Nov. 22, 2010
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Joey Votto is the National Leagues MVP?Cody Ross got hosed!OK, maybe not. But thats the best we can do in terms of Bay Areabaseball conversation starters right now. Monday marked the start of whats typically a very quiet time onthe games calendar. From Thanksgiving week until the start of the annualwinter meetings, which this year will be held in Orlando, Fla.,Dec. 6-9, front offices tend to stay under the radar.Thats not to say there wont be any big news. There justwont be a torrential downpour; thatll come once the big-name freeagents start signing (i.e., setting the market for everyone else).For now, then, well have to make due with making sense of thesteady drizzle of rumors and roster machinations, including ... Oaklands stalled pursuit of Japanese pitching starHisashi Iwakuma. As first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle,talks between the As and Iwakuma, a 29-year-old righty, have hit a wall-- of cash. The As paid a posting fee of between 16-18million for the right to negotiate with Iwakuma for 30 days, and two weeks intothe process the sides are said to be worlds apart on proposed contract terms. Oaklandwont have to pay that fat fee if it doesnt reach an agreementwith Iwakuma, who apparently wants to be paid like an ace. The As,however, already have an ace in 18-game winner Trevor Cahill, and BrettAnderson and Gio Gonzalez have ace potential. Youve heard the adage that sometimes the best deals are thosethat dont go down? This might be one of them. And dont worry about that deal that Vin Mazzaro to the Royals acouple of days after the As won the bidding rights; that was more aboutlanding David DeJesus -- an excellent all-around player -- than it was aboutOaklands supreme confidence in signing Iwakuma.With or without the Japanese import, the As are going to have atremendous rotation in 2011, especially if Josh Outman is 100 percent in hisrecovery from the Tommy John surgery that cut short his breakthrough 2009season. If healthy, Cahill, Anderson,Gonzalez, Outman and Dallas Braden -- with Tyson Ross and Bobby Cramer asinsurance -- would represent the best 1-5 in the American League West.And with the 16-18 million posting fee, plus another 10 million orso for the actual contract, that Oaklandappeared to have earmarked for Iwakuma, theyll have a better shot attruly addressing the glaring need that is their dearth of power. The D-Trains never-ending quest for a return torelevance. Its a sad story, really. Dontrelle Willis was oneof the most charismatic players in the game when he burst onto the scene as arookie on FloridasWorld Series-winning 2003 team, but injuries and anxiety issues have sincerobbed him of his confidence and command.They havent robbed him of his love for the game, though. Thatmuch is obvious. And perhaps because of that charisma, teams continue to givehim chance after chance to find his once-funky, fantastic form. Hes a Tiger! Hes a Diamondback! Hes a Giant! Andas of Monday, hes a Red, signed today. All in the past six months alone. Good luck to one of Alamedasfavorite sons. Darren Ford avoiding time behind bars. TheGiants speedy outfielder entered a pre-trial intervention program that keepshim out of jail in connection with a November 2009 arrest for essentiallystealing 300 from the car dealership at which he worked and making up a storyabout it being taken from him at gunpoint.Ford, who provided one of the seasons more memorable momentswith his mad dash home in a big September win over the Rockies,declined comment after reaching a deal with prosecutors.The deal means Ford wont have a criminal record in his hometownof Vineland, N.J.,and thats probably a relief to Vinelandmayor Robert Romano. Last week, Romano gave Ford a key to the city. The unenviable task of Nick Paparesta.Whos that? The guy the As just hired as their head athletic trainer.And we can neither confirm nor deny that he sprained a finger reaching for thepen with which he signed his contract.
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