A lot of stuff out there today to touch on...
First and foremost, today is the deadline for the Daisuke Matsuzaka bidding.
Kevin Sherrington has a column today, lobbying the Rangers to do what they have to do to get him, and includes some quotes from Bobby Valentine about Matsuzaka (whom he compares to Mike Mussina). Sherrington also has the cautionary notes about the workload Matsuzaka has borne, but thinks it is worth the risk.
I agree. And more than that, I'll be a little surprised if the Rangers don't end up with him. I've heard the conspiracy theories out there, that the Yanks are bound to end up with him, particularly since they aren't sending in the bid until five minutes before the deadline.
But you know...I think that's the smart thing to do. I hope the Rangers hand-deliver their bid at five minutes before the deadline, as well. There's no advantage to sending in the bid 48 hours early, nothing but potential downside.
And personally, I think the Yanks may be more concerned that Bud Selig -- who has made parity and competitive balance his Holy Grail, who has tried to do whatever he can, in his clumsy, ham-handed way to keep the rich teams from simply money-whipping the poor ones -- may do something in the process to obstruct their bid. I think the last minute strategy may be more from paranoia that Selig will try to keep them from winning the bidding, than out of some sinister plan that will result in them knowing what they need to bid by that time to win. And I think Selig would rather see Matsuzaka go somewhere else than to the Yankees, who already tend to skim the cream from the free agent crop anyway.
I don't know when we are going to hear the results -- the DMN says it will be announced next week, while the S-T says the Rangers will find out today -- but I'm awaiting anxiously...
And you know what would be a wonderful offseason, from my perspective? Adding both Matsuzaka and Barry Bonds. And Gil LeBreton says Bonds is a possibility, with Jon Daniels apparently studying the situation, and Ron Washington the type of manager who thinks he can harness Bonds and his issues, if only for a year.
It would be an ideal solution. Give him a one year deal, let him split his team between the outfield and DH, with Nelson Cruz, Brad Wilkerson, and Jason Botts getting the other corner OF/DH at bats, and let him hit 4th in the order, behind Mark Teixeira. All of the sudden, the somewhat-wimpy Rangers lineup would look a whole lot better...
Evan Grant says that Art Howe will be joining the Rangers as bench coach, although the first base coach and third base coach slots are still unresolved. Don Wakamatsu has apparently been offered the opportunity to stay as third base coach and catching instructor, but he is looking at other opportunities, while it sounds like the first base coach will be brought in by Washington from elsewhere.
Kat O'Brien's notes this morning mention the Howe hiring, and Washington's feeling that he can lean on Howe for help. Howe is, from what I hear, one of the most respected folks in baseball, well regarded and looked at as someone without an ego, which would make him a good compliment for a first-time manager like Washington.
O'Brien also has a piece on Hank Blalock and Eric Chavez's thoughts on Washington...and I think it is pretty revealing that Blalock has more to say in this article than in any other article I think I've ever read involving him, and has more positive to say about Washington in this piece than I saw him say about Showalter in the past couple of years.
On the free agent front, the Dodgers and Orioles are both identified as being in on Carlos Lee, the Phillies are still sniffing around Mark DeRosa, and the Astros are looking at bringing Houston native Kip Wells back home.
Finally, the Padres have three finalists for their managerial job...Trey Hillman, Bud Black, and Dusty Baker. I like the Padres, and I'd like Hillman to be in the other league, so he'd be an attractive hire, and hiring Bud Black would hurt a division rival, which would be nice.