MLB…Stuff from the Stove

It is starting to get into the long, cold days of winter. It is mid-January, but every year at around this time I get this feeling that things are about to get better, much better in fact, because baseball is growing closer and closer with each passing day. My various news feeds and messages are starting to come alive with speculation, analysis, and pictures of Cacti and Grapefruit. It is getting closer, and I can’t wait! For me, the New Year doesn’t start on January 1st. It starts in mid-February. Sigh, the life of a baseball fanatic.
At this time of year, the baseball grapevine, better known as the Hot Stove, starts to get cranking. The early dominoes have fallen, and now the wheeling and dealing starts in earnest, as do all the rumors. With the start of 2015 Spring Training starting soon, players need to get signed and deals need to get done. So I wanted to kook at the latest information that I have. I glean these tidbits from the various news outlets, sports sites, and other places as appropriate, so if my information is compromised…sorry.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are about to sign Korean infielder Jung-ho Kang for 4 years/ $16M. He is a very highly-touted Korean player with a very impressive slash line (.356 / .459 /.739), while hitting 40-HR’s in 116 games. He is still young at 27, and has some upside. There are concerns about his defense, and he may not be an infielder in the Pirates organization. Some of the other criticism is that the KBO (Korean Baseball Organization) is the equivalent of MLB’s AA, and how Jung-ho Kang’s talents will translate going forward has yet to be seen…
The next rumor is about ‘Big Game’ James Shields. It seems that the Arizona D-backs have popped up as a possible destination. This tells me that Shields contract demands of 5 years/ $110M will not be met, as the D-backs won’t offer this large of a contract to a 33 year-old pitcher. Something tells me that 3 years/ $54M and an option for a 4th year@ $20M will probably get it done. Keep in mind that because Shields turned down a qualifying offer from the Royals, he will cost a draft pick…
Max Scherzer still hasn’t signed anywhere yet. But he will. He will not be staying home for the 2015 season. Somebody is going to blink, and it will be expensive…
The San Diego Padres are starting to look like a new-look team to go along with their new uniforms. They have already restocked the shelves by signing Wil Myers, Justin Upton, and Jeff Kent, and now they appear to be in Cole Hamels. The Padres have young prospects to move, and it is known the Phillies GM Ruben Amaro wants a very high price for Hamels. I do not see this deal materializing, especially with teams like the Red Sox, Cardinals, and Cubs in the mix, but the biggest problem for anyone wanting a deal is that Hamels is still owed $94 million total through 2018.
The Mets are listening to prospective deals for P Dillon Gee. Three teams from the N.L. West (Giants, Rockies, and D-Backs) keep coming up. I am not sure where this is going just yet…
It has been reported that both the Dodgers and the Red Sox have shown an interest in P Alexi Ogando. He Red Sox had scouts at a recent work-out, fueling the speculation. Simply stated, he would be a huge gamble after his well-documented UCL sprain back in June 2014 that shelved him for the season…
On the Dan Haren saga…Haren has started his off-season throwing routine, and he has stated that he will in fact report when the Miami Marlins open training camp. Remember that Haren had stated that he was considering retirement when faced with the possibility of having to relocate himself to the East Coast. Haren has his family on the West Coast, and he understandably wants to be near them. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds…
The Washington Nationals have signed Mike Carp to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training. Carp had a not-so-good 2014 for Boston last year as a bat-off-the-bench, where he only managed to hit .175 in 59 games…
There is more, but I have more articles to write this week. I need the material.

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