Monopoly Money

Free agency…. Who would have thought when Curt Flood sued Major League Baseball it would have led to what is going on nearly 21 years later…. The amount of money that teams will be spending this off-season is unfathomable. Think about it, how many lifetimes will it take the average Cubs’ fan to earn $119 million dollars? Now that figure is being thrown around like a $50 dollar bill. According to Peter Gammons….Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee will all be looking for the same contract that Carlos Beltran signed with the Mets. And then there is Daisuke Matsuzaka….some are suggesting that by the time a team pays the posting fee and actually signs him, the total cost could break the $100 million dollar mark. WOW!!! Remember when Ryne Sandberg was the highest paid player?

Here is the latest from the mill and actual news from around the league….

The Golden Gloves…. Former Cub and current free-agent Greg Maddux won his 16th Gold Glove on Friday. Maddux joined Jim Kaat and Brooks Robinson as the only three players in Major League history to win the award 16 times. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Rawlings Gold Glove awards. The other winners are as follows:

National League: Albert Pujols (1), Orlando Hudson (2), Scott Rolen (7), Omar Vizquel (11), Carlos Beltran (1), Andruw Jones (9), Mike Cameron (3), Brad Ausmus (3) and Greg Maddux (16)

American League: Mark Teixeira (2), Mark Grudzielanek (1), Eric Chavez (6), Derek Jeter (3), Torri Hunter (6), Ichiro Suzuki (6), Vernon Wells (3), Ivan Rodriguez (12) and Kenny Rogers (3)

MLB in Japan…. Does anyone remember the Vapors? The MLB All-Stars defeated the stars of Japan on Friday morning 3-2 behind a 2-run homer by Jermaine Dye. Rafael Furcal scored on the Dye homer and John Lackey pitched 5 good innings. Bronson Arroyo is scheduled to pitch on Saturday. The MLB All-Stars tied the “scrimmage game” on Thursday but won the first game in the series.

Major League Baseball…. The owners officially approved the new labor deal on Friday.

Daisuke Matsuzaka…. Scott Boras stated on Friday that his new client and soon to be mega millionaire will now be known as “D-Mat”. Couldn’t he come up with anything more original? Matsuzaka has been the hot topic of conversation of late and with the fact that the bidding has actually started be prepared to hear his name for at least the next few days while the baseball world waits for its latest import to be awarded to his new team. Teams now have a deadline….5:00pm E.T. on Wednesday, November 8. Once the Seibu Lions know the highest bid they will have until November 14th to accept (the team that made the highest bid will not be known until the bid is accepted). If the Lions accept the offer, the winning team has 30 days to negotiate and reach an agreement. Several teams are reportedly interested in bidding for Matsuzaka including the Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox, Mets and Orioles. The Dodgers and Angels have decided not to bid according to different reports in the L.A. Times.

While the unproven talent is likely to cost a team $100 million dollars over the next 5 seasons, there are other costs that will be associated with having Matsuzaka on a team and those services and additions can be expensive as well. A $100 million dollar risk, or two to three proven players….only time will tell.

The Free-Agent filing list grew to 161 of the possible 200 on Friday. Eric Gagne and Jim Edmonds filed for free agency….Edmonds was provisional.

Akinori Iwamura…. The power hitter from Japan will be posted by the Yakult Swallows and could provide help to the Cubs at 3rd base if they lose Aramis Ramirez according to Phil Rodgers. The left-hander hit .300 with 30 home runs the last 3 seasons in Japan.

MLB in China…. Major League Baseball announced on Friday that they will be opening an office in China in hopes of promoting the game there. Another goal is to be able to have Opening Day in the near future in China.

Alfonso Soriano…. Who will get more money out of the big three? It seems that Ramirez has taken Carlos Lee’s place as the number one or number two guy….depending on the team. Who does number two work for? Todd Zolecki from the Philadelphia Inquirer was on the Baseball Beat with Chuck Wilson on Friday and he stated that Soriano is the number one target for the Phillies this off-season. The Phils want him to hit 4th in the lineup and protect Ryan Howard. They are planning on signing Soriano, sticking him in left and trading Pat Burrell. Zolecki stated that the Phils will not trade Burrell until they sign Soriano. He went on to say how curious he was that the Phils are looking to hit Soriano in the 4-hole when his career numbers clearly state that Soriano cannot hit in the middle of the lineup. The Phillies think they can unload Burrell to an American League team so he can DH and in turn they will “eat” half of his contract in order to move him. The Phillies are also interested in Mark DeRosa and Wes Helms as alternative to Abraham Nunez at 3rd.

Lee Elia…. According to a report in the Baltimore Sun former Cub manager, Lee Elia, said that “taking any job that will keep him on the road for an extended period is extremely remote.” Elia feels it is time for him to devote time to his family.

Craig Counsel…. According to a report in the East Valley Tribune, free agent Craig Counsel has been contacted by six to eight teams. Barry Meister, Counsel’s agent, said he would prefer to remain a starter but is willing to listen to all offers. Meister and Counsel are searching for a multi-year deal and the report mentions the Cubs, Cardinals and Red Sox as possible destinations.

Aramis Ramirez…. After spending Thursday telling everyone “the Cubs are his first choice.” Several reports out of L.A. are stating that the Angels have moved Ramirez above A-Rod on their off-season “to-do” list. The report from the Associated Press states absolutely nothing and one must wonder if Ramirez will just go to the highest bidder.

Joe Randa…. The Kansas City Star confirmed the report that Joe Randa has retired from baseball.

Gary Matthews, Jr. …. The Angels are going to be major players this off-season. According to a repot in the L.A. Times, the Angels are interested in Matthews and Barry Zito. Scott Leventhal, Matthews’ agent, met with Angels GM on Tuesday night at an AFL game and while they cannot talk about contracts, they did discuss the future of Matthews in an Angels uniform.

Barry Zito…. Most think that Zito will end up on the West Coast and the L.A. Times thinks that the Angels will be major players in the Zito sweepstakes. However the writer of that report mentions scenarios that would land every other free agent in California and trades that could put Vernon Wells and Alex Rodriguez in red hats next summer. Peter Gammons, however, thinks that Zito will end up with the Mets and reunite with his former pitching coach, Rick Peterson. Gammons also added the Matsuzaka will have an impact on where Zito pitches next season.

USA Today ran a list of the 10 Biggest questions of the off-season and mentioned how the 2007 Chicago Cubs could be the 2006 Detroit Tigers….a decent read.

The Houston Astros…. The Astros have contacted the agents for Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Lee among others according to a report in Houston Chronicle.

Ned Colletti…. Colletti’s off-season plans seems to be the same as last off-season….out bid the Chicago Cubs. According to a report in the L.A. Times, Colletti has targeted Barry Zito, Jason Schmidt, Greg Maddux, Carlos Lee, Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez. Colletti stated that the Dodgers will not bid for Matsuzaka and feel the Dodgers could spend that money to fill many areas….just not one. The Dodgers have also stated that they want Greg Maddux back for 2007 stating the positive impact he had on the team and the Dodgers young players (especially Russell Martin) last season when he came over from the Cubs at the trading deadline.

Jason Schmidt…. Barry Rozner thinks that if the Cubs go after Schmidt it will be risky and dangerous because of his injury history.

Ted Lilly and Miguel Batista…. The two free-agent pitchers are on the Cubs radar according to a report in the Tribune by Phil Rodgers.

Well, that’s the latest from the mill….with a little news thrown in and I’m sticking to it!!!

Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver