The Activity Begins

The best part of the hot stove season is anticipating player moves. This first real week of movement was no exception. It’s like playing those silly scoreboard games to guess which hat the ball is under, although anyone with a good set of eyes or a good seatmate can guess this. Not so with player movement. Every fan watches with apprehension hoping that their team makes the right moves.

There are thousands of general managers for each team, each with their own ideas on where to improve. I mean, all a GM has to do is poll these people before any major deal. The odds that all agree are bigger than winning the Grand Prize at the World Series of Poker.

So let me play armchair general manager and let the second-guessing begin.

Boston Red Sox

Pitchers Andrew Miller and Taylor Buccholz.

GM Theo Epstein wants to improve the bullpen and began with these two pickups. He’s hoping that Buccholz can duplicate his 2008 season with the Rockies when he went 6-6 with a 2.17ERA and an .098 WHIP. Yet he missed all of 2009 and most of this year after surgery so there is an upside risk.

Meanwhile Miller a perennial lefthanded prospect was a major bust in the Marlins’ system. How he will help the bullpen remains to be seen. Obviously Epstein wants to avoid using 19 different pitchers in the bullpen like this year.

Epstein also has to plan to replace Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez as both want longer contracts then the four years both were offered.

Oakland Athletics

OF David DeJesus

DeJesus has been a steady player during his career.  The moving truck will back up here and a pack of current outfielders will be loaded up to make room.  I don’t expect Gabe Gross or Jack Cust to be back and would be surprised if Conor Jackson, Coco Crisp and Jeremy Hermida stay as well. Chris Carter is a top rated prospect but has yet to hit during his short stays in the big leagues. The team may include him in a future trade.

Atlanta Braves

2b Dan Uggla

This is the most intriguing move thus far. The Marlins offered Uggla a decent salary but it was well known that he was envious of the bucks Hanley Ramirez was getting.

By picking up Uggla, the Braves are apparently going to move other infielders. Look for shortstop Alex Gonzalez to be gone and Martin Prado to be moved to third with All-Star Omar Infante settling in at short and Derek Lee getting the contract he wants to stay at third. Troy Glaus then becomes a bench platoon at first and third or is also on the street.

The trade was most likely influenced by new manager Freddi Gonzalez who had Uggla in Florida.

It begs the question: Is this it for Chipper Jones because it appears that there is no more room for him as an everyday player.

Florida Marlins

C John Buck

A good signing as they used Uggla’s money to sign Buck to a three year deal. There’s a question whether John Baker will be ready in the spring and Ronny Paulino will probably not be tendered. Buck offers the team a solid catcher for a few years.

Detroit Tigers

P Joaquin Benoit

Benoit has eye-popping stuff but was shelved in 2009 due to rotator cuff surgery. He put in a solid year in 2010 for the Rays who did not overwork him (44 games). He will set up closer Jose Velvarde. Good move by the Tigers to solidify their bullpen.

The Rumor Mill Is Grinding Fast and Furious

Cliff Lee will sign with the Yankees.

They’re willing to trade Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson or Brett Gardner for the right player.  Of those three, Granderson will draw the most value because he is younger than Swisher and has more skills than Gardner. There are two likely scenarios: They would trade Granderson to the Diamondbacks as part of a deal for  Justin Upton or will part with one of the three if they sign Carl Crawford, which assumes there will be any money left after signing Lee and re-signing Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. Upton apparently is also drawing the interest from the Marlins who just parted ways with Cameron Maybin.

Orlando Hudson will be seeking yet another a new team. I’m not sure why they want to trade him, but word is that they will tender JJ Hardy instead. Apparently they can’t afford both. Hudson is a solid player who needs some love with a team that will do more than rent him for a year.

Jorge de la Rosa is a getting serious attention by the Orioles, Pirates, Nationals,  Rangers, Yankees and Brewers. The Rockies will not re-sign him if he wants more than 3 years. If de la Rosa leaves, the Rocks will pursue Carl Pavano, Javier Vasquez or Jon Garland.

After two lost seasons, Brandon Webb will leave the D’backs and there is plenty of suiters. The Dodgers, Pirates, Rangers and Twins are intensely interested while the Nationals, Reds and Cardinals will take a look.

Finally, the Dodgers are trying to decide whether to keep Russell Martin.

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