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December 9, 2008 at 3:52 PM

Ramon Hernandez-Ryan Freel trade announced

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You can see Orioles GM Andy MacPhail, who many of you will remember from last year’s Erik Bedard saga, is up on the podium now, speaking about his team’s trade of catcher Ramon Hernandez to the Reds for outfielder Ryan Freel and minor league infielders Justin Turner and Brandon Waring. MacPhail said it was important to free up playing time for Matt Wieters, his team’s catcher of the future and Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year. Freel will see plenty of outfield duty, but mostly in place of Luke Scott. It was asked whether former M’s center fielder Adam Jones, part of last year’s Bedard trade, will see a drop in his playing time. MacPhail said that would not be the case.
In the video below, you’ll see Reds GM Walt Jockety speaking first about the deal, then MacPhail after him.

By the way, the O’s now need a veteran catcher and plan to go get one. No, not Kenji Johjima, silly. There are a ton of guys who can be had much more cheaply than three-years, $24 million plus a live body in any trade. Gregg Zaun, last I checked, is sitting at home without a job and could probably be had for under $1 million per season.
On to the Mariners-Tigers talks. It’s not unusual to be hearing different things about who the Mariners would get for J.J. Putz. I would be stunned if the Tigers walked in and offered both Matt Joyce and Jeff Larish, not to mention a minor league prospect. And I would not be shocked if the Mariners asked for both players and the prospect, making it a three-player deal. That’s why they call it “negotiating” and not “capitulating”. Once again, watch for what happens with Kerry Wood. Once he signs, likely with the Indians, the Tigers could be leaning a lot closer towards giving the M’s what they want.
If the M’s got both players, they would have their left fielder in Joyce and potentially their third baseman in Larish — who played the position, adequately, I’m told, in the Arizona Fall League this past year. That would free them up to deal Adrian Beltre, possibly to the Minnesota Twins for…I dunno, Delmon Young? That’s my speculation for now, based on hearing that the Twins could be prodded into dealing Young for the right offer. As I told you last night, they soured on him quickly this season. There was talk about how he did not listen to coaches and refused to play the game “The Twins Way”. As I said, he’s lost weight and apparently feels badly about how his first season in Minnesota went.
So, pull off those deals, you’d have an outfield of Joyce, Young and Ichiro. Not a bad start at all. You’d lose a little defense at third base, but have a lefty slugger there. Let’s face it, this team is not going to get a Gold Glove third baseman back in any Beltre deal. So, the third base defense will take a downgrade no matter what. But Young is a former No. 1 pick and has the talent to be a difference-maker. He could also allow you to leave Ichiro in right field because Young and Joyce would potentially bring enough power to the table. Then, you let Wlad Balentien, Jeff Clement and others fight it out and prove they deserve playing time.
But first things first. Let’s see what happens with Putz. I don’t expect to see serious movement on any Beltre talks until the situation with the closer gets resolved, one way or the other. If the Tigers don’t make a serious push here, I’d expect the M’s to go the longer-term route and explore a multi-player deal with the Brewers. But Joyce and Larish would be a pretty significant pair of lefty bats to get in return for a closer coming off an injury. Especially the way this market is headed.
The guests and visitors to the Bellagio Hotel’s giant lobby-area Christmas display, who may have been hoping to see the Polar Express roll by, got a view of the Ryan Express instead. That’s Nolan Ryan, major league strikeout king and second-year Texas Rangers president, walking by in the photo below.
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