Results tagged ‘ 2010 Winter Meetings ’

Garza Chatter is Stoking the Rays Hot Stove Fire



Chris O’Meara/AP 


In the waning moments of the 2010 Major League Baseball Winter Meeting there is an increasing chilly wind whistling around the ornate columns of the Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort. Within the sound swirling through the colorfully decorated corridors, the name heard on the cusp of the wind is that of Rays starting pitcher Matt Garza. The Rays front office has more than let it be known that they will listen to offers and discuss their young budding star, and possibly provide him as additional luggage for some lucky GM before they hit the tarmac off Sand Lake Road.
But more than a few will balk at the attached price tag, while others will try and haggle and possibly snatch the young pitcher but he will not come as a bargain basement item. Garza can easily be thrust up into the top three pitchers made available during the Winter Meetings joining fellow starters Cliff Lee and the Royals Zack Greinke as the 1-2-3 combo of pitcher currently wetting the lips of fellow MLB GM’s. With Lee basically pigeon-holed to the top tier of moneymakers like the Yankees, Nats and Rangers, that leave right-handers Greinke and Garza as top dollar showpieces.

That being said, the Rays would love to keep someone of Garza’s ability and future potential, but the market sometimes dictates the flow and impending exit visa of a player like Garza. And he has gained the most possible trade inquiries instead of fellow starter James Shields. If you melt Garza’s last three season together you get the persona of a highly competitive hurler with an extremely emotional passion for the game. With a projected arbitration guesstimate of $ 5.5 million for 2011, he would be a financially viable option.

One of the possible negatives surrounding Garza might be the return the Rays would expect to pluck Garza from the Rays roster. Even with the aspect of a reduction the Rays payroll with sending Garza to another team, the Rays will want more than a single player in return. And that can be a defining factor that could quickly eliminate more than a few MLB teams from even calling about the right-hander.

But a crafty GM who knows about the Rays impending fiscal binds combined with the stark reality that the Rays might need to pursue a trade with one of their pitchers before the 2011 season to unblock the path of top prospect Jeremy Hellickson who has shown he is ready for full-time MLB duty. After an impressive September, Hellickson is not guaranteed a rotation slot or even a roster spot for the Rays in 2011, but am impressive Spring could force the Rays into a snap judgment pitching decision.

Maybe it is time for all of us within the Rays Republic to accept that even with Garza’s increased proficiency on the mound, maybe he has reached his ultimate zenith in trade value. That by trading him at his highest level, Garza will bring a healthy player return that will fundamentally secure the Rays next level of player development. With the Rays currently having up to 6 open slots in their bullpen for 2011, using Garza to gain some impending relief depth might be the best playable card in the Rays deck of cards.

Most in the Rays Republic might want the team to shop fellow starter James Shields instead of Garza, but Shields is coming off a sub-par 2010 season and needs to reestablish his value in the trade market before the Rays dangle him on a line. Garza has also received the most nibbles by prospective MLB teams, and could provide some internal team control since he is a Super-two arbitration eligible player and a prospective team could control him longer before Garza would hit the free agency trail. But then again, posting a No-hitter automatically has more than a few mouths watering around the league.



Chris O’Meara/AP

It is that classic “Dang if you do, Dang if you don’t” scenario that even putting Garza out there to entice the rest of the league could come back to bite the Rays in the end. We have seen recently that the Rays are trying to get the most in return for anyone they consider “tradable”. With recent Jason Bartlett trade rumors falling by the wayside, it is becoming evident that the Rays value quantity as well as quality in their trade talks. Some teams might want to strike while the Rays iron is hot in the coals and steal Garza away, but that will not happen.

The Rays do not have to trade Garza or any other player currently on their roster to afford them. But the underlying aspect of possibly getting two or three players under contract for the same $ 5.5 million might entice the Rays to trade Garza a little less in return right now. But the deal will still be on the Rays terms, and will involve the players they as either future keystones or possible 2011 foundations rocks to rebuilding the franchise’s current weak spots. The Rays have never been a club that will thrust up the K-mart blue light and proclaim a special low cost price for one of their players. It is not known yet if the Rays will pull the trigger on a trade of any of their players during the Winter Meetings or before the team again begin to assemble this February.

Garza has done a lot for this Rays franchise. He has produced some of the most memorable moments in Rays history from securing the 2008 ALCS Most Valuable Player award to thrusting his fist skyward after his No-Hitter in front of the home crowd against the Tigers. I would be disappointed to see him leave, but I also understand the limitations and circumstances that surround the Rays this off season that facilitate such a move.

The cool Florida winds are still blowing through the Resort lobby, but somewhere beyond our eyesight I can still feel the warmth of the Rays taking calls and making inquires trying to find those special pieces of cordwood to stoke their Hot Stove fires.


MLB is Going to Love O-Town!



The Major League Baseball 2010 Winter Meetings will setting up shop not more than 90 miles from my doorstep over the next three days (Dec, 6-9,2010). After the grueling daily grind of meetings, networking and the general business of doing MLB business, there will be a shark tank of prospective agents, players and shady characters laying in wait for the G M’s and decision makers trying to push their respective client’s “MLB Wish List” upon the assembled MLB head honcho.

This is a great time for the agent bloodhounds to get everyone in the decision making position within a confined region to try their closing arguments for that elusive deal, or possibly even pull off the proverbial “Steal of the Winter Meetings”. With the local Orlando weather only peaking out in the mid-50’s over the next several days, the rest of the Hot Stove season is expected to warm up considerably during the Winter Meetings.

The Winter Meetings have always been famous for the mixing of business with pleasure that sometimes progresses into a unexpected late night backroom session that gets a deal done. Since I was a Florida native and have spent more than a few wild night patrolling the adult sections of O-town, maybe I can help provide a bit of a primer of the places to be seen…or not seen over the next few days.

There are countless restaurants within a short cab ride of the Walt Disney Dolphin Resort where the main hub of the meetings are being held over the next three days. Just beyond pearly gates of the “House that the Mouse built”, outside the comfort of the Disney imposed happiness is the neighboring Universal Studio’s property known as City Walk that is a playground for adults, or those who become young at heart after dark.
From celebrity restaurants, themed bars to musical venues, this section of O-town definitely has consenting adults fun and relaxation at the core of their entertainment options.

This adult fun center has more than a few places to possibly get lost in the crowd and casually discuss things over an adult beverage or some exquisite cuisine. So let’s say after a hard day of listening to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig speak on his (sometimes) monotone thoughts for the upcoming 2011 MLB season you get a unique craving for some great grub, then you can motor on over to City Walk and entice your taste buds.

With creations from the Emeril’s restaurant, or the Pastamore’ Ristorante or any of the other specialized and popular dining adventures outside the confines of the MLB resort location. Or possibly you just want to further unwind and let it all go a step or two while dining and pick the fun and relaxation of plopping yourself down in Florida icon Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville cantina or hit the nearby Hard Rock Café. Or maybe you have a hankering for some classic Florida seafood and can’t wait to visit the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company .

Maybe you have a musical song beating within you and want to partake in a eating experience at Bob Marley’s or the Latin Quarter complete with spontaneous entertainment and music that is as spicy as the food on your plate. There is a reason Orlando is a tourist hot spot, and it doesn’t always revolve around the Mouse or Harry Potter. For the next three days foods from all over the United States and the World are within a few miles of the MLB host hotel, and even include a two-story McDonalds where you can purge that urge for a late night McRib.

Even the local bars have something that will cater to every single one of the alphas to the omegas of MLB personalities to provide more than a few options for anyone visiting O-town. From authentic sports bars to iconic places like the NASCAR Café or NBA City, sports is always just a television away in Orlando. But maybe you want to revisit a place from your past like Pat O’Briens in New Orleans. Well, you can definitely get a authentic Hurricane here in the state known for winds, rains without the feeling of a Tropical depression. Or possibly you just want a more chill atmosphere with a chilly Martini and some tapas or apps, then the veranda seating at the Velvet room at the Hard Rock is just for you.

Maybe you have some closet envy as a hidden shower singer who has always dreamed of being the front man /woman of a band. Then Rising Stars is the place for you. Picture yourself on stage with a full band behind you as you hit the high and low belting out tunes from today, yesterday or possibly your own rendition of a classic. Suddenly on center stage all eyes will be on you and your vocal talents. I can only imagine uber agent Scott Boras and Nationals GM Mike Rizzo up there singing a duet of Peaches and Herbs classic “Reunited” after their recent “coming together” over the Jayson Werth mega deal.



Maybe you just want to take in the famous Blue Man Group performance to have a few laughs and giggles at their notions before retiring and awaiting the next day’s agenda of meetings, networking and glad handshakes with new and old MLB “friends”. There is a reason that Orlando is considered the Entertainment Capital of the World with acts as diverse as a set of dueling pianos, live TNA wrestling, Reggae and rock music. Heck, you know Selig himself will probably have a backstage pass to the Mannheim Steamroller event held at the Music Plaza Stage where holiday tunes will fill the crisp Florida night air.

The Winter Meetings are primed and focused toward the plans, dreams and aspirations of those within the business of baseball to entice their fellow brethren with planning session and arranged symposiums on all sorts of interesting topics. It is also a time for the legions of baseball inspired people within the MLB conglomerate to let off some steam before the real work of the off season begins.

I really only mentioned a dewdrop into the pool of entertainment values and options surrounding the Walt Disney Dolphin Resort. From Luau’s poolside at the Loew’s Royal Pacific Resort to NBA Orlando Magic games at the new Amway Center, the Orlando region is only as limited as the imagination of each and every MLB employee attending the Winter Meetings.

First and foremost on the agenda is business, but after that, it is a time to truly connect and become a part of the whole MLB experience. Be it meetings with prospective players’ agents or doing intelligence gathering for future promotional items, the only thing that can put limitations on the entertainment expansion surrounding you is your own mind…..and maybe a low per diem amount.