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Griffey, Reds need time to mend

Special to

Dec. 7
Notes from around the Hot Stove League:

  • Ken Griffey Jr. went to the RedsFest on Friday and told Cincinnati fans that he wants to stay and help the Reds get back in the high life, again. Griffey does not have a no-trade clause, but as he made clear when the San Diego deal was out there, he will not go to any place that takes him far from his family in Orlando.

    Ken Griffey Jr.
    Center Field
    Cincinnati Reds
    70 8 23 .358 .426 .264

    After the San Diego deal fell through, Colorado offered Denny Neagle and either Jack Cust or Ben Petrick for Griffey, and would have moved Griffey for Phil Nevin, who doesn't have a no-trade clause to Colorado. For now, the Reds have declined.

    The problem that exists, however, is that Reds manager Bob Boone took Nevin to lunch to try to convince him to waive his no-trade right and come to Cincinnati. Oh well. There is no way Griffey can be made to be the villain in any of this, however, after accepting a below-market deal to come home to Cincinnati and offering to defer money to help make the team more competitive.

  • Braves general manager John Schuerholz was upset at some characterization of the Braves' negotiations with Glavine as being "unprofessional," and detailed to the media unreturned calls to agent Gregg Clifton that led Glavine to believe that Schuerholz declined response to Clifton's four year, $45 million proposal before Thanksgiving. In detailing the club's three-year, $30 million offer, Schuerholz said: "We are happy to pay anyone for performance as long as he can perform." Everyone knows that Scott Boras' plan is to take Greg Maddux to arbitration and force a multi-year deal as he did with Barry Bonds last winter, but Schuerholz's statement indicates that the Braves may be more than happy to let Maddux go to arbitration and go one year at a time.

  • When Maddox signs, the Braves will have six players with eight-figure contracts. Fred McGriff could go back to Atlanta, at a discount, as he was the Mariners' backup plan if John Olerud had not signed, and the Indians put their toes in the water until acquiring Travis Hafner. Incidentally, one AL GM says the Hafner trade "is a great trade for Cleveland. For where they are building, he can be a very productive hitter. We wanted him badly."

  • The Texas thinking on Pudge Rodriguez was that if he went to arbitration, he could get $12 million, they are building with young pitching and one club official said, "four at-bats are not worth the tradeoff for 150 decisions behind the plate." But while some look at Rodriguez' injuries as a deterrent, he is in tremendous shape, his lower half -- the catcher's half -- is stronger and more agile than ever and, like Carlton Fisk, the time off may greatly extend his career.

    Ivan Rodriguez
    Texas Rangers
    108 19 60 67 5 .314

  • Oakland's thinking on the Billy Koch deal was: given his lack of command of the strike zone, Keith Foulke is a more predictable closer than Koch. Billy Beane loves Mark Johnson and the A's believe that Joe Valentine will contribute by the end of the season and be a very useful reliever in the future. The A's made a late run at Steve Finley and, if that fails, may try to sign Edgardo Alfonzo, a Beane favorite.

  • The Dodgers now hope they have improved their defense on the right side of infield. Rookie Joe Thurston, who hit .334 with a .372 on base percentage at Las Vegas, is a workman second baseman, and if they sign Cliff Floyd, either he or Shawn Green can play first base. Next up, the Dodgers have to deepen their pitching staff -- they really need six starters because of the Kevin Brown injuries and have lost Omar Daal. Masati Yoshii, who pitched for Dave Wallace in New York, is a possibility.

  • Tampa Bay first baseman Steve Cox appears headed to Japan at $2.5 million a year.

    The Devil Rays first offered him to the Indians for shortstop John McDonald, but Cleveland does not want to deal the defensive magician at this point.

  • Mike Flanagan and Jim Beattie will head to Nashville trying to rebuild the Orioles, from the field into the stands. There isn't much to trade, but Flanagan needs positional players and will talk pitchers (Sidney Ponson and Jason Johnson, whom the Mets sought in an Ordonez deal; the Mets may be willing to take Scott Erickson's $6.6 million contract just to get rid of Ordonez and his $6.2 million deal). The first step is to get the O's back on some sort of course, which has been lacking for years. Then, Flanagan has to put some plan in place to tie together scouting and development, as the farm system has been a morass of injuries -- especially to No. 1 draft pick pitchers -- and confusion. Don't be surprised if Baltimore doesn't jump in on both Hideki Matsui and Jose Contreras.

  • Oakland may also make a play for Alfonzo. Beane was ecstatic to get a first-rounder and a sandwich pick as compensation for the Giants signing Ray Durham.

  • Both the A's and Red Sox continue to push hard after Erubiel Durazo with the Diamondbacks.

    The Red Sox may also be after Alfonzo, although there is a strong feeling that he no longer has the mobility to play second base.

  • Just in case you're thinking that the Yankees/Mike Stanton negotiations indicate that not being able to move Raul Mondesi, Sterling Hitchcock and Rondell White -- coupled with MLBs squashing of his Matsui marketing plans -- have driven George Steinbrenner to the edge, he banned Brian Cashman, the organization's most eloquent, rational voice, from talking to the media this week.

  • Chris Hammond pitched 13 major league innings in four years prior to 2002. Now he's getting a two-year, $5 million deal from Steinbrenner. He loves New York.

  • Red Sox GM Theo Epstein had a tough choice this past week. He committed to going to the banquet for the Lowell Spinners of the New York Penn League, A Boston affiliate. He had also been asked to jet to Los Angeles to be a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, alongside Yankees fan -- and D-Backs minority owner -- Billy Crystal.

  • If the Giants don't sign Jeff Kent -- which would likely put Durham in center and Marquis Grissom in right -- they may follow up on a Russ Ortiz-for-Junior Cruz trade.

  • The Orioles were stunned that Mike Bordick did not want to play this season.

    "He said he really didn't want to travel and indicated the fire had gone out," Flanagan said. "We thought it was a done deal for him to come back."

    Bordick's wife is pregnant with their fifth child, and the Bordicks have never been about money or status. After all, they have to be the only family that made it to the big leagues and still lived in Mechanics Falls, Maine, for two offseasons.

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