Some things to talk about while we process a crazy week of baseball transactions...
1) The Winter Meetings have changed
After the busiest Winter Meetings in years, we have a pretty good piece about how they've changed in the last decade or so. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow is even quoted in it about the changes technology has wrought:
"We may be on the same floor or right down the hall, and we're still texting them," Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "They give you the list of every team's suite and the phone number when you check in, and I'm not even sure we ever call them."
These crazy kids are all into their Facebooks, their Tweeters and their iPhonies. They don't even connect to others any more. WHY DON'T THEY THINK OF THE CHILDREN??
The most intriguing passage of this whole thing was the part near the end where an executive speculates on how much longer the Winter Meetings will continue. Rick Hahn of the White Sox says the Meetings have little use with modern technology. Why do they need to fly all over the country and follow these secretive practices to do something they can accomplish back at their home bases just as easily?
Will the Winter Meetings still be going on in their current form in 10 years?
2) The Nationals possible fire sale
I left this out of my Winter Meeting musings, but the Nationals are in a pretty unique situation. With a bucketful of one-year contracts on the roster, they may be on the verge of making some big moves. This is from Buster Olney's (Insider) column on the week's winners and losers:
They are the Krakatoa of baseball right now, an amalgam of talent and contract stresses that is going to lead to some eruptive deal-making. Ian Desmond, a star, is a free agent after next year. Jordan Zimmermann, a star, is a free agent after next year. Doug Fister, an underappreciated star, is a free agent after next year. Tyler Clippard, star reliever, is a free agent after next year.
Houston hasn't been linked to any of these guys. The Mariners are heavy in on Ian Desmond. The Rangers traded for Ross Detwiler, but need a starting pitcher as well. There are lots of AL West connections with the Nats.
But, Houston could get better with any of those players. Desmond fills in at shortstop nicely. Fister could fill a role at the top of a very good rotation. Would Houston want to take a flier on a one-year rental?
They would get a comp pick for Fister and Desmond. How much would they cost in trade?
More than that, does either move fit in with Houston's larger plan? The Astros aren't about making a run for 2015, so much as opening wide a window of contention. They want to be good for multiple seasons.
The only reason one of these deals makes sense for them is if the Astros feel they can't gain traction with the top of the free agent market right now. Maybe by trading for a guy, showing him the situation in Houston for a year, they could have a better shot at making a splashy signing.
3) Interview with David Forst
If you have a few minutes today, be sure to read this excellent interview with Athletics assistant GM David Forst. It's enlightening, both on what the A's are doing this winter, what they'll continue to do to add to their team and previous trends in their roster.
In particular, this passage was fascinating. We made a lot out of how the A's may have targetted fly ball hitters and that's why they had so much success against Chad Qualls. Turns out, they weren't trying to consciously add those fly ball guys.
Forst: We didn't. I think there's something that those hitters have in common that attracts us to them, but specifically going out to look at fly ball hitters was not something we did. As it relates to home runs, we're aware of it, and starting with Yoenis and Donaldson and Moss, we recognize that as something we're going to be lacking until we add more guys. But we don't need to go get homers, we need good hitters.
They still destroyed Qualls, though.