01/19/2005: Hot Stove League: News of interest on the baseball front.
1) I mentioned the most interesting (and probably surprising) news in MLB in the past week this morning: Roger Clemens's record setting demand for $22 million in his upcoming arbitration case with the Houston Astros. It'll be interesting to see what exactly Roger is up to with this demand. There's still time for him to come to terms with the Astros. The real question is, does he want to come to terms with the 'stros? Clemens hasn't yet decided if he is going to retire or not (the betting line was that he was going to retire once the New York Mets signed Carlos Beltran), and if the terms between Clemens and the Astros are forced on both sides by an arbitrator, there's no way (as I understand the process) that Clemens can insist on some of the sweetheart contractual terms (e.g., not having to make road trips in order to spend time with his family) that marked his contract last year. I'm betting on Clemens retiring, myself.
2) In Cardinals news, GM Walt Jocketty managed to avoid dealing with any arbitration cases (a typical Jocketty M.O.) by coming to terms with the last two arbitration eligible players on the roster. Righthander Jason Marquis (who arrived as part of the J.D. Drew deal last year) settled for a one year contract worth $3 million, and southpaw Rick Ankiel signed for one-year, $400,000 with incentives that could add up to another $175,000 to his bank account ($75,000 dependent on the number of appearances he makes this year, $50,000 if he is selected to the National League All Star Team, and another $50,000 if he is named Comeback Player of the Year).
Rick's rags-to-riches-to-rags-and-hopefully-back-to-riches saga makes for some interesting reading; you can check out a good summary of his career ups and downs here. One thing will be sure this year; all of Cardinal Nation will be pulling for Rick to show the stellar form that astounded baseball fans in his rookie season.
3) Other interesting personnel transactions: RF Raul Mondesi signs with the Braves (as does SS Rafael Furcal), ace closer Eric Gagne came to terms with the Dodgers for two years, $18 million, Baltimore and Florida are vying for the services of free agent 1B Carlos Delgado, and free agent 2B Roberto Alomar looks like he'll be signing with Tampa Bay, to maximize his chances of being in the starting lineup rather than being a bench player.
4) In another item of note, Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball (officially, the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues) came to a new 10 year agreement concerning the relations between the major and minor leagues. In three words: business as usual. Major League Baseball committed to support at least 160 minor league teams via player development contracts, and both the bigs and the minors agreed to some joint marketing and media ventures.
Len on 01.19.05 @ 09:27 PM CST