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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

December 6, 2009 at 5:16 PM

Gentlemen, start your dealing

Geoff and I have arrived in Indianapolis for the winter meetings (as you can tell by reading his Mariner blog, where he reports that Chone Figgins will take his Mariner physical tomorrow).

We arrived in Indianapolis just as the Colts’ game with the Titans was letting out, so it took awhile to fight through downtown traffic and get to our hotel. Indy is a nice city, but I’ve covered about a dozen of these things — I’ll do a long post on some of the memorable moments later tonight — and I’ve always said, it doesn’t matter if you’re in Paris or Topeka; you’re barely going to leave the hotel during the winter meetings.

I just took a stroll through the lobby to get the lay of the land, and ran into 1) Don Wakamatsu; 2) Lou Piniella; and 3) Aaron Sele, who is now a minor-league pitching coach with the Dodgers. That’s the fun part of the winter meetings — you never know who you’re going to meet.

The lobby, of course, was swarming with reporters, all trying to track down the latest hot rumor. While coverage of the World Series is notably down during this era of newspaper belt-tightening, it doesn’t appear that the winter meetings have been affected. This is still a great week for baseball to steal the spotlight from the NFL in the height of the football season. With the growth of blogging and internet sites devoted to baseball analysis and rumors, I think the interest is as high as it has ever been, if not higher.

The truth is, everyone loves trade rumors and speculation about who’s going to sign whom. It might even be more fun, in fact, than the actual deals, because in this stage, the whole world of possibilities is available. Once the move really happens, that’s when you start picking it apart for flaws.

Everyone I talk to is certain the Mariners will be major players here. Jack Zduriencik has already earned a reputation not only as a shrewd deal-maker, but as a guy who’s aggressive and gets things done. Couple that with the fact that the Mariners still have some money to spend, and they have the ingredients to be very active. But the expectations might be a bit too high. Having already pulled off the Figgins signing, there’s no guarantee Zduriencik will pull off a blockbuster in these four days, as he did last year with the J.J. Putz trade. I have no doubt he has more moves up his sleeve — the Mariners have too many needs for him not to — but some of Zduriencik’s subsequent moves might reach fruition after we all leave here. But who knows? When you get all the general managers together, and many of the agents as well, it tends to have a galvanizing effect.

The next few days should be fun.

Now I’m going to type the words I never thought would come from me: You can follow me on Twitter at StoneLarry.

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