Off to the airport and a flight to Indianapolis, where the winter meetings begin tomorrow - and where the Seattle Mariners are likely to complete the Chone Figgins deal.
There's a story in the paper this morning about Jack Zduriencik and how these winter meetings one year ago made his reputation, and what he hopes to accomplish this time around.
Figgins would be a remarkable start, but there are plenty of holes to fill before this team can even be seen as capable of winning 85 games again.
What do you hope to see coming out of the next 3 1/2 days? The Mariners won't know until Monday what's left in their budget, because that's when Adrian Beltre will let them know whether he'll accept their offer of salary arbitration.
If he accepts, the Mariners won't have the cash to pursue another top-flight free agent, but it wouldn't stop Jack Z. from pursuing trades.
Zduriencik wants to fill holes at first base and left field, add pitching and a right-handed hitter, then find a catcher. Suggestions, anyone? The winter meetings are rarely shocking, but there's often a surprise or two.
Last year that surprise was the J.J. Putz, three-team deal Zduriencik engineered. Given that, let your imaginations roam - what will or should the Mariners do this week?
We'll update you from Indianapolis beginning tomorrow morning, and work in a chat or two along the way.
And now, a few links:
- Remember when the Mariners got Ronny Cedeno in hopes he could push Yuniesky Betancourt? Now in Pittsburgh, GM Neal Huntington wants to acquire a shortstop who can 'push' Cedeno.
- Manager Lou Piniella, 66, has been hinting at retirement since his days in the Cincinnati dugout. Entering the last year of his contract with the Cubs, Sweet Lou is now talking about managing beyond 2010.
- Atlanta finds itself, lik Seattle, in the awkward position of having signed someone to replace a departing player - only to have that player consider accepting arbitration. For the Braves, who just signed closer Billy Wagner tp a deal, it's ex-Mariner Rafael Soriano - who could get as much as $8 million in arbitration.
- Jack Cust, Oakland's version of Russell Branyan, has led the team in home runs the past three seasons. Now the Athletics will try to trade the 31-year-old who made $2.8 million last year - and could wind up non-tendering him next week.
- After talking about getting their payroll under $200 million next season, the Yankees apparently will pursue a trade for Toronto's Roy Halladay this week.
- Jon Heyman's preview of the winter meetings lists Boston GM Theo Epstein as the most likely top mover and shaker - and has Zduriencik at No. 6.
- You love him, you hate him, you'd like to kill him but it's illegal. If you want more on Scott Boras, here's a Q & A with him before the meetings commence.