Blue Jays eye big-time GM
By Peter Gammons
Special to ESPN.com
DIAMOND NOTES: Oct. 7
When Paul Godfrey axed Gord Ash in Toronto, there was no mention of what Ash had done in helping maintain one of the game's deepest and most talented farm systems. But Godfrey and Rogers Communications clearly have high expectations of putting the Blue Jays back in the high life, again, in addition to trying to purchase the Maple Leafs and Raptors and luring the NFL to Toronto. Paul Beeston's name keeps floating around Toronto in terms of returning to run the business, and the names Brian Cashman (Yankees), John Hart (Indians), Dave Dombrowski (Marlins), Paul DePodesta (Oakland), Gary Hughes (Reds) and Doug Melvin have surfaced in rumors as the new GM. Melvin is from Ontario, and he did a terrific job despite being fired Sunday by the Rangers.
|Yankees starter Andy Pettitte, 29, went 15-10 with a 3.99 ERA this season.|
One NL club thinks the Yankees are poised to be deep in left-handed starting pitching for years, a must for the Stadium. "Andy Pettitte is still young," says the executive. "Then we love Brandon Claussen and think Randy Keisler, Ted Lilly and Alex Graman (in that order) can be credible major-league starters." And Randy Choate, who has allowed one hit to one of the Oakland lefties this season, could be a key performer in that center-court series. ... But so is Eric Chavez. Two years ago, this column got trash-talked for suggesting that Chavez and Miguel Tejada had a chance to be one of if not the best left side of an infield of all time. Already, Chavez, 23, and Tejada, 25, are the first left side ever to each have 30 homers and 100 RBI. Now Chavez is the best defensive third baseman in the American League, and if I would have one third baseman in either league around whom I could build a team, it would be Chavez. Yes, over Scott Rolen and Troy Glaus, although the latter is a monster player.
The Giants believe they will be able to re-sign Barry Bonds, but what makes Peter Magowan and Brian Sabean so good (90 wins a year for five years with a middle-of-the-pack payroll) is they won't let Scott Boras drag them out to Christmas. There'll be a point after Thanksgiving where it will be up to Barry to make up his mind, and if he hasn't, Sabean will take the money and go sign an outfielder, a third baseman with power and some pitching. Period. ... Pirates GM Dave Littlefield says he is not going to move Jason Kendall to second base or the outfield, and will keep him behind the plate. But they may find a way to get Craig Wilson's power in the lineup for 140-150 games, either as an everyday first baseman or a utility 1B-RF-C. ... Great comparison on Albert Pujols: "He is the young Cha Cha Cepeda," says one scout. ... Another scout on Carlos Beltran: "There may not be an outfielder in the American League with more ability. He makes the game seem so slow, and his instincts are incredible."
A year ago at this time, Dan Evans was out of a job, having left the White Sox when he was passed over for the GM job. Now, he's GM of the Dodgers. "It's been an amazing turn of events," says Evans, who will work with Dave Wallace underneath Bob Daly. Evans and Wallace have to find development personnel and decide on how to approach free-agent pitchers Terry Adams and Chan Ho Park, while trying to find a leadoff hitter and making some roster adjustments. ... The firing of pitching coach Oscar Acosta was publicly criticized by several Cubs pitchers -- including Kerry Wood and Kevin Tapani -- but the firing was the result of a personality conflict between Acosta and Don Baylor that Andy MacPhail couldn't mediate. ... Royals GM Allard Baird says "a lot of things did not go right this season for us, but Tony Muser wasn't the reason, and I believe he is the answer if we're going to move forward and get better." The coaches may not be so fortunate. Baird says he picked up the $6.2M option on Roberto Hernandez "because we saw the difference in the confidence level our players had when we did get leads with Roberto here, as opposed to last year when we didn't have him."
One agent's take on Darin Erstad's move to first base the last week: "Sure, they want to move Mo Vaughn's salary (apparently, Harrington won't take him back in Boston unless Mo agrees to take less to come home), but Erstad is a fifth-year arbitration guy and GM Bill Stoneman knows that Darin's stats are worth a lot less as a first baseman. Never underestimate Bill Stoneman's intelligence." ... Or underestimate the intelligence of the Padres. They got C Wiki Gonzalez signed for four years, $4.75M. Now, several teams are interested in Gonzalez as a regular, so with the low contract, if he goes to, say, Colorado, and hits 20 homers and continues to throw out runners at a 35 percent clip , the Rockies don't have to fear a huge bump in payroll, which makes his trade value higher. ... Now, Rich Rodriguez has held lefties to a .172 average, but did you ever think you'd see it come down to a Rich Rodriguez/John Rocker debate for the last lefty on the Indians' postseason staff? It will be decided by Monday.
One AL GM came away from watching Tampa Bay raving about lefties Nick Bierbrodt and Joe Kennedy. "Suddenly, that team is OK, and throw those two lefties with Paul Wilson, and they have a foundation," says the GM. "But how well off would the Diamondbacks be with Brad Penny and Bierbrodt instead of Matt Mantei and Albie Lopez? No comparison. You can't trade an arm like Penny has." ... Poor Brian Rose. He had weird injuries, altered his delivery and style with the Red Sox and kicked around for three years after a meteoric minor-league rise. Then this season he put it back together in the Tampa organization and was 9-2 for Durham -- and hurt his elbow in his last start before being called up and needs Tommy John surgery.
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