The Squeeze Play

By Korbid Thompson
Updated: November 16, 2007
Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez

NEW JERSEY— Hello, and welcome to the Squeeze Play, where my weekly focus will be what’s going on in and around Major League Baseball, mainly in the Hot Stove department during this off-season. As we break down some of the major deals that have gone on since the end of the World Series, we start with the biggest one yet:

Right-handed flamethrower Curt Schilling is now a member of the Boston Red Sox, after being traded north for pitchers Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon and two minor leaguers.

Now, as an anti-Yankee fan, I love the deal. However, this is the Boston Red Sox, we’re talking about. As we saw just recently with Pedro Martinez on the mound, no lead is safe. Schilling will help Boston, but if I’m the GM that signed him to a $25 million extension with an option for 2007, he had better deliver the commissioner’s trophy. Playing second fiddle to the Yankees can be an expensive task, both financially and emotionally. Take it from this Mets fan who knows.

As for Alex Rodriguez, according to ESPN’s Peter Gammons, the prospect of an A-Rod for Manny Ramirez swap is in the 60-40 range of happening. If this deal goes down, then Boston will be the superpower of baseball.

Speaking of the Bronx, the Gary Sheffield watch is still on. There have already been two meetings in Tampa between owner George Steinbrenner and Sheffield, so everyone is just waiting for the official word on this one. As if the Yankees need another power threat. They only hit a zillion home runs last year. With Sheffield in that lineup, the only “weak link” in there is the newly re-signed third baseman Aaron Boone. Of course, the Bronx Bombers won’t win the Series, unless their pitching situation is settled with Andy Pettitte.

In Houston, now that closer Billy Wagner and his salary have been shipped to Philadelphia, the main focus of general manager Gerry Hunsicker is to bring Mr. Pettitte back to his hometown. Pettitte may listen, but listening and signing are two different things.

Only a complete miracle will get that done. Good luck, boys.

As for Minnesota, the Twins traded pitcher Eric Milton to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Carlos Silva, Nick Punto and a player to be named later. It looks as though the Phillies are poised for a run at the National League East crown. Too bad Kevin Milwood will no longer fit into their plans.

In Chicago, reliever LaTroy Hawkins signed a 3-year deal with the Cubs, giving him $11 million to be part of what should be one of the better relief tandems in the National League. With setup man Kyle Farnsworth and Joe Borowski anchoring things down, the Cubs will be just as competitive under manager Dusty Baker in 2004, as they will defend their NL Central division championship.

First baseman Richie Sexson has a new home. He(along with 2 others) will go from Milwaukee to Arizona for the contingent of Craig Counsell, Junior Spivey, Lyle Overbay, Chad Moeller, Chris Capuano, and Jorge de la Rosa. This trade definitely makes Milwaukee a better team.

As for Arizona, they surely can’t expect Sexson and Randy Johnson to carry the load, if they seriously want to compete in the NL West.

All in all, there are still 192 free agents roaming around on the market, with teams waiting for the Dec. 7 deadline to offer(or not offer) salary arbitration to their former players. So, the hot stove has yet to burn, but December will certainly be a telling month. Talk to you next time…