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Folding them and holding them

Retirements, free-agent pursuits make big news
11/26/2008 3:16 PM ET
By Glenn Giangrande / Special to YESNetwork.com

Rafael Furcal could wind up being a terrific find for the offensive-minded A's. (AP)
Someone tell me how I can fast forward to June, please.

Having spent my whole life in the northeast, you'd think that I would have gotten used to the cold weather by now. I haven't. In fact, the cold weather makes me very nervous about my car. It has over 145,000 miles on it, so who knows how much longer it's going to last? Plus, it always seems like the worst things happen to my car in the winter, forcing me to wake up extra early and drop it off for maintenance before walking back to my place 20 minutes in freezing cold.

I'm just waiting for something to go wrong. At least the Hot Stove is on, right?

Au Revior Moose ... see you in Cooperstown, hopefully.
Well, it's time for me to go searching for a new favorite Yankee. I'm going to miss seeing Mike Mussina on the mound and on camera — his sound bytes were fantastic. He was definitely an entertaining quote when he was in the "right" frame of mind. I feel like there's something endearing about the fact that Mussina never won the World Series ring that we all probably thought he was going to get when he signed with the Yankees prior to the 2001 season. He took the ball in numerous big games, seemingly matching up head-to-head with the Pedro Martinezes and in-their-prime Barry Zitos on a regular basis. He always gave it everything he had on the field and rarely could fault be found in his performances prior to his nearly disastrous 2007 campaign.

In fact, only one big-game clunker of Mussina's springs to mind, and who knows how Game 5 of the 2005 ALDS in Anaheim would've turned out if Gary Sheffield didn't collide with Bubba Crosby. Going out on top with a 20-win season, 30 wins away from 300 ... if I had a vote, he'd be a Hall of Famer, especially when you consider how he pitched in the toughest division and baseball's most chemically enhanced time.

Thanks for the memories, Andy?
I continue to be torn on the issue of Andy Pettitte. Should he be brought back? On one hand, he gave the Yankees 200-plus innings, and they could certainly use his presence in the rotation now that they only have two viable starting options in Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain. On the flipside...is it just time to move on? We'd love your thoughts on the issue. Send emails to ggiangrande@yesnetwork.com, and your comments regarding the lefty will be placed in a future blog.

Wait, I thought MVPs had to have power numbers
No Yankee bias coming from this direction, but I have to raise an eye over the decision to award Dustin Pedroia the American League MVP Award.

Two years ago, the powers that were found a reason to give the honor to Justin Morneau over Derek Jeter, who finished ranked among the American League's Top 5 in batting average, on-base percentage, runs, and hits. A big knock on Jeter was said to be a lack of power numbers — he did drive in 97 runs, impressive for a leadoff hitter, but surely, voters couldn't elect an MVP who only hit 14 home runs ... could they? Well, they gave it to one who hit 17 this year, as that was Pedroia's total.

Sounds like hypocrisy was running wild. Quite frankly, I don't even think Pedroia was his own team's MVP in 2008. In my humble opinion, that honor belonged to Kevin Youkilis, who put up prime numbers while coming up big whenever Mike Lowell was out of action during his injury-plagued season.

Nice trade by the BoSox...what if they land Big Tex?
High marks go to Boston management for the Coco Crisp\Ramon Ramirez swap with Kansas City. The emergence of Jacoby Ellsbury had him as an expendable part going into last season, and they get a quality bullpen arm for him in return. While the 27-year-old right-hander should see his ERA rise a bit from the 2.64 mark he posted pitching in the fairly big Kaufmann Stadium, his 70 Ks in 71.2 IP suggests that his stuff could be here to stay after a brutal '07 with Colorado. Ramirez's presence allows the Sox to shift Justin Masterson into its rotation or use Masterson as a trade chip if need be while signing another starter.

However, the signing of Mark Teixeira should be the Red Sox's first and only priority. It would create a glut with four players for three lineups spots between Teixeira, Lowell, David Ortiz and Youkilis, but that's a good problem to have, right? Lowell would be my odd man out, with Youkilis shifting back to third base full-time and Ortiz holding down the DH spot provided that he's healthy. If everyone pulls their weight, putting Teixeira into that BoSox lineup with Jason Bay there all year would arguably make them even better than they were with Manny Ramirez. Arguably.

Oaktown Getting' Down?
I loved the Matt Holliday trade, and now rumors are going around about the A's being heavy players concerning the services of Rafael Furcal. He could be a steal after performing very well in limited duty with the Dodgers. As long as his back problems don't resurface, Furcal would give Oakland a much-needed spark at the top of the order. The A's finished dead last in the AL with 646 runs scored last season, and given the usual funny money that will be doled out to starting pitchers, Oakland seems to be taking this mindset: "We'll let everyone else go crazy on the pitching for now, boost the offense, then pick up a bargain arm or two."

I refuse to believe that the A's will enter next year with Dana Eveland being their potential No. 2 starter behind ace Justin Duchscherer, who had arm problems last season. If things break right over the next couple of months, Oakland could find itself a Wild Card contender in '08.

Let my Heilman go!
Aaron Heilman could be a really attractive trade chip for the Mets in a couple of months. Once the dust settles regarding the marquee free agent pitchers, teams are going to look for alternatives like the 28-year-old right-hander, who seems to request to be a starter every year around this time.

Heilman struggled badly last season, posting his worst ERA as a reliever at 5.21. The righty seriously might need a change of scenery after spending his entire career with the Mets, and whoever gets him will be receiving a hungry pitcher eager to prove to his old team that he can be a starter in the Majors. According to the New York Post, Colorado offered up Huston Street to the Mets and was rebuffed. I can't blame Omar Minaya for that one. If he waits until January, when the Sabathias, Burnetts, and Lowes are off the market, he might be able to play a couple of teams against each other and get a nice return for Heilman ... if the Mets decide to deal him.

Feel free to Hassle the Hoff.
I think it's great that Trevor Hoffman wants to continue his career closing. I also think it's great that San Diego has made the wise decision to let him walk as the Padres go through a rebuilding phase, though I still don't think they should be trading the face of their franchise in Jake Peavy, big, well-deserved contract and all.

Hoffman can still help a team that has a hole at the back of its bullpen, but I would never expect him to come up big in crucial games. I think Detroit would be a great fit, but if the Mets somehow fail to land Francisco Rodriguez, I would stay far away from Hoffman — and Brian Fuentes for that matter. Among the realistic, palatable options, I'd choose to pursue Bobby Jenks in a trade, as it seems like White Sox GM Kenny Williams is looking to make some deals.

Oh, and real quick about Ryan Dempster...
Dempster's four-year, $52 million contract is old news, but it still mystifies me. He earned every penny of that deal thanks to ONE SEASON as a starter, his first year in a rotation since he made 20 starts with Cincinnati in 2003.

Yes, Dempster's 2008 was fantastic, he went 17-6 with a 2.96 ERA, but let's be honest here, most baseball watchers were probably waiting for him to implode at every turn. He didn't, but that doesn't mean he deserved all that money, which probably caused some big-time adjustments to market values for lower-tier starters.

When the offseason began, the Cubs were in on the Peavy trade discussions, but they did not want to make a move if it would've precluded them from bringing back Dempster. He's back in the fold, and Lou Piniella has publicly stated that Chicago is now out of the mix on Peavy. Big mistake.

Even if the Cubs have six experienced starters for five rotation spots, only one of them is on Peavy's level, and that would be Carlos Zambrano, who had some mysterious arm issues last year. When you have a chance to bring in an ace, you've got to make it happen. Based on this alone, I won't be picking the Cubbies in 2009.

Alright everyone, it's been fun as always. Again, to voice your opinions on Pettitte's potential future, or to comment on anything baseball related and beyond, hit me up at ggiangrande@yesnetwork.com. Hope you all get your holiday seasons off to great starts!

Glenn Giangrande is a regular contributor to YESNetwork.com
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