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Thursday Notes

There hasn't been too much action coming out of the GM Meetings in Florida, but for the most part this is just the starting point for many trade discussions which will kick into high gear in December once some free agents get signed.

The biggest trade so far has been the swap between the Mets and Padres yesterday. In that trade San Diego netted a plus one in the reliever column by getting both Heath Bell and Royce Ring from New York. That leads me to believe that they now have the flexibility to trade away another reliever, possibly Scott Linebrink. But then there's this yesterday from San Diego GM Kevin Towers:

"With the way the relief pitching is shaking out, it would be difficult for us to trade Linebrink," said Towers. "Someone would really have to overpay. If we keep Linebrink, Giles won't happen."

Could this be more of Towers' notorious over-hyping to try and drive up the price of Linebrink? To get him we may have to send a reliever back to San Diego along with Giles, something I'm not sure John Schuerholz may be willing to do. With the Padres veering away from trading to fill their second base hole, they may now turn to the free agent market for one of the Todd Walkers or Ray Durhams out there. They may also bring back Mark Loretta via free agency. The only saving grace of a reasonable trade from the Braves standpoint may be the increasing cost of free agents, which would drive up the cost on Towers. He would be wise to acquire Marcus Giles via a trade, with the likelihood of being able to sign him for a hometown discount.


In other news, former Brave Wes Helms was signed to a two-year $5.5 million deal by the Phillies. Helms spent last season with the Marlins, where he quietly compiled a .329 batting average and 10 homeruns. His three year OPS line reads .692 / .814 / .965. At 30 years old, Helms may have found his stroke, and the Phillies might have found themselves a good part-time third baseman and power bat off the bench. The fact that he's staying in the NL East is not good news for the Braves. Helms hit .400 (6-for-15) off Braves pitching last season, and has hit .349 against them since leaving Atlanta after the 2002 season.


The Cubs continue to overpay for former Braves, yesterday signing Hank White (or Henry Blanco to some of you) to a two-year $5.25 million dollar deal. This signing of a "backup catcher" with a .225 lifetime batting average and a .290 lifetime on-base percentage to a deal worth more than $2 million per year is further proof that the Cubs have no idea how to spend their money this off-season.

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