Arrived a few hours ago in Dallas, where all you Detroiters will be happy to know the weather is no better than when I left DTW.
It’s cold. It’s rainy. In Texas. If I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought Justin Verlander was pitching tonight.
It should be a fun four days here at the posh Hilton Anatole, where an impressive collection of baseball insiders are arriving for MLB’s winter meetings — which officially start tomorrow and run through Thursday.
And, as usual, there are no shortage of story lines to keep an eye on, because of all the star power that remains unsigned as I sit here in a mostly (for now) quiet media work room.
Albert Pujols. Prince Fielder. Jose Reyes. Mark Buehrle. C.J. Wilson. All still are up for grabs, for the right (and, no doubt) hefty price.
Frankly, I don’t expect the Tigers to sign any of them. Pujols and Fielder, zero chance obviously. Wilson, too much uncertainty. Reyes, I say that’s a pipe dream. Buehrle, Mr. Consistency, would be a nice fit to an already impressive rotation, but SI.com’s Jon Heyman wrote today that as many as 14 — 14! — teams are interested in the left-handed starter. The Tigers might be one of them, but they probably aren’t the most interested of the 14.
After all, their biggest holes aren’t in the pitching department. Rather, they would much prefer to add a top-of-the-order hitter with significant speed, and perhaps a third baseman.
I still maintain Aramis Ramirez could be a good pickup, especially if the Tigers can get assurances that he’ll be healthy — maybe even contract languages that protects them otherwise, like with the Pudge Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez contracts. The key will be the years Ramirez seeks. If it’s more than three, that might be an instant pass. He is 33.
Certainly, though, the more intriguing name linked to the Tigers: Yoenis Cespedes, the Cuban outfielder who’s a five-tool talent — and is likely to demand to be paid as such once he becomes a free agent, probably within the next week. He could solve a bundle of Detroit’s issues, single-handedly. He’d provide them a running game, a leadoff hitter and a solid defender in a corner outfield spot.
Cespedes also would allow Detroit to trade Delmon Young, certainly getting in return far more than they gave up to the Twins this past summer (Cole Nelson and Lester Oliveros) — perhaps even a starting second-base candidate, though Martin Prado seems a stretch now.
That said, Cespedes is a risk, as is any big-bucks foreign signing.
Of course, risk isn’t enough to scare off Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski and owner Mike Ilitch.
They are building a winner in Detroit, in part because they’ve taken big, bold risks — and often at the winter meetings, which get under way at daybreak.
So what’s in store the next 72 hours?
Stay tuned, and to this very blog — where I’ll be filing updates all day Monday-Wednesday.
It should be an interesting week. The Tigers just might see to that.
Be sure to check back with Covering the Bases, as Tony Paul blogs throughout the day Monday-Wednesday from the winter meetings.