will be “Up -dair, when A-Dair is In-Dair”.

What great memories. Well done, **** Williams!!!

interesting. gammons just reported on espn the a’s offered haren to the sox for the package/s they offered for santana and theo said no. he also thinks they will send him to NY due to hughes having a higher ceiling than any of the sox guys ( pitchers ).

Bob Watson is a ****. You get the idea anyway. What a stupid stupid rule. Is this something he really needs to get involved with?!

A little more on **** Williams: when he made the proclamation during 1967 Spring Training that the Sox would win more than they would lose, they had been doing just the reverse for 10 years. In the 40 years since, the only times they have not won more than they have lost were 1985, when they won 81 and lost 81, 1992-1994 (the Butch Hobson years), 1983, 1987 and 1997. Maybe he had a profound impact on the culture of the Red Sox team.?!?!?!?!

As for Bob Watson, I’m embarrassed to say he played for the Red Sox, the way he is chasing Tito around.

i really feel allowing the yankees to get santana would cost boston any shot at the div next year. johan, wang, pettite, joba, and whoever are at least as good as boston ( beck, dice, schill, lester, and whoever ) over 162 games. the yankees are much better offensively at 3b, ss, 2b, catcher, and RF. simply put they would be a more complete team. the sox can afford to inc lester and ells for johan and still sign rowand. in which case they have a vastly superior staff and a close to equal offense. i’m not even inc LAA in this who after they get santana may be close to as good or better than either.

i meant cabrerra for LAA.

Please say all the buzz about Ellsbury is just that. I remember another trade–Baggio was his name—sox really lost out.
Outfielders like Ells come along once in a lifetime We need him to stay. Give up someone else. Is Santana really worth giving up so much? I don’t think so.

Okay, breathe . . . inhale, exhale, ahhh much better.

Alright, just a little(!) stressed about this whole Santana situation.

Out of every prospect in every single farm system . . . . Ellsbury is ranked 13 and Buchholz is 6, why in heck would Theo trade these two excellent, astounding, intriuging prospects.

rsjones. buch is not inc in either proposal. ells is the 13th ranked “prospect” in the minor leagues. santana is without question, IMO ( as well as most others ), the no. 1, avail, prospect in all of the MAJOR league baseball. simply put he’s a swing guy ells isn’t. whoever he goes to boston or NY has a chance to dominate the east for the next 3-5 yrs. you can find guys to hit .300 – .320 with 8-10 hr’s and 60 – 70 rbi’s a lot of places. that’s about what you could expect from ells if he plays as expected. rowand, jsut to name one, can do that and more. look around at how many did it last year. how many guys can win you 20 + games with their arm as santana can?

caberra and rameriz for lugo, crisp youk and a prospect

@lebcopa: I think the Red Sox are out of the Miguel Cabrera sweepstakes. No way Youkilis is going anywhere. His type of hitting and fielding is under Red Sox control for a while and he’s not going anywhere if the Red Sox are paying him the money they are now.

The interesting angle is Aaron Rowand; he’s around 30 years old and is a career .286 hitter, but seems to be consistently good. How much would the Red Sox be willing to invest into him is a good question. Then Coco could still be trade bait to the Rangers who want a CF.

Perhaps nothing will come of all this and perhaps the Twins are just trying gauge what teams would be willing to give up for him.

And now for something completely different, how about that New England/Baltimore game? Upset in the making?

-Raj

http://pacol250.livejournal.com

And I’m with simon: what the heck is Bob Watson caring about the whole uniform junk. Seriously. Why?

Didn’t Tito say he needed to wear what he did for blood circulation reasons?

I’d laugh if Tito smacked a doctor’s note in MLB’s face. :-D

-Raj

http://pacol250.livejournal.com

I don’t see the Red Sox signing Rowand. If he played at Fenway he would be living on the d.l. He plays all out all the time. He would crash into that wall at Fenway, you would have to peel him off of that wall. If the Sox make the Santana trade, they will have either Crisp or Ellsbury anyway. Personally I put Ellsbury in the deal, Santana and Beckett in that rotation for the next handful of years and beyond, that is scary folks.

Time for Theo to get the deal done.

Hank and Hal with a deadline, are these 2 guys for real?

Wow…the Patriots like to live dangerously don’t they?

Well folks, the record is intact.

-Raj

http://pacol250.livejournal.com

Ian,
Great blog posting. Love the informality of it. Makes me feel like I’m there with you at the winter meetings. Thanks for keeping us informed. — Rob Crawford, VP of RSN

http://www.imamemberofredsoxnation.mlblogs.com

The Steinbrenner Boys crack me up, they really are just two spoiled brats who stomp their feet and complain if they don’t get their way.

Why should the Twins even take their ultimatum seriously when a similar one was given to A-Rod? Last time I checked, he’ll be bringing in over $300 million at the hot corner in the Bronx.

Hey Brian, we’ve got GREAT sushi out in West Texas and there’s no Mariachi music playing in the background. Nickelback, maybe. Nothing tops our steaks, however.

The Santana deal? Get it over with. With or without him, the Sox will still play deep into October next year. Regardless of what Theo does, it will still make sense. Remember Damon? The world came to an end after he left — now he’s just another Yankee left-fielder with no arm.

Jimmy,

I am on my way to West Texas, lol…Steaks in Texas are the best for sure.

It sounds like the Red Sox are the front-runners now for Santana. This deadline by Hank and Hal might have blown up in there face. Hank and Hal should just shut up and let the baseball people like Cashman handle things but I don’t think that is a good idea as well.

Hank and Hal are concentrating too much on trying to be the second coming of their dad, acting like no one can mess with they Yankees. The dead line idea, though most likely a bluff, completely blew up in their faces. Why? Because they didn’t want to “be played by the Red Sox”! What a whiney little b-i-t-c-h! That’s the game Hank, if you don’t like it, then maybe you shouldn’t play. That was really smart, trying to bully the Twins who you are in negotiations with a VERY important peace to your puzzle. I don’t know about anyone else, but it gives me a complete sense of peace knowing that Hank and Hal will be running the Yankees in the near future.

It appears that the Sox are the front runner again in the Santana sweepstakes. The deal would be either
Lester, Crisp, Lowrie, Masterson OR Ellsbury, Lowrie, Masterson. It seems that the Twines are interested in Lester since they are reviewing his medicals. I reluctantly wish that the Twines take option 1.

For the Yank to get back to the game, they have to include Hughes, Kennedy, Cabrera, + prospect. That’s the price Yanks (Hanky boy) have to pay for not knowing when and how to shut up.

if the sox get santana, crisp will not be missed…but lester certainly will. but i guess that’s business!

I’d definitely miss Lester (have been following his medical saga with interest as a relative had a similar illness a few years earlier). Certainly I’ll cheer for him no matter where he goes. I get the feeling it’ll be Lester in the trade; I think it kinda has to be, otherwise, really — how many pitchers does one ball club need?

Beckett, Santana, Schilling, Matsuzaka, Buchholz, Wakefield — where does Lester fit in? It’s a great problem to have, I’ve gotta say.

Agree that the Katzenjammer Kids (er, the Steinbrenner Boys) are looking like they’re wearing Dad’s too-large suit. What a way to run a negotiation! A deadline? An ultimatum? Sheesh, Mr. Santana has other prospects, even without the Sox he’s set. It boggles the mind.

Crisp played some good defense in the outfield, but Ellsbury he ain’t.

It’ll all work out; I’ve got faith in Theo and company. But this waiting is killin’ me!

according to gammons on the espn site the johan deal is almost done. they’ve added a FIFTH player. outfield propect ryan kalish. guess tha means: coco, lester, lowrie, masterson, and kalsih. guess they REALLLY did want johan after all! didn’t say if they would get anything back other than johan.

it’s alot to give up but after signing JD and lugo to those bad deals last year the fact is they aren’t trading anyone who, barring an injury, was gonna have anywhere to play for the next 3-4 yrs. lester maybe. i have a great amount of respect for him as well but in pure baseball terms you have to choose buch over him.

It would still be a great deal for the Sox as long as Ellsbury and Buccholtz aren’t traded away. Hate to see Lester go though.

Where is the best site to get up to date info on te trade?

espn is doin a live blog on their site. look in the upper rh corner. plus they a special on espn 2 at 5 EST i think.

I’m thankful if Ellsbury and Bucholtz aren’t going but, geez, why not just give away the whole freaking farm!!

actually gammons was just on TV and said the kalish thing wasn’t true after all. still 4-1. but now supposedly the angels are talkin to minn. i can’t believe they could afford johan after giving hunter 16MM per.

b graham, rotoworld.com is up to the minute with all trade talk. smckinney, Hunter is making 18 mil per season

Update: Angels jump into Santana trade talks
BY SEAN McADAM

Journal Sports Writer

NASHVILLE — Just because the New York Yankees are out of the picture on Johan Santana doesn’t mean the Red Sox necessarily have a clear path for the Twins’ ace.

This afternoon the Twins were meeting with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who have jumped into the Santana negotiations at the eleventh hour. Previously, the Angels had been focusing on Florida Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera, but have been stuck trying to complete a deal.

There is said to be a division among Angels executives over which player to pursue — Cabrera or Santana.

The Twins have told the Angels that Jared Weaver would have to be part of a deal for Santana to give Minnesota another young starter as part of the mix. Other names expected to be talked about include shortstop prospect Brandon Wood.

The Twins and Red Sox have not spoken since early this morning.

Do not believe that the Yanks are out of it. If they come back to the Twines and offer Kennedy in addition to Hughes, Cabrera, +1 prospect, Santana is NY bound.

Will Carroll over at BP just had the following to say:

“Johan Santana to the Red Sox is all but done. Jon Lester, a center fielder, Justin Masterson and Ryan Kalish are the package. More details now”

If it’s true, I’m guessing the center fielder is Ellsbury.

I really hope the “center fielder” mentioned above is Coco and not Jacoby Ellsbury. Giving up two of our top three prospects (and top 15 in all of baseball) is too much for one pitcher, I don’t care who he is.

You would think Theo would have learned his lesson on patience with homegrown talent with the emergence of Papelbon, Youkilis, and Pedroia.

Zachary – true they all worked out. But remember the top prospects that were given up to get Pedro. Collectively they have done squat. That said I also hope it’s Crisp.

Anyone (Jeff?) any idea on how good Ryan Kalish is, how high he is rated, how he is projected to do, etc.

MLB.com is reporting that the Tigers are set to acquire Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis from the Marlins for Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller and four more prospects.

Interesting development as well.

the tiggers are gonna be LOOOAADED offensively. i hope it’s crisp also but if it’s ells you still gotta do it. like i said you can find a rowand or someone to give you as much off, or more, than ells. you just can’t find another santana. potentially 20+ wins and 200+ K’s every year.

A top 4 of Santana, Beckett, Matsuzaka, Buccholz for at least another 3-5 years is unlike anything I have seen in my short life. Even some of you older people on this blog I challenge you to find a better top 4 in the last 50 years. And to achieve this all that is given away is Jon Lester? Where do I sign? I am still opposed to trading Jacoby but Lester, Lowry, Masterson and Coco is a downright STEAL.

I agree smckinny with the Tigers. Look at this lineup

Granderson

Renteria

Cabrera

Ordonez

Sheffield

Guillen

Pudge

Inge

Polanco

Sheesh any time Polanco is hitting ninth you know your team is sick. It is silly how much better the AL is, and now one of the NL’s best goes to the AL. LA, CLE, NYY, BOS and DET are all better than any team in the National League. Heck I think any of those 5 teams are better than the NL All Star Team.

Well, if you go back to the Orioles in….hmmm, I forget the year. Late 60′s early 70′s. Palmer, Mcnally, Cuellar, Dobson all won 20 games in the same season. That was a great foursome. Was that in ’73? I’m too old to remember the exact year.

Well, if you extend the time frame back 60 years the rotation of the Yankees between ’48-’53 was pretty good, a conbination of:

Vic Raschi

Allie Reynolds

Ed Lopat

Whitey Ford

Tommy Byrne

Johnny Sain

Fred Sanford

Arnie,

Palmer, Dobson, Cuellar, and Mcnally all won 20 games in 1971.

Thanks.

So anybody hear about the fact that Ellsbury now is a Boras client? I guess with all this trade talk and instability, I can’t blame him too much.

However, that just made him harder to keep after his current contract is up and the like.

A little more about the Santana trade talks:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3140668

The key part in the article being that both teams have swapped the medical records of Santana and Lester.

On a side note, the Tigers just got a whole lot tougher offensively once that trade actually is a done deal.

-Raj

http://pacol250.livejournal.com

If the Twins really are considering the following two offers as is being reported (granted slightly dated reports):

Ellsbury, Lowrie & Masterson

OR

Lester, Crisp, Lowrie & Masterson

First of all I have to say if we do get Santana for either of these offers, then Theo and the FO have done a magnificent job.

I know this will upset a few here but the more I think about the offers the more I’d prefer sending the 1st group of players. If in essence it boils down to sending Ellsbury or Lester & Crisp I send Ellsbury. I personally don’t think the gap between Crisp and Ellsbury is as big as someone like Lester. I don’t really buy that we’d have too many pitchers if we did keep Lester (can anyone say Bronson?), and after the coming season when G38 and Wakefield have retired, you could be looking at a rotation of Beckett, Santana, Dice-K, Buchholz and Lester for the next 3 years. I couldn’t pass on that opportunity. I know it’s said often, but good pitching beats good hitting.

where should I go for sushi in Nashville?????

It’s looking like the Santana deal is dead for the time being.

Per the Boston Globe (as of this moment): http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/extras/thebuzz/

From the Globe’s Gordon Edes (1:14 p.m.): “There are no indications as of yet that the Twins are ready to close a deal with the Sox for Johan Santana. The Sox’ late-night group session did not produce any substantive developments, and the Sox seem to be in a holding pattern, waiting to see whether Twins GM Bill Smith is prepared to accept one of their offers. There is nothing, of course, that says Smith must make that decision here in Nashville, although presumably the Twins would like to proceed on to other business if they’re going to give up Santana.”

Personally, I get the feeling things are going to hang in the holding pattern for a few more days.

The fact that Ellsbury changed his agent to Scott Bora$ cooled at least 50% off my fondness for him. We shall find out what type person Ellsbury really is at contract time. Are there any more Beckettian type (“I have made more than I can spend. I want to a Red Sox”) players around? Schil, Lowell?

Why is it such a big deal Ellsbury signed with Bor-***? What would you do if you were in Jacoby’s shoes, pick the agent who would not be able to get as much money? The kid doesn’t have Beckett’s problem of having more money than he can spend yet. Cut the kid some slack, he’s just trying to make a buck. Don’t hate on the player because of what his agent can do for him, hate the agent.

Reading between the lines, it looks as though the Twins are looking to obtain the best centerfielder they can (to replace Torii Hunter) and 2 pitching prospects to replace Santana. It sounds as though the Yanks offered an acceptable CF in Melky Cabrera, but wouldn’t throw in the 2 pitching prospects the Twins wanted, instead only offering Phil Hughes.

The Sox offer accomplishes all that, with Twins **** in case Brendan Harris, who they obtained in the Garza trade, does not pan out, or in the event that they are looking to complete a solution for their 3b situation.

It now appears that the potential trade is in the “stare down”, who will blink first stage. I am certain the deal will be concluded if the Sox offer another deal sweetener, either Buchholz instead of Masterson, or Ellsbury instead of CoCo.

I do hope that the Sox Front Office holds firm in their position. I believe that they have offered fair value under the circumstances. Frankly, if the Twins don’t make the deal, the Sox have enough talent to aggressively compete for another AL Pennant. While the Yanks have good hitting, their starting pitching is largely inexperienced and suspect.

Certainly the Tigers have helped their batting order for 2008. However, before handing over the 2008 AL Pennant, the following need to be considered: the Tigers starting rotation, Verlander aside, but Dontrelle Willis included, had off-years last year. The question is how many of them can bounce back to the kinds of years they had in 2006, and does Kenny Rogers, at age 43, have another competitive year left in him. Beyond that, Gary Sheffield, who started off last season not hitting at all and came back some, had his worst hitting year in the last 10. At 40, how much will he have left in 2008?

If the Twins make the deal with the Yanks and insist on both Kennedy and Hughes, what will the Yanks do for their starting rotation. Mussina, Pettite, Wang, Igawa and Pavano is the same starting rotation they began the year with last year. Certainly Chamberlain and Santana would be an upgrade, but by themselves they won’t lift that pitching staff. Plus, they will have eliminated their “shut-down” set up man.

So Sox Administration, stay committed to your bargaining position: 1 prime pitcher, 1 pitching prospect (Masterson) 1 good outfielder (CoCo), and 1 good infield prospect. Beyond that, take a pass, and let the circumstances sort themselves out. Once the Twins get past their bluffing, they’ll choose one of the deals in front of them. I hope the Sox don’t let the excitement of the circumstances cloud their judgment and cause them to unwisely up their ante.

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