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The Dog Days of Winter

Chris Ruddick,
MLB Editor


Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If there is such a thing as the dog days of summer, then the same must apply to the winter and if that is the case, then for baseball people, the month of January is certainly that time.

In November the awards are doled out and teams start to formulate their offseason plan. December is when the Winter Meetings take place and most of the big free agents usually sign. February is great because you know Spring Training is right around the corner.

But January? It's awful and at the moment it's even worse because there is six-plus inches of snow on the ground here in the Northeast. Outside of the always fun Hall of Fame Day, January for baseball is dead. This is usually the time when people start judging which teams had a good offseason which is absurd. You want to know who was the biggest winner this offseason, watch in October or November when a team is raising a World Series trophy. That is when championships are won, not in December.

That said I can't think of a team that had a worse winter then the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels were supposed to be big spenders this offseason, but have been shut down at every turn.

They wanted Carl Crawford, well Boston got him. They toyed with Cliff Lee to no avail. They wanted Adrian Beltre, but the team that won their division got him. Things are so bad in LA at the moment that they are figuring out which would be a better fit for their team this coming season, Johnny Damon or Vladimir Guerrero.


There aren't an abundance of teams looking for a closer like Rafael Soriano.
And if you want me to pick the biggest winner, look no further than Colorado. They locked up the two cornerstones of their franchise long term and somehow got Jorge De La Rosa to agree to return with a two-year, $21.5 million deal.

I applaud De La Rosa for wanting to stay in Colorado, but you have to wonder just how much dough he could have reaped had he waited for the market to play out. Once Lee went to Philly, De La Rosa could have pulled in an enormous deal from the New York Yankees, who are desperate for a starter.

Not to mention the two best starting pitchers on the market as we sit here are Carl Pavano and Kevin Millwood. Slim pickings to say the least.

Pitchers and catchers start to report in 33 days. And it can't come soon enough.

Anyway, let's take a look at some other news making the rounds this week:

HOFFMAN'S NEXT STOP IS COOPERSTOWN

Trevor Hoffman called it a career on Wednesday, ending his remarkable run with more saves than any closer who has ever played the game.

I have never been a big Hoffman guy, but 601 saves is 601 saves. He is probably hurt by the fact that he played in an era with the greatest closer of all-time in Mariano Rivera, but either way Hoffman was one of the best.

There were some people tweeting last night that it was unfair to judge Hoffman with Rivera because Rivera's greatness has been further enhanced by the way he has pitched in the postseason and that Hoffman hasn't had as many opportunities.

Well I remember Hoffman's lone World Series appearance and you know what, it resulted in a blown save.

BEST OF THE REST OF THE FREE AGENTS

RAFAEL SORIANO: I am not exactly sure why Rafael Soriano hasn't found work yet. There aren't an abundance of teams looking for a closer and the team he has been linked with the most over the past couple of weeks, the New York Yankees, seem set there for this season. Now if the Yankees can dangle the carrot to Soriano that he would be the heir apparent to Rivera, he may bite. I think he'll wind up with the White Sox though. Or even back in Tampa at a discount.

CARL PAVANO: Even as starting pitching-strapped as the New York Yankees are, they won't go near Pavano with a 10-foot pole. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Of course it is hard to blame the Yankees here. Pavano may have won 31 games over the last two seasons, but he won just nine in four years in the Bronx. Washington had been kicking the tires on him all winter, but it appears now that he should have a deal in place with the Minnesota Twins by the end of next week.

VLADIMIR GUERRERO/MANNY RAMIREZ/JOHNNY DAMON/JIM THOME: Of these four I think Damon probably has the most left in the tank, but the player I would take the chance on is Ramirez. Thome can always deliver you a home run, but he is a pinch-hitter at best right now. Guerrero was great at times last season, but wore down. Not to mention he is a liability in the field now. It appears that Thome is closing in on a deal with the Rangers, but the other three could be waiting until after the start of spring training to find a job.

KEVIN MILLWOOD: This is how bad the starting pitching market is. Jeff Francis and Chris Young are out there and teams could get real lucky with one of them, but you know what you are getting with Millwood. He will get you 10-12 wins and pitch at least 200 innings. Mark it down.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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