Assistant Sports Editor
As baseball season moves towards Opening Day, and pitchers and catchers begin to report to their spring training locations, there are abundant headlines all over the Major Leagues. The MLB websites I visit on a daily basis focus on the “hot stove” during baseball’s winter months, where rumors and news are brought to the attention of the fans. I would like to focus on a few of the biggest, funniest, most annoying or even most awkward headlines in the MLB as the season approaches.
First, in the last few days, the New York Yankees have been doing everything in their power to move A.J. Burnett to another team before the season begins. Burnett has had his fair share of struggles in pinstripes, and there is a real sense of urgency from everyone involved to get this deal done. The Yankees are likely going to have to eat $23 million worth of his contract to make this deal happen. If you’re Burnett, that makes you feel bad enough, but imagine if this deal doesn’t happen. You enter the Yankees’ spring training fighting for a job in the rotation, knowing that the Yanks were trying to pay tens of millions of dollars for you to pitch against them or for another team this year. Seems to me that the cards would be stacked against his quest for a spot in the starting rotation. Why would the Yankees pay you $33 million over the next two years to start for them, when they want to pay almost that much to make sure you never stand on the Yankee Stadium mound again? The official ruling on this offseason story is that it is funny and big for Yankees fans, but could turn awkward fast.
The next offseason headline could be called the anti-A.J. Burnett story. As previously mentioned, the Yanks will pay 20-something million for Burnett to leave their team, while the Rangers paid $51 million dollars just to talk to Japanese import Yu Darvish about signing with them. The Rangers are taking a big risk, as most Japanese signings prove to be a huge waste of money. Darvish is a different type of physical specimen though, and it was a move the Rangers had to make, as this will be the first season that Albert Pujols will oppose them in their own division. The official ruling on this offseason story is that it is big and important for now, but Red Sox fans know from Daisuke Matsuzaka that a good signing can turn bad…and fast.
The next offseason move involves Hanley Ramirez and his potential move to third base after the Miami Marlins acquired Jose Reyes to be their shortstop. For those who don’t know, the Marlins are forming a circus down in Miami. They paid big bucks for Heath Bell, who is certifiably nuts, to be their closer, as his large frame sprinted from the bullpen and did a full soccer slide to the mound during the All Star Game. They hired Ozzie Guillen, who struggles to make it past the fifth inning without getting ejected and struggles to make it to May 1st without calling out his entire team’s work ethic. If you think we’re getting off the crazy train now, it’s just getting started, as Carlos Zambrano was traded from the Cubs to South Beach.
Zambrano is as crazy as they come, and while this Marlins team does have a chance to succeed, it is completely possible that this turns into a train wreck. If a train wreck does happen then Ramirez will certainly be a key contributor, because he is whining about the move to third base. This is what I don’t understand about Ramirez. All of his career he has been on a terrible team and has played without hustle and heart for that very reason. Now, the front office tried to build around him, and he thinks he is too good to change positions. Make up your mind: either care about only yourself, or care about your team, but don’t pretend to do both. The official ruling on this offseason issue is that the Marlins could surprise a lot of people, but the Marlins’ circus could just as easily turn ugly.
No matter how they turn out, keep an eye on these developing storylines entering the season.
Dylan Tully may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org