|November 14th, 2006||#1|
MLB to decide on Daisuke Matsuzaka info
NAPLES, Fla. - Daisuke Matsuzaka will learn his major league destination.
The Seibu Lions had to announce whether they would accept the high bid for the pitcher. If the Lions took the offer, which was expected, Major League Baseball would disclose the identity of the club that made the winning bid.
Speculation has centered on the Boston Red Sox. The New York Yankees, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers also were thought to be among the bidders. An announcement was scheduled for 8 p.m. EST Tuesday (10 a.m. Wednesday Tokyo time), and if the bid was accepted, the winning team would have 30 days to negotiate a contract with Matsuzaka's agent, Scott Boras.
Before knocking down trade rumors, baseball general managers toppled some bowling pins.
GMs began their annual meetings Monday with an afternoon at the lanes, putting on colored shirts for some kegling.
"I bowled a 122," Philadelphia's Pat Gillick said. "Probably in the upper third, I would think."
Mets GM Omar Minaya thought San Diego's Kevin Towers had the high score, somewhere in the 160s.
After a dinner Monday night, the GMs were to get down to business Tuesday, with a three-day agenda that includes discussions on instant replay, the elimination of tie games and uniform ball storage rules.
There were two small deals Monday. Colorado agreed to a $1.5 million, one-year contract with second baseman Kaz Matsui. His replacement on the Mets, Jose Valentin, reached a preliminary agreement with New York on a one-year deal worth about $3 million.
All teams could start contract talks Sunday with the 177 free agents. Barry Zito, Jason Schmidt and Jeff Suppan figure to be among the top pitchers, while Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Lee and Barry Bonds are among the most notable position players.
"The group that's out there as free agents, it isn't the most attractive group," Gillick said.
As usual, pitching is the most prized possession.
"I think everybody's looking for the same animal," Gillick said.
With all the GMs gathered in one spot, agents for the players also arrived, with Scott Boras, Adam Katz and Sam Levinson among those on hand in the space-age-looking lobby. Even before arriving at the meetings, Yankees GM Brian Cashman sent right fielder Gary Sheffield to Detroit for three pitchers, and Jaret Wright to Baltimore for a reliever.
"Although it looked like we moved fast, those discussions were going on for some time," Cashman said.
In most years, there's usually more talk than action at these sessions. More trades take place at the winter meetings, scheduled this year for Dec. 4-7 in Lake Buena Vista.
"You lay the groundwork," Purpura said. "You talk to other GMs. You talk to the agents. You're trying to find out where the fits might be for your club and you work through the process."
Houston appeared to be interested in Lee. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels and the Phillies need offense.
Minaya is seeking a corner outfielder with power, preferably a right-handed hitter. Cashman seeks starting pitching.
Purpura awaits word on whether Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte plan to pitch next year. Pettitte, who completed a three-year contract, is thinking about retirement. Clemens retired at the end of the last three seasons, only to return each time. Last season, he rejoined Houston in June.
"We can't just play the waiting game like we have in the past," Purpura said. "I would hope that Andy makes a determination sooner than later although I don't think he's any closer to that today than he was three weeks ago. Roger's situation is somewhat different because my sense is that the half-year of work did him well physically and he came through that very well and felt strong at the end, which was the whole idea."
As for rules, GMs plan to discuss eliminating ties - games that end with the score even because of rain and have gone at least five innings (or 4 1/2 innings if the home team is ahead). Those are replayed in their entirety - there were none this year but there was one in 2005 between Houston and Cincinnati.
Under the change, these types of games would become suspended, resumed at the point they were stopped.
The discussion about ball storage comes at a time when the Colorado Rockies and Coors Field have been under increased scrutiny. Some GMs think balls at the hitter-friendly ballpark have become deader since the Rockies started storing them in a humidor a few years ago.
"I saw a remarkable difference just in batting practice," Purpura said, adding that he wanted to hear recommendations from Rawlings, the manufacturer.
"I've heard they have certain specifications for temperature and humidity, and if they have certain specifications for that, then I would be in favor of all of us storing our baseballs in the same manner," he said. "To me that levels the playing field, and I'm in favor of leveling the playing field wherever you can."