I’m here in the media workroom at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, site of this year’s baseball winter meetings. The hallways in this hotel — as with most in this town — are enormous. So, plenty of legwork required to go and track people down. I am about to go and do just that right now so I can provide you with answers to some of the questions you have about potential deals. The Mariners will be busy here. I’ll be speaking with GM Jack Zduriencik later this afternoon. Will also get you updated photos and video of what it’s like here.
UPDATE 11:38 a.m.: As you all know, Greg Maddux has retired from baseball with a win total of 355. Maddux is here this morning, speaking to reporters. Here is some audio of what he’s said so far. He’s still on the podium. Or, scan some of the video above from his questions-and-answers session with reporters.
UPDATE 11:04 a.m.: The Detroit Tigers have acquired catcher Gerald Laird from the Texas Rangers for minor league pitchers Guillermo Moscoso and Carlos Melo. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland are on the podium talking about it right now.
See the video of Dombrowski (left), then Leyland (right) speaking about the deal.
10:39 a.m.: The Mariners have signed first baseman Chris Shelton to a minor league deal. This is one of those low-risk, potentially high upside moves. Shelton posted a slugging percentage of .510 and .466 with the Detroit Tigers in 2005 and 2006 with Detroit over 388 and 373 at-bats respectively. He posted an .801 on-base-plus slugging percentage (OPS) with Class AAA Toledo after that, then a .979 OPS in 256 at-bats in AAA last season. Shelton also had 97 ABs with Texas last season, posting a not-so-good .663 OPS. But that’s a limited sampling.
Shelton’s minor league totals scream of potential upside, including a career .401 on-base percentage. The trouble he’s had is adjusting to major league pitching and converting those stats into meaningful major league totals. He got off to a great start with Detroit in 2006, but the “once around” syndrome appears to have caught up to him. We’ll see what the m’s think. Obviously, they suspect there might be a chance he’ll turn things around. Shelton should get a shot at the first base or DH job, despite being a righthanded bat. This team needs power and Shelton is a source of power when he’s on. Nothing wrong with creating a little competition. Or providing a platoon partner at first base with Russell Branyan, as some of you have mentioned.
There was an item in the Boston papers today about the Red Sox wanting to sign free-agent Willie Bloomquist. I’m told from a Boston contact that Red Sox manager Terry Francona loves Willie Bloomquist and has told those around him: “We can really use a guy like Willie Bloomquist on our team.”
Having seen Francona play as an outfielder in Montreal during my younger days, I can see why Francona would like him. He was quite the scrappy role player for some very good Expos teams.
We will also be airing The Geoff Baker Show later today. Thanks to all of you who have phoned in. There is still time to call 206-464-8286. If we don’t get to some of your questions in today’s show, there will be a chance to do it for tomorrow’s broadcast as well.