THE HOT COLD STOVE RUMOR MILL
● The Mets have tendered free-agent right-hander Derek Lowe a three-year, $36 million offer, prioritizing the 35-year-old sinkerballer over southpaws Oliver Perez and Randy Wolf (Jack Curry, New York Times)
[Two things: (a) Lowe's original contractual demands of five years and $90 million certainly did dissipate quickly, and (b) should we infer anything from the fact that Ben Sheets is evidently not even on New York's radar?]
● The Cubs are close to a multi-year deal with free-agent outfielder Milton Bradley, and are expected to officially announce the signing next week (David Kaplan, Comcast SportsNet)
[Happy trails, Milton, and the best of luck. It was a pleasure to watch you ply your craft so effectively in 2008.]
● Florida and Pittsburgh have emerged as two of the three finalists for the services of free-agent right-hander Derrick Turnbow, and Texas is among the teams rumored to be the third unnamed finalist (Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
[So, tell me, is a bad sign if your walks per nine innings chart at FanGraphs closely resembles a large 'W'?]
● The Orioles, who are known to have previously discussed the idea of trading for Hank Blalock in the event that Mark Teixeira didn't accept their seven-year, $150 million mega-offer, are exploring the possibility of signing free-agent first baseman Richie Sexson (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore Sun)
[.221/.321/.382. Good luck with that. It's also nice to know that there's a sports media personality out there with a funnier-sounding last name than mine.]
● The Red Sox still aren't interested in trading Clay Buchholz (Every Boston-Area Newspaper In Existence)
[There, I think we covered that.]
INTERVIEWS AND QUOTES
Dallas Morning News: Steve Buechele, High-A Bakersfield Blaze Manager (the entire list of changes to the organization's minor league coaching staff can be viewed here; beyond the appointment of Buechele, the other highly notable promotion announced on Monday was Danny Clark's move upward from Low-A Clinton pitching coach to the role of minor league pitching coordinator, previously vacated by Rick Adair when he took the bullpen coach's job in Seattle)
Q: What do you think about managing Bakersfield?
A: I'm real excited. To do it out here in California makes it really fun. I think ultimately years down the road, if I like it or I'm any good at it, coaching in the majors might appeal to me. But to go in and manage your first year at [Class] A, I'm going to give it my best chance and see how it works with my family and if I'm any good at it and If It's something I want to do.
Q: How do you feel health wise?
A: I feel great. I came back early to get my weight back and get ready for the spring. My finger feels fine and I feel great.
Q: What were the main things [Naranjeros de Hermosillo manager] Vinny Castilla worked with you on?
A: I just had to get the baseball feeling for playing third [base]. I took a lot of ground balls and worked on fielding situations, like helping me work with the shortstop. He did a lot of little things that helped me with my range to the left without having to dive for everything. There were a lot of good things he taught me heading into spring.
Q: Is there any progress in terms of where you might play next season? Are you prepared to take a minor league deal based on your situation?
A: We're still in the middle of it. My agent has talked with teams and has talked with Jon Daniels. Right now is a dead time and next week things may heat up after the holidays are over. I know I'm in a different circumstance this time around coming off a second year in a row of surgery. I'm confident in myself. I know what I can bring to a team not only on the field, but off it as a good veteran presence. Hopefully, there's a big league deal out there, but if I have to sign a minor league deal, I will. I need another chance to show I'm recovered and ready to go.
According to Baseball America's Matt Eddy, Texas has signed 27-year-old right-hander Casey Daigle (the husband of softball queen Jennie Finch).
Among Gil LeBreton's somewhat tongue-in-cheek sports predictions for the upcoming year: Texas trades Kevin Millwood to the Braves for outfielder Josh Anderson, then proceeds to ink Ben Sheets to a three-year, $36 million deal (February), Jarrod Saltalamacchia is traded to the Red Sox, with Greg Golson (?!) subsequently racing onto the field on Opening Day as the Rangers' starting center fielder (March), and Hank Blalock and Vicente Padilla are traded to the Twins and Mets, respectively (July). Bonus points for rational creativity ... I think.
Rangers spring training tickets officially go on sale at 9:00 a.m. CST on Saturday morning.